Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 20, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

BARTLETT ON BUSH....Bruce Bartlett is not a happy camper these days. A Reagan-era conservative who thinks that George Bush has betrayed conservatism, he got fired a few months ago from his job at the conservative think tank NCPA because he decided to write a book explaining in detail just why he thinks Bush is a "pretend conservative."

Appropriately, the book is called Impostor, and I have a review essay about it in the current issue of the Monthly. Here's a passage from the review that a friend of mine said was his favorite:

I've long viewed George Bush as a temperamental conservative, the kind of guy you meet in a bar who slams down his drink and asks belligerently, You know what this country needs? and then proceeds to tell you. He's a conservative who is defined by a visceral loathing of '60s-era moral decay, not one who's read the collected works of Russell Kirk and Milton Friedman or who has been inhaling National Review since he was a teenager. Still, even if the guy in the bar is indeed one particular type of conservative, Bartlett makes the reasonable point that a conservative president needs to have at least a few vague guiding conservative principles, and those are hard to find in Bush. If you raise spending, increase tariffs, and create new entitlements without blinking an eye, even belligerence doesn't make you into a genuine conservative.

As it turns out, I think Bartlett is basically right about Bush though wrong about some of his other conclusions and I think the book has some lessons for liberals as well conservatives. But you'll have to read to the end of the review to find out what they are.

It's worth adding a note here, though. I email with Bruce regularly, and he's a nice guy and an honest analyst. More honest than me, in fact. But while I hope his book does well, it's worth keeping in mind that Bruce is disappointed in Bush because he's not conservative enough. He voted for John Schmitz in 1972 and went to work for Ron Paul in 1976 because Paul claimed he was to the right of Barry Goldwater. If he had his way, I imagine he'd pretty much dismantle every government program that I hold dear.

Just something to keep in mind. The fact that he's harshing on Bush is music to our ears, but he's still on the other side.

In the meantime, though, Bruce emails to say that he likes this article in the Dallas Observer that tells the tale of how he got fired from his job at NCPA. He thinks it tells the story pretty well.

Kevin Drum 12:57 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (91)

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From the first time I read Bartlett about a year and a half ago, I thought to myself, "politically I don't agree with him, but he IS a remarkably honest man." I bookmarked the site that published his weekly columns and read him for the next year -- probably one of only two or three conservatives I read regularly. I'm not surprised that he got the Paul O'Neal treatment, but I expect him to bounce back soon enough. The good ones deserve it, though unfortunately "deserve's" got nothing to do with it.

--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on February 20, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

Bush is a disaster for the left and right. That's why his poll numbers are tanking. Libs rightfully hate him because his john wayne immitation is all hat and no cattle -- the ignorant bluster - he's the kind of guy you want to see popped in the mouth or tossed out of a car on the freeway....

And gopers hate him [ I know because I am surrounded by them] because he is a poseur - a neocon - with so little understanding of economics or world history that its pretty self evident that he is out of his league... which also makes him dangerous.

History will not be kind to this president... even the conservatives are gunning for him -

He did to the republican party what clinton did to the democrats... he disgraced the office and party -- and Dems were forced to defend the indefensible.

That's Bush's crime as well.

Posted by: arsenia on February 20, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

I read your review a few days ago.

Very interesting observations regarding the essentially peripheral nature of the current political battles between the two parties. I agree with the most of it, but the Iraq misadventure necessitates a modification of that assessment.

Posted by: lib on February 20, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

Lib: My review, as well as Bartlett's book, was primarily focused on domestic issues. Iraq and post-9/11 foreign policy in general is definitely a different issue.

As it happens, I actually think there's a case to be made that 9/11 hasn't really changed the political scene all that much either, but it's definitely a different and weaker case than you can make for domestic policy.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on February 20, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

If you raise spending, increase tariffs, and create new entitlements without blinking an eye,

Err...the bit about tariffs shows, I think, an utter ignorance of anything and everything regarding the history of the tariff. Well into the twentieth century (certainly up to the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930), a high tariff was always the policy favored by the party representing conservative eastern business interests - first the Federalists, then the Whigs, and finally the Republicans. Since World War II or so, I find it hard to notice any especial partisan pattern on free trade issues - presidents of both parties have generally been fairly strongly in favor of free trade, with some exceptions.

Looked at in a broader context than the US, the issue of tariffs and free trade has always been one where Conservatives have been the ones in favor of higher tariffs. Looking at Britain, for instance, it was a tory government that instituted the Corn Law tariffs on agricultural products in 1815, it was the Radicals who were strongest opposed to the Tariff, and it was the far right of the Tory Party (led by the young Benjamin Disraeli) who brought down the moderate Conservative PM Sir Robert Peel for repealing them. Later, in the early 20th century, the Liberal Party remained firm for free trade through the First World War, while the Conservatives gradually embraced protection. (I'm not completely clear on the Labour position on this issue, but my basic understanding is that it was the Tories - and especially the Chamberlain family, who had, it is true, started out as Liberals - who pushed protection)

In continental Europe, too, the traditional Conservative agricultural interests were always strong for high tariffs, and the liberals generally opposed them.

So, support for free trade is most certainly not a "conservative" position. It is a tenet of classical liberalism, and can only be seen as a conservative position insofar as contemporary conservatism can be seen as equivalent to classical liberalism, which I don't think it can be. Elements of classical liberalism are accepted across the political spectrum, but the idea that conservatives somehow have any particularly strong claim to the mantle seems dubious at best, particularly on the issue of tariffs, where there is a long, storied history of conservatives being in favor of high tariffs - including Conservatives who in other ways embraced many aspects of the classical liberal model (certainly the Chamberlains, or Herbert Hoover's Republican Party, can hardly be seen as enemies of classical liberalism)

The kind of historical blindness that would allow someone to say that high tariffs are a position anathema to conservatism is astonishing.

Posted by: John on February 20, 2006 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

We are being governed by Individualist Conservatives right now and it is killing our nation. What happened to the Traditional Conservatives of the Burkean variety, Kevin? Do they even exist anymore?

Posted by: Acer on February 20, 2006 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Paul and Bruce Bartlett appear to be closer to many liberals on several issues, like civil liberties and opposition to the federal reserve's penchant for meddling in the stock market through the Federal Open Market Committee'a "feed" to the big financial institutions, inflating the money supply (and discontinuing reporting M3, so no one can tell), and supporting the creation of one bubble after the next (stock market until 2001 and the current housing price "boom").

