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Bush has been a Moderate all Along (and He always campaigned as such )
RealClearPolitics.com ^ | 10/26/2005 | Ruben Navarrette Jr

Posted on 10/26/2005 10:17:22 AM PDT by SirLinksalot

October 26, 2005

Bush Has Been a Moderate All Along

By Ruben Navarrette Jr.

SAN DIEGO -- Now that the neocons seem to be growing disenchanted with President Bush for not being conservative enough to suit them, I can't help but be amused.

That's what I like about Bush -- the fact that he doesn't fit neatly into an ideological box.

I also can't help but think of the story of the woman who complains that her husband won't change -- won't take out the trash, do the dishes, or stop watching football on Sunday afternoons. The husband doesn't understand why his wife is upset. After all, he has always been this way. He was this way when she met him, and she married him anyway. So why is she angry now?

It's the same thing here. I wonder why so many hard-right conservatives are suddenly furious at Bush when they supported him in two presidential elections. Some point to the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court as evidence that the president takes lightly the need to have on the court an ideological warrior. Others go further and suggest the president is straying from conservative principles. Yet this assumes that Bush ever adhered to those principles to begin with. And that's not so.

About a year ago, I wrote a column in which I described Bush as a moderate, and a lot of Democrats wrote back and suggested it was a joke. Now there aren't many Republicans who are laughing.

Bush is the same person he has been since he ran for Texas governor in 1994. What you see is what you get. He doesn't spend a lot of time reinventing or repackaging himself. In fact, he prides himself on not changing his ways. What was it that he promised Republican senators about Miers? That she won't change. You see, for Bush, that's high praise.

Speaking of Miers, her nomination is the big reason that Bush is taking fire from the right. But it isn't the only reason. Many hard-line conservatives have never felt confident that Bush was one of them. Because of his positions on a host of issues -- from increasing government spending to making diversity a priority in Cabinet appointments to promising amnesty to illegal immigrants to increasing funding for public housing to urging that the Supreme Court preserve the ability of the University of Michigan to take the race of applicants into account even while opposing quotas and outright racial preferences -- many Republicans have long been suspicious of the man they have chosen to lead them.

Now failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork writes in an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal that ``this George Bush, like his father, is showing himself to be indifferent, if not actively hostile, to conservative values.''

But why is that a surprise to Bork? Over all these years, where Bush stood wasn't exactly a secret. He was in the middle of the road.

While governor of Texas, he shooed away folks who were proposing a ballot initiative -- modeled after California's Proposition 187 -- that would have denied benefits to illegal immigrants. He displayed a detectable lack of enthusiasm for school vouchers. He avoided making an issue out of abortion. And he declared that bilingual education programs that worked were worth keeping. He also partnered with Democrats in the Texas Legislature, and shared credit for legislative victories with members of the opposing party.

Now conservatives worry that Bush isn't a real conservative, or at least someone who is driven by conservative principles.

Nah, you think?

Here's the real story. Despite his record in Texas and the record he later accumulated during the first term as president, Republicans kept Bush as the leader of their party.

They did so for the same reason that former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown supported a Democratic governor from Arkansas in 1992, despite concerns that the candidate was too conservative. For Brown, it was all about being practical. ``I'm tired of losing,'' he said at the time. ``I just want to win.'' Bill Clinton was seen as a winner, and so Brown backed him.

For conservatives, the seeds of their discontent were planted in the Republican primaries of the 2000 election. Back then, with much of the GOP establishment lined up behind him, Bush looked like a winner. And so many Republicans threw their support to him. Whether or not he was conservative enough didn't seem to matter at the time, nor did it matter in 2004 when he ran for re-election. All that mattered was that he could win.

Conservatives might not like where they've arrived, but they should at least accept the fact that getting here was no accident.


TOPICS: Editorial; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bush; gwb2004; moderate
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I think we should not be surprised here.

Bush might support a lot of conservative positions ( e.g., Tax Cuts, Social Security reform/privatization, Partial Birth abortion ban, Defense of Traditional Marriage, Strong Military, etc. )

But in other areas, he has been less than conservative ( and I think he never hid this in his campaign).

