The Junta Party


This analogy isn’t close to being complete. And it doesn’t match up at every point. But where it does connect, it’s so spot-on that I must share it with you.

In former Banana Republics, in their post-transition- to-democracy phases, you’ll often have a Junta Party. It’s an opposition party whose main goal isn’t to get elected so much as to maintain the legacy of the former junta regime, defend its record of service to the state and most of all keep its former leaders from being put on trial or shipped off to the Hague. Often the party will be headed up by the former Generals themselves. But if they’re dead or otherwise occupied in the slammer or abroad, maybe you’ll have their relatives or the one-time cronies and lickspittles of this or that el jefe of the old regime filling the leadership roles.

And today, as we watched the on-going parade of Cliff Mays on TV or Dan Burton praising waterboarding as essential to the American dream, Eric Kleefeld pointed out to me that that really is pretty much the role the GOP — at least for the moment — has taken in our present politics.

Yes, Republicans have tried to distance themselves from President Bush’s fiscal profligacy. But on the core value issues of militarism and human rights violations and keeping faith with the war criminals of the previous regime they really couldn’t be more unified or on message. If you were plopped down on earth today in front of a TV set in the United States, on the testimony of the party members themselves, you might easily get the idea that state-sanctioned torture was the main policy legacy of the outgoing administration. Sort of like Democrats looked back on late 90s budget surpluses with a proud defiance in the aftermath of the Clinton years.

I can’t be the only one who this resonates with. Who else has some examples?


Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of