While they would destroy most of the programs that provide a public good (mass transit and public education, not to mention entitlements), it's useful to see where the fault lines are in conservative camp. I suspect another one is the resentment over the undue influence of the religous right. Thanks for this post.

Posted by: DevilDog on February 20, 2006 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

Acer: I strongly disagree with your characterization of Bush as an individualist conservative. Bruce Bartlett is an individualist conservative. All of his complaints are about collectivist economic policies.

Posted by: FXKLM on February 20, 2006 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

It's worth adding a note here, though. I email with Bruce regularly, and he's a nice guy and an honest analyst. More honest than me, in fact.

Well, yeah, more honest than you, Drum.

He admits he's a Republican.

Doh.

Posted by: Lettuce on February 20, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, your review reveals something in what it doesn't say. There is no voting constituency for corporate welfare, yet we get more of it every year.

That says more about the state of modern politics, and who controls it, than anything else.

Posted by: craigie on February 20, 2006 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

FXKLM:

That is seriously mistaken. The dividing line between individualist conservatives and traditional conservatives is more important for that.

Traditional conservatives value "alter and throne." Alter because religion provides a sense of majesty and unity to a people, and throne (natural aristocracy) because the best people to govern a society are those who have distinguished themselves through education, wisdom, and cultural works.

Bush and Bartlett place absolutely no value on tradition as a guiding force - if he did, his main backers wouldn't be religious backers that don't have the faintest fucking clue what Christianity meant in the 1900 years before Farmer Fucking Bob Pastor got a hold of his Bible. And he wouldn't include such repugnant populist measures in his platform.

Not everything boils down to money. Bartlett and Bush both respect private property as all conservatives do. They are merely arguing how far they should go with their destructive individualist conservative ideology.

John Adams, come save us...

Posted by: Acer on February 20, 2006 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

I always find it funny when liberals rush to praise a hard core conservative because they bash Bush (or some other Republican or policy). I also find it odd when they are quick to bash and condemn a left of center politician who doesn't agree with them on every issue.

I don't understand how a Hilary Clinton or Joe Biden can be the scorn of the liberals, while the one or two times Andrew Sullivan says something liberals agree with, they parade him around like he's God's gift to humanity and the GOP.

Posted by: gq on February 20, 2006 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

Patience will achieve more than force.
Edmund Burke

Posted by: Acer on February 20, 2006 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

Really, Bush isn't a conservative or a liberal.

I can only describe his governing motif as schizophrenic.

He seems conservative in his massive tax cuts -- but then he massively increases government spending, like a so-called big government liberal.

He invades Iraq like a the most trigger happy, aggressive conservative -- but then defends the decision by the "liberal" rationale of spreading democracy through nation building.

He declares that he wants government out of people's lives, but then invades their privacies via wiretaps under the cover of total secrecy.

His "philosophy" is riddled through with these kinds of blatant contradictions. It just doesn't add up to anything; it's incoherent; there's no there there, because it's built on inherent inconsistencies.

Under Bush, Confusion is King. And everywhere one looks, one sees its handiwork.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 20, 2006 at 2:10 AM | PERMALINK

Bush is an embarrassment. Every conservative would love to cliam this loser... but can't. Bush is simply inept, incompetent, incurious, arrogant, and trailer trash.

He is the extreme living embodiment of one who would be washing dishes at Denny's.. but gets tabbed to be pReznut with help of the right wing media.

At this point, it's a comedy and a tragedy all wrapped in one. Quite frankly, this country is screwed beyond salvation. All because some hucksters in the right wing decided that a Bush is better than 2 Clintons in the hand.

PS: Cheney appointed himself VP. The neocons are corrupt bastards held over the Reagan years, and the public looks on with confusion.

Posted by: Jay in Oregon on February 20, 2006 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

Bush is a "pretend conservative."

Kevin, as usually libs like you and Michael Moore don't understand what conservatism is really about so let me explain. Conservatism is about three things.

One, it's about killing the terrorists. Conservatives believe we should kill the terrorists before they attack again.

Two, it's about preventing the murder of the unborn. Conservatives believe Roe and Griswold should be overturned so that abortions can be banned and the unborn, the most defenseless members of our society, can be saved.

Three, it's about banning gay marriage. Conservatives believe we should do everything possible to prevent the spread of the radical homosexual agenda which is undermining the traditional marriage and family.

Bush and other conservatives have said over and over again this is what conservatives believe. That is what conservatives like Bush have tried to enact. What excuse can you possibly have to explain why you still don't understand?

Posted by: Al on February 20, 2006 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Thank you for your interesting review of Mr. Bartlett's book.

When you say "Reagan was a reaction to an era, not the father of a movement," I hope you are right, but even if true, it will take a long time to undo the damage done by the Reagan administration in dismantling social programs, ignoring the emerging AIDS epidemic, and making screw-the-poor policies respectable — even if liberals were to come to control the two elected branches of government for an extended time. Even the ludicrously hare-brained and unworkable Strategic Defense Initiative refuses to die.

Worse is your quote "Even at that, though, he [Bush] only barely won." Bush did not win. He lost the popular vote, and he also lost the legitimate electoral vote that would have prevailed if, for example, we had counted the "overvote" ballots where the voter both punched the whole for a candidate and wrote in the candidate's name. Bush did not win in 2000. The election was stolen by five corrupt "justices" who violated their own legal principles in order to arrive at a result they were so ashamed of that they declared the decision had no value as a precedent. Never forget that and never acknowledge anything to the contrary as anything but a lying Republican fantasy.

And if you want a couple of big-ticket liberal wishes that most voters either want now, or would want if the chattering class were truthful, I'll mention single-payer health care and a serious response to the global climate crisis. Or, how about a UN ambassador who actually believes that the UN has a useful role to play in world civilization? Or a government that understands that tropical storms are a serious threat to our national security, and prepares and responds appropriately?

I don't think we're fighting over who gets the most toys. What we are fighting for now is a restoral of basic fair play that existed before the K Street project, before the illegal Texas reapportionment, before the unlimited lockup and routine torture of prisoners known to be innocent, before the idea that wearing an anti-administration t-shirt made one subject to arrest. This is a lot more than "toys." This is the heart and soul of what George Washington's men bled for at Valley Forge.

Respectfully,

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on February 20, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I hesitate to use a football analogy, but I think this one fits, so here goes.
Coach Bill Parcells of The Dallas Cowboys believes that a team is defined by it's record. It doesn't matter if you thought that your team should have been better, that they would have made the playoffs if so and so hadn't been injured. Your team would have been better if the kicker hadn't missed that field goal. But your team's record was 7 wins, 9 losses, and you weren't good enough. In fact you were exactly as good as your record.

