January 12, 2005
Bush: too conservative?By Andrew Sumereau
President Bush is constantly being attacked, second—guessed, and criticized. It comes with the job. As the importance of the Chief Executive in our Republic continues to grow, the attention focused on the Presidency and his policies grows with it. This is altogether proper. Most criticisms come from political enemies as a matter of course, the disdainful eye of the mainstream media elite, the Hollywood Left, the French, and of course, the Democrats.
Soon however Bush will be scrutinized by a new dissenter, a former cabinet member and political ally, Christine Todd Whitman, the former ineffectual Governor of New Jersey, the former disastrous Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, famous pro—choice Republican moderate, and one of the truly remarkably light—weight political minds around. Whitless.
To the delight of the mainstream media, Whitman is making the rounds to promote the upcoming publication of her new book It's My Party Too, which posits the notion that Bush and his right—wing supporters are hijacking the party from its broad—based moderate core. This, in itself, is no surprise. The insipid musings of vapid ex—politicos in book form could fill any decent—sized library. The admiration of the New York Times and their ilk for 'moderate' 'centrist' Republicans is nothing new. Yet this promotion of this book is special, I think, because of how tellingly and absurdly wrong it is, and how respectfully it is being considered and weakly it is being refuted. It begs the question: is Bush too conservative?
Liberals naturally lament their almost total loss of power at the national level and in their frustration lash out at unreal conservative demons to explain away the impotency of their efforts. Thus Bush and his administration is to be feared and incessantly branded as 'far right' and 'ultra' conservative. This is nothing new. What is new and not so understandable is the continuing tendency, after the election when it is no longer necessary to avoid the disaster of Kerry, of conservative pundits, from Rush Limbaugh to the National Review, to enthuse over the 'deeply held' conservative principles of Bush and his Administration.
The plainest truth is that, far from being right wing, Bush is hardly even a conservative at all. And both the Left in their hatred, and the Right in their fawning cheerleading, don't see it. By any rational, objective criteria, Bush is a liberal. Let me explain.
Recoiling with disgust at the pejorative 'liberal' to define Bush is a natural reaction given the present understanding of the word implying a kind of fuzzy—minded, tree—hugging, lawyer—loving, military—loathing, anti—religion, pro—gay marriage, judicial—activist type. However, if you define a liberal in the more traditional (1950s, not Nineteenth Century) sense, as someone whose first impulse is all too often to go Federal, a big state, pro—government, throw money at problems politician, Bush fits the bill. In its simplest formulation, liberals want more government, conservatives, less government. It is in this sense that Bush is a liberal.�
Readers of The American Thinker may credit the President with much good, but admiring the impulses of someone to help others and acknowledging the many fine qualities of George W. Bush does not condone his political actions. He is without question a man of good will. But his Administration is more in tune with Lyndon Johnson then Ronald Reagan.
Consider the historical record. With the exception of his judicial appointments (and the jury is necessarily still out), Bush has unashamedly governed as a free—spending do—gooder with little regard for the Constitutional limits of his authority. If it is worth doing, Bush's Feds will do it. He has presided over the continuing expansion of federal power in every aspect of American life. Is this overstating the case? The answer is self—evident, consider this, with both houses in Congress under Republican control, exactly which programs are scheduled to be cut? What New Deal, Great Society bureaucracies set for elimination? How many pork projects have been vetoed? The answer to all above is none.
But, one might ask, what about the tax cuts? What about Iraq?
Reducing tax rates is not intrinsically conservative if there is not corresponding limits placed on the accumulation of taxing power. Bush tax cuts are economic measures designed to stimulate the economy, not part of a cogent conservative philosophical ethos. Neither is the defense of the country by military action a conservative act in itself, especially when it is done in place of the United Nations to enforce resolutions of that ineffectual body. Liberals go to war with alacrity.
Sadly, the Bush Administration does not seem to see a problem that Federal spending or suasion, to employ a euphemism for raw power, cannot fix. Consider a very small sample:��
And on it goes. In every case the intentions are worthy, in every case the answer is increased government involvement.� One can only dread the coming State of the Union address, routinely a laundry list of new increased federal spending programs and power grabs, so much more distressing will it be coming from a Republican President before a Republican Congress.
The Nixon years taught conservatives that Republican Presidents can push the liberal agenda forward perhaps more effectively than any fervid Democrat. Whitman and friends see everything through the abortion or social policy prism and miss the big picture. Conservative pundits have so high a regard for Bush as a man and such contempt for his enemies that they also miss the big picture and enable policies they would fight against if proposed by a John Kerry. The Federal government grows each day and individual liberty declines.
Perhaps Whitman's writings will bring attention to this issue and wake up the sleeping conscience of true conservatism, if only because of the sheer fulsome idiocy of her 'deep thoughts.' Let us hope so.
Ronald Reagan said it best.' Government is not the solution, government is the problem.'
He was a conservative. George W. Bush would never say this. He doesn't believe it. He is a good man. He is also a liberal.