September 13, 2004

"Is there any betrayal that we wouldn't support?"
Posted by Jon Henke

At The New Republic, an article about Bush that should ring the bells of real conservatives and libertarians. The scene: convention week, a Club For Growth panel meeting of supply-siders, going on about the Bush tax cuts as Supply-siders tend to do....

But, as the session ground to a close, it took an unexpectedly dour
turn. A senior from Fordham University wearing an untucked white shirt
stood to challenge the panel. "Bush spends like Carter and panders like
Clinton. It feels like we've had the third term of a Clinton
presidency," he said, decrying the dramatic growth of government on the
president's watch. "Is there any betrayal that we wouldn't support?"
With so many party loyalists in the room, you might have expected such
comments to elicit boos. Instead, there was scattered applause. One man
shouted, "Yes!" Stephen Moore, the president of the Club for Growth and
the morning's moderator, solemnly turned to the speakers. "Why don't we
address this? It's a serious question."

It wasn't just a stray moment of discontent. For all the encomiums GOP
speakers have been showering on George W. Bush from the podium at
Madison Square Garden, conservatives--especially conservative
intellectuals--have a far less rosy view of the president. Last month,
Andrew Ferguson wrote in The Weekly Standard, "[W]e'll let slip a thinly
disguised secret--Republicans are supporting a candidate that relatively
few of them find personally or politically appealing." Or, as
conservative columnist Bruce Bartlett told me, "People are careful about
how they say it and to who they say it, but, if you're together with
more than a couple of conservatives, the issue of would we be better or
worse off with Kerry comes up--and it's seriously discussed."

I'll let you in on another secret. Senator Kerry isn't the only candidate in this race who a large section of his own party would be happy to replace.

While bloggers like to say that Kerry is the "Anybody But Bush" candidate, I'd argue that Bush is--for conservatives and libertarians, anyway--the "Anybody but a Democrat" candidate.

Indeed, beyond his hawkish approach to the war on terror, I simply cannot think of much that I like about Bush. And even his approach to the war on terror suffers from frequently poor implementation, and even poorer rhetoric. (though, with Bush as the candidate, I suppose the latter might be a bit unavoidable)

And yet, John Kerry is worse in every way. And the Libertarian candidate is even stranger than usual.

Even with a successful conclusion to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I cannot see Bush going down in history as a successful President. Some aspects of his term--the economy, for instance--may be largely beyond his control. Other aspects--the war on terror--have yet to be determined.

But, those objections aside, who will lionize George W Bush? Between the rampant government spending, trade restrictions, social conservatism, multiple on-going wars, and dramatic expansion of regulation [under reader advisement, I'm eliminating this aspect] pretty much every other part of Federal government..... there some massive niche of voters who will praise this one day? A previously undefined "Big Government/Social Conservative/Protectionist/Interventionist"? Does this voter exist anywhere but the head of Karl Rove?

I doubt it. And, while I may be wrong, I think it's exactly this lack of positive features that will suppress the Republican vote in this election. The Democrats are energized. Not by their own Qualude of a candidate, perhaps, but at least they have somebody to vote against.

By what are the Republicans motivated? I'm not so sure that the distance between Kerry and Bush on the war (BUSH: "I'll Finish it" - KERRY: "Me too, but differently") is enough to scare the GOP voters into action.

UPDATE: Secure Liberty and Brain Fertilizer weigh in on the topic, both in some degree of disagreement. Some good points...

Secure Liberty:

However, aside from the war on terror, there a few other positives for the President. Judges. I wish he would fight for them a little harder, but I like the nominations. There's a good chance that the Republicans can pick up a few seats in the Senate and defeat the Democrat's filibuster. Given that the liberal plan is to erode our Constitutional Republic by judicial fiat, NOTHING is more vital. If Bush wins, and the GOP picks up a couple of seats, look for a few retirements from the Supreme Court.
I think he has a good point about Supreme Court judges. Clearly--from a conservative/libertarian POV--Bush would appoint superior judges. I suspect there are a couple pending retirements just waiting for a Democratic Presidential administration.

Brain Fertilizer:

There will be a fight in the Republican tent very soon, just after the Democrats implode. The thing I like about it is that with the rise of the internet, there will be much more debate going from the grassroots upward, rather than direction and "take it or leave it" coming from the top down. It can't help but improve our two-party system immensely.

