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Elder Bush Makes Elite’s Choice Official
Commentary Magazine ^ | December 23, 2011 | Jonathan S. Tobin

Posted on 12/24/2011 9:40:04 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet

I’ve always been of the opinion that the idea there is such a thing as a Republican “establishment” is something of a myth. The GOP hasn’t really had anything approximating a ruling elite since conservatives nominated Barry Goldwater​ and booed Nelson Rockefeller off the stage at the 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco. The idea that Wall Street honchos or intellectuals running national magazines have any power over Republican voters and the party apparatus is based on a misunderstanding of how contemporary American politics works. The only thing that approximates an establishment is the family who produced two U.S. presidents during the course of a 20-year period encompassing the end of the last century and the beginning of the current one: the Bushes.

So the announcement yesterday that the elder George Bush is endorsing Mitt Romney​ comes as close as anything can to verifying one of the media’s favorite clichés about the Republican establishment’s role in the 2012 race. Given this mythical establishment’s lack of actual power and the resentment that the mere idea of its existence can conjure up among the party’s grass roots, it is doubtful the 41st president’s seal of approval will help Romney all that much. But what the Bush statement does do is make it clear exactly whom the GOP’s royal family doesn’t like: Newt Gingrich​ and Rick Perry​.

When President Bush praised Romney as someone who wasn’t a “bomb thrower,” it’s not exactly a secret that he was thinking about Newt Gingrich. Bush and other GOP moderates disdained Gingrich as a radical troublemaker during the Reagan administration and considered his scorched earth tactics as House Minority Leader​ during the first Bush presidency to be contemptible.

Though Bush also said that he “liked” Rick Perry, the blood feud between the Texas governor and his son’s political camp is also no secret. Had there been any affinity between Perry and the Bushes, the latter might have avoided any endorsements.

It is doubtful any endorsement these days carries all that much weight. Bush 41​ had a similar profile to Romney during his political career. Like Romney, Bush came from wealth, flip-flopped on abortion and was unreliable on the key economic issue of his day (substitute his “read my lips” switch on raising taxes for Romneycare). So it’s not likely that Tea Partiers and social conservatives, most of whom never had much use for George W. Bush’s father in the first place, will be swayed by his support for Romney.

But in the context of a crowded GOP field with a gaggle of unsatisfactory candidates vying for the affections of a limited universe of social conservative voters, Romney can survive the unflattering comparison. Yet if Bush 41’s seal of approval does help convince some wavering middle-of-the-road Republicans and moderate conservatives to forget about Gingrich or Perry and go with the more electable Romney, it won’t hurt him.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Editorial; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bush; elites; gingrich; newt; perry; rinos; romney; teaparty
Old-style, 20th Century, pre-Obama thinking, Jonathan.
1 posted on 12/24/2011 9:40:08 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“But in the context of a crowded GOP field with a gaggle of unsatisfactory candidates vying for the affections of a limited universe of social conservative voters, Romney can survive the unflattering comparison. Yet if Bush 41’s seal of approval does help convince some wavering middle-of-the-road Republicans and moderate conservatives to forget about Gingrich or Perry and go with the more electable Romney, it won’t hurt him.

Nominate Romney, re-elect 0bama. That’s how I see it. Like A = B.


2 posted on 12/24/2011 9:43:56 PM PST by Attention Surplus Disorder (Gun store gift certificate. An idea whose time has come.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Read our lips, Bush Sr: “Your endorsement will not help you fellow RINO.”


3 posted on 12/24/2011 9:46:03 PM PST by CainConservative
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To: Attention Surplus Disorder

Even if Milt were to win, we’d have a Obama lite.


4 posted on 12/24/2011 9:46:07 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (You can't invade the US. There'd be a rifle behind every blade of grass.~Admiral Yamamoto)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

If I had 100 good reasons not to support Romney now I have 101.


5 posted on 12/24/2011 9:50:14 PM PST by TigersEye (Life is about choices. Your choices. Make good ones.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
forget about Gingrich or Perry and go with the more electable Romney

And THERE'S the true message: we be 4 Willard.

No thank you, 41.

