Wherever you live on the political spectrum, you absolutely must, must read Bruce Bartlett’s truly amazing article, “Revenge of the Reality-Based Community,” in The American Conservative.
He talks about the censorship that the right, especially Rupert Murdoch, has tried to impose on him and about how this former supply-sider has come to agree with Paul Krugman on how to deal with the Great Recession.
A little background if you don’t know Bartlett. He worked for Congressman Jack Kemp, for Heritage, in the second-term Reagan White House, at Treasury under Bush 41, for Cato, and wrote for all the top-line conservative publications.
“My book, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, was published in February 2006. I had been summarily fired by the think tank I worked for back in October 2005. Although the book was then only in manuscript, my boss falsely claimed that it was already costing the organization contributions. He never detailed, nor has anyone, any factual or analytical error in the book.
“Among the interesting reactions to my book is that I was banned from Fox News. My publicist was told that orders had come down from on high that it was to receive no publicity whatsoever, not even attacks. Whoever gave that order was smart; attacks from the right would have sold books. Being ignored was poison for sales.
“I later learned that the order to ignore me extended throughout Rupert Murdoch’s empire. For example, I stopped being quoted in the Wall Street Journal. Awhile back a reported who left the Journal confirmed to me that the paper had given her orders not to mention me. Other dissident conservatives, such as David Frum and Andrew Sullivan, have told me that they are banned from Fox as well. More epistemic closure.
“Annoyingly, however, I found myself joined at the hip to Paul Krugman, whose analysis [of the economic meltdown] was identical to my own. I had previously viewed Krugman as an intellectual enemy and attacked him rather colorfully in an old column that he still remembers.
“For the record, no one has been more correct in his analysis and prescriptions for the economy’s problems than Paul Krugman. The blind hatred for him on the right simply pushed me further away from my old allies and comrades.
“The final line for me to cross in complete alienation from the right was my recognition that Obama is not a leftist. In fact, he’s barely a liberal — and only because the political spectrum has moved so far to the right that moderate Republicans from the past are now considered hardcore leftists by right-wing standards today. Viewed in historical context, I see Obama as actually being on the center-right.
“At this point, I lost every last friend I had on the right. Some have been known to pass me in silence at the supermarket or even to cross the street when they see me coming. People who were as close to me as brothers and sisters have disowned me.
“So here we are, post-election 2012. All the stupidity and closed-mindedness that right-wingers have displayed over the last 10 years has come back to haunt them.
“The economy continues to conform to textbook Keynesianism. We still need more aggregate demand, and the Republican idea that tax cuts for the rich will save us becomes more ridiculous by the day.
“At least a few conservatives now recognize that Republicans suffer for epistemic closure. They were genuinely shocked at Romney’s loss because they ignored every poll not produced by a right-wing pollster such as Rasmussen or approved by right-wing pundits such as the perpetually wrong Dick Morris. Living in the Fox News cocoon, most Republicans had no clue that they were losing or that their ideas were both stupid and politically unpopular.
“I’ve paid a heavy price, both personal and financial, for my evolution from comfortably within the Republican Party and conservative movement to a less than comfortable position somewhere on the center-left. Honest to God, I am not a liberal or a Democrat. But these days, they are the only people who will listen to me. When Republicans and conservatives once again start asking my opinion, I will know they are on the road to recovery.” Emphasis added.
I haven’t had Bartlett’s distinguished career, but his story, especially over the past four years, is my story ideologically and philosophically.