I have no idea what impact the rise of the citizen journalist (among other things, the blogosphere) will have, but I certainly agree with Nathan that it will exacerbate the conflict within the party. And, based on the predominance of libertarian thought in the 'sphere, I think that's a pretty good thing.



Who would have lionized FDR if WWII hadn't come along?

Posted by: McQ at September 13, 2004 12:04 PM

Amen. I didn't want Bush as our candidate for 2000, but there's no choice this time around.

We do need to make a big stink about Bush's policies and ensure the next item up for bids isn't like him and make it clear that another Bush will lose.

Posted by: Sharp as a Marble at September 13, 2004 12:07 PM

You don't think the left would have lionized him for his expansion of government programs?

If the War on Islamic Jihadism is as unequivocal a success as WW2, then that might change for Bush. I think it's going to be a lot longer and dirtier than that. Long enough that Bush's contribution will be seen as a part, and not the deciding whole.

Posted by: Jon Henke at September 13, 2004 12:08 PM

Nifty mixing of truth and less truth there. Rampant government spending certainly. Trade restrictions is a bit harder to show-- the steel tariffs have already expired, and there have been quite a few bilateral trade deals signed recently. (And the argument that fast track authority wouldn't have been granted without the steel tariffs at least has some possibility, considering that Clinton couldn't get it, and that it passed by one vote in the House.) Dramatic expansion of regulation is just plain unsupported. Virginia Postrel posted a few links a while back detailing the growth of the Federal Register, one proxy for expansion of regulation. The growth rate of regulation is much slower than under Clinton. Of course, most of these things are under the table.

Of course, do you really expect massive swings either way in a closely divided country? Both Bush and Clinton have governed as moderates. Remember how easily Bush was being portrayed as a scary extremist at the very beginning of his term, for doing things like appointing a sharp libertarian thinker to the EPA, or trying to make an anti-regulatory member of the Consumer Products Safety Comission the chair? Just as strong shifts to the left are not popular, neither are strong moves to the right.

The same cries were heard under Reagan, of course.

Posted by: John Thacker at September 13, 2004 12:16 PM

I don't think they'd have had the opportunity to do so since history now seems to agree that without the war his policies would have failed and he'd have probably been a one term president.

WWII put 11,000,000 men in the armed services and let him run a command war economy. Problem solved. WWII got us out of the depression, not FDR's policies or governmental expansion.

And what FDR's lionized for his how he handled WWII.

Posted by: McQ at September 13, 2004 12:21 PM

Success tends to do that. Although I agree that Bush is not a conservative, he is a moral, decent man, and there is no Democrat on the scene, other than Joe Lieberman, I would trust our defense and security to. We'll have a chance in 2008 when we go up against the Princess of Darkness, but I predict we'll move just inside her to try to capture as much of the electorate as possible, with someone like McCain,Powell or Giuliani.

Will it work? I can't imagine the base sitting still again, and it may refuse to mobilize for anyone who does not have solid, consistent conservative positions.

So, is it better to teach your party a lesson and return to the days of the "The Glorious Defeat"; or dilute a candidate until he is unrecognizable, but wins?

Posted by: Jumbo at September 13, 2004 12:32 PM

your theory is undermined by internals of polls that show that Bush's support is firmer than Kerrys. The question "are you voting for Bush or against Kerry" is voting for Bush by a wide majority.

You're also wrong that the difference on the war between the 2 isn't that great. The difference is a chasm, I don't care what Kerry says today (or tomorrow for that matter)

And that difference is a HUGE motivator.

Plus, there will be lots more evangelicals voting this year, many of whom stayed home last year. I think the base is energized enough. If anything, Kerry's base is getting dispirited.

I agree with one thing though- the Reps. are gonna have 1 hell of an intraparty fight after this election.

Posted by: shark at September 13, 2004 12:36 PM


To be fair, folks who came of age under FDR's reign (it was certainly long enough to be considered a reign rather than a term) often take a high view of the New Deal and the "alphabet soup" of government programs that emerged.