6 posted on 12/24/2011 9:52:37 PM PST by Old Sarge (RIP FReeper Skyraider (1930-2011) - You Are Missed)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

The reason the Bushes support Romney is that Barbara couldn’t persuade Chris Christy to run.


7 posted on 12/24/2011 9:53:23 PM PST by lonestar (It takes a village of idiots to elect a village idiot.)
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To: TigersEye

No, 84! 41 + 43 = 84. LOL


8 posted on 12/24/2011 9:53:56 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (You can't invade the US. There'd be a rifle behind every blade of grass.~Admiral Yamamoto)
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To: lonestar

I’m 6 ft and 360 and that guy is about half again as big as I am!!


9 posted on 12/24/2011 9:55:17 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (You can't invade the US. There'd be a rifle behind every blade of grass.~Admiral Yamamoto)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I think Christy has grown in office...pun intended.


10 posted on 12/24/2011 10:02:47 PM PST by lonestar (It takes a village of idiots to elect a village idiot.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

LOL That works!


11 posted on 12/24/2011 10:09:07 PM PST by TigersEye (Life is about choices. Your choices. Make good ones.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

You can vote twice, by weight.


12 posted on 12/24/2011 10:15:33 PM PST by TwoSwords
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

13 posted on 12/24/2011 10:42:13 PM PST by Semper Mark (Pray. Vote. Buy ammo.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Just get used to it. Like you aren’t already.

The new boss is the old boss.

Saves me from having to vote.

And puking on my shoes.


14 posted on 12/24/2011 11:36:39 PM PST by bigheadfred (MERRY CHRISTMAS)
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To: Attention Surplus Disorder

Bush senior endorsed McCain too.


15 posted on 12/25/2011 1:48:29 AM PST by tommix2
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Some years ago, I compiled a series of posts about the political legacy of George W Bush which I presume set forth here with a warning about its length. I include here to give context to an endorsement by the Bush family.

It is important to remember that Gingrich broke with George HW Bush when he broke his "read my lips" tax pledge. A compendium of posts follows:

George H. W. Bush reneged on his sacred pledge to America: "read my lips no new taxes."

He reneged on this pledge because he caved to pressure from Democrats and moderates who insisted that it was the "responsible" thing to do at a time when people like Ross Perot were making deficits the central issue of the time. As soon as George Bush broke that pledge the Democrats relentlessly if hypocritically beat him like a dog with the issue until he lost so much credibility that he could not win an election shaped by Ross Perot about the deficit. Bush raised taxes to close the deficit but in the election of 1992, despite submitting to the Democrat demands, he had no credibility on the issue and in fact the Democrats turned it on him. By raising taxes he forfeited the support of conservatives and people like Newt Gingrich walked. In trying to find the Aristotelian mean, George H. W Bush found only mean streets.

George W. Bush thought he had read the proper lesson from his father's experience. He thought the difficulty was in raising taxes and it was safe to buy the votes of the mushy middle with spending. He did not realize that the true lesson was that you do not presume against the fundamental tenets of your party's philosophy and expect to retain their loyalty whether the issue is taxes or spending. Although George W. Bush narrowly escaped the fate of his father's re-election loss, in a larger sense he shared the same fate in the disaffection of the conservative movement all to the unmitigated sorrow of the party and eventually of the country. Today the Democrats justify Obama's mindless deficit spending by saying that George W. Bush left the country with gross deficits.

Like father like son.

THE CHARACTER OF GEORGE BUSH Let me make it quite clear from the very beginning that I do not assail the virtuous character of George Bush. To the contrary, I admire it. In September 2006, I posted this:

I believe the author missunderestimates George Bush. If he acts, he will not act to protect his legacy, he will act to protect his country.

In recent weeks, no FReeper has been more harsh, even bitter in his criticism of President Bush. But I have never accused him of low or base motives. I have abandoned George Bush over Harriet Meir, spending, McCain Feingold, and the foolishness and ineptness over Valerie Plame, the ineptness over Katrina, validating Democrats by pandering to the likes of Teddy Kennedy, the need to change course in Iraq, and above all, over immigration, but I never thought that Bush was wrong because he would sell us out or because he was ambitious.

