Peter Suderman discusses the lack of self-criticism on the right:
But still, the problem is real: the mechanisms for acceptable self-criticism on the right aren’t very good, especially in election years. Any institution, even very good ones, that dedicates itself to simple self-preservation without the added step of self-monitoring is bound to face corruption, disarray, and discontent.
This is one reason why I find the Republican and mainstream conservative turn in the last month or so to little more than excuse-making to be rather troubling, because it repeats the same errors that were made before and after the 2006 election. The GOP lesson from the ’06 defeat was apparently nothing more than this: we really need to get a handle on earmarks! After the election this time we are likely to hear about how the right should have combated voter fraud more assiduously.
On the financial crisis, we hear endlessly from most voices on the right about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which did contribute to the larger problem by securitizing mortgage loans, which created a market for banks to pass off loans of all kinds and the attendant risk to someone else, but we hear nothing about active Republican complicity in promoting “the ownership society,” nor is there very much serious criticism of Greenspan and the cult of Greenspan that was bipartisan but strongest among Republicans. Because McCain reflexively, more or less randomly targeted the SEC for criticism early on, party regulars seem to feel compelled to ignore the SEC’s failures. There is some awareness of the significant problem created by FASB Rule 157, and there have been calls to change the rule, but this cannot have a prominent place in most conservative discussions of the current crisis because it cannot readily be pinned on Democrats. To listen to mainstream conservative responses to the crisis, you might think that Mitt Romney’s convention speech was repeating on a loop, as you would never know that Republicans and their appointees were in charge of the relevant institutions and agencies responsible for the appropriate oversight up through the start of 2007. There is very little willingness to accept responsibility at any level.
We see this same refusal to take responsibility in criticism of media bias and the preoccupation with charges of voter fraud. If public opinion of Palin has soured, it is because of unfair and unbalanced media coverage; it cannot be because she is not prepared. To entertain the possibility she is unprepared, or to say positively that she is not suited to the job she is seeking, is to be considered a rat-fink and a turncoat and proof that you are a snooty elitist with no connection to the real America we keep hearing about. Many seem to find it hard to believe that Obama could have such massive small-donor fundraising and massive voter registration, so there must be wrongdoing. I don’t rule out that there might be some wrongdoing, but we are beginning to hear warnings about stolen elections, as if the projections of an almost 200 electoral vote margin in Obama’s favor did not indicate a huge shift in voting patterns and the absurdity of talking about stealing the election. To say that many mainstream conservatives are beginning to sound a bit conspiratorial and paranoid is to put a positive spin on things. Media bias obviously exists, as it has in every previous cycle for decades, and it is more intense this time, but it is not as if media bias is what is causing the enormous drag on the Republican ticket and Republicans in Congress.
The public mood soured on the President’s party a long time ago because of the GOP’s failures over the last several years, and so long as Republicans do not want to accept their share of responsibility for the financial crisis that is destroying them, among other things, they will not understand why most of the public has turned against them. If they do not understand this, they will not be able to make the needed corrections, and so this playing at being the victim of menacing and unjust forces is simply delaying the needed reassessment and reform that will have to come if the public is ever going to put their trust in Republicans again. While some have proposed that a devastating defeat for the GOP is necessary to teach the party needed lessons, there is no reason to believe from what I am seeing right now that there is much of an inclination to learn.