Which is why I think that Bruce Bartlett is full of crap, however honest he may be. The Bush administration is the culmination of 30 years of political planning by the right wingers, who proudly call themselves "conservatives". The conservatives now own all branches of the federal government. They have been wildly successful at getting people to distrust and even hate the government. That is the heart of their philosophy but it also is a contradiction; when they are in control of the government, should they also hate themselves?

Conservates voted for Bush enthusiastically in two elections. They re-elected him after his government expanding initiatives (I hesitate to call them policies) were enacted. Ther re-elected him despite his cavalier attitude toward defecits. Conservatives own Bush (and Cheney and DeLay and Rove). They own the Iraqi war, the crony capitalism, the destruction of the middle class through the exportation of jobs, the practice of torture, the disregard for law and everything that the Bush administration has brought us for the last five years. I'll be damned if they should get off so easy as Mr. Bartlett would wish. This is their record, history will record it and they don't get to weasel out of it.

Posted by: Another Bruce on February 20, 2006 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

Although Bartlett rightly views Bush as a disaster, it's hard to see how the US political culture would be better served if people like Bartlett were in charge of the GOP. Bruce Bartlett and his ilk are opposed to the entire idea of the federal government on general principles; they believe that government has no legitimate purpose except for the defense of private property rights. Were Bartlett alive in 1787, he would be opposed to the Constitution and fighting for the preservation of the Articles of Confederation.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on February 20, 2006 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

Fake Al is pretty funny.

Conservatism is about three things. One, it's about killing the terrorists.

Now, there's a philosophy for the ages. Apparently conservatism didn't exist on Sept. 10, 2001. So...was GWB a conserative when he was elected? Because "killing the terrorists" definitely didn't figure in his 2000 campaign platform.

Posted by: Sgt. Schulz on February 20, 2006 at 4:21 AM | PERMALINK

By "the terrorists", they mean someone weaker than us we can blame for everything and stoke the fires of fear. More Willie Horton, anyone?

Posted by: Kenji on February 20, 2006 at 4:46 AM | PERMALINK

The fact that he's harshing on Bush is music to our ears, but he's still on the other side.

At this point Bush threatens all Americans alike, regardless of politics. I'll gladly take allies on this point, and we can resume sparring on government like normal people do after Bush has been evicted.

Posted by: jim p on February 20, 2006 at 4:57 AM | PERMALINK

about asbestos cancer and prostate cancer,asbestos Cancer also called

malignant prostate Cancer
mesothelioma is a disease in which
prostate Cancer (malignant) cells are found in the sac lining the chest (the

pleura) or abdomen (the peritoneum). It is a rare form of cancer. Most people with malignant
mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they breathed asbestos.

You should see a doctor if you experience shortness of breath, pain in the chest, or pain or swelling in the abdomen. If

there are Prostate Cancer symptoms, your doctor may order an x-ray of the

chest or abdomen.

Your doctor may look inside the chest cavity with a special instrument called a thoracoscope. A cut will be made through the

chest wall and the thoracoscope will be put into the chest between two ribs
asbestos Cancer Symptoms. This test, called thoracoscopy, is usually done in

the hospital. Before the test, the patient will be given a local anesthetic (a drug that causes a loss of feeling for a short

period of time). Some pressure may be felt, but usually there is no pain.

Your doctor may also look inside the abdomen (peritoneoscopy) with a special tool called a peritoneoscope. The peritoneoscope

is put into an opening made in the abdomen. This test is also usually done in the hospital. Before the test is done, a local

anesthetic will be given.

If tissue that is not normal is found, the doctor will need to cut out a small piece and have it looked at under a microscope

to see if there are any cancer cells. This is called a biopsy. Biopsies are usually done during the thoracoscopy or

peritoneoscopy.

The chance of recovery (prognosis) depends on the size of the cancer, where the cancer is, how far the cancer has spread,

your age, how the cancer cells look under the microscope, how the asbestos

Cancer or malignant mesothelioma responds to treatment.

Posted by: vee on February 20, 2006 at 5:17 AM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, arguing that GWB isn't a conservative is similar to arguing that American conservatives aren't actually conservative (i.e. they're not interested in preserving traditional communities, they would back Wal-Mart over the local store that's been there for decades) or that American liberals aren't actually liberal (they aren't in favor of free trade and laissez-faire economics, the hallmarks of 19th-century liberalism). The meanings of these terms change all the time, and they change very fast under the pressure of intensely fought all-encompassing political conflicts like the ones we're in now.

Posted by: brooksfoe on February 20, 2006 at 5:19 AM | PERMALINK

Reading through that Dallas Observer article, two disturbing points are raised (yet again). There are others, of course, but these two jump out for me.

Number 1: Problem was, he discovered Bush and his inner circle had no economic policy, as far as Bartlett could figure.

Jeez, where have we heard that before? O'Neill and DiLullio perhaps?

Number 2: he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do... He truly believes he's on a mission from God.

So, I guess, if I can infer here, who needs policies if you are on a mission from God?

Disturbing, disturbing, disturbing....

Posted by: Cognitive Dissonance on February 20, 2006 at 6:02 AM | PERMALINK

The conservatism Bartlett espouses was always moralistic first and then intellectual - a political form of Thomism. Conservatives like Bush/Rove have just simplified it by shucking the intellectual part. Two reasons for this: Bush is lazy; Rove doesn't need intellectual arguments to win elections.

Posted by: saintsimon on February 20, 2006 at 6:15 AM | PERMALINK

why he thinks Bush is a "pretend conservative"

A pretend conservative? Bush is a pretend "man."

Posted by: Qusan on February 20, 2006 at 7:15 AM | PERMALINK

"The meanings of [conservative and liberal] change all the time, and they change very fast under the pressure of intensely fought all-encompassing political conflicts like the ones we're in now."

In the post Bush years the term liberal will change very little. Bush has done nothing to challenge the legitimacy of big government (with some differences as to how government is applied): spending is way up, virtually nothing is being slashed (think Dept. Of Ed., the much hated social security reform didn't attack the core concept of the program, etc.), and even Iraq is Kosovo or Somalia on steroids. Face it, you guys have won (to the extent anything after FDR would lead you to a different conclusion). The intense political conflict isn't a fight to the death, it's what often happens when there's not much to fight over. Some one recently said that years from now liberals will look back at Chimpy McBushitlerburton and wonder what the kerfuffle was all about. I think that's about right.