Both of my parents (b. 1929 and 1932, respectively) only knew FDR until their teenage years and, as such, his history assumes a larger-than-life image in their recollections. As such, all aspects of FDR's presidency assume almost mythological perfection in their wisdom and benificent effects for the country. When I confront them with the fact that the Depression did not alleviate in the slightest for 8 years of FDR terms 1 and 2 (and Hoover gets lambasted because he couldn't end it in 4. Booyah!!) I am met with denial and sheer amazement at how Saint Franklin could be viewed so dimly by those who did not see him in action.

I think, as much as for the War Effort, FDR is lionized heavily by a cult of personality.

Posted by: D at September 13, 2004 12:37 PM

This post pretty much sums up my attitude...anybody but a democrat...I simply hate the democrats more than the republicans.

Posted by: Mr. K at September 13, 2004 12:45 PM

Finally, someone is on something other then the CBS forgeries.

I'm going to vote for Bush in November. Again. I did so with a certain degree of enthusiasm (who can maintain a straight face and say "they're all excited" about any popular politician) in the 2000 election; my motivation this year is considerably tempered by the reality of the Bush presidency.

My lack of gusto is due to several problems I have with obvious defects in the Bush administration; these objections are specific.

  • I am not happy with the deleterious way that politics determined the withdrawal of the Marines from Fallujah several months back. The lives of soldiers aren't pawns for politicians; I still have a sour taste in my mouth over that piece of noxious bs. Should I mention that the Marines are now back?!
  • Promoting and funding a major new federal benefits program for seniors (and I'm in my early 50's, so I get to have an opinion on the subject) was LUDICROUS. And I simply don't care that "potentially" it took an issue away from the Democrats. It was an example of breathtaking fiscal irresponsibility, considering the impending SSA economic disaster. (I could go on in this vein, but I'm already gnashing my teeth.)
  • Next we finally capture an inner circle guy in Al Qaeda - their apparent computer wizard and net-admin - and whom the Pak's and Brit's are using to run a sting operation, drawing closer to the inner circle Qaedists ...and some stinking genius in Washington (it had to be Rove), blows the whole intel op' ...because Bush was having a bad week in the news? Oh. My. Gawd. Simply unbelievably STUPID!

Should I go on? Any Democrats listening? Want some help?

How about the administration's lack of specific action on Syria? On Iran? North Korea, anyone?

Need more evidence that Bush is vulnerable to an attack from the RIGHT side of the political spectrum?

What about Bush's asinine proposal on dealing with illegal immigration?

How 'bout some real Homeland "security", and recognizing the need to quit bothering little white-haired gramma's and searching two year olds in diapers at airports, and instead focus our attention on dark-haired, dark-complexioned young adult males of Middle Eastern extract?

Screw ALL the New Ager PC bs that seems to be a pre-req for graduating with a degree in journalism. We're at bloody WAR! here.

...and so ...who would have had my enthusiastic support for CIC? I'd vote for a Rumsfield/Rice ticket in a heartbeat. Geez, wouldn't you just love THOSE daily press briefings ....

Which reveals my decidedly non-moderate ideological bona-fides, I s'pose.

Posted by: brandon davis at September 13, 2004 01:05 PM there some massive niche of voters who will praise this one day? A previously undefined "Big Government/Social Conservative/Protectionist/Interventionist"? Does this voter exist anywhere but the head of Karl Rove?

They exist, but there's not a good name for them.

I call them conservative populists; some people call 'em Southern Democrats or Reagan Democrats. They like farm subsidies and protectionist tarriffs, Pell Grants and the GI Bill, the military and the flag. Dislike welfare and affirmative action, gay marriage and aggressive secularism. Tend to be Jacksonian on foreign policy.

That's Bush's natural constituency, the one he's pandering to when he's annoying fiscal conservatives, small-l libertarians, and others who lurk just inside the flap of W's Big GOP Tent, wondering if they're at the right circus.

Posted by: Starshatterer at September 13, 2004 01:24 PM

I clicked on comments because I had a couple of things to say, but then I realized that Brandon Davis has said most of it. I do have two quibbles with John Henke's original post, however:

(1) Although I live in Illinois (a state that will go for Kerry by 8+), the pro-Bush crowd around my neck of the woods is, in fact, energized. More to the point, Karl Rove & Co. have been working on GOTV efforts since the day Bush was sworn in. I'm reasonably certain that the GOP is not going to be outhustled by the Dems this year.