For example -- strengthening Federal control of education, steel tarrifs, never vetoing any spending bill, actually out-spending Clinton, Carter and LBJ, signing the McCain-Feingold bill, Diversity regardless of capability ( e.g. Harriet Miers ).

Lets face it folks -- We elected a moderate, not a conservative president.

Our only consolation is this -- the alternatives were worse.

1 posted on 10/26/2005 10:17:23 AM PDT by SirLinksalot
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To: SirLinksalot

Actually we elected a "compassionate conservative", remember?

Apparently "compassionate" means "false".


2 posted on 10/26/2005 10:19:40 AM PDT by thoughtomator
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To: SirLinksalot

I have pointed this out before on FR - that Bush campaigned as a moderate - and been nearly laughed out of the room. But it's true.

When he came to our hometown, I nearly didn't go because I don't particularly care for moderates. And our newspaper labeled his "compassionate conservative" style of govering as moderate.

And I think he's governed as a moderate during his presidency. Some liberal philosophies and some conservative philosophies.

That's why it cracks me up when I hear the media go ballistic because he's too conservative.


3 posted on 10/26/2005 10:21:24 AM PDT by Peach (I believe Congressman Weldon.)
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To: SirLinksalot

Hes a placeholder President. Better than most. The question is placeholding for what? Im afraid hes got the same clueless disengauged gene his father had. What is he working on? What conservative victories are coming down the pipe? Name one.

Conservative brethern..ask yourself..what has he done for conservatives in the last 3 years???


4 posted on 10/26/2005 10:21:30 AM PDT by samadams2000 (Nothing fills the void of a passing hurricane better than government)
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To: SirLinksalot

Our only consolation is this -- the alternatives were worse.
------
The choices are pathetic. Bad or worse. This country needs A REAL CONSERVATIVE in the Oval Office. Washington is clearly out of control. Only a Reagan conservative, with a Congressional majority can fix it. It is not being fixed now, because Bush is not a conservative and he is not a fighter.


5 posted on 10/26/2005 10:23:32 AM PDT by EagleUSA
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To: SirLinksalot

At this point, I rate him only a little above President Reagan.


6 posted on 10/26/2005 10:23:56 AM PDT by Chi-townChief
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To: SirLinksalot

Um, Bush campaigned as a "compassionate conservative". This article is very bad.


7 posted on 10/26/2005 10:23:58 AM PDT by KC_Conspirator (This space outsourced to India)
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To: SirLinksalot

"Lets face it folks -- We elected a moderate, not a conservative president."

Yup! If he'd been a real conservative, he would not have been elected. He's not, so he was.

My parents, who are now 81 years old actually split their vote in 2004. I cannot remember a time when they did not vote the GOP ticket, right down the line.

Were it not for moderate support for President Bush, we would have a different President in the White House.

I keep reading about Bush's "base." For those who are confused on this matter, Bush's "base" is not evangelical Christians or Constitutionalists. It is middle-of-the road America. That's Bush's base, and always has been.

You can see this in the suprise posted here each time President Bush has gone in a moderate direction. CFR. Immigration. Spending like there was no tomorrow.

President Bush is a moderate Republican. He is not now, nor has he ever been a true conservative. Neither is Miers.


8 posted on 10/26/2005 10:24:54 AM PDT by MineralMan (godless atheist)
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To: SirLinksalot

Lets face it folks -- We elected a moderate, not a conservative president.

Our only consolation is this -- the alternatives were worse.




In the Primary of 2000? Think again and then remember that when the real conservatives running in 2008 "cant win" talk begins. I want a conservative and I am willing to "take my chances on "winning". Winners who spend more than the oposition and nominate people like Miers are worse than losing, because we can always stand united against a Clintonite.


9 posted on 10/26/2005 10:26:26 AM PDT by Waywardson (Carry on! Nothing equals the splendor!)
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To: EagleUSA

"This country needs A REAL CONSERVATIVE in the Oval Office."

Perhaps so. Name one with a prayer of being elected in the USA of today.


10 posted on 10/26/2005 10:27:04 AM PDT by MineralMan (godless atheist)
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To: SirLinksalot

A national candidate who campaigns as an extremist ideologue is guaranteed to lose.