Posted by: scouser on February 20, 2006 at 7:36 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin's review in WM: "Americans may not be ready for European-style soft socialism, but poll after poll demonstrates that they like Social Security and Medicare, they support iconic liberal programs in areas like environmentalism and worker safety, and they're pretty tolerant on social issuesand getting more tolerant over time, not less. George Bush couldn't have bucked these trends even if he'd wanted to"

Do we need a list on how Bush and his ideological henchmen installed in regulatory agencies have bucked environmentalism? A few reminders:
1. Opposition to implementing any efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
2. Lowering air quality standards
3. Reduced funding for implementing the Clean Water Act
4. Pushing for drilling in ANWR
5. Increased drilling on public lands in the western states
6. Refusal to push for higher CAFE standards
7. Energy policy emphasing increasing supply vs. decreasing demand
8. The biggest opportunity cost of all -- the Iraq war.

The list goes on and on. As predicted by his performance as governor of Texas, Bush is an environmental disaster that we may never recover from. Dithering about conservative or liberal labels just doesn't hide the reality -- 8 lost years can equate to eons of misery for planet earth at this critical stage of history.

Posted by: lou on February 20, 2006 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

The idea that Bush has "more in common with liberals with true conservatives" is all I need to hear to conclude that Bartlett, nice guy and "honest analyst" though he may be, is an ideological moran [sic]. One can only believe that if one has absorbed the stupidly reductionist errors of the type that are all too common on the right.

The first is that of equating "liberal" with "big government", and even worse with WASTEFUL big government. But waste and inept top-down control are not fundamental principles of liberalism, and they never have been.

The second is not grasping that rightists have their own well-established versions of the top-down, big government style--you know, that fascism thing. Only an ideological idiot (e.g. Limbaugh and his acolytes) claims that liberalism is like fascism/nazism.

Bush ain't no conservative. True. He's a right wing populist. He's a corporatist with a taste for absolute power. He is, in short, verging on fascism. Paul Craig Roberts gets it. Why can't Bartlett?

Posted by: mondo dentro on February 20, 2006 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a good quote from Kevin that didn't make it in to his blog post (I recommend reading Kevin's full review; quite good):

> Like it or not, the pay-to-play machine built
> by Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay and Jack
> Abramoffand enthusiastically supported by
> George Bushis the apotheosis of what the
> Republican Party has always been about, not a
> betrayal of its principles. There is no
> primitive conservatism to go back to, and no
> messiah to lead the Republican Party out of its
> corporate welfare wilderness.

Posted by: Cranky Observer on February 20, 2006 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Gotta agree with Kevin's quote, courtesy of Cranky Observer. Barry Goldwater's conservatism was motivated by principle, but even his principles were co-opted at the beginning by (a) the big-business anti-regulatory crowd, and (b) the Southern states-rights (read 'racist') crowd.

The Southern states-rights crowd gradually morphed into the Moral-Majority, 'Christian'-Coalition crowd, which was both for and against small government and states' rights, depending on how it played with respect to their core issues.

The big-business crowd was also both for and against small government and states' rights, depending on how it played with respect to their core issues.

What you had left of the original Goldwater agenda that everyone not only agreed on, but cared about, was lower taxes and a strong defense. And lower taxes without lowered Federal spending wasn't something Goldwater thought highly of.

The big business crowd also wanted to gut Federal and state regulations, and to get lots of Federal handouts. That was fine with the fundies, as long as the GOP was anti-abortion, anti-gay, as anti-woman's rights as it could get away with being at a given time, and as long as the GOP got lots of conservative judges appointed to the Federal courts. But little of this had to do with any sort of principled conservatism.

Principled conservatives such as Bartlett have basically been lipstick on the pig of the corporate/fundie alliance for the past three decades. They've been that alliance's 'useful idiots,' and little more.

Posted by: RT on February 20, 2006 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

I haven't read Bartlett's book, but does he bother to explain that Bush runs the most corrupt government since Teapot Dome? Bush cared more about delivery war profiteering contracts to American companies than rebuilding post war Iraq and look where we are now. Bush cares more about delivering corporate welfare no-bid contracts to his supporters than he does to rebuilding New Orleans or helping the residents. Bush cared more about the Big Pharma and the Insurance industry than he did about the elderly and their needs and look at his prescription drug plans. Bush cared more about delivering tax cuts to the wealthy than providing a job stimulus program, rebuilding infrastructure or job training. Bush cared more about cutting taxes for the wealthy than the fiscal stability of the budget.

The bottom line of the Bush administration is raiding the US treasury to provide tax breaks, corporate welfare and sweetheart deals to big money donors. Eight years of Bush corruption will create a huge hole for the next administration. It is the damage to the fiscal position of the US that concerns Barlett the most because Bartlett sees that big tax increases are coming. Liberals see the damage to our fiscal position in terms of limiting the ability of the US to invest in infrastructure and human resources. Both sides need to recognize that corruption and lack of Congressional oversight need to be reversed to limit the size of the hole that Bush is creating.

Posted by: bakho on February 20, 2006 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Of course GWB is a conservative. "Conservative", like "liberal" is simply a brand name. Any association with political philosophy is simply an historical oddity.

Posted by: alex on February 20, 2006 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

The scary thing is, both sides of the corporate/fundie alliance are susceptible to the seductions of fascism and the cult of Our Leader.

The corporate types like fascism because it's almost always staunchly pro-business.

The fundie mob likes fascism because it's all for legislating their vision of personal morality, and also because they thrive on enemies. Hence the appeal of war, which not only creates an external enemy, but makes it easy for them to smear internal critics of Our Leader as a treasonous fifth column betraying the country from within.

Any of this sound familiar?

Posted by: RT on February 20, 2006 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

I can only describe his [Bush's] governing motif as schizophrenic. ~FranklyO

Frankly, I'm not being cute when I say that you insult schizophrenics. Bush is more sociopathic, a disorder which, unlike schizophrenia, cannot be medicated.

Posted by: Ace Franze on February 20, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Guys,

Let's not get bogged down in the definition of "real conservative." I site Rick Perlstein's speech "I didn't like Nixon until watergate."

------

As the Internet's smartest liberal blogger, Digby, puts it, tongue only partially in cheek: "'Conservative' is a magic word that applies to those who are in other conservatives' good graces. Until they aren't. At which point they are liberals."

-----

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rick-perlstein/i-didnt-like-nixon-_b_11735.html

In 2008, some GOP member is going to run as the "real conservative," as a way of saying "look, I know that GWB screwed up, but it's only because he wasn't conservative enough. Worry not, my friends, because there is no reason to re-examine your principles."

