JONATHAN CHAIT JULY 7, 2010
Following up on my reply to Robert Kuttner, Brendan Nyhan calls the idea that presidential resolve is the answer to all problems "Green Lanternism," after the comic book hero pictured at right, and notes that it has advocates on both sides of the political spectrum:
What's fascinating is that this brand of Green Lanternism -- like the policy one -- is almost a perfect inverse of what conservatives were saying about George W. Bush just a few years ago, a fact that seems to be lost on the liberals espousing it now. For instance, Jonah Goldberg suggested back in 2006 that Bush would be more popular if he were more conservative on domestic policy:
Perhaps this unnoticed fact [Bush's alleged liberalism on domestic issues] explains part of Bush's falling poll numbers more than most observers are willing to admit. The modern conservative movement, from Goldwater to Reagan, was formed as a backlash against Nixonism. Today, Reaganite conservatives make up a majority of the Republican party. If Bush held the Reaganite line on liberty at home the way he does on liberty abroad, he'd be in a lot better shape. After all, if Bush's own base supported him at their natural level, his job-approval numbers wouldn't be stellar, but they wouldn't have his enemies cackling, either.
These beliefs are a sort of ideological Mad Libs -- if only the president were more ________ [liberal/conservative], he'd _________ [be more popular/enact the agenda I want]. It's apparently a comforting belief, but one that's rarely true.