11 posted on 10/26/2005 10:27:47 AM PDT by tkathy (Do-nothings are not the ones who have saved oppressed people from tyranny.)
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To: samadams2000

That's right, dammit! Why should we care if he and half his administration is indicted? He's nothing but a stinkin' RINO so let them all twist in the wind. We conservatives should head for the tall grass, hide out from the assault from the left and return in 2008 to fight a new battle.


12 posted on 10/26/2005 10:29:44 AM PDT by Russ
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To: SirLinksalot
Let's face it . . . Any principled conservative would be run out of politics long before he got within a thousand miles of the White House.

Thankfully, the same thing usually applies to hard-core liberals, too. Mike Dukakis is one exception I can think of. That ACLU candy-@ss somehow slipped through the cracks -- and promptly got trounced in 1988 by a guy who will be remembered as one of the most limp-wristed, mediocre presidents this nation has ever had.

13 posted on 10/26/2005 10:30:42 AM PDT by Alberta's Child (I ain't got a dime, but what I got is mine. I ain't rich, but Lord I'm free.)
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To: EagleUSA
Nope. You will just keep voting for the 'electable', citizen subject. Whatever hack the RNC tosses up next will the only choice. Do you understand? To state otherwise will cause you to be ostracized from the 'group'.
14 posted on 10/26/2005 10:31:03 AM PDT by billbears (Deo Vindice)
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To: SirLinksalot

15 posted on 10/26/2005 10:31:56 AM PDT by Graymatter
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To: Chi-townChief
A little "above" Reagan?

Are you joking.

Above Reagan?? ??? ????

16 posted on 10/26/2005 10:32:21 AM PDT by CarlPerkins (Buy gold now before Bernanke fires up his printing press...)
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To: SirLinksalot
Our only consolation is this -- the alternatives were worse.

It's like going into a restaurant where there's nothing but pot roast and meat loaf on the menu, then complaining to the waitress that you want filet mignon.

17 posted on 10/26/2005 10:34:06 AM PDT by Mr Ramsbotham (Laws against sodomy are honored in the breech.)
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To: Alberta's Child

"Any principled conservative would be run out of politics..." - Alberta's Child

Really? Like Reagan?


18 posted on 10/26/2005 10:34:57 AM PDT by mdefranc
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To: Alberta's Child
Dukakis? How about Jean Francois Kerry? He's more liberal than Ted Kennedy, and yet came fairly close to replacing GWB.

We are BARELY majority Republican, and yet people here are upset that the White House and Congress aren't majority Conservative. The country is not majority conservative. I read somewhere recently about estimates that Liberals - Moderates - Conservatives are something like 20% - 50% - 30%. That sounds fairly accurate.

19 posted on 10/26/2005 10:36:46 AM PDT by You Dirty Rats (Lashed to the USS George W. Bush: "Damn the Torpedos, Full Miers Ahead!!")
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To: Waywardson

"Winners who spend more than the oposition and nominate people like Miers are worse than losing, because we can always stand united against a Clintonite."

Yeah. We sure did a great job standing against Clinton when he picked Ginsburg for SCOTUS!!

What everyone needs to understand is that except for the Conservatives, everyone in this country took a step to the left.

Everyone on the right was enamored with Bush because he was pro-life, pro-traditional marriage and pro-second amendment. And he comes from a state that has an express line to execute killers.

That didn't make him Conservative. That made him moral. And part of being moral is helping out those less fortunate than you, which explains his support for faith based charities and spending programs that help everyone.

Minus the "Abortion and Traditional Marriage" aspect of it, Rudy can be the 2008 nominee. And he probably is the only one besides Condi that can beat the one that shall be nameless.


20 posted on 10/26/2005 10:36:59 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (Liberal Talking Point - Bush = Hitler ... Republican Talking Point - Let the Liberals Talk)
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To: Russ

Behind whom? Who are your viable candidates?


21 posted on 10/26/2005 10:37:12 AM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: Mr Ramsbotham

You mean you can't vote for the imaginary perfect candidates? Surely you jest.


22 posted on 10/26/2005 10:37:27 AM PDT by M203M4
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To: SirLinksalot
True, he is a moderate in most things. But here's another reminder that last November we had a good outcome...


