Back during the late unlamented era after the Supremes installed W in the White House, it was common to hear assertions from the Beltway types to the effect that the effectiveness of the Bush political campaign demonstrated that the Bush team had the competence needed to run the country.

This was completely wrong-headed; many of the skills needed for campaigning have nothing whatsoever to do with governing. Smearing your opponent, flattering the news media, and suppressing the vote may work fine against hapless Democrats (back then they really were hapless in a way they no longer are); they’re no use at all in dealing with foreign governments and a troubled economy.

Yet there are some skills that do apply to both campaigning and governing — above all, an ability to face up to reality. And this, we’re now learning, was a skill that the Romney campaign utterly lacked. At least if postmortems are to be believed, they drank their own Kool-Aid, “unskewing” the polls and thus failing to understand what anyone reading Sam Wang, Drew Linzer, or Nate Silver knew.

Now, it’s one thing to do this and misjudge the prospects of rival American candidates. But suppose Romney had somehow ended up winning, and made the same kind of misjudgement of, say, Iran or al Qaeda — or of the economic outlook. Living in a bubble of conservative denial can lose much more than an election if it becomes a style of governing.

And look, we’ve already seen that play. Remember the Bush administration’s state of denial over the failing occupation of Iraq? (We were supposed to be welcomed as liberators, and the Bushies were the last to realize that it wasn’t happening). Remember how Bush’s aides ended up making a DVD of Katrina coverage to get his attention and convince him that Brownie wasn’t actually doing a heckuva job?

So this time the campaign was indeed an indicator of fitness to govern. Romney wasn’t ready, and neither was his party.

Bush came through his re-election [an affirmation of Confederate gullibility] prattling about political capital and how he deserved to spend it. The media barons lapped it up – as did most of Congress. The rest of us were reasonably distracted watching the 2nd Fall of Iraq and preparing for the collapse of the incredibly corrupt greed-bubble that resulted in the Great Recession.

So, Bush and the Republicans wrapped themselves in the incantations of Grover Norquist, Kool Aid drinkers became the Tea Party [along with millions in cash from industrial pigs] and almost everything that might be done to restore order to a broken economy was diminished before it began.

Anyone who pays attention to the same crowd – now that they’ve been thoroughly discredited and defeated – is a fool. The line forms on the Right.

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