• George W. Bush, drama queen. There's a shocker, huh?
• Joe Lieberman: "Y'know, I think this country could use another VIP trip to Iraq and another positive assessment of our progress there."
• The attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation of Ronald Reagan.
• Fred Thompson, the New Reagan.
• "But we read Burke!" recast, at least in part, as A Lover's Plea ("Okay, baby, maybe I've been a little too conservative in the past...").
GRANTED, the modern Right has always exhibited a healthy respect for the power of magical delusion, and Goldwater/Reaganite "movement conservatism" is based on little else. These are the people who believe that a 19th century Boy Scout ditty has the power to return us to a magical time, and that if the .002% of the population who don't believe in Jesus were forced to pray to him anyway it would accomplish things the prayers of believers cannot. But this is the first time that circumstances, and the alignment of the stars (Hi, Nancy!) has permitted the naked nerve-endings of "conservatism" to be so exposed. Reagan had brain bubbles by the time Iran/Contra made its way to limited public consciousness, and there was always a discernible cynicism that surrounded both his myth-making machine and the Press that fawned over it.
Of course the shining panoply of modern American public opinion molding makes it unlikely (but not impossible) that George W. Bush will appear on the White House lawn wearing a toga and laurel wreath and leading a white stallion he introduces as "the new Mrs. Bush". But that fawning Press is still with us, the same guys who told us George W. Bush had charisma, remember? That's what you call a distinction. The last sad survivors of the Plains were not given that sort of treatment:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Wow, that's a great-looking shirt. It's not high-fashion, but it's manly. I bet a shirt like that would stop a bullet.
HOWARD FINEMAN: I was gonna say "manly".
CHRIS MATTHEWS: That's all the time we have today. Jeff Gerth joins us tomorrow. He's got a new book out...
By the way, speaking of Nancy Reagan, I'm about half convinced that if the technology were available to simply scoop up what's inside her brain, instead of allowing her to filter it, publication of the data would mark the end of the Republican party as we know it.