It's not like no one has thought this before. It is, as I said, a simple question, but so many people keep wondering why Republicans just don't get it. Robert Farley at Tapped used Quiggan's piece as a leaping off point and asks what Republicans plan to do if they lose power in the future.
Perhaps they intend no principled defense of executive power and, like John Yoo, will be willing to use the language of tyranny to attack Democrats when they regain the executive. Maybe they don't expect that Democrats will win elections in the near future. Finally, it's possible that they just haven't thought very hard about the question.All of these options are possible, but the truth is that, for all the talk of conservative intellectualism, the conservative movement since the end of World War II has been (as I've said before) little but varying degrees of fearmongering. They've scared people about commies and blacks and hippies and, now, Muslims so that they could gather and maintain power. So, when it was convenient for Republicans to oppose the "jack-booted" civil servants of the ATF during the (first?) Clinton administration, they did. After all, the Cold War was over and fighting terrorism would have meant joining forces with the Clintonites, which would have worked against the Republican Revolution.
So now, Republicans find themselves at the end of their tethers. They've gotten what they really wanted--tax cuts for the rich and a war to scare people back to their side--and the people aren't picking up what they're putting down. The conservative intellectual still exists, but anything which might have once been called Republican intellectualism has been etiolated by years of anti-intellectual, anti-elite rhetoric. The true believers are zombified, idiotic followers of whatever they're told to follow and the true thinkers have whored themselves out to the point they wink and nudge each other over the latest bullshit they convinced the believers to carry.
Here's the problem they have today. Any reasonable, effective policy to fight terrorism would be quickly agreed to by Democrats. So I think the point is Republicans have to create ridiculously egregious policies which tromp on American civil rights in order to be able to say that Dems aren't serious about fighting terror. They have to have something people can fear. They know that this is a long-term loser, but I believe they hope they can hang on long enough to get Bush's tax cuts made permanent and tack on some more. Dems, they believe will calmly begin rolling back Bush's most over the line "unitary executive"-based policies, leaving them the classic "tax and spend Democrats" angle to fight off tax raises.
Think that's cynical? Consider that Hastert defended his party's actions in regards to the Foley scandal by saying that it might have been brought up in regards to "other things that might have affected campaigns." Hell, even GOP shill Shepard Smith had to admit that it's "horrifying" that neocons like Bill Kristol would push for staying the course in Iraq and "because of the election system and the political process you allow a losing thing to continue?"
In the end, it's always about the power to get the money to the powerful.