(2) There is a world of difference between Bush and Kerry with respect to the War on Terror, and both GOP die-hards and many undecided voters know -- or are learning -- that fact. At the end of the day, I don't think voters are going to trust the country's security to the Qualude.

Like Brandon, I voted enthusiastically for Bush in 2000 and I will vote for him again this year, albeit with less excitement.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at September 13, 2004 01:24 PM

The PARTY is headed in Georges direction and has been for a while, to court the dems who weren't dem enough to want to get cozy with Micheal Moore, for example, but didn't want Newt Gingrich (a representative of the nastier, meaner America) either. John, Dale, or McQ wrote here a while back that the Republicans are
taking us to hell, they're just doing it slower than the Democrats would. I concur (whoever wrote that can deduct 10 points from my test score for being unable to remember who to credit and another 10 for being too damn lazy to go back and track it down)

So, we have George. All in all his presidency has been pretty much about the war on terror.
Historically, I think he's going to go down as the American version of the Col Travis Alamo myth - the guy who drew a line in the sand.
Gore couldn't have done that in the first place, Kerry can't possibly stick with it if he gets the job. Every once in a while history gives a President a chance to do the right thing.
This is Bush's chance.

As for the rest of us - Iraq and North Korea are repidly working on Weapons of Mass Mushroom Cloud Production. That is going to be a factor in the game here in a serious way before George's 2nd term is through.

Posted by: looker at September 13, 2004 01:58 PM

Iraq and North Korea - ummmmmm, yeah....did I mean IRAN and North Korea maybe? Ummmmmm, yeah.....

And the Preview tool is for WHAT purpose?

ummmmmmmm, yeah........

Posted by: looker at September 13, 2004 02:05 PM

I've been a single-issue voter since September 11. I support whoever is more likely to postpone what I can't helping thinking is the inevitable catastrophe that will end up killing millions of us. Everything else is minor. (My one small wish after the 2002 midterm elections was for Judge Miguel Estrada. Didn't happen, but it might have if Bush had raised the stakes.)

I don't consider any of the things people have mentioned to be betrayals. They are just garden-variety stupid policy. The real betrayal occurred shortly after the Gingrichians took office in 1995. I was probably the only employee of the federal government to support the shutdown, and Dole's cave-in was such a betrayal that I seriously considered not voting for him. Once the Republicans had backed down, that was the end of any real efforts to shrink the federal government. Our moment had passed.

So I'm not bothered much at all by what's happening outside the WOT. I just made a significant contribution to BC04, my first contribution to a presidential candidate since I gave a dollar to Humphrey when I was a kid. In short, I'm fully supporting Bush, and it's hard to think of anything that would make me stop.

-- Attila

Posted by: Attila at September 13, 2004 02:05 PM

I think that most criticisms of Bush's spending policy fail to take into account the context.
1) Bush lost the popular vote and needed the SCOTUS to put a quick end to Dem nonsense...but that strengthened the perception that he didn't win. That left him without any sort of "Mandate of the People" argument to push his agenda. Democrats could and did willfully obstruct the things he wanted to do.
2) Politicians need political capital to get things done. As mentioned above, sometimes that can come from a Mandate of the People (i.e., a landslide), sometimes from your party having control of Congress, but often it comes from making deals. If you need Democrat help to get something passed through the Senate, you have to give something to Senate Democrats. Bush got something for his agenda for every big-spending item he handed to the Democrats. For instance, we really needed to get the tax cuts passed in the recession he inherited, and we really needed the tax cuts accelerated after 9/11 to prevent a depression. The Democrats said they would oppose it, and I really think it took $15 billion for AIDS prevention in Africa, funding the No Child Left Behind Act, and a drug prescription plan for seniors to get enough votes to get the tax cuts accelerated. Why are you so quick to swallow the Old Media line that "(Republican) Presidents don't affect the economy" when this one obviously made a huge difference?
3) Allowing govt growth while simultaneously cutting taxes has resulted in the projection of a deficit, yes. The revenue growth because of the tax cuts has ameliorated that somewhat...but what it does do is set Bush up to make sweeping cuts in his next administration. He'll have a strong Mandate, he'll probably have a Republican-controlled (if not dominated) congress to help him out with it, and he'll have all sorts of quotes from Democrat leaders that "The deficit is a bad thing" to shore up support to make cuts to reduce the deficit.
Now, if that doesn't come to pass, Bush will go down in history as a bad President. But I think there is good reason to believe President Bush's second term of office will be much more conservative than the first. And if by chance he loses...leaving a significantly large deficit prevents Democrats from going hog wild on spending, and maybe even force THEM into spending cuts, since they'd face a hostile Republican congress.
Patience, folks. Help is on the way, just not from the direction Kerry asserts.

There will be a fight in the Republican tent very soon, just after the Democrats implode. The thing I like about it is that with the rise of the internet, there will be much more debate going from the grassroots upward, rather than direction and "take it or leave it" coming from the top down.

Posted by: Nathan at September 13, 2004 03:19 PM

"most criticisms of Bush's spending policy fail to take into account the context"

...uh, you mean a context like 9/11 maybe?

I'd argue that the administration generally just effin' IGNORED the simply enormous public "goodwill" and political capital that the president had after standing and speaking on the still smoking ruins of the Twin Towers ...goodwill not only from the American public, but half the stinkin' planet.

And don't forget that the administration only increased in public stature after taking out the Taliban in a few months ...all this just added to his political capital (both here AND abroad).

Hell, the American public would have forgiven him the bloody year he took to take out Sadaam, if he wouldn't have twittered away in State Department by vacillating at the borders of Syria (where we ALL are pretty sure the damn Iraqi WMDs are stored).

Or if he'd just allowed someone - ANYONE - to just flat-out shoot Sadr. You know, the "A" word.

Or sent a sure-fire, totally clear message to the millions of young Iranian dissidents that we would support them with money, weapons & intel if they would fruitfully spend their blood.

Nobody over here to the right-of-center has forgotten or ignored the "context of the times". I just think the administration could have used that political capital much better then they have.

Don't get me wrong: I'm still going to vote for him. Who-in-hell else is there? But I don't think sugar-coating the political "reality on the ground" is necessary.

The real question is: Did the administration "use" that 90% plus "political capital" they enjoyed, or did they just squander it?

Posted by: brandon davis at September 13, 2004 04:10 PM

I don't know, Brandon, every time I read criticisms of Bush's fiscal performance, no one ever seems to mention the economic hit our nation took with 9/11, and how it required massive intervention by the President to get the tax cuts accelerated.
The Dems were still playing politics with national security, demanding that he come to Congress for approval (being convinced he wouldn't have the guts), and then complaining because he came to them right before the 2002 election, which amounted to forcing their hand on such a high-profile issue...

One could look at Bush's successes and say that was political capital earned with the falling of the towers, and so blame Bush for not getting/doing more. Personally, I see that the Democrats were uncooperative from day 1, and returned to being uncooperative less than one month after 9/11, and so I prefer to believe that the past three years were extraordinary times requiring extraordinary methods to resolve problems, and that his Republican fiscal responsibility will reappear in the next term. After all, he wasn't known as a big spender while running Texas, was he? So which is the aberration, and which is the true demonstration of his goals?

Posted by: Nathan at September 13, 2004 04:39 PM

I have read through all of these comments as well as the post, and I think there is something to be said on both sides of the issue.

I was not an enthusiastic Bush supporter in 2000. My preference was Forbes. Still, I held my nose and voted for Bush. Since that time,however I have begun to develop a grudging admiration for GWB. I didn't like the steel tariffs, I didn't like the creation of a new bureaucracy, Homeland Security. I don't like the illegal immigration situation. I didn't like the Medicare Prescription Benefit.

Yet, in retrospect they may have some redeeming features. Probably the most significant long term aspect of the Homeland Security legislation was the first step in the destruction of the federal civil service laws, making it possible to actually fire a civil servant for something less than treason. The prescription benefit was crafted to minimize the number of beneficiaries that would actually use it, as we are seeing borne out today, while creating a rather viable Health Savings Account package that can ultimately replace Medicare over time. I think his education testing is a master stroke to ultimately undermine the stranglehold that the NEA has on the nations schools. So, maybe he is more subtile than we give him credit for. I still don't see any redeeming features for the tariffs and the immigration policies, but perhaps they are actually there, just hidden.

