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Gap widening between Bush and conservatives ^ | January 23, 2004 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 01/23/2004 5:23:57 AM PST by Apple Pan Dowdy

Gap widening between Bush and conservatives

Jonah Goldberg

I thought President Bush's State of the Union address was fine. It wasn't outrageously long. He drew a bright line between himself and his critics on the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, Social Security Reform, etc. He delivered it well, and the nudity was tasteful and integral to the plot.

As luck - or bad timing - would have it, I was invited to Manhattan to address the New York State Conservative Party right before the president addressed the nation. It seemed only fitting since the subject of my speech was the conflict between Bush's "compassionate conservatism" and traditional conservatism. You see, conservatives in New York City have suffered more and for longer than conservatives in the rest of America. Trust me, I grew up on New York City's Upper West Side. We felt like Christians in Ancient Rome.

Well, after three years with George W. Bush at the helm, many conservatives are starting to feel like we've been sent to the catacombs. Don't get me wrong. Out in real America where most Americans - liberal and conservative - don't focus on politics every day, Bush is still doing very well. And, even among conservatives, Bush has considerable political support. But among ideological and intellectual conservatives, emotional support for Bush is starting to ebb.

I can't point to anything scientific. But if you pay attention to what conservatives are saying at meetings and in magazines, on the Web and at the think tanks, as well as what readers, friends, colleagues and sources say, there's a definite undercurrent of discontent with the president.

For some it started with his plan to offer amnesty-lite to illegal immigrants. For others, it's his fence-sitting on gay marriage. For others, like me, it was his signing of the campaign finance reform bill even though he thought it was unconstitutional. Or maybe it was his support for steel tariffs. Or the farm bill. I forget.

Anyway that doesn't matter. What unites pretty much all of these grumblers is a deep sense of, well, disgust with how much this administration is spending.

When it comes to taxpayer dollars, this is the second most "generous" administration in American history, second only to that of another Texan, Lyndon Johnson. There may be good aspects to George Bush's "compassionate conservatism," though on the whole I never liked it, but it's clear that compassion doesn't come cheap at the Bush White House, on whose watch overall spending from 2001 to 2003 grew at 16 percent and discretionary spending went up 27 percent. That's double Bill Clinton's rate.

Bush's defenders are eager to point to the war on terrorism as an excuse for increased spending. Fine. But that's only a small part of the story.

Under Bush, spending on education has gone up 60.8 percent, on labor 56 percent and on the Department of the Interior by 23.4 percent . The price tag for the president's Medicare plan alone starts, but won't end, at $400 billion. The farm bill was a pork horror show, pure and simple. More people work for the federal government now than at any time since the end of the Cold War.

Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation sums it up this way: "Overall for 2003, the federal government spent $20,300 per household, taxed $16,780 per household, and ran a budget deficit of $3,520 per household."

The reason most Americans haven't heard a lot about all this is twofold. Conservatives have stayed relatively quiet and liberals have controlled the anti-Bush microphone.

Democratic presidential candidates and interest groups have been screeching that the president is gutting education and abandoning the elderly. Obviously this is nonsense on tall stilts, since Bush is spending a lot more on both than Bill Clinton ever did.

In fact, on Medicare and education, for example, the Dems think Bush is being stingy. And a study by the National Taxpayers Union found that each and every one of the Democrats running for president have plans that would raise the deficit even more, from $169.6 billion under Joe Lieberman to - get this - $1.33 trillion under Al Sharpton.

Conservative opposition to such overspending is more complex than the media and the left think. Some just don't like red ink. Others think big government erodes freedom and traditional arrangements. Others believe it slowly inoculates the citizenry to greater levels of social engineering.

Whatever the reasons, conservatives - as opposed to partisan Republicans - have sincere misgivings about the kind of presidency Bush is conducting. A lot of compassionate conservatism is smart politics for the Republican Party, and some of it is even good policy. And, yes, conservatives understand that the GOP is practically the only place they have a real impact in electoral politics.

But I'm not sure George Bush understands how much he is asking from those who brought him to the dance.

TOPICS: Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bush; jonahgoldberg
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To: My2Cents
Overall, though, we are fortunate to have this man, with his set of values, in the White House, even if he isn't every Freeper's model of conservatism.

I remember saying, about this time in 2000, that the most important issue facing the nation was the election of a President who had moral and ethical values, regardless of his ideological bent. Hard-nosed conservatism can come later, but for the time, we need a man like Bush and ought to be grateful that we've got him.

381 posted on 01/23/2004 4:07:01 PM PST by Agnes Heep
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To: ArneFufkin
"Y'all become invisible to the real deal politicos who make policy and impact our lives ... good or bad."

Since when has a President's enforcing or rather UN-enforcing American sovereignty a "real deal"??

