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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
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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


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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To: AFPhys
I don't have to contribute to the stupidity though now do I? I will continue to vote for the candidate on the ballot whose views agree with mine, or if required write in the candidate whose views agree with mine. This was the intent of the Framers. Not some damn popularity contest between two party selected hacks.

National level is really a toss up but in most instances the best choice seems to be a Republican Congress and Democratic President. End effect is gridlock. They can't vote on how to waste the money or start wars for all the bickering. Or do you relish the fact that a Republican government in two branches has foisted over $1 trillion of domestic waste on us for the foreseeable future?

51 posted on 10/26/2005 11:30:07 AM PDT by billbears (Deo Vindice)
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To: You Dirty Rats
Really? Like Reagan?

Reagan never got spending ...

Reagan appointed...

Reagan gave back tax...

Reagan cut and ran...

Reagan gave amnesty...

Reagan named moderate...[big mistake]..

Reagan never hit hard..

Don't get me wrong -- I LOVED RR

Yeah, right. We can tell by your posting of a pissing all over a Reagan's grave reply. Do you love Bush so much, that you are willing to turn your back on Ronald Reagan?

52 posted on 10/26/2005 11:32:52 AM PDT by elbucko
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To: elbucko
"Right again. "W's" actions and PR during hurricane Katrina were classic, clueless, "Bush"."

Being in Mississippi, and affected in the extreme by Katrina, and having been right next to this man and benefiting from his efforts... I'd say on this point, YOU are WRONG!

53 posted on 10/26/2005 11:40:48 AM PDT by LibLieSlayer (Preserve America... kill terrorists... destroy dims!)
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To: penowa
"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.

That's exactly what happened in both cases. Carter was considered a moderate in comparison to McGovern, Humphrey, Udall, etc. No, he was no Scoop Jackson or George Wallace -- but that wing of the 'Rat Party is gone and the 1976 Carter was pretty close to 1992 Zell Miller. Carter himself has drifted Left since his political demise in 1980.

As for Bubba, he invented running as a centrist. He came to fame via the DLC. After the 1994 debacle, Morris convinced him to head more towards the center. In fact, his signing of welfare reform was more conservative than liberal.

I had no use for Presidents Carter or Clinton, but they governed much farther from their Left Base than Bush is from his Right.

54 posted on 10/26/2005 11:41:09 AM PDT by You Dirty Rats (Lashed to the USS George W. Bush: "Damn the Torpedos, Full Miers Ahead!!")
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To: MineralMan
Centrists win elections.

Only because that's who both parties consistently put up for election.

I'm done playing their game and will now vote for someone who actually supports my positions. If the Republicans don't want to throw the White House to Hillary than they can either nominate a real conservative. If they don't then they shouldn't complain when the conservatives in the party stop marching in lockstep to the left with them.

55 posted on 10/26/2005 11:55:36 AM PDT by ksen ("For an omniscient and omnipotent God, there are no Plan B's" - Frumanchu)
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To: elbucko
Actually Reagan IMHO governed to the Right of Bush. The point of my post was to show that even the man widely considered to be the greatest Conservative President in the modern era (or maybe ever) took some actions and decisions that could be criticized from the Right. Some were politically necessary, some were compromises, and some were misjudgements.

I'm not the one turning my back on a Republican President. I haven't threatened to leave the party, contributed to attack ads, or derided his supporters as bots. IMHO Reagan and GWB were and are Great Presidents -- GHWB less so and Carter, Clinotn and LBJ were each disasters. (Nixon is more complex).

56 posted on 10/26/2005 11:56:51 AM PDT by You Dirty Rats (Lashed to the USS George W. Bush: "Damn the Torpedos, Full Miers Ahead!!")
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To: billbears

Do whatever you like, as you will.

Unless you work toward getting someone who can be elected nominated in one of the two major parties, know that it is irrelevant, and I have no doubt you do know that. Your "libertarian", "green", "constitution", "conservative", "liberal" vote means precisely zero to how nominations get done, and who becomes elected in this country. No level-headed Republican strategist ever looks at such voters saying "what can we do to gain their vote" because there is no net gain by doing so.

This is precisely why I don't make any effort to sway such people. Bluster doesn't help. Working, as I've done for forty years now, to nominate and elect at least a marginally more conservative Republican can help change this country, and it has done more than all the libertarians or self-described "conservatives" combined have accomplished.

57 posted on 10/26/2005 11:57:55 AM PDT by AFPhys ((.Praying for President Bush, our troops, their families, and all my American neighbors..))
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To: ksen

"Only because that's who both parties consistently put up for election. "

And why is that, do you suppose? Remember Goldwater? I do.

58 posted on 10/26/2005 11:58:09 AM PDT by MineralMan (godless atheist)
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To: LibLieSlayer
Being in Mississippi, and affected in the extreme by Katrina,...

All I could know was what the rest of the country was seeing and reading on tv and the net. Bush may have been doing the right things, but more importantly, a leader has to be seen doing the right things. This, Bush did not do, just as his father didn't with hurricane Andrew in FL. It is a blind spot the Bush's have.

BTW, I wish you a speedy recovery from your afflictions caused by Katrina.

59 posted on 10/26/2005 12:00:21 PM PDT by elbucko
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To: SirLinksalot

I noticed the author characterized conservatives disgruntled with GWB as "neocons." I supported William Knowland for Governor of California in 1958; and voted for Nixon and Goldwater for president in 1960 and 1964, respectively. Not just neocons out here. But W was never more than a Hobson's choice to me.

60 posted on 10/26/2005 12:00:44 PM PDT by luvbach1 (Near the belly of the beast in San Diego)
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