23 posted on 10/26/2005 10:37:58 AM PDT by Graymatter
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To: SirLinksalot

I pretty much agree with what's here except for the term "moderate." I think Pres. Bush referred to himself as a compassionate conservative. Since he pretty much created the term, he got to define it.

That included tax cuts, pro-life (rilom), pro-gun, social safety net, no child left behind, faith based social supporter,....


24 posted on 10/26/2005 10:38:51 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: mdefranc
Here's a challenge for you.

Go back and look at Reagan's record as governor of California, and Clinton's record as governor of Arkansas. You'd have a hard time convincing yourself that Reagan wasn't a Democrat and Clinton wasn't a Republican.

25 posted on 10/26/2005 10:40:18 AM PDT by Alberta's Child (I ain't got a dime, but what I got is mine. I ain't rich, but Lord I'm free.)
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To: Mr Ramsbotham
It's like going into a restaurant where there's nothing but pot roast and meat loaf on the menu, then complaining to the waitress that you want filet mignon.

Yep and next time out it will be rump roast and pig's feet and we will lament that there is no meat loaf on the menu.

26 posted on 10/26/2005 10:40:19 AM PDT by joesnuffy
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To: SirLinksalot
When Republicans chose GWBush to be their nominee, it came after eight long years of Bill Clinton. We wanted to get someone into office who would respect the Presidency, have integrity, honor and be a moral person. Bush fit that criteria and it was a big part of his overall campaign.

Bush did say he would improve our military defense, push for tax reform, nominate strict constructionists to the courts and advance pro-life issues. I think he's accomplished all that for the most part. Even though I knew he'd probably raise spending in the name of compassionate conservatism, I never thought he'd increase spending to the levels he has and actually get the GOP Congress to go along.

Bush has been a mixed bag. Conservative on some issues, moderate on others. However, Bush`s liberal spending habits has led to the biggest government expansion since LBJ. Bush is no believer in limited government.

27 posted on 10/26/2005 10:40:28 AM PDT by Reagan Man (Secure our borders;punish employers who hire illegals;stop all welfare to illegals)
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To: You Dirty Rats

Jean Francois Kerry wasn't a liberal -- he was a nothing. Just like Bill Clinton post-1994, he would have governed as the kind of president who none of his supporters would have recognized.


28 posted on 10/26/2005 10:42:35 AM PDT by Alberta's Child (I ain't got a dime, but what I got is mine. I ain't rich, but Lord I'm free.)
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To: mdefranc
Really? Like Reagan?

Reagan never got spending under control -- even with a Republican majority in the Senate.

Reagan appointed Sandra Dee O'Connor, an unconfirmable Robert Bork, and Anthony Kennedy.

Reagan gave back tax cuts one year after enactment (the infamous TEFRA bill, pride & joy of Bob Dole).

Reagan cut and ran in Lebanon.

Reagan gave amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Reagan named moderate George HW Bush his Veep and political heir.

Reagan never hit hard at terrorism other than one attack on Libya.

Don't get me wrong -- I LOVED RR and considered him a great conservative President, but he wasn't perfect by any means.

29 posted on 10/26/2005 10:42:56 AM PDT by You Dirty Rats (Lashed to the USS George W. Bush: "Damn the Torpedos, Full Miers Ahead!!")
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To: SirLinksalot
"I will nominate judges to the supreme court like Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia."

That doesn't sound too moderate to me. In retrospect, it sounds like a bold-faced lie.
30 posted on 10/26/2005 10:43:09 AM PDT by Antoninus (The greatest gifts parents can give their children are siblings.)
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To: CarlPerkins

Bush didn't cut and run like we did after Beirut in '82 and he has, so far, refused to raise taxes after cutting them unlike Ronnie. The amnesty issue and Supreme Court nominees are a wash so far. Rhetorically, Reagan rates much higher.


31 posted on 10/26/2005 10:45:32 AM PDT by Chi-townChief
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To: EagleUSA
Over a period of 60 years, the democrats gradually move the country to the left.

You think that there is a magic bullet that can change this in 4-5 years.

The way the govt was designed insures that change happens slowly.

It will take 25 years just to change the face of the judiciary and the civil service.

32 posted on 10/26/2005 10:52:04 AM PDT by Ben Ficklin
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To: samadams2000
Hes a placeholder President. Better than most.