Bush will act, or not act, because he believes it is right and because he is a patriot. Unlike the author, Bush is not a neocon, his agenda is strictly America's future.

If one considers the list of failures for which I indict George Bush in the preceding quoted paragraphs, not one of those actions that so troubled me occurred because George Bush is a small man. To the contrary, they happened because George Bush chose options congruent with his faith. They were animated out of a fullness of heart, not a meanness of character.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HARRIET MEIR

Looking back, I think the nomination of Harriet Mier was a profound disillusionment for me as it was for George Will and other conservatives. I quote a reply in the context of that nomination to demonstrate that I am not personally opposed to George Bush, to the contrary I admire his character:

[Quoting George Will:] "As for Republicans, any who vote for Meir will thereafter be ineligible to argue that it is important to elect Republicans because they are conscientious conservers of the judicial branch's invaluable dignity."

As a result of the policies of the Bush administration, Republicans have forfeited their formerly kryptonite hundred year claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility.

Thus we have wantonly kicked away one of the legs of our stool. Another leg of the stool was comprised of our ability to go to the electorate, as George Bush did successfully in the last two elections, and persuasively argue that we were the party of judicial integrity. That we were the party which manned the threshold to the Constitution like the Patriots at Thermopylae to check the ravening horde of liberals who would sack the Constitution.

The Harriet Meir nomination in a stroke has needlessly compromised our ability plausibly to appeal to the electorate as a the party which stands on constitutional principle and eschews judicial opportunism.

Why did we saw off two of our three legs? On the issue of spending some would say it is because Bush was never a conservative. Others would say that it was the war that did it but that would not be the whole truth, at least that would not be the whole explanation. Others would say that it is simply the nature of a politician to buy votes with other people's money and the temptation, even to Republicans, is irresistible.

WHAT THE NOMINATION OF HARRIET MEIR REVEALED OF GEORGE BUSH'S CHARACTER

My own view is that our present dilemma is the product of a little bit of each of the above. For years now I've been posting my view the George Bush is not essentially a movement conservative but a committed Christian. Here's what I've been saying recently:

"The truth is straightforward, as usual. Bush is first a committed Christian, then a devoted family man who values personal loyalty to an extreme, and third, a conservative when that philosophy does not conflict with the first two. In this appointment, Bush believes he has satisfied all three legs of the stool. "On the limited evidence available, I do positively believe Bush appointed her because she has been reborn. I mean that quite respectfully. I mean that he is counting on her being a new person. Most of the time it means she will vote conservative. But I honestly do not think Bush appointed her to vote conservative. I think he appointed he to vote in the SPIRIT."

The sad thing for us conservatives is to contemplate just how unnecessary the debacle over Harriet Meir really was. The whole nomination fiasco is almost uniquely unrelated to identifiable political or policy considerations. In the absence of such temporal explanations, I am left with the conclusion that Bush has selected her because she is Christian.

FAITH TRUMPS PARTY

If one accepts that Bush's Christian character is the key to understanding the man, it explains both your support of him and his virtues and my support of him and his virtues, but also my disillusionment with him-equally because of his virtues. If George Bush gives billions of our taxpayer dollars away to fight AIDS in Africa it is a noble gesture out of the impulse of a Christian heart. If he toasts Bill Clinton in the White House and by the gesture implicitly tells the world that the entire Republican effort to impeach Clinton was misplaced, he does so out of the Christian duty to love his enemy. If he panders to Teddy Kennedy in the White House, he sees himself not as sleeping with the enemy but as turning the other cheek. If he is "compassionate" in his conservatism, he sees it as the outworking of his Christian duty to give alms. Finally, if he consigns his whole administration to disintegration as he watches his approval numbers descend into the 20s because he declined Karl Rove's advice to defend the administration's Iraq policy and thus wrecks his administration along with his party's chances, he does so because as a Christian he knows he will be called to account for his actions in another venue.

If George Bush and his family think that politics is "smarmy" and that party politics are even more smarmy, it comes from his epiphany with Billy Graham which made him a new man, a man which sees another world, a larger vision. The world of party politics is grimy and transitory and not a worthy place to store up one's treasure. It is as nothing against the overwhelming contemplation of eternity.