Posted by: daniel on February 20, 2006 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

"If he had his way, I imagine he'd pretty much dismantle every government program that I hold dear."

Yeah, but we wouldn't be living in a National Security State. Liberals need to realize that you can't have it both ways: if the government is powerful enough to do all the social-economic nanny-statism you want, then it's also big enough to invade your bedrooms, your libraries and build an empire overseas. 5 years of George Bush have made me realize what genuine conservatives have long preached: government needs to be kept on a tight, short leash in ALL areas, or it will get out of control in ALL areas.

Posted by: Red on February 20, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Bartlett worked for the NCPA? If memory serves, that was founded and run by far right-wing nutcase "Pete" DuPont, who basically was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

Posted by: raj on February 20, 2006 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Bartlett might be a reasonably honest conservative, but he is not honest enough. The Bush administration is the logical outgrowth of conservative thought as it has developed over the last 30 years. Bartlett is just appalled at what his philosophy has wrought. Like movement Communists before him he clings to the notion that if the leaders had not betrayed the revolution all would be right. In short they are the pathetic bleats of a man unwilling to look at the logical failings of his own outmoded take on the failed 19th century movement called Social Darwinism.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 20, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Alter and throne"

Oh, please.

'Alter' means to make different, to modify...

'Altar'. The word is altar. "A block or table for making sacrifices. A table used for mass..."

In any case the phrase means the crown and established religion.

'No thanks' to both.

Posted by: CFShep on February 20, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

He did to the republican party what clinton did to the democrats... he disgraced the office and party -- and Dems were forced to defend the indefensible.

That's Bush's crime as well.

A singular "crime"? Well, no.

There's $8.8 billion unaccounted for in the CPA boondoggle. That covers a vast number of crimes. They set that up with conscienceless little geeks straight off college campuses. Fantatic YRs eager to aid and abet. The set it up that way so that massive chaos would attend it: the Enron business model. Go in and loot before viable controls are in place. Then, when that cow was dry, they shut it down. Why investigate? There's no authority with jurisidction? Lovely lovely lovely gangsterism. $8.8 billion in beak wetting. Bush and his cronies getting their taste. That money went somewhere. We deserve to know to whom it went. The Republicans won't even look. So, it is to scoff when people talk about "a" crime that Bush committed. They are gangsters of such magnitude that nothing we've encountered in government before is comparable.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 20, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

if the government is powerful enough to do all the social-economic nanny-statism you want

Once again: this is a canard. Liberalism is not fundamentally about centralized hierarchical control and "nanny statism". Unless you want to say that "conservatism" is inherently about cronyism, corruption, and greed.

Look: liberalism and conservatism EXTREMELY SIMILAR: that they are both intellectual children of enlightenment thinking. Indeed, they are both variants of "small-L" (philosophical) liberalism. Our polarized time views them as extremely different, much as Lutherans and Catholics once did--but look how THEY both appear now! Both liberalism and conservatism emphasize individual liberty. They both seek to apply Reason the problem of government, in the light of this desire for individual liberty. That's why "neoconservatives" are NOT conservatives: they are neoclassical and view everything coming from the tree of the enlightenment as poisoned fruit.

What we now call liberals are just as concerned about the individual as any free market conservative--it's just that we think "liberty" is a farce in conditions that one can generally refer to as social darwinist. You can mock it if you like, but you must admit that most of what the right tars liberals with is precisely their emphasis on INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY (vocational, sexual, spiritual). Liberals are (wrongly) called "relativist" precisely because of this.

However, liberals tend to be JUST AS concerned about concentrations of corporate power as state power, and hence view having a sufficiently strong state as a necessary counterbalance to the plutocrats as a necessary evil. The trade-offs involved can be discussed and debated rationally, and that's what both real liberals and real conservatives used to do. The government we have now is not conservative--it is a political religion brand-named as "conservative"--much as Nazism was brand named as "socialism" because that was a word much resonant with the zeitgeist of the time (note to idiots: what I just said does not require invocation of Godwin's much abused "law").

Now, do you get this, or not?

Posted by: mondo dentro on February 20, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Bush and his kind are Right-Wingers, all other labels be damned!

Posted by: NeoDude on February 20, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

5 years of George Bush have made me realize what genuine conservatives have long preached: government needs to be kept on a tight, short leash in ALL areas, or it will get out of control in ALL areas.

So, a single nut case shooting up a school is a reason to do away with guns.

Government under George Bush became the scandal (insufficient word!) because conservatives bit their collective tongues on his early abuses. (Early as in everything during his first five years.) Now, with the bills to pay and an election on the horizon, tender conservatives hoist up their skirts and scream about a mouse. Well, nuts to that. Had conservatives hollared early and often, Bush couldn't have destroyed so much. Instead, you guys sold out and partied hearty with him. The Patriot Act. Yeah, that's conservative. The horrific Medicare Act. Oh, sure. That'll fly. The confusion of bellicosity and insult in his foreign policy. Yup. That's conservative. The mixture of state and religion. Ah, hell. Stop me when I mention something conservatives balked at. Nope. You guys are co-conspirators. Collaborators. To use a word with enough pungence.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 20, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

5 years of George Bush have made me realize what genuine conservatives have long preached: government needs to be kept on a tight, short leash in ALL areas, or it will get out of control in ALL areas.

Quick! We've got to stop the federal highway system, before the NSA reads my emails! And get all those kids the hell out of school, before the military can invade Iran!

Personally, Red, I had an insight sort of like yours back when Enron collapsed: what we need to do is eliminate the institution of the corporation. Rescind the whole part of the legal code that conjures them into existence. What's the down side?

Posted by: brooksfoe on February 20, 2006 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK


Bush is the logical extension of the conservative movement not an anomily. The corruption and cronyism come from a beleif that Govt. must be the enemy and must be destroyed and that is what Bush Co. is doing. I think the way to look at the runaway spending and big buisness welfare going on now is to see it as part of a plan to de-legitamize Govt. in the eyes of the people at the same time as putting billions into the pockets of friendly corporations , pharma. and military ,
which will come back to the republicans as political donations , while at the same time breaking the bank so that if a liberal government ever gets elected they will not be able to carry out any of their main plans such as national health care.

I agree , everyone who voted for Bush in 2004 is to blame for where we are now as a country and a people.

Posted by: Paul Leslie on February 20, 2006 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Go to the bible belt and change Sharia to Dominionism on the survey and then let's discuss the results. It is not surprising that conservative/fundamentalist believers of any faith would want/desire/acquiesce to the authority of their crazy belief systems.