Yup. "W" will wind up in history as being an answer to a Final Jeopardy question.

I'm afraid hes got the same clueless disengaged gene his father had.

Right again. "W's" actions and PR during hurricane Katrina were classic, clueless, "Bush".

Conservative brethren..ask yourself...what has he done for conservatives.....

The more appropriate question is what will "W" have done to non-prefix conservatives after his term is done. Will we get another Clinton?

33 posted on 10/26/2005 10:57:57 AM PDT by elbucko
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To: EagleUSA
The only thing you left out is that there are a couple dz. (max) conservatives in the House and in the Senate, you can count them on one hand and have fingers left over. Conservatives have lost ground for 10+ yrs. while Republicans have gained ground.

I, too voted for Bush both times because there was NO alternative, but he is no more and no less than what I expected he would be, not anymore conservative than his dad, but a far better politician. I don't think Bush I cared enough to pretend to fool the peasants by the time he had been president for 4 yrs. Bush II cared enough to do what he needed to do to be re-elected, but certainly not enough to be concerned with what the conservative base thinks of him now. I didn't vote in either primary for Bush because he was the nominee long before PA voted, but of the lousy choices we started with, Bush would not have been my pick.

34 posted on 10/26/2005 10:59:34 AM PDT by penowa
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To: Antoninus
Thomas and Scalia are members of the Federalist Society.

Bush nominated numerous feddies to appeals courts. How many got confirmed?

Bush can nominate them to SCOTUS, but they won't be confirmed.

The democrats have openly accused the Fed Soc as being the cornerstone of the VRWC and trying to roll back the New Deal.

35 posted on 10/26/2005 11:00:53 AM PDT by Ben Ficklin
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To: samadams2000
"Conservative brethern..ask yourself..what has he done for conservatives in the last 3 years???"

DON'T ask!

36 posted on 10/26/2005 11:02:16 AM PDT by penowa
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To: Chi-townChief

Ditto. I've been saying this here for a while. Conservatives look back on Reagan with rose-colored glasses. In fact he was almost a carbon copy of Bush - Taxes, national security, judges, education funding, deficit, illegal immigrants, etc. Heck, their administrations even contain the same people!

I knew conservatives in the '80's that were always complaining about Reagan not being conservative enough. Ask them today and Reagan could do no wrong. Now they've turned their wrath on Bush and are saying the exact same things that they used to say about Reagan.


37 posted on 10/26/2005 11:04:15 AM PDT by loreldan (Lincoln, Reagan, & G. W. Bush - the cure for Democrat lunacy.)
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To: tkathy

Is your definition of a conservative "an extremist ideologue?"


38 posted on 10/26/2005 11:05:04 AM PDT by penowa
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To: MineralMan
Name one with a prayer of being elected in the USA of today.

Or yesterday for that matter (Goldwater).

39 posted on 10/26/2005 11:08:44 AM PDT by AmusedBystander
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To: SirLinksalot
I wonder why so many hard-right conservatives are suddenly furious at Bush when they supported him in two presidential elections.





Many were never so happy with him from the start, but held their nose and supported him. What we see now is the positioning to reclaim the definition of conservatism in light of the fact that he will not run again so there is no longer any need to support him. The battle is whether we are going to allow conservatism to be redefined as "Compassionate Conservatism", or are we going to go back to the Goldwater/Reagan/Contract With America style of limited government conservatism. The attack is not really on Bush personally, but rather on his attempt to redefine conservatism.
40 posted on 10/26/2005 11:09:03 AM PDT by rob777
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To: thoughtomator

We can always count on you to contribute the dumbest trite soundbites.


41 posted on 10/26/2005 11:10:12 AM PDT by Diddle E. Squat (SonofaBuckner Qualls and Lidge, king and queen of Choke City, USA)
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To: You Dirty Rats
>>>>Reagan never got spending under control -- even with a Republican majority in the Senate.

Overall spending did go up under Reagan. But Reagan was successful in cutting welfare and entitlement spending, shifting those funds to his defense buildup. And Reagan did cut non-defense related discretionary spending during his first term. Bush has done absolutely nothing to reduce spending, or slow it down.

>>>>Reagan appointed Sandra Dee O'Connor, an unconfirmable Robert Bork, and Anthony Kennedy.