THE PROPER ROLE OF PARTY IN GOVERNANCE

The founders designed a government which they hoped would function entirely without parties, indeed, it is the job of parties to bridge over the obstacles to power which the founders installed as checks and balances in our Constitution. The founders called partisanship "factionalism" but whatever the label they feared parties because they saw them as another name for the mob. Parties are in business to overcome the checks and balances which frustrate their ambitions.

It is hardly politic for an essayist today to openly declare that the founder's got something wrong but that is undeniably so when it comes to the issues of parties.

Today, no administration can effectively govern if it permits itself to be frustrated by the checks and balances in the Constitution. The degree to which the Congress will do the president's will largely depends upon the degree to which he can exercise party discipline. George Bush was a profound failure in this respect and Republicans paid terrible forfeits in 2006 and 2008. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were able to enforce enough party cohesion to escape impeachment. George Bush simply could not, or would not, control the Rinos in his own party except perhaps on the issues of maintaining the fight in Iraq and tax cuts.

So there is always a tension, thank God, between the politics of effective government on the one hand and the constitutional rights of our citizens on the other. If we drift too far toward one party government we risk our liberty. If we drift too far from party discipline, we risk the failure of government.

All this brings us to an examination of your assertion:

First of all, all Presidents have a duty to be above party politics, Presidents represent all Americans, not just their particular party. President Bush upheld that discipline in an exemplary manner and it was good for the country.

For all the reasons I've expressed above, I am bound to say that I find your sentiment noble in conception but very, very naïve when it comes to application. What George Bush did was not good for the country because he put us in the mess we are in. When political scientists write the history of the election of Barak Obama they are going to write that it was lost not by John McCain's haplessness but by George Bush. It was lost because Bush abandoned party, not the other way around as you assert, and without party the president becomes so confounded by the checks and balances put in place by our founders that he simply cannot govern effectively. If he cannot govern effectively, he cannot "represent all Americans." No party means no president, no president means no governing for America.

Nobility of character explains George Bush but it does not excuse him or relieve us of the consequences.

THE VERDICT OF HISTORY

I truly fear that George Bush will be seen as the last president of Constitutional America. The Last president of the America you and I were born in. The last president of the superpower. The last president of the nation in an age of nation states. The last president of Old America before it was swept into transnationalism..

He will be seen as a last president of virtue. The last president to believe he was obligated to tell his people the truth as he knew it. The last to have unalloyed loyalty to the nation of his birth. The last patriotic American president.

George Bush will be known as the last president to remain faithful to the Old Constitution. The last to put country before ideology, class, tribe, party, and race.

George Bush will be seen as the last Christian president. The last keeper of the light of the shining city on the hill.

You and I can have no more basic disagreement that over the role of party politics and the proper governing of America and the affirmative obligation which a president undertakes when he accepts the nomination of his party and gives the nation his oath at his inauguration also voluntarily assumes duties as the titular head of his party.

16 posted on 12/25/2011 1:58:35 AM PST by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
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To: nathanbedford

It’s time for America to wake up and to put an end to these lifetime embedded politicians from both parties. Their tenure is there only to line their pockets and to protect their buddies in Congress while all working to keep the lifeline going. It’s time to take a wrecking ball to Washington, State Capitals, local governments and bring government back home to the people. Let’s start with Virginia, ACORN, K Street, etc.


17 posted on 12/25/2011 3:40:08 AM PST by yorkie01
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

...and the Bushes can come to South Carolina and cast a vote for Romney because I won’t be.


18 posted on 12/25/2011 5:43:02 AM PST by veritas2002
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To: lonestar

I think that whole thing was a Kabuki dance.


19 posted on 12/25/2011 5:49:02 AM PST by Excellence (9/11 was an act of faith.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet; mickie
I still remember listening to GHW Bush's speech of September 11, 1990 as a chill went through my spine like a shot when he intoned the phrase "new world order".

That's when I realized the Bush family en toto were nothing more than soft, eastern establishment, Rockefeller Republicans of the globalist, idealistic, moneyed, elitist, paternalistic ("compassionate") bent.

