Tuesday, September 15, 2009

George Bush's Conservative Credentials

Questions about Bush's conservative principles

Conservatives greatly admired Bush for his steadfastness in the War on Terror -- to use that outlawed phrase -- and they were delighted by his choices of John Roberts and Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court. But when it came to a fundamental conservative principle like fiscal discipline, many conservatives felt the president just wasn't with them.

George Bush wasn't a conservative in the Ronald Reagan mold we've come to expect conservatism to look like. Bush was a centrist accommodator as governor of Texas, and he brought that same style to Washington as president.
But starting in 2002, we began to figure out that Bush was no conservative on domestic policy, but instead at best a centrist, and probably more of a Rockefeller Republican, with one big exception: abortion. It started with his partnership with Ted Kennedy on No Child Left Behind, especially when he threw away school vouchers to keep Kennedy on board, and again with Medicare Part D, a brand new entitlement on an already sinking program.

This doesn't even address Bush's attempt at immigration reform, which rankled conservatives until they could remain speechless no longer. Despite what the nutjobs will say, Republicans applauded GWB because he understood the nature of our enemy and refused to be bullied into backing down in our fight against them. Regardless of the names, pictures, accusations and assassination fantasies of the left, President Bush continued persuing policies which kept Americans safe at home and abroad.

But being pro-America on foreign policy isn't the only mark of conservatism, and this is where President Bush fails. He was a big government guy, but he wanted a big government that looked GOP-ish. Conservatives think a big government run by Republicans isn't a whole lot better than a big government run by Democrats (except for the higher taxes and abortion until after birth that comes with Democrats).

Why are people now speaking out against George Bush? First, it's easy enough to criticize a president once he leaves office. His policies can be examined and re-examined in the light of that 20/20 hindsightitude. But it's also because Democrats have spent so much time trying to tell conservatives that George Bush was their man and, therefore, they have no right to criticize the even worse spending record of the Donkeys. This is a stupid argument, but it doesn't stop jerks like John Coleman from making them.