You may actually delude yourself for the moment that the number of conservatives affected by this ONE ISSUE is more or less "invisible," but I assure you the administration doesn't. There will be a thousand polls out in the coming months directing the President on just which direction is "prudent." Shame he can't just do the right thing.

"Threatening to withdraw your support from a team (i.e. Party) in a gambit to injure the team is far less effective than offering to contribute your support, with an alternative approach, to that same team in the effort to better ensure their success."

Just play offense AND play defense 100%, and the "team" ought to win. In this case, our "defense" is allowing too much yardage. In fact our "team" is playing a prevent "D" when we ought to be blitzing...

382 posted on 01/23/2004 4:15:03 PM PST by F16Fighter
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To: Agnes Heep
Agnes, you hit the nail on the head. Any President, because of his Constitutional limitations on power and the liquid dynamic of World events, cannot PROMISE deliverance of any single policy inititiative.

The ONLY thing one can measure, and judge, is that individual's honesty, competency and judgement in building a supporting team of professionals. Bushbots NEVER believed he was Hammurabi or Alexander the Great ... with all encompassing power. Bushbots gave this President our "proxy" ... he has our trust to manage our vital civic affairs on our behalf. With the best wisdom, intuity and consul possible.

It's actually the Bush detractors around here that are "Bushbots" ... they think he's some kind of all powerful despot. Bush supporters have a far more realistic, nuanced understanding of this man's personal and institutional strengths and weaknesses than any of his 24/7 critics understand. We trust the man, his good faith commitment to America, and we trust the super pros he's surrounded himself with. Period.

I'm not going to nitpick every single Chess move by Kasparov. I don't know what the next six moves hence he's mulling in his mind. I know the outcome he's pursuing ... victory. I trust his "take."

I trust George W. Bush's "take" as well. As a conservative and an American whose country is at War.

383 posted on 01/23/2004 4:24:18 PM PST by ArneFufkin
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To: onyx
"Heretofore, I have been totally against background checks because I believe the 2nd Ammendment affords us the right to keep and bear arms anonymously --- without the government knowing who bears 'em and who does not. Am I wrong?"

IMO, the right to bear arms (including AW) is necessary -- albeit with some kind of background check.

As to the question of whether AW are "necessary," -- they are still merely one more means of personal protection -- Janet Reno-type AGs notwithstanding ;-)

384 posted on 01/23/2004 4:24:42 PM PST by F16Fighter
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To: PhiKapMom
This is not 1776 and we are not fighting the British --

When a man like General Wesley Clark is considered a serious candidate for president we are in trouble. Don't you understand that Clark if elected could put people just like him in charge of our military? You think that that sort of leader should have control of all weapons that could win a civil war. You are saying that you trust men like Wesley Clark, Kerry and Dean and not ordinary citizens to protect your freedom. That is very scary.

Are you really so sure of your safety... do you have no fear of men like Dean and Clark ever taking control of the this nation?

No founder of this nation was afraid of the British. The british were not the reason for the 2nd amendment. The founding fathers won the revolutionary war a decade before the 2nd amendment was written. They were not afraid of the power of the King of England. They were afraid of unstable men being elected and subjugating the people of this nation. They feared those ambitious men would use the military to take control of this nation and subjugate our citizens. I still am.

Germany in the 1920's had a full democracy. But when Hitler made a deal with the military in 1933, freedom was gone in weeks. Germany was by far the best educated nation in the world. All it took was ONE Hitler, an armed military, and a disarmed citizenry to take all their freedom away. It cost 50 million lives to undo that mistake.

You are afraid that bad men or women will get control of some assault weapons and kill some innocent people.

You are not afraid a Hitler type leader can assume control of this nation once we are a severely under armed and vulnerable population.

You surely must understand that at least half the men who run for president would do anything to exchange the title of President for Supreme Dictator. Write down the names of the 9 candidates and then mark the names of all who would refuse to be a Supreme Dictator if the opportunity arose. Do it. And see how safe you feel. Sooner or later, perhaps in the not too distant future, such a person will get elected. You are betting they won't pull an Adolf Hitler... but history says one of them will. Our only protection is an armed citizenry that the Government can't control.

Do you think the courts can protect you? No less than Thomas Jefferson refused to obey the supreme court. He said, "Justice Marshall has made his decision.. Now lets see him enforce it." If Jefferson could get away with not obeying the court, a lesser president can as well.

If a Bill Clinton can make Wesley Clark a 4 star general how many 4 star Generals could a future President appoint that would be loyal to him and not anyone else.... how many colonels, majors and captains. would it take? How many privates would they have to execute before the privates shot whomever the Generals said to shoot. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin both knew the answer to that question. I hope you never get to learn it.

You, believing you have complete freedom, will speak against such men. I hope that if it happens you will be bright enough not to do so. I hope you will spout the Dictator's party line. If you don't you will quickly learn the reason our founding fathers wanted the civilian population to be armed well enough to take on our own military and win.

