Bernstein asks:

I was talking to a staunch Republican former student a couple of weeks ago, and mentioned that one of the biggest surprises to me during the Bush years was that Cheney had turned out to be a lot less capable than I had expected.  My student was utterly shocked that anyone could think that. 

This depressed me no end.  He's an open-minded guy, and certainly not prone to believing that whatever Republicans do is always correct.  But it was clear that within his information bubble, the possibility that Cheney just wasn't very good at his job had never been raised.  Bush, too.  He did recognize that things had gone wrong, but saw it more as policy choices and, to some extent, ideology.  In my view?  Even something such as torture, which I think was a (outside of the morality of it) disastrous policy, was far more a case of incompetence than it was ideology.  What scares me about that is that if my former student represents the view of establishment Republicans, it's possible that they don't quite realize how damaging it was to them to have had a president not up to the job, and how dangerous it is to nominate another one.

Drum differs slightly on one of Bernstein's other points.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to