Reagan was lied to by Meese and Schultz when it came to O'Conner. Kennedy had the support of the National Right to Life organization and other pro-life groups. After a few years on the court, Kennedy fell into the liberal beltway trap that effects many SC justices.

>>>>Reagan cut and ran in Lebanon.

That's a cheap shot. Reagan came to understand that Lebanaon was an untenable situation. Reagan approved a plan to take out a Iranian revolutionary Guard barracks. It was Cap Weinberger who nixed that plan and he was the one who pushed to get the Marines out of Lebanon. The fact remains, we're still not sure who was to blame for the Marine barracks bombing.

>>>>Reagan gave amnesty to illegal immigrants.

And if the IRCA of 1986 was enforced the one time amnesty deal would have been just that. Instead, the feds ignored the IRCA of 1986. Bush wants to make the same mistake againm, by leting millions of illegals into the USA. One mistake is enough.

>>>>Reagan never hit hard at terrorism other than one attack on Libya.

Reagan's #1 priority was fighting the Cold War. Btw, Reagan won the Cold War. Second, terrorism wasn't the issue in the 1980`s, it is today.

>>>>Don't get me wrong -- I LOVED RR and considered him a great conservative President...

If that's what you believe, then stop undermining the Reagan legacy, just to lift up the Bush record. Thaqt's wrong and PresBush would be the first to tell you so.

42 posted on 10/26/2005 11:10:50 AM PDT by Reagan Man (Secure our borders;punish employers who hire illegals;stop all welfare to illegals)
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To: billbears

"Whatever hack the RNC tosses up next will the only choice. Do you understand? To state otherwise will cause you to be ostracized from the 'group'."
--->

Well, be honest. That IS TRUE, isn't it?

Are you expecting a Libertarian to be elected?

Are you expecting a Constitution Party candidate to be elected?

Are you expecting a Conservative Party candidate to be elected?

Be real: it's the Republican party candidate, or the Democrat party candidate.

Work as hard as you can to get the most conservative Republican who can win the general election nominated.


43 posted on 10/26/2005 11:12:04 AM PDT by AFPhys ((.Praying for President Bush, our troops, their families, and all my American neighbors..))
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To: Alberta's Child

And where would you place Kerry on your scale if "Mike Dukakis is one exception?" In the mushy middle along side Bush? Kerry's voting record in the Senate places him IMO right along side Dukakis as a hard-core liberal and next to the looney left crook Al Gore once he advanced to the national scene, but let's just call them all what they are - socialists.


44 posted on 10/26/2005 11:13:40 AM PDT by penowa
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To: Chi-townChief
Bush didn't cut and run like we did after Beirut in '82 and he has,...

An easy claim to make....out of context. Beirut and 241 Americans is not New York City & Wash. D.C. with almost 3,000 dead. Furthermore, Reagan still had the Soviet Union to deal with, especially in the Middle East. The wise move was to leave. Your defense of Bush with the accusation of cowardice toward Reagan does not do your case any good, in fact, it harms it. Try some other strategery.

45 posted on 10/26/2005 11:15:24 AM PDT by elbucko
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To: AmusedBystander

"Or yesterday for that matter (Goldwater)."

Good point. Anyone who thinks a true conservative who speaks out about conservatism can be elected as POTUS is fooling himself.

Centrists win elections.


46 posted on 10/26/2005 11:16:01 AM PDT by MineralMan (godless atheist)
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To: mdefranc

Why is it that whenever I see the phrase "principled politician" the laughter wells from deep inside?


47 posted on 10/26/2005 11:20:43 AM PDT by dmz
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To: EagleUSA

yup.


48 posted on 10/26/2005 11:24:50 AM PDT by little jeremiah
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To: MineralMan
"Centrists win elections."

If that were true, Carter and Clinton never would have been president. Candidates on the left who pretend to be centrists win elections if they dupe enough fools into voting for them.

49 posted on 10/26/2005 11:26:53 AM PDT by penowa
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To: Diddle E. Squat

I guess in your Alice in Wonderland world, "conservative" means exactly what you want it to mean, no more and no less.


50 posted on 10/26/2005 11:27:49 AM PDT by thoughtomator
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