Posted by: Hostile on February 20, 2006 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Props to Bartlett. Bush is not a conservative. Glen Greenwald's posts recently on the true nature of the Bush movement speak volumes to the reality of this administration. It's well past time for the Press to admit that we do not have an elephant or a donkey in the whitehouse but an entirely new beast. It times to let the public see what really sits behind the mask.

Posted by: patience on February 20, 2006 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Bush won't be getting an invitation to join The New York Times editorial board any time soon.

Sheesh, Kevin, you could have made this point in a way that doesn't give aid and comfort to the Radicals' loathsome "liberal media" myth. How about "an invitation to join the ACLU" or "Greenpeace"?

Good article overall, but c'mon.

Posted by: Gregory on February 20, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

An interesting review. A couple of points, however: 1) I don't agree that Bush is another Nixon. For all his flaws, Nixon was much more rigorous in developing policies than the current adminstration - he was famous for requesting fullsome "Brandeis briefs" on issues, and had many sig. domestic policy accomplishments. 2) I'm not sure about the statement that liberalism has achieved most of its major goals - how can this be true, give that many people still live in poverty and do not have access to basic medical care? Perhaps what Kevin should have said is that sig. progress has been made toward securing the "middle class" liberal agenda - as opposed to that part of the liberal agenda that also focused on the situation of the least privileged.

Posted by: Aidan on February 20, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

I've been raising this issue on every blog I can find-- the biggest political story of the recent decades is how the Far Right stole the name "conservative" and exploited it for their nefarious purposes. They needed a handle, a moniker that would give their corporate fascist movement some mainstream legitimacy, and they got it; the term Conservatism has the ring of good old-fashioned respectability, and it allows them to advance their heinous policies under the cover of a traditionally accepted political philosophy.

Posted by: islander on February 20, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

I am surprised that Kevin did not post his take on a recent article in LA Times which gives gory details of how the various agencies are using the federal government regulatory process to gut consumer protection laws of various states, the state rights be damned. To me that is a very disturbing development for its affect on consumer laws.

Posted by: lib on February 20, 2006 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Now, do you get this, or not?
Posted by: mondo dentro>>

I get this, but the position that the state's function is as mediator/corrective to balance the concentration of power in any group or vested interest more or less defines a 'centrist' rather than a 'liberal' position, no?

Having said that - I agree with the gist of your posts.

Posted by: CFShep on February 20, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Would you expand on what you mean by "more honest than me" please? Are you saying that you will consciously spin facts, or what?

FMX

Posted by: FredMcX on February 20, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

He did to the republican party what clinton did to the democrats... he disgraced the office and party -- and Dems were forced to defend the indefensible.

That's Bush's crime as well.

Which is why the 2008 election is so critical to both parties...each has been co-opted by a certain element that still controls things, public sentiment be damned.

If both groups still control their respective parties come 2008, we'll be stuck with McCain vs. Hillary -- and in that battle, nobody wins. It'll just be more of the same old ideologies and name-calling from both sides, instead of real problem-solving action.

Posted by: Vincent on February 20, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

"More honest than me, in fact."

This rather does beg an explanation, doncha think?

Posted by: Jim on February 20, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

>even belligerence doesn't make you into a genuine conservative.

I always thought belligerence was a defining characteristic of genuine conservatism.

Posted by: bartkid on February 20, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

gq said:
I don't understand how a Hilary Clinton or Joe Biden...

That's painfully obvious. In a your universe it is really tough understand anything you hold in contempt. It seems that binary world view won't allow you to do anything other than pigeon hole "liberals" into one nice tidy group.

Black and white! Up or Down! With us or against us! The world is a mighty grey place with lots of nuance. Climate change and AGW is a great example of this.

Posted by: Simp on February 20, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

>even belligerence doesn't make you into a genuine conservative.

I always thought belligerence was a defining characteristic of genuine conservatism.

Posted by: bartkid

Try 'bellicosity'. 'Aggressive, contentious, and war-like'.

'Belligerent' carries the meaning of actively waging war. As a noun it means 'a party or person waging war'.

Posted by: CFShep on February 20, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

THANK YOU ! ! franklyO and jay in oregon

Posted by: BLUEJAY on February 20, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0,

Actually, I think GWB's governing philosophy is remarkably consistent: do whatever it takes in order to consolidate political power. The Medicare albatross was supposed to, I suppose, "steal" seniors away from the Democratic party. Unfortunately, actual planning has never been a strong suit for an administration that governs only for the political payoff (see: Iraq, Katrina, Homeland Security, etc.).

"Compassionate conservatism" was an admission by the Republican party that an actual conservative agenda (outside of some hot button "traditional values" issues) has not been popular with even a strong plurality of the country for decades--and may never be again. I don't know how long the odd coalition of the Religious Right and business interests can maintain its cohesiveness, but history suggests such coalitions have a 30-40 year lifespan. The party may be headed for decline. The more interesting questions: will the Democrats step into this gap with any leadership? And how much damage will be done in the meantime?

Posted by: go vols on February 20, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Acer: As far as I can tell, your only argument that Bush is an individualist conservative is that he is not a traditionalist conservative and since all conservatives are either individualist conservatives or traditionalist conservatives, he must, by default, be an individualist conservative. Never mind that there is nothing individualist about his governing philosophy.

This is wrong for several reasons. First, your classification system for conservatives is inaccurate. Second, Bush is not any kind of conservative, nor is he on the Far Right. He's just an incompetent pragmatic moderate. I really don't see how you can argue that Bush is an individualist conservative without coming up with at least one issue on which he's an individualist.

Posted by: FXKLM on February 20, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Well lookie now, Bush isn't conservative. After all that hollering that he was the ultimate right wing evil.

So Bush is too conservative except when he isn't, and he's too stupid except when he's outmanuvering Dems, he's too amoral except when he's too religious.

Kind of sounds to me like you lefties are on a search for whatever you can find. Do the voices in your heads get extra pay for all the overtime they're putting in?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 20, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

This is just falling for the trap of '08. These right wing theofascist freaks are going to put lipstick on another pig and tell their cult following and the rest of the nation that it's their "new and improved TRUE conservative." Sort of "Bush without the baggage." Bullshit.

Until the left figures out and slams conservatism - period - they won't win.

When Alito was in process one report stated that all the left could find was that he was "conservative". Well, that should have scared the hell out of any informed person but no, we have allowed them to act like there are "good" conservatives. In fact they have "good" conservatives who want to drag the nation to an anti-science homophobic fascist place and some "bad" conservatives who want to drag the nation there faster.

