Brad Delong analyzes who on the right sussed out Bush when. I'm in the Class of 2004. But I'd like to mention that my complaints about runaway spending date from well before that. If 9/11 hadn't happened, I think I would have bailed sooner. I hated the Medicare bill, compassionate conservatism, and the FMA. And as the years pass, the happier I am I bit the bullet and refused to endorse Bush the second time around. That strikes me as the real litmus test, although Bruce Bartlett should be forgiven for finding Kerry a pill too bitter to swallow:
It's true that I never said I would vote for John Kerry. What I did say, publicly, was that if Bill Clinton had been running in 2004 I would have voted for him.
I admit, with the benefit of hindsight, that I should have seen the light sooner. My defense is that I didn't believe anything George W. Bush said during the 2000 campaign. I thought "compasionate conservatism" was just BS cooked up by Karl Rove or somebody because it got a good reaction in focus groups.
I assumed it was bullshit as well - bullshit designed to put a Clintonesque gloss on old-style conservatism. I didn't quite appreciate that Bush might actually believe it - and I deserve a shellacking for my naivete. Still, no one beats Ed Crane in foresight.