The protection of the 2nd amendment was not to defend us from external threats... It was to protect us from internal threats from a government in the hands of evil people.

Your believe in gun control only displays that you see armed people as a greater threat than an armed government.

Every dictator in history has risen to power because fearful citizens shared your belief.

385 posted on 01/23/2004 4:27:45 PM PST by Common Tator (Commontator)
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To: ArneFufkin
If Bush wants to get elected again he had better get some more authentically conservative faces and policies in view.
386 posted on 01/23/2004 4:28:17 PM PST by Kermit the Frog Does theWatusi
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To: sinkspur
"Then vote against Bush, and shut the hell up."

Nope -- not before I antagonize the hell outta YOU...

"You couldn't get a lap dance if you paid for it."

Marginalized, then emasculated?? OUCH!

387 posted on 01/23/2004 4:29:46 PM PST by F16Fighter
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To: Kermit the Frog Does theWatusi
I'm comforable with the current program.
388 posted on 01/23/2004 4:29:57 PM PST by ArneFufkin
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To: ArneFufkin

How old are you by the way (just curious)?

389 posted on 01/23/2004 4:31:30 PM PST by Kermit the Frog Does theWatusi
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To: Kermit the Frog Does theWatusi
That's none of your business, and irrelevant to the discussion.

How old are you?

390 posted on 01/23/2004 4:33:02 PM PST by ArneFufkin
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To: ArneFufkin
Gee, I hope you will be as comfortable with John Kerry as president.
I have been a professional conservative for over 20 years.
I know of no professional conservatives (real conservatives) in active life in Washington who are "comfortable" with Bush.
391 posted on 01/23/2004 4:35:34 PM PST by Kermit the Frog Does theWatusi
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To: Apple Pan Dowdy
IMHO, this is a load of BS from Jonah. I like him, but he is off the mark this time. I am a conservative, and while I don't agree with every one of Bush's policies, I am solidly on board with him. As are most conservatives I know.
392 posted on 01/23/2004 4:40:16 PM PST by Diddle E. Squat (,,
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To: Kermit the Frog Does theWatusi
I have been a professional conservative for over 20 years.

How elitist of you.

Well anyway it seems that you and Larry Klayman, Paul Weyrich, etc. etc. have something in common, a Napolean syndrome.

You all crown yourselves Emperors of conservatism. And it pisses you off when the little peons contradict you.

393 posted on 01/23/2004 4:41:46 PM PST by Dane
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To: Kermit the Frog Does theWatusi
I have been a professional conservative for over 20 years.

A "professional" conservative? How's bidness? LOL

Thanks for bringing to the forefront the reality behind all the book writers, pundits and other whores of "the right" who are furtively trying to stake anti-Bush postitions right now. There's no money in supporting President Bush right now.

They've got an angry fringe on the right, and a far larger angry leftwing dynasty who will pay them money to trash talk the President and the GOP right now.

Big deal. Jonah Goldberg, Michelle Malkin, Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham and the rest of the "B" team talent ... their cynical marketing campaigns are fully expected. The "Think Tanks" like Cato, Heritage and Landmark ... they're hustling for money like all the other D.C. clowns are. Satisfied Bushbots ain't filling their coffers, they need to rustle up some animus from Fringies and left wing Agent Provacoteurs.

Bush is a political juggernaut. He's unbeatable in November, and he's going to bring 3-4 GOP Senators and 15-20 House GOP candidates with him. Gargle your bile.

394 posted on 01/23/2004 4:44:05 PM PST by ArneFufkin
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To: Kermit the Frog Does theWatusi

First I heard of that.



395 posted on 01/23/2004 4:46:58 PM PST by Neets
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To: ArneFufkin
"Whores of the right?"..."Bidness"??? Oh, dear... Sure you are on the right website?

Are you...shrooming again, W? Take some niacin and get a good night sleep.

396 posted on 01/23/2004 4:47:30 PM PST by Kermit the Frog Does theWatusi
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To: Kermit the Frog Does theWatusi
There must be one helluva lot of Soros money out there for you D.C. assclowns to backstab this President.
397 posted on 01/23/2004 4:49:34 PM PST by ArneFufkin
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To: ArneFufkin; Admin Moderator
398 posted on 01/23/2004 4:51:54 PM PST by Kermit the Frog Does theWatusi
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To: Kermit the Frog Does theWatusi
My mistake, you are actually "pantloads".
399 posted on 01/23/2004 4:54:20 PM PST by ArneFufkin
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To: Kermit the Frog Does theWatusi

Ahhhh, the DC beltway "professional conservative" can't take the heat.

Go have a drink with your demos buddies in Georgetown and you all can talk about how superior you are to the people out in flyover country.

400 posted on 01/23/2004 4:54:40 PM PST by Dane
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