There are NO "good" conservatives. Olympia Snowe, McCain all of the so called "sane" conservatives have enabled the child king's reign of terror. They are as bad as any of them. In fact they are worse - trying to act like they are somehow more level headed yet they have stayed with this group of 'constitution pissing on' thugs they call an "administration." Anyone with any real sense of morals or with real principles would have left the Republican Party LONG ago.

Not McCain, Bush trashes his WIFE and yet he sucks up to the child king like an abused spouse.

Posted by: Ned on February 20, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

SLEEPER CELL IN WHITEHOUSE
if you think i am kidding, look at what is happening. bush and his cronies take american taxpayers dollars , send them to the middle east--lose billions...then tell terrorist governments they can control our eastern seaports and get paid billions more american taxpayers money for doing it..THEN call Americans PREJUDICE and RACISTS when they complain about it. I TELL YOU ..bush is consorting with our enemies. WHEN are Americans going to wake up and stop him?

Posted by: cheryl powell on February 20, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

cn: he's too stupid except when he's outmanuvering Dems

the joke is on america.....

and no one is laughing..

well .. except dead enders...like yourself...

gwb fulfilling your fantasy?

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on February 20, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

People on the Left have been saying for several years that Bush is NOT a Conservative. Isn't it about time the slow guys, the Republicans, the old-fashioned Conservatives are catching on? Why are they so slow to realize the obvious?

Heck, even a lot of Dems realized Clinton wasn't much of a Liberal before he was ever elected and that he wasn't much of a Moderate before his first two years were done. Now we're past 5 years of Bush and some over there are just now getting it. What's up with that?

Posted by: MarkH on February 20, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Well, me too. No one reading my occasional posts would suspect me of being on the White House's Christmas card list. Unless they read them very casually indeed they wouldn't suspect me of being a Democrat, either.

From my point of view people like me have more reason to be discontented with the Bush family and their administrations than Democrats and other lefties have. In 1988 and again in 2000, we actually had worthy alternatives, rejected in the GOP primaries for unworthy reasons. The best candidates on the Democratic side by contrast barely get a look in that party's primaries.

Posted by: Zathras on February 20, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

It was clear to me in 2000, from things like Bush saying, in DC, that it was wrong for House Republicans to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, that Bush was not a small government Republican. If other Republicans wanted a small government conservative, they should have nominated one. It was clear to me that, however nostalgic I might feel about pre-new deal government, that the American people do not want to roll it back. Gingrich learned this at great price. Folks like Bartlett are out to lunch.

Posted by: Dan on February 20, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Well lookie now, Bush isn't conservative. After all that hollering that he was the ultimate right wing evil.

So Bush is too conservative except when he isn't, and he's too stupid except when he's outmanuvering Dems, he's too amoral except when he's too religious.

Kind of sounds to me like you lefties are on a search for whatever you can find. Do the voices in your heads get extra pay for all the overtime they're putting in?

Except, it's a conservative who's arguing that Bush isn't a conservative.

I know I've been consistent regarding Bush's relgious claims: he's not religious. Nobody who takes Christianity seriously would have mocked the woman he'd executed. His relgiosity is for show.

The only thing that fits all the facts is that he's a gangster. You got an explanation for the missing $8.8 billion in CPA money? And why there was no real investigation into where it went?

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 20, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Until the left figures out and slams conservatism - period - they won't win.

Thank you, it's time to realize that the Bush administration is the culmination of conservatism, and that conservatism is a bankrupt (literally and figuratively)dead end philosophy. It leads to war, economic depression and widespread pollution. It didn't work in the 19th or 20th century, and it isn't working now.

Posted by: Another Bruce on February 20, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Bartlett is terribly naive if he really believes that recent Republican presidents have been conservative. Nixon wasn't (recall the wage&price controls?), Reagan wasn't (recall the tax cuts and his run-up of huge deficits, GHWBush wasn't (although it is difficult to determine what he was), and GWBush has shown himself to be a "borrow and spend" liberal, like Reagan.

Republican presidents have been wrapping themselves in the "conservative" label as a marketing tool. Nothing more, nothing less. Indeed, it is unlikely that most people who call themselves conservative are what anyone would recognize as being conservatives. Conservatives love their welfare, too.

Posted by: raj on February 20, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it about time the slow guys, the Republicans, the old-fashioned Conservatives are catching on?
Heh, you remember "compassionate conservative"? Us conservatives knew what we were getting when we voted for him. And if you spent any time on rightie blogs, you would have seen moaning for the last 4 years that we got what we voted for. A psuedo-conservative.

I've argued here before that Bush isn't conservative. Against a loud chorus of lefties that thought Bush was ultra-right wing. But you keep right on thinking that you're ahead of the curve.

And Jeffery Davis, this catches you, too.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 20, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

I've argued here before that Bush isn't conservative. Against a loud chorus of lefties that thought Bush was ultra-right wing. But you keep right on thinking that you're ahead of the curve.
Posted by: conspiracy nut

If you really believe this, and your volumious wingnut post say otherwise, why don't the true conservatives want the shit out of office as well? Why aren't they up for impeachment? By any objective standards, lying about a war versus lying about oral sex is certainly a more serious offense with massive national implications.

We had free reign in Afghanistan for six-months. Had we built a coalition of 250-300,000 strong there, we could have sealed the borders and had bin Laden in a matter of weeks. Instead, we fuck off to Iraq who wasn't even a credible military threat to its neighbors any longer.

It's well past time for your ilk to put up or fuck off CN.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 20, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

As brooksfoe notes way above, the terms "conservative" and "liberal" have become so nebulous as to be essentially meaningless. When a "conservative" President institutes central planning (from D.C.) for every schools district in the country, and "liberal" Senators are the
most reliable supporters of Congress making a law, which regulates the content of political speech, by certain assemblies of citizens during certain periods leading up to an election, those two words don't mean anything anymore.

Also, the notion of Bush being a protector of property rights, as was mentioned above, is simply laughable. Why anybody is surprised that a guy who made his pile via taxpayer subsidy, and the use of eminent domain, would govern in the manner Bush has, is puzzling.

Posted by: Will Allen on February 20, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

why don't the true conservatives want the shit out of office as well? Why aren't they up for impeachment? By any objective standards, lying about a war versus lying about oral sex is certainly a more serious offense with massive national implications.

First, I didn't want him in office in the first place. The difficulty there is the pathetic alternatives you Democrats have given me. I didn't expect Bush to be a prize in '00, and he lived down to my expectations. But he still isn't as bad as those clowns you put up. I mean seriously, Gore and Kerry? These guys are so pathetic they couldn't beat GW Bush.

