Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I'm not sure what to say to erstwhile Bush supporters other than, 'Nice try.'

In yesterday's online WSJ Peggy Noonan asks readers whether they understood George W. Bush "to be a liberal in terms of spending" when he first came on the political scene in 2000.

I've been mulling over the last few days just how to characterize this: but it is certainly a muddled and bad-faith form of ideological projection mixed with evasion.

I think Atrios or Yglesias or perhaps both have made this point recently: but liberals or Democrats aren't committed to high rates of government spending as a core principle in the way that conservatives are with tax cuts. Yes, they believe in more social spending as a general rule. And there are certainly cases when that's led to fiscal excess. The distinction is an important one -- and one conservatives have a difficult time facing. But, in any case, what President Bush has done over the last five years -- with the unfailing support of pretty much every Republican elected official and pundit -- isn't 'big spending.' It's intentionally reckless fiscal policy which is going to create havoc for the country's finances for years to come.

If a Democrat tried to send soldiers to war and forgot to buy them ammunition or passed a health care plan without enough money for necessary drugs, that wouldn't make him closet conservative. It would mean he was incompetent. And voters would hold him to account.

On the part of Noonan and others, this is just an attempt to unload on the other guys the disaster they've allowed to happen on their watch.

Noonan actually tries to argue that President Bush has been a big spender on social programs and that this is somehow tied to his 'compassionate conservatism.' But that claptrap won't survive first contact with the budget numbers. President Bush has trashed the country's finances with three things -- big tax cuts, big defense hikes and whatever pork is necessary to win the next election.

Mr. Bush's mammoth deficit spending isn't some weird sort of ideological inversion. It's a character problem -- like spending money you don't have always is. And it's one Noonan and her ideological fellow-travellers are utterly on the line for.

Sen. Crapo is way popular in the Virgin Islands. That and other news of the day in today's Daily Muck.

Quote of the Day.

Jacob Weisberg: "The more we hear about what Allen is accused of, the less it sounds like kleptomania and the more it sounds like an application of Bush economic policy."

I think I'm with Kevin Drum on this whole Feingold censure thing. It's really not that surprising that not every Democratic senator would want to jump on the bandwagon with this. But I also don't think there's any particular reason to run from it like it's Dem kryptonite or the plague. I've said this before. But I think the bigger problem for Dems is not the things they do but the very public hand-wringing and navel-gazing about how people might react to the things they do.

That doesn't look good. And it doesn't look good because it really isn't good.

President Bush really does deserve to be held accountable for breaking the law and then even more for claiming after the fact that the law actually doesn't apply to him. In constitutional terms, that bogus claim is a very big deal. So 'censure' him. Or don't censure him. But most of all don't get all bent out of shape or whiny about whether it might make some Bush supporter unhappy or might prompt some scold on the WaPo oped page to say tut-tut.

Will some swing-voter not agree? He or she will get over it.

Basically, the big tectonic plates of political motion are the key thing. And everybody should stop looking over their shoulders and jumping at every scary sound in the dark.

It's the not the same issue exactly. But Ed Kilgore has some thoughts on a related issue -- should there be a intra-Democratic party free-speech zone? It's a good discussion to have. I'm hoping we can get it started over at TPMCafe.

We've got something I'm really looking forward to next week.

Kevin Phillips is going to join TPMCafe Book Club to discuss his new book American Theocracy : The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury. We've also got a great list of commentators including Michael Lind, Ed Kilgore, Michelle Goldberg, Kevin Drum and John Stuart Blackton.

Grab a copy of the book if you'd like to join in on the conversation.

Rep. Bill Jefferson (D-LA) is "disappointed and somewhat perplexed" over bribery allegations hanging over his head. That and other news of the day in today's Daily Muck.