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"George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party"
Posted by: Billy Hollis on Friday, January 25, 2008

Peggy Noonan looks at the state of dissension in the major parties, and puts the blame on two people: Bill Clinton and George Bush.

Her observations on Bill Clinton are pretty much what everyone else is saying, even many Democrats. But her points about George Bush rate a bit more focus:
On the pundit civil wars, Rush Limbaugh declared on the radio this week, "I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys [Mr. McCain or Mike Huckabee] get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party. It's going to change it forever, be the end of it!"

This is absurd. George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party, by which I mean he sundered it, broke its constituent pieces apart and set them against each other. He did this on spending, the size of government, war, the ability to prosecute war, immigration and other issues.
I think this is a fair statement, and is in line with what we've been saying around here for a long time. I know Bush thought he was doing the right thing by enthusiastically supporting federalization of education, expanding Medicare, restricting free political speech, and so on down the line. He thought that because he has no political philosophy of his own except pure pragmatism. That's not surprising; his father was the same way.

If McCain or Huckabee are nominated by the GOP, it will simply be a continuation of the mushiness and confusion that both Bush presidents established. It seems clear that the GOP is going to need a period in the wilderness before they break free of the idea that they can be light versions of the Democrats.

Huckabee has a small core of evangelicals that are excited about him. They want to explicitly inject their religious feelings into politics. While I'm not in sympathy with their aims, I understand something about their motivations. For many on the left, politics and government are the closest thing they've got to a religion, especially if you place the global warming movement in the political sphere. Thus the left is effectively injecting their religion into politics. Why shouldn't the evangelicals do the same thing?

But running such a man as the GOP's presidential candidate in the fall ensures a loss of Goldwater-McGovern proportions.

As best as I can tell, not very many people get excited about John McCain except some of the reporters that cover him. Some neocons like McCains vigorous defense of the war on terror/Islamism/whatever-you-like-to-label-it. Otherwise, he seems the consensus candidate among those for whom politics is more like a football game, in which winning is the end instead of a means to a certain type of government.

Rush is correct about this. Nominating McCain signifies the end of the GOP as it's been envisioned by many since the Reagan years, and only a serious rebuilding effort or a dramatic realignment of political parties will bring back any significant emphasis on freedom, the free market, individual responsibility, and the other principles most of the folks who come around here believe in.

But there's no point in blaming McCain. He's just following the pattern laid down by the Bush pair. Talk a good game, pander, arrange "grand compromises" which inevitably lead to expansion of government, and get your place in the history book. Limited government principles? Who needs 'em?

And the GOP faithful are still out there attempting to scare folks with "What? Any Republican is better than Hillary! If you small-government types know what's good for you, you'll get behind the GOP nominee, whoever it is. Otherwise, it will be a disaster!"

Well, it will be a disaster - for the political insiders and those whose life revolves around winning. The Democrats already suffered through theirs. In 1994, the entire Democratic political establishment was shell shocked when the GOP took Congress, by a big margin. The GOP has not yet faced their own disaster, mostly because they've been blessed with stupid enemies.

But I think it's coming, sooner or later. Sooner, if McCain or Huckabee are the standard bearer. Later, if the GOP squeezes out one more victory, but just can't internalize the need to stop selling the spending, stop the earmarks, and get serious about their core small-government principles.

You would think that their most successful president of the last century showed them the template they need to succeed, and that they would therefore adopt it. Apparently not. As the old saw goes, they might do the right thing - after they've exhausted all other possibilities.
 
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Reagan was more the exception and not the norm in this respect. The same attitude that is trivializing the Repubilcan Party was in place prior to 1980. The issues of the moment were different.

Reagan offered a way, to many Republican’s surprise or dismay, for Republicans to return to power so they jumped onboard.

Otherwise, today’s Republicans have become the cliche of what they were. Allowing business to prosper by minimizing government interference and taxes has become replaced with greed as a virtue.

The financial ’crisis’ were are in is with the various institutions are ’crisis’ because those institutions themselves are losing money. Not necessary what we think of in terms of their normal products and customers such as mutual funds or stocks.

I find it interesting we have to fire off all the alarm bells, cut interest rates, and go deeper into debt for short term stimulus because they are in trouble. Trouble being a few years in the red. When other sectors or industries are in trouble, these are the first people to say "screw ’em".

These are the people that control the Repubican Party and set Policy. They see the Government as an often ally and often get their way. We’re moving to European Socialism.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Peggy Noonan has been grinding her axe about George Bush for quite some time, and my best guess about it is that it’s personal. Something happened during the 2004 campaign. She left the WSJ for a piece to volunteer for Bush, most logically as a speechwriter. Then, after he won and she had rejoined the paper, she started in on him immediately after he gave his 2nd inaugural address, which she criticized quite vehemently. So, hell hath no fury like a speechwriter apparently scorned. She probably didn’t like her treatment during the campaign.

She’s been taking rather nasty and unbalanced shots at Bush ever since that sound more like an effort to please her confreres at Manhattan cocktail parties than objective analysis.

No doubt Bush’s weakness does affect the Republican Party, but might that have something to do with the endless barrages laid against him from the other side? And is he responsible for this incredibly weak GOP field?
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
And the GOP faithful are still out there attempting to scare folks with "What? Any Republican is better than Hillary! If you small-government types know what’s good for you, you’ll get behind the GOP nominee, whoever it is. Otherwise, it will be a disaster!"
Well, don’t count me as part of the GOP faithful. GOP frustrated is closer to the truth.

I will say, based on what I’ve read, Hillary Clinton with a larger Democrat majority Senate, could be a disaster for this country. And that means more then keeping the GOP healthy.

If voting for McCain over Hillary means the end of the GOP as we know it, I say bring it on. Maybe then true conservatives, Republicans, and practical libertarians will find enough common ground to create a viable 3rd Party.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
The thing is, Bush never had a mandate to move forward with "great conservative acts". He barely won in 2000, and he has had a Congress that was essentially split.

It is much more the moderate Congress that’s the problem, not Bush, although he will get the blame.

Bush does deserve some blame, of course, mostly due to a failure to motivate. He has some very good leaderships skills: steadfastness and an actual willingness to lead. But he doesn’t motivate others very well. In a sense, he’s the opposite of Bill Clinton, who lacked any steadfastness or moral courage, but he did know how to motivate.

Bush has done a good job with respect to the war. He’s made some mistakes, but long term I think he will come out looking very well (and the Erbs and Monos of the world will be spinning their failure to be right on any important aspect of the war). Bush has largely failed domestically, due to limitations of the executive, a moderate Congress, and his inability to motivate.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
The thing is, Bush never had a mandate to move forward with "great conservative acts".
Well, he wasn’t really a true conservative. He was/is more then willing to use the state to "solve" social problems, and more then willing to use the state to "solve" economic problems. Even when the issue goes beyond the mandate of Federal government.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
And the GOP faithful are still out there attempting to scare folks with "What? Any Republican is better than Hillary! If you small-government types know what’s good for you, you’ll get behind the GOP nominee, whoever it is. Otherwise, it will be a disaster!"
This is the tone of the e-mails I’m getting from the GOP. I’m not reading any reasons to vote or contribute Republican, only messages that scream that Hillary and Obama must be stopped.

Of course, there’s not many arrows in the for-the-GOP quiver. With a Republican president and a Republican Congress; those of us who want a smaller, less-intrusive government got the largest increase in federal entitlement programs in two generations; those of us who wanted conservative judges got the Gang of 14; those of us who wanted permanent income tax cuts will see our tax rates increase in two years; those of us who want to take steps toward energy indpendence saw no drilling in ANWR, no new refineries, no great steps toward more nuclear power.

So the only thing that GOP has in its arsenal is what we got two years ago: "We don’t suck as much as they do."

Can anyone provide any reasons to vote Republican other than the argument that the Democrats will screw thing up worse?
 
Written By: DIffus
URL: http://
Well, of COURSE there’s a huge, maybe 60% (of actual Rep voters voting) reason to vote Rep for president.

Pro-life Supreme Court judges, the most realistic way to overturn the culture-war causing Roe decision.

And the pro-life folk will most likely vote Rep, though many will be tempted by Obama (probably not by Clinton).

There are a LOT of compassionate Christian (big-gov’t) pro-life Rep voters.


Bush will get the blame, but it’s the sleaze and big porking spending of the Rep Congress that is the problem. Both Reps and Dems are far too much promoting the Power of the President to Solve Problems. It’s easier and seems more momentous than trying to dump the local Rep Congressman who’s a porker incumbent — but that’s the hard work that needs to be done by small gov’t types to get smaller gov’t.

Third party, ha! Go support the Libs; heck, run as a Libertarian! (I did, 1986 & 1988) and use your campaign to put small gov’t ideas into the League of Women Voters debates. Vote Ron Paul in the primaries.

He might be wrong on Iraq, but we might have won there enough so that it doesn’t matter if he plans to start withdrawing troops; the "small footprint" DID force the Iraqis to choose to fight Al Qaeda or else it wasn’t gonna be fought (McCain is probably wrong; 500k troops failed in Vietnam). The 2006 Anbar Awakening happened before the Surge even became the policy in 2007.

McCain - Huckabee in 2008, in a close win (for Victory in Iraq!), and to appoint some pro-life judges to stop the millions of unborn humans from being executed for the crime of inconvenience to the mother (rather than being born and given up for adoption).

Small gov’t???? Who is calling for spending cuts? Or even a Fed spending freeze??? Show me the Congressmen ... I wanted Tom Coburn for President, but he endorsed McCain. The porkers can’t even stop the earmarks.
 
Written By: Tom Grey
URL: http://tomgrey.motime.com
Well, kiss Jim Walsh, (RINO NY) goodbye. He just announced he won’t seeek reelection. One porker at a time. Good riddance.

The sad thing is, a replay of 1994 is certainly possible. I suspect a fiscally responsible congress would win, but there isn’t one on the ballot. The honorable ones kept their promise of limited service. The rest became part of the problem.



 
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
I knew it was all Busssssssssh’s fault...Bush and the JOOOOOOS.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"Can anyone provide any reasons to vote Republican other than the argument that the Democrats will screw thing up worse? "
Not really, but it’s a very good reason.
 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
"Can anyone provide any reasons to vote Republican other than the argument that the Democrats will screw thing up worse? "

That was the platform Democrats ran on in 2004. There were even "Anybody but Bush" bumper stickers. At the time it was certainly good enough for me, and I can’t really recall anyone actually being for Kerry. Now it’s basically "Anybody but Hillary". It goes back to the fact that almost nobody (other than 3rd party supporters) votes for anyone... they vote against the other guy. I think it is why negative campaigning works so well... or maybe it is because of all the negative campaigning...
 
Written By: Tito
URL: http://
I could just link to James Joyner and call it a day, but why not belabor the point a little?

For many on the left, politics and government are the closest thing they’ve got to a religion, especially if you place the global warming movement in the political sphere. Thus the left is effectively injecting their religion into politics. Why shouldn’t the evangelicals do the same thing?
Right, our political religion, compared to your admirable disinterest and moderation, eh? You’re using "religion" as a word substitute for "values" here - in other words, the "left" is injecting its "values" into politics - which is.... precisely the moral starting point of any kind of political thought to begin with. But wait, evangelicals are voting on evangelical values because they’re mad that liberals care about global warming? I actually don’t think that evangelicals are that silly and vindictive. I guess you do? Or is this just hurling spittle over analytical substance?
But running such a man as the GOP’s presidential candidate in the fall ensures a loss of Goldwater-McGovern proportions.
See, if you wanted to complain about how Republicans are selling out their limited government values to be popular, you would at least be coherent. But when you suggest that John McCain and Mike Huckabee would lead Republicans to electoral catastrophe, you sound very foolish.
Mike Huckabee and John McCain are the two most talented politicians in your field who exhibit the closest thing to a discernible personality and coherent set of beliefs.

George Bush and his 33 percent approval rating are what have led the Republicans to the verge of electoral catastrophe, and he didn’t become unpopular because of McCain-Feingold and No Child Left Behind. I mean, you really need to get out more. Public schools exist. Attempt to close them, and you’ll find that people like having them. They want tools that make said schools work better, and No Child Etc promised to do that, so they were for it, period. It’s no more complicated than that.
Ditto: People hate lobbyists, lobbying, and special interests, and McCain-Feingold promised to fix it (and has in my opinion made a good start) so it was popular, end of story. You people that are aghast about these things are yourselves the tiny, unpopular special-interest group.
Rush is correct about this. Nominating McCain signifies the end of the GOP as it’s been envisioned by many since the Reagan years
You would think that their most successful president of the last century showed them the template they need to succeed, and that they would therefore adopt it.
Right, the tax-raising, historic-deficit-creating, immigrant-amnestying Reagan, who proved that all your governance fantasies could be wildly popular with the right kind of special sauce. Ronald Reagan was a moderate, Bill.
but just can’t internalize the need to stop selling the spending, stop the earmarks, and get serious about their core small-government principles.
I mean, seriously. Have you noticed that the libertarian party recites this stuff chapter and verse and has yet to meet with wild success? People don’t elect presidents to eliminate government. They elect presidents to solve problems. "Earmarks" are politically vulnerable when they’re made for obviously useless and unneccesary items, but the vast majority of them don’t fall into that category. That’s why ordinary state political candidates say things like "I got our state a new airport! (earmark)" and people cheer, because ... they wanted a new airport.

"Small-government" principles is an empty shell of a term. Everyone of every conceivable political persuasion wants government to be no larger than necessary to solve whatever problems they feel need to be solved, but any politician who acts indifferent towards any kind of problem