As a former military person (24yrsAF) I have been taken by Rummy. He has done what I didn't think was even possible...turn the Pentagon upside down, beat the brass over the head, and make them play nice, or more correctly, joint. He and Bush have used the entire military establishment in such a way that military schools worldwide will be studying his approach for years to come.

And, I have been impressed by the people Bush has chosen in his administration...strong, knowledgable, dedicated. A weak leader doesn't surround himself with strong people. A great leader does. I like his approach to diplomacy, try nice first, then do what needs to be done!

As far as policy is concerned, Stephen Den Beste at USS Clueless has a monograph on terrorism that seems to predict (in 2002)what the administration is doing now, and tells why. If that is indeed what they're pursuing, they are several layers deeper than most of the public discourse suggests.

I plan to vote for GWB this time around without holding my nose. If the impressions I have are correct, GWB will go down in history along with FDR and Saint Ronny.

Posted by: John F. at September 13, 2004 05:36 PM

Hindsight, I s'pose, isn't always 20-20.

I do understand the myriad difficulties that the administration was (and still is ...though I think more recent wounds are self-inflicted) operating under.

...and what the defection of Jumpin'Jim "May-He-Rot-In-Political-Hell" Jeffords meant to the day-to-day mechanics of Senatorial politics.

...and the damage of the obstructionary exercise of reactionary politics as despicably practiced in a period of national danger by Tom "May-He-Get-What-He-So-Richly-Deserves-In-November" Dashle, and as was so wonderfully and recently expostulated upon by the inestimable Zell "Give-Me-That-Ol'-Time-Religion" Miller.

But. Didn't the GOP pick up seats in the mid-term elections? Might not they have done even better with a more conservative course?

What, after all, was the reason for the precipitous decline in the President's immense popularity ...might it not have been the popular perception that the administration seemed to be waffling (i.e., on those things that I've previously enumerated)?

But ...I just don't think we'll see eye-to-eye on this subject ...too many "might-have-beens" ...too many angels (or moonbats) dancin' on pin-heads (pun intended).

I simply don't agree that the preponderance of the legislative issues indicate that the political outcome would necessarily have been electorally negative, had the questionable policies not been pursued.

How can you know, now?

What is the "real" implication of the enormous decline in the president's numbers?

Isn't it just as conceivable that the expenditure of that enormous 90% plus "political capital" in pursuit of a conservative fiscal course, and a more aggressive prosecution of the war, would have *increased* the administration's stature?

Posted by: brandon davis at September 13, 2004 05:52 PM

Sorry I haven't participated more. I'll try to address the major points:

Thacker: Thanks for stopping me short on the regulation issue. For some reason, I'd been under the impression that regulations were growing faster, but I've obviously confused that issue with something else.

On the other hand I'm not so sure that Bush has governed as a moderate. He's certainly increased spending and social programs like the classical liberal stereoptype. And he's cut taxes like the classical conservative stereotype. The two, however, do not make one a "moderate". It is fiscal insanity, among other things.

McQ, on Roosevelt:

I don't think they'd have had the opportunity to do so since history now seems to agree that without the war his policies would have failed and he'd have probably been a one term president.
I don't know. Whether they succeed or not--and I'd agree they did not--they certainly gave people the impression that he was "working for them"...."doing something". Well, he was. It was counterproductive, but he kept jumping back on that horse.

But a "one-term President"? Did the war help him a great deal in 1936? I doubt it was a turning factor.


So, is it better to teach your party a lesson and return to the days of the "The Glorious Defeat"; or dilute a candidate until he is unrecognizable, but wins?

The neoconservative domestic doctrine seems fairly clear on that: win. (they're the pragmatic sort, you see)

The ideological sort go the other way. I think it, obviously, has to be a balancing act, but I'm not sure it can be balanced very far to the right. I honestly don't know.

your theory is undermined by internals of polls that show that Bush's support is firmer than Kerrys.
I keep hearing that. I am less than convinced, though. I know that's terribly unscientific of me, but it's not been my experience that Republicans are more motivated today than they were against, say, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, etc.

The Dems, on the other hand, are already lining up to vote against Bush.

You're also wrong that the difference on the war between the 2 isn't that great. The difference is a chasm
In the microscope of the 'sphere, there is. In the public circle, though, both of them claim they will stay in Iraq, and "go after Al Qaeda".

