In the wake of big Republican gains in last week’s midterm elections, Vanity Fair contributing editor and former New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald seized the occasion to argue at length that “reviewing the last few decades of conservative policy initiatives -- or their objections over that timespan to policies they hate -- shows a consistent pattern of failure.”
For Eichenwald, the common thread through these screw-ups has been conservatives’ tendency to “ignor[e] expert opinion” -- to suffer from “a confidence that borders on arrogance that has repeatedly led to disaster.” There’s also the right’s “constant refrain of ‘liberal bias,’ which has proven to be a crutch conservatives use as a substitute for putting fingers in their ears and singing, ‘La-la-la.’”
From the opening to Eichenwald’s piece, headlined “30 Years of Conservative Nonsense, an Explainer” (emphasis added):
Are conservatives ever right?
The question isn’t meant to suggest that liberals are never wrong. But reviewing the last few decades of conservative policy initiatives -- or their objections over that timespan to policies they hate -- shows a consistent pattern of failure: predictions never pan out, and intended results turn to catastrophic flops…
…Too often, it seems, conservatives have scorned experts as incompetent, biased, or otherwise worth ignoring because they came up with answers that didn’t fit their politically desired answer…[T]his question is all the more important now, with the Republicans having re-captured control of the Senate. Will they govern based on a knowledge of history and the analysis of experts? Or will they resort to faith-based, sure-we’re-right policies[?]
Eichenwald acknowledged that “the 1983 decision by the Reagan Administration to deploy missiles in Europe to counter Russian SS-20s was a success, ultimately contributing to the Soviet collapse. But otherwise, there is not a lot in the last three decades to give conservatives bragging rights, and with almost every fiasco, they blame someone else.” He discussed how conservatives’ “fantasy” approach caused them to botch matters including Reagan’s tax cuts; Clinton’s tax hikes; repealing Glass-Steagall; Saddam’s WMD; and Obamacare and then wrapped up the piece:
These are just the highlights -- the parade of failure goes on and on. What matters here, though, is not that conservatives have been reckless in the past. It is that ignoring expert opinion is a fatal flaw, one that has proven to do immense damage to this country -- financial catastrophes, arming enemies, bloody wars, and the like.
This is not the consequence of ignorance. Many conservative leaders are brilliant. There is, however, a confidence that borders on arrogance that has repeatedly led to disaster. Add to that the constant refrain of “liberal bias,” which has proven to be a crutch conservatives use as a substitute for putting fingers in their ears and singing, “La-la-la”…[C]onservatives too often fall back on claims that those who disagree with them are biased and thus worthy of being ignored, a convenient position that allows them to avoid debating uncomfortable criticisms.
Neither side of a political debate holds a monopoly on the truth. Liberals are often wrong. However, somewhere along the line, conservatives stopped being careful and grew too dismissive of what they do not want to hear...
America needs reality-based policy. Bluster and fantasy have cost us too much.