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Bush 2.0?

NY Observer commentary:

Despite President Bush's rock-bottom poll numbers, a horrendously mismanaged war and a growing awareness that the President has betrayed them on a host of issues from immigration to government spending, conservatives seem unwilling to recognize their own role as "enablers" of a failed President.

And even worse, they seem ready to repeat their mistake in selecting a 2008 champion.

It is worth remembering that before he became president, then-Governor George Bush had to convince the Republican elders that he was their man: solidly conservative, more reliable than John McCain and an easy sell to the voters by virtue of his family name. He courted and was tutored by the likes of Henry Kissinger, George Schultz and Dick Cheney. They returned from the meetings confident of his bona fides and assured donors that he would be a safe choice for the G.O.P. establishment.

The party faithful convinced themselves that he would remain true to conservative principles despite the irksome references to "compassionate conservatism"--an overt dig at the conservatism many of his supporters believed needed no modifier.

You'll have to click the link to see who they're talking about. I'll just say that I agree with them.

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Rating: 3.7/5 (3 votes cast)

Comments (4)

Steve Crickmore:

Paul, this comment probably should refer to your earlier post 'The Manichean Presidency' but it is worth adding here, that a Republican conservative almost but their very nature are going to be shifty, dodgy creatures, even to their own followers. Even George W. Bush seems difficult to read: is he is simply 'evil' or does he earnestly believe in the Manichean world?. Glenn Greenwald seems to come down on the latter in an interesting column but doesn't rule out the former..I suppose enormous self deception could allow you to be both.

Paul Hamilton:

What passes for conservative today bears little resemblance to the TRUE conservatism of people like Barry Goldwater and Everett Dirksen that I remember from my younger days. The "conservatism" of today IS sneaky because there's always some hidden motivation to their agenda.

Lee Ward:

Barry Goldwater only got something like 38% of the popular vote. That shows that Goldwater-style true conservatism didnt have a prayer in 1964, and not much has changed, imho.

Ronald Reagan is a marker for the age of neo-conservatism. Remember that Reagan was a Democrat until he switched in 1962 (at the height of President Kennedy's ultra-liberals 'Camelot' era) and he pulled the GOP away for Goldwaters' extremism towards the "neo-conservative" center. Reagan went on to win the presidency in 1980, but that was more a question of Jimmy Carter losing the election (as a result of run-away inflation) than it was a case of America embracing conservatism. With Reagan, the GOP neo-conservative machine was 'born".

Reagan's charisma, and the lack of charisma for his opponent "Milquetoast" Mondale, helped insure his second term re-election in 1984. The neo-cons were well-ensconced at that point, putting VP Papa Bush in power when Reagan term-limited out of the White House, and pushing conservatism firmly into the wings of the GOP.

Unless a "true conservative" moves towards the middle and embraces a more liberal social agenda, leaving true conservatism behind in the process, they just aren't going to get elected, imho.

Paul Hamilton:

A true conservative would have as much of a hands-off social policy as possible. It's only since Lee Atwater sold out the party to the religious fanatics that "conservatism" has been linked to a theocratic agenda. Barry Goldwater was horrified by the idea that the party he served for so long had become the tool of people like Robertson and Falwell.


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

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