Just to Be Clear, George W. Bush Wasn't a Conservative

If the conservative movement valued ideological purity more than partisan tribal loyalty, his Congressional allies would be pariahs now.



After watching Ron Paul's latest attack on Rick Santorum -- see above -- The American Prospect's Paul Waldman offers this analysis:

The attack on Santorum is actually pretty revealing. It all flies by pretty fast, but in there you have that Santorum voted to raise the debt ceiling; "doubled the size of the Department of Education" (because he voted for George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind); supported a big entitled expansion (because he voted for George W. Bush's Medicare prescription drug bill); sent billions of our tax dollars to dictators (because he supported aid to Egypt, the second-largest recipient of US aid after Israel); and gave money to Planned Parenthood (not sure, but I'm guessing it refers to something buried deep in a huge spending bill that he voted for). In other words, here's the essence of the attack: Rick Santorum was a Republican US senator when George W. Bush was president!

It just shows how far things have come in the GOP, when supporting Dubya means you weren't a real conservative.
Just to be clear, having supported "Dubya" does in fact mean that you weren't a real conservative! His hubristic attempt to remake the political culture of foreign nations via military occupation was not conservative. His profligate spending habits were not conservative. His empowerment of the federal education bureaucracy at the expense of state and local control was not conservative. His approach to immigration reform -- a guest-worker program -- wasn't conservative either. Perhaps it would be easier to respect his departures from conservative orthodoxy if he'd been a good president. As it stands, he was unprincipled and a pragmatist's nightmare. 

If the conservative movement was more grounded in substance, and less concerned with tribal and partisan loyalty, then fewer Republicans would've gone along with Bush, and the ones that did would be pariahs now, rather than contending for the GOP's presidential nomination. Instead, the candidates are just sure to never mention Bush's name, and the base is going along.
Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In