BUSH AND THE BASE
Dodd Harris has a good post on the “Bush is betraying the right” meme that’s been circulating of late. Yes, he’s proposing a lot of silly, expensive programs that violate the tenents of Goldwater-style small government conservatism. Yes, this is annoying to some in the base.
Whether these programs reflect the “compassionate” side of compassionate conservatism or are mere pandering really doesn’t matter in this context. And the fact that it’s unlikely to actually work is merely ironic. The fact is that the vast majority of the public–and even of the smaller subset that turns out to vote–actually want big government. That’s just a reality of American politics.
What’s especially ironic is that, while the base is angry that Bush is being too conciliatory and leftist, the Democrats continue to believe Bush is a right-wing ideologue. Brad DeLong, challenging Matt Yglesias’ assertion that perhaps Bush is not evil incarnate,
Yes, there are bound to be Republican presidents. But there is a big difference between a Republican president whose foreign policies are those of Brent Scowcroft and whose domestic policies are those of Paul O’Neill, and a Republican president whose foreign policies are those of Richard Cheney and whose domestic policies are those of… well, it’s not clear who is making domestic policy: Bozo the Clown?
Remember, it’s not just Democrats who are out here in the Gamma Quadrant. Paul O’Neill, Brent Scowcroft, and James Baker are out here too.
As I note in Brad’s comments section, the Bush-Bozo domestic policy is rather strikingly like Bill Clinton’s.
Update (1354): Craig Henry argues that Clinton looked moderate because he had to deal with a Republican Congress. True enough. The fact that Bush is advocating so many social spending programs is even more noteworthy given that the GOP has majorities in both Houses of Congress, albeit a razor thin majority–and a filibuster prone minority–in the Senate.
Update (1459): Dean Esmay weighs in as well.