As Conservatives Reel ...

Fewer are in denial about the extent of the Bush-Rove-Cheney implosion. The Washington Times:

His biggest black mark, in our view, is that domestic spending exploded, with his acquiescence, encouragement, or fecklessness, and Mr. Bush presided over the largest increase in federal spending since LBJ's Great Society. This included the Medicare prescription-drug entitlement program enacted in 2003 that added more than $17 trillion to federal liabilities over the "infinite horizon" - an amount greater than the entire annual output of the U.S. economy. ... In the end, the Bush presidency was something of a mixed bag: massive increases in the power of the federal Leviathan was the dark side. But President Bush's most important legacy is the fact that he kept Americans safe after September 11.

The latter talking point remains as hard to gage as any. We simply do not know yet, from the vantage of history, whether Bush's record in preventing another 9/11 style attack was luck or design or some mix of the two. We don't talk of how Clinton "kept us safe" after the 1993 WTC attack - at least, I fail to remember that as a GOP talking point in 2000 - because from the vantage point of 2001, it didn't look so great.

I have a sinking feeling that we surrendered enormous amounts of freedom and the heart of the Constitution ... for the usual meager portions of pseudo-security. But the point is: I don't actually know. No one does, except those whose direct interest it is to defend their own record.