Nothing subsequent has occured that has caused me to change my mind about any of GHWB's considerable extended family....including spouses and adult offspring and their spouses....plus any adult grandchildren, nieces or nephews, plus.........

Father Bush's endorsement of Romney does not surprise me in the least.

Leni

20 posted on 12/25/2011 6:10:59 AM PST by MinuteGal
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To: CainConservative

Some think GHWB is really endorsing Jebbie for 2016, when there may be an open field. All we need is a ninth time for a Bush on a general election ballot, as it would be in TX or a tenth time in FL.


21 posted on 12/25/2011 6:17:32 AM PST by Theodore R. (I'll still vote for Santorum if he is on the April 3 ballot.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Ha! Ha! Ha!
We're going to do it to them again!



22 posted on 12/25/2011 9:15:22 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (FOREIGN AID: A transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

They are going to do it again to us, probably with the consent of our fellow Republicans, who lack understanding.


23 posted on 12/25/2011 11:36:38 AM PST by Theodore R. (I'll still vote for Santorum if he is on the April 3 ballot.)
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To: nathanbedford
I always respect your opinions NB but in this case I believe you have idealized the "Bush character" beyond where the data will lead. George Bush was a man of fairly commonplace virtues, arrived at in a fairly shallow way. There is more to life than a walk on the beach with Billy Graham. And if the Miers fiasco was as you say, it was an attempt at a disastrous abuse of power. There is no other word for it.
24 posted on 12/25/2011 5:18:16 PM PST by hinckley buzzard
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To: hinckley buzzard
There is more to life than a walk on the beach with Billy Graham.

The other day I stopped in the middle of a conversation with a German neighbor of mine when I realized that he had no idea what I was talking about when I said, "they drank the Kool-Aid." At first I thought it was my awkward German but I soon realized that the disconnect was cultural and not linguistic. He had no idea about the origin of the phrase which has entered the American expression.

"He drank the Kool-Aid," of course, comes from the hundreds of people who drank poison because they had abandoned reason to Jim Jones. The episode is horrifying to contemplate from two perspectives. First the sheer carnage of so many dead from suicide and murder and, second, the sheer abnegation of the human spirit to submit oneself to such evil. There we saw raw psychic power.

But there is something very meaningful to understand from the horror of Jonestown and that is the power of the cult, or the power of submission of the ego to "the other." If we review such famous conversion experiences such as Saul on the road to Damascus, Billy Graham himself, and the entire Awakening Movements such as the one that swept America in colonial days which contributed greatly to the American Revolution, we must concede that these experiences can be powerful and lifelong.

I have long been pondering the power of the cult as an explanation for the draw in the hold which liberalism/communism has on the human spirit. I believe we are touching on a large part of the explanation. This power can either before positive or for evil. Either way it can be profound, we need skilled professional psychologists to extract some teenagers from some cults.

"Once a Marine, always a Marine" has real meaning. The transformation of the psyche is permanent and profound. John McCain claimed such an experience on the floor of his cell near death in the Hanoi Hilton in which he was contemplating death and only called back by a commitment to dedicate his life to his country. I will not substitute cynicism for McCain's account. In George Bush's case, there is no need to engage in skepticism much less cynicism because we have Bush leading an abstemious life since his walk on the beach with Billy Graham. The meeting was profound at least in that sense, he did not drink, and I think, therefore, that I am warranted to say that it was profound in other aspects as well. We have decades long proof.

All that being said, I am careful to distinguish what we want in a president from what we want in a preacher. That is why I am able now to support Newt Gingrich and that support is not entirely dependent on the validity of his repentance and conversion. Above all, I want a president with good moral character but I also want an effective politician, a patriot, and, of course, a conservative. I think Bush permitted his religion to interfere with his judgment as president to the detriment of the country. I do not excuse his missteps by reference to his religion, I simply offer that as the best explanation I can find for his behavior in office which makes a consistent explanation for every complaint which we conservatives have, many of which I listed in my reply.

By the way, I am grateful that you persevered and read through the whole of it.


25 posted on 12/25/2011 8:04:11 PM PST by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
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