I'm not talking about the people--on the left and right--who can cite chaper and verse of the National Security Strategy. I'm talking about the people--most people--who will wake up during the debates, listen to a guy at work, and vote for the guy with the best hair, so long as he's not actively advocating a nuclear first-strike on the Dakotas.

Frankly--speaking big-picture here--I don't think there's a heck of a lot of difference between Bush and Kerry in the WoT, considering the realistic constraints we'll be under in the next four years. It's not like we're going to invade NoKo or anything.

But, even in the smaller areas, I prefer Bush's proactive big-picture approach to Kerry's less proactive one.

Brandon: yeah, that's pretty much it, isn't it?


I call them conservative populists; some people call 'em Southern Democrats or Reagan Democrats.

Good point. I wonder, though, if they're as prominent as they were in the Cold War 70s-80s. Or if they haven't found a party. I don't know.


The real betrayal occurred shortly after the Gingrichians took office in 1995.

Damned good point. I don't think enough is made of that. The GOP got into office on principle, and then sold out. They sold out after they'd been elected.


I think that most criticisms of Bush's spending policy fail to take into account the context. [...] Why are you so quick to swallow the Old Media line that "(Republican) Presidents don't affect the economy" when this one obviously made a huge difference?

I don't think you'll have many buyers for that on this blog. Absent a major policy change--more major than the fairly minimal "tax cuts"--Presidents don't directly affect the economy that much. It was true in the 90s, it was true during the recession, it is true during the recovery. Their impact is marginal.

Bush, in my opinion, had some positive effect on the economy, but the overall fiscal package was not very conservative or libertarian. At all.

Posted by: Jon Henke at September 13, 2004 06:00 PM

Overall fiscal package not conservative? True.

But I still think the operative word is why? People act like we have only 3+ years of record to look at for Bush. But what do his 6 years as Governor of Texas show? I'm just a layman, so I could easily be wrong here, but my impressions were he was quite fiscally conservative.

He surrounded himself with strong advisors, many with strong conservative and business credentials. He's shown that while he makes the final decisions, he listens to his advisors and makes policy decisions based on their (competing) input. I don't think that the people he appointed/hired to advise him are unaware of the impact of his agenda, and I just can't believe Bush ignored their advice to be fiscally irresponsible, or alternatively, that they are as fiscally ignorant/irresponsible as many pundits seem to think.

What's the answer? [shrug] I'm not sure. I have noticed that liberals think he's way too extremely conservative while ignoring his spending. But conservatives think he's way to liberal in spending and seem to discard the idea that he is doing what he feels to be the best for the nation based on the advice of his administration...even if it runs counter to what any one individual voter may think. Heck, experts have been wrong before, and the fact that conservative and liberal experts look at the same guy and come to diametrically opposed conclusions is significant to me. So my conclusion is that even the spending and deficit may be a strategic move by Bush and his advisors. I can't guarantee it or point to anything more substantial than my gut feeling, but Bush has surprised so many people so many times, I can't put it past him.

Posted by: Nathan at September 13, 2004 09:46 PM

Um, 2nd paragraph should start with "As President,"

Posted by: Nathan at September 14, 2004 09:41 AM

The two wings of the socialist party have perfected a method of marching this country inot slavery. One wing of the party nominates someone you don't want and the other nominates someone you won't have.

It doesn't matter which wing of the socialist party you belong to, you still face the same choice. If you're a member of the GOP wing of the socialist party, you have the choice of Bush (the candidate you don't want) or Kerry (the candidate you won't have). If you are a member of the Democrat wing of the socialist party, you have the choice between Kerry (the candidate you don't want) and Bush (the candidate you won't have).

But see the trap they've set? If you go outside of the socialist party to find a candidate you want, they tell you that you will ensure that you get the candidate you won't have. The GOP socialists are telling people who want constitutional government that if they vote 3rd party, then Kerry will be elected. The Democrats are telling their people that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush.

And many people are stupid enough to fall for this trap. And what does it get them? A socialist in office. Less freedom. Bigger government. More taxes. (And no one had better be dumb enough to say that Bush cut taxes. Deficit spending is just a hidden tax. Every cent the government spends has to come from us.)

And I hope that no one here is going to try to tell me that the GOP isn't a socialist party. Anyone looking at their record can see that they are socialist.

Posted by: Corbett at September 19, 2004 10:49 PM