What about a military coup in the House of Representatives? | Bleader

What about a military coup in the House of Representatives?


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Mohamed Morsi
  • Mohamed Morsi
When David Brooks wrote the other day to defend the military coup in Egypt, something about his diagnosis of the deposed government of Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood sounded familiar.

"When you elect fanatics," Brooks breezily opined, "you have not advanced democracy. You have empowered people who are going to wind up subverting democracy. The important thing is to get people like that out of power, even if it takes a coup." The problem with radical Islamists, he went on, is that they're "incapable of running a modern government. Many have absolutist, apocalyptic mind-sets."

Like I said, this rang a bell.

To further plumb the Islamists' troubling mind-set, Brooks drew on a recent essay by Adam Garfinkle of the American Interest. Among radical Islamists, Garfinkle wrote, "there is no need for causality, since that would imply a diminution of God's power" to re-create the universe as it suits Him at any instant. "He also does not accept the existence of an objective fact separate from how he feels about it, and if he should feel negatively disposed toward the fact, whatever it is, the fact can be made simply to disappear."

What Garfinkle is calling for is government by men and women who understand the concept of consequences and who, moreover, accept that reality occasionally conflicts with what we wish to be so. That bar is apparently higher than it sounds, because I'm not so certain that even here in America all our elected servants manage to climb over it. Isn't there a hint of the Brotherhood in all of us, and much more than a hint in our House of Representatives?

I guess your answer depends on whether you think that the House—controlled by a fragment of a minority that doesn't believe in governing—is subverting democracy or gallantly defending it. In last November's elections, Republican candidates for the House got a million and a half fewer total votes than their Democratic opponents but kept a majority anyway thanks to gerrymandering by state legislatures. And this tainted majority is dominated by a hyperconservative fringe that believes its mission in government is to starve the beast, to reduce government to next to nothing. If nothing gets done in the House it's largely because a minority leveraging far more power than it has a right to believes nothing should get done.

Nothing, that is, except building jet planes and aircraft carriers the Pentagon doesn't want and getting America back in God's good graces. Indifference to reality is central to this holy program. A Todd Akin can square an absolutist position on abortion with a woman's reluctance to bear her rapist's baby by denying that raped women get pregnant. But let's get back to Brooks. He went on, "It's no use lamenting Morsi's bungling because incompetence is built into the intellectual DNA of radical Islam.... Promoting elections is generally a good thing even when they produce victories for democratic forces we disagree with. But elections are not a good thing when they lead to the elevation of people whose substantive beliefs fall outside the democratic orbit."

I'll give you this: my low estimation of House Republicans could simply mean I have a problem, not the country. I and my fellow travelers. For instance, here's the New Republic, in its new issue dedicated to telling President Obama how he "can get his juju back," sharing its best ideas for getting somewhere in the House but conceding in the end that "this being the House Republicans, there's no guarantee that they'll act in a way that even mimics rationality." And here's Tim Alberta of the National Journal discussing how the Republican Study Committee, heretofore a "parasitic anomaly—a fringe organization of hopeless ideologues," now rules the chamber, even though "for core RSC believers, ideological purity trumps legislative accomplishment. Period."

When language like that gets slung around, feelings get hurt. I bet there are members of the Muslim Brotherhood right now telling themselves how unfair it is that the army stepped in before they'd hardly even given Sharia a try.