The conservative crackup

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A couple of snapshots, from the reinterpreted past and the ghastly present.

* Chicago's excellent Rick Perlstein, author of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, argues that fraud, deception, and lawbreaking are essential to modern-day conservatism, and calls to witness what happened when he made his case at a conservative conference in New Jersey in 2005:

"How did this roomful of 'conservative intellectuals,' including those beside me on the dais, respond to my argument that Richard Nixon loved conservatives specifically for their willingness, nay eagerness, to break the law? One of them, another YAF [Young Americans for Freedom] founder, M. Stanton Evans... quipped, 'I didn't like Nixon until Watergate.' Everyone laughed. Because it was - you know - a 'joke.'"

* Having failed at warmaking, Republicans are trying their hands at metaphor, with predictable results, collected by the Center for American Progress. You've probably heard Indiana Rep. Mike Pence's notorious equation of his heavily guarded trip to a Baghdad market to shopping at "any open-air market in Indiana in the summertime."

CAP also found downstate Illinois Rep. John Shimkus: "Imagine my beloved St. Louis Cardinals are playing the much despised Chicago Cubs. Who wins? We know it's the team that stays on the field." ("He's stealing second -- here's the throw -- it's in time -- he's dead!")

And Ohio's Rep. John Boehner likened Iraq to a small plastics and packaging company he used to run: "I have benchmarks every month, but if I didn't meet the benchmarks and if I missed the profit margin, I didn't shut down the business." (CAP: "100 U.S. soldiers weren't killed every month if Boehner couldn't sell enough bubble wrap.")

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