The Bush Family Conundrum
When George W. Bush ran, I supported him – to the max financially during the primary, then during the full campaign. In hindsight, he was a decent president early. He then sowed the seeds for his own destruction during the Iraq war and forgot who he was during his disastrous second term.
Or was it that he remembered who he was?
To this day, I am uncertain how to see the Bush family. I know they seemed decent as people, yet they made some terrible mistakes. Two of them served as president, and another was a relatively successful governor. They have left a mark on our country, a mark on our party, and history will judge them. W himself has said that.
I find myself hesitant to critique a family I voted for and donated to. Hesitant because they served with decorum. However, in advancing conservatism, they failed. We should examine why – not to tear them down, nor to add insult to injury, but to recognize those ideas and attributes that damaged the future of conservatism. We must avoid a repeat of the leftward lurch they may have caused or at least foreshadowed.
Remembering the speech of George H.W. Bush at his convention, two lines stand out. The first was "Read my lips: no new taxes." That one got him elected. His second phrase was his vision for "a kinder, gentler, America." Watching the camera pan to the Reagans at the convention, Nancy said something to her husband with a quizzical look. It was only later that we learned what she asked: "Kinder and gentler than what?" A great rhetorical question.
In hindsight, it is clear that Bush did not understand the transformational depth he had witnessed with Ronald Reagan. Instead, he slowly squandered Reagan's legacy, starting with the so-called budget deal he brokered in 1990, which was an agreement to raise taxes, supposedly forcing Congress to cut two dollars of spending for every new tax dollar. We now know that nothing was ever cut.
The salient question: Why did Bush believe them?
From day one of his broken promise, the media hammered Bush as a liar. More importantly, his voters saw what he had done. Unlike Reagan, GHW Bush didn't have the vision or the capacity to overcome the narratives from the media.
Enter the Clintons, who implemented their slimy effort to drive America to the left, institutionalizing themselves as power brokers. They began to undermine everything Reagan had accomplished while trying to sound like him.
Eight years later, enter W. Coming on the heels of a somewhat disgraced presidency, W might have lost had it not been for the Clinton scandals. W ran on a smallish agenda, one main tenet being that he "would reach across the aisle to get things done." And he did. His first reach was to have Edward Kennedy virtually write his new education bill.
Frankly, had 9/11 not happened, Bush's small-vision conservatism would not have survived the 2004 election. His inability to fend off the media narrative during Katrina really hurt. In the end, it was his betrayal and belittling of former supporters while attempting "comprehensive immigration reform" that finally did him in.
Unfortunately, like father, like son.
Here were their mutual mistakes: 1. Lack of vision. 2. Not communicating or connecting well. 3. Not keeping their promises. 4. Not recognizing the depths of depravity of their political opponents.
There is no substitute for a clear vision. H.W. joked about "the vision thing." W joked about mangled sentences. In neither case was it funny. When you run for president, you need a vision of what you want done and must creatively find ways to implement your promises. If not, you will be paved over by history, forever a prisoner to your small vision. Reagan is a great example of what a man with vision can do.
You cannot govern without communicating to your base and those who might listen. You have to get your message over the heads of the leftist media. Reagan was not called the great communicator for nothing. The media attempted to destroy him, but he spoke directly to the American people. His message unfiltered was able to sway the public. It is how he reset America for decades.
Let me be kind in saying the Bush family never had this gift. Perhaps they didn't try. W even had what he called his doctrine of "the new tone," where he thought it unseemly to criticize his political opponents. Fighting the left wasn't something W was willing to do.
After all, the left only ripped the arms off his dad, and all four limbs off W himself.
This brings me to the biggest problem they had (and have): they never understood the nature and character of their political opponents. They never comprehended what the Democratic Party became and stood for as it lurched to the left. They didn't care to realize that these were nasty ideological leftists who were not just in a simple disagreement with them. They likely never read the sick tomes of Howard Zinn, nor understood how the left used his work. They never understood the evil of Saul Alinsky, and how the left gained and kept political power. While the left was, and is, at war with us (the right), the Bush family appeased it.
In a word, they were naïve. How naïve? H.W. Bush began to call Bill Clinton his son. They worked together on relief projects that likely aided the Clintons on the way to fleecing the world with their foundation in order to maintain their wealth and influence. With Bush approval, the Clintons grew their corrupt foundation. H.W. was literally giving the Clintons the sword to defeat the party (and ideals) they supposedly represented once.
W ran a similar course. He never said a word while the left dismantled the American dream under Obama. Months into the Trump administration, W critiques how we should be more welcoming to immigrants, and how we need a free press to prevent us from abusing power – two punches at Trump, who represents the same group of people the Bush family was supposedly representing. So much for his own new tone.
Here is the main point: the Republican party (and the nation) was hurt by the Bush family ascendance and their leftward drift. The party left Reagan's principles and took on too many Bushisms. The virus of no vision, bad communication, broken promises, and naïveté about leftist opponents was infectious. They have rarely fought for the good things they supposedly stood for. They allowed the leftist media to destroy them, an unfortunate byproduct being the destruction of their supporters (conservatives). Many conservatives become stale, lazy, and formulaic following the Bush family (#NeverTrumps).
The Bush family is thankfully spent. Unfortunately, there are too many remnants in the GOP that still follow their example. They reach across the aisle after losing fingers. They try to appease the leftist media so they won't be called racists or mean-spirited. Many think their political opponents are just engaged in "politics" rather than an effort at destruction.
Trump just showed us how to win: have a vision, be unafraid to communicate it, and know just how nasty your opponents really are. Fight them. Conservatives, it's time to move on from the Bush family, and go back to Reagan's vision of a great America. Throw out your timidity, communicate as if your lives depended on it, keep your promises, and defeat leftist tyranny.
If we don't, we won't have much left to conserve.