Of all the possible combinations of words uttered by man, none is more deeply satisfying than these: “See—I told you so.” Lord, what an exquisite pleasure it is to be right. How awful—how unbearable, really—it is to stand by helplessly as your enemies gloat that things turned out as they had predicted. It is hardly surprising, then, that Republicans in Congress have lined up to oppose a Democratic stimulus plan premised on the idea that government spending—a lot of government spending—will cure what ails us. If it works, would there ever be a Republican renaissance? Nor should anyone feign indignation when conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh says of President Obama, “I hope he fails,” or when Dick Cheney gazes into his crystal ball and forecasts that Obama’s stance on “enhanced interrogation” will lead to another 9/11.
It may not be very patriotic, or decent, to hope for a catastrophe that proves you right. But this is what comes of blinkered ideology. During the last recession, did Democrats want the Bush tax cuts to succeed—or to fail? Were they rooting for the surge in Iraq? Come now. If we cannot be magnanimous, let us at least be honest with ourselves. If your ego is tied to a belief system and to a party, you find yourself hoping for such things as a lingering recession that costs millions of people their jobs. Or for Iraq to melt down into a bloody civil war. You may even take some grim satisfaction if an unconventional bomb leaves a giant crater in Washington or New York. What a small price to pay for the joy of saying those beautiful words, “Ha! I was right.”