Second, he isn't up for impeachment because, and pay close attention here, he hasn't committed any crimes.

Third, your sticking hard by the brain-dead moonbat talking points that Clinton's impeachment was for a blow job, and that Bush lied, shows that you aren't even interested in having a serious discussion.

And you're probably wondering why you can't get in a serious discussion. Clueless.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 20, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative is a relative term in politics.

Conservative as opposed to what?

Is Bushs drug plan more CONSERVATIVE then the Democrats version - -ABSOLUTELY

Posted by: Patton on February 20, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Us conservatives knew what we were getting when we voted for him.

So, you're a conscious collaborator. Congratulations for admitting it, I guess. Defending the indefensible takes guts of a sort.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 20, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

Second, he isn't up for impeachment because, and pay close attention here, he hasn't committed any crimes.

Other than endorsing torture, lying us into a war, authorizing warrantless searches, preventing his officials from testifying about the projected cost of a program, and over-seeing a gigantic criminal enterprise to defraud the country -- that pesky $8.8billion in missing CPA money, again -- you mean?

Screw that.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 20, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Okay Bruce B, here's what we do. We back you full throttle as you and Bob Barr and Grover lead the charge against Bush. Then, as you raise your hands in triumph we stab all three of you in the back so hard that no one ever hears a word you say again. Politically speaking, it's not a physical threat of course.

That's the plan.

Also Kevin should link to the few weeks old Yglesias posts discussing the siding with Barr and Norquist.

Posted by: MNPundit on February 20, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

And yet, %39 still can't bring themselves to honesty.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on February 20, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Worst President Ever.

Posted by: curious on February 20, 2006 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

The relevant issue is not whether Mr Bush is "conservative enough". The relevant issue is that Mr Bush is a corrupt politician who is using the tax code and the US Treasury to reward his political benefactors with corporate welfare, tax breaks and sweetheart deals. His political benefactors return a portion of the government largess to Mr Bush and his Republican Party as campaign contributions.

Bush corruption is stealing our tax dollars and running up deficits that will require future tax increases. There is also an opportunity cost that comes with 8 years of misallocation of public resources to line the pockets of greedy individuals. The media outrage is kept under wraps by corporate owners who are getting their own telecom/communications deals that cut them in deals to soak consumers.

Being corrupt makes Mr Bush "not conservative". Being corrupt does not make Mr Bush "liberal or moderate". Corruption is bad no matter what ideological frame views the corruption. Corruption misallocates resources. This means that taxes are higher than they need to be and the government is doing far less than it could be if the money were allocated honestly.

Posted by: bakho on February 20, 2006 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Second, he isn't up for impeachment because, and pay close attention here, he hasn't committed any crimes.

OK, I'll pay close attention, for your benefit, c-nut.

But... GWB is the ONLY president in US history with a criminal record.

So I guess you're wrong. Again.

Posted by: Jedgar on February 20, 2006 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

George W. Bush is a Conservative in the tradition of Alexander Hamilton, who favored mercantilism and monarchy. (Although Hamilton could write and speak a coherent sentence, so the comparison cannot be stretched too far)

Explains a lot.

Posted by: Philadelphia Steve on February 20, 2006 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

There seems a retreat these days, seditious in form. I don't know if they are all just taking a shot at writing a book, or if the stench has actually caught up with their conscious. But it seems if all of these "old time" conservatives are so smart, just why in the hell could they not see what most of us knew from the git- go?

It is hard for me to care what these Johnny come latelys have to say, because how many of them and their stubborn ilk helped this administration into power more then once? I am sure we will never know that answer. To this day even as failed policy after failed policy gets propped up, even as our treasury is robbed in broad daylight, even as national security issues rob us of our civil rights daily, even as leadership ducks responsibilitymany of the old time conservatives are only silent. As they brood, the republic is molested by an abomination from their house. It is going to take more then a few books from these guys before Ill ever have any respect for a conservative again.

But the truly amazing fact is that this administration, despite all of its infraction is still able to muster a majority of federal Republican legislators to do its biding. At this point the damage has been done, and I only hope through electoral gains by the opposition next fall, they introduce the proper legal measures against the perpetrators that currently reside in our White House. It appears in its current state, our legislative branch is not able to perform the duties of its oath that has been sworn to for some two centuries. As in all crisis, I believe we will exit this nightmare and engage a progressive direction that at some point mitigates the damage caused by this foolish neo-conservative movement, and get back to the will of the people.

Posted by: Ben Merc on February 20, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

The "Dems really don't have much to fight for anymore" bit has been addressed but it really must be answered again. Clearly, they do.

How about a gov't that we can respect? This includes voting for someone who doesn't totally embarass themselves (can't cheat with a bit of class, huh? must go totally bonkers). It means, yes, health care. A real energy policy. Intelligent gov't that involves strong party control w/o the "screw you" sentiments now shown. A sane foreign policy.

One could go on, but that is something to strive for. It's not of the "editing around the edges" variety, is it? Kevin in the past had a post that basically suggested Bush really didn't do that much to this country. The Dems will win in '08, and so it goes. But, as noted then, that is not true.

Maybe this is what he meant by saying that Bartlett (West Wing, anyone?) is more honest than he.

Posted by: Joe on February 21, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

Looks as though Bartlett is just as much a victim of Rove's propaganda tactics as the rest of the pudits.
He still hasn't seen the connection between the laundry list of so-called liberal "issues" for what it really is: a factual discription of what this administration is and what it's members have been all their lives. He's turned the 'glass houses' common sense on its head and into a winning strategy.
big government?
pork on parade?
arming terrorists?
philanderers?
special interest payola?
politically correct censorship?
druggies?
alcoholics?
conflict of interest?
Lincoln room hotel?
moral relitivism?
graft?
helping the communists?
preferential treatment for cronies?
above the law?
racist?
foreign political donations?
wasting taxpayer dollars on personal luxeries?
Draft dodgers?

After 25 years of this crap, you'd think people would get a clue.

SOP: accuse your opponent of the very crime you've committed before it's discovered and accuse your opponent of a smear campaign when the truth comes out.

Posted by: joe on February 21, 2006 at 3:07 AM | PERMALINK

The comparison that you (and/or Bartlett) make (in the review) between Bush and Nixon is interesting... it certainly illuminates Dick Cheney's complaints that the Executive Branch has grown too weak.

Why has the Executive Branch been weakened? Well, Watergate and all that.

Why's that a problem for this administration? Well, because they resemble Nixon.

Frightening.

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Posted by: credit cards on February 21, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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