Some Key Conservatives Uneasy About Bush

A bizarre non-story story from the AP: Some Key Conservatives Uneasy About Bush

When an influential group of conservatives gathers in downtown Washington each week, they often get a political pep talk from a senior Bush administration official or campaign aide. They don’t expect a fellow Republican to deliver a blistering critique of President Bush’s handling of the Iraq war. But nearly 150 conservatives listened in silence recently as a veteran of the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations ticked off a litany of missteps in Iraq by the Bush White House.
“This war is not going well,” said Stefan Halper, a deputy assistant secretary of state under President Reagan. “It’s costing us a lot of money, isolating us from our allies and friends,” said Halper, who gave $1,000 to George W. Bush’s campaign and more than $83,000 to other GOP causes in 2000. “This is not the cakewalk the neoconservatives predicted. We were not greeted with flowers in the streets.”

Conservatives, the backbone of Bush’s political base, are increasingly uneasy about the Iraq conflict and the steady drumbeat of violence in postwar Iraq, Halper and some of his fellow Republicans say. The conservatives’ anxiety was fueled by the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal and has not abated with the transfer of political power to the interim Iraqi government. Some Republicans fear angry conservatives will stay home in November, undercutting Bush’s re-election bid. “I don’t think there’s any question that there is growing restiveness in the Republican base about this war,” said Halper, the co-author of a new book, “America Alone: The Neoconservatives and the Global Order.”

Halper, of whom I’d never previously heard, is the only conservative who has ever held public office mentioned in the article. It’s rather difficult to say that he’s a “key” conservative. The premise of the piece is totally unsupported by anything in it.

I don’t doubt that there are Republicans and conservatives who dislike President Bush or are disillusioned by the Iraq War. There has never been a politician in the history of the Republic who hasn’t alienated some people in his natural constituency. The idea that this is a widespread trend, however, is laughable. Indeed, all evidence seems to indicate precisely the opposite: the electorate has become exceedingly polarized over the last several years, with people more committed to their candidate and more hostile to those of the opposite party than at any time in recent memory.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.