Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Bush has been a Moderate all Along (and He always campaigned as such ) ^ | 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
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-8081-88 next last
To: Russ

Behind whom? Who are your viable candidates?

21 posted on 10/26/2005 10:37:12 AM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

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
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

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
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

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!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

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.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

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
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

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)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

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.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

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!!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

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.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

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
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

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
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

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
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

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
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

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
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

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
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

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.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: tkathy

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

38 posted on 10/26/2005 11:05:04 AM PDT by penowa
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

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
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

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
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-8081-88 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson