It started with a pretty silly post by David Bernstein about why he thinks liberals should love G.W. Bush (because he spends lots of money). It's an argument that can only be made by applying a caricatured, no, a cartoon version of liberalism, in which spending is good per se, regardless of what you spend the money on, balanced budgets are irrelevant at all times in the business cycle, long run economic planning is of no importance, and, oh yes, whatever you do don't mention the war. Oh those silly liberals, caring about our troops, about the damage to our Army and Reserves, worrying about paying back the deficit, the looming pensions crisis, health care, not to mention equity and progressive taxation, the environment, the hinting about amending the Constitution to prevent same-sex marriage (or is it domestic partnerships, it's vague), the crony capitalism, the attack on the rights of labor, Guantanamo Bay, John Ashcroft, and I could go on.
I mean, the post was so silly that I wasn't even going to blog it. Even though I suppose it's possible that some knee-jerk Republicans might not take the trouble to work out what was wrong with it, I think most of them are smarter than that.
But the dang thing has legs.
Matthew Yglesias, who is usually pretty sharp, swallowed it whole.
And Brad DeLong, who is always sharp, swatted back in Matthew Yglesias Misses the Point, but too gently.
There is absolutely no reason a liberal should like GW Bush, and it has very little to do with the atmospherics. (As for the ranch, it would be fine if it weren't so faux.) It's about civil liberties, the environment, the war, the budget, and the continual campaign of routinely lying to the American people (see, e.g. under “Cheney”). The argument is infinitely weaker than when it was applied, only somewhat plausibly, to Nixon.