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Noonan: Bush Tears Conservative Base Asunder

Wall St. Journal commentary:


What political conservatives and on-the-ground Republicans must understand at this point is that they are not breaking with the White House on immigration. They are not resisting, fighting and thereby setting down a historical marker--"At this point the break became final." That's not what's happening. What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them. What President Bush is doing, and has been doing for some time, is sundering a great political coalition. This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party but for the American future.

The White House doesn't need its traditional supporters anymore, because its problems are way beyond being solved by the base. And the people in the administration don't even much like the base. Desperate straits have left them liberated, and they are acting out their disdain. Leading Democrats often think their base is slightly mad but at least their heart is in the right place. This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place.

For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don't like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don't like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.

The last paragraph is the key. Bush is not a conservative even though he plays one on tv. He simply expects the red base to follow him wherever he goes because he is a Republican president. But candidates like Paul and Tancredo didn't just appear out of thin air. They represent a growing dissatisfaction within the Republican ranks about the direction the party is taking and I believe that split will only intensify in the run-up to the 2008 election. I don't know which wing of the party will carry the day, but it's just about certain that the New Republican Party will bear little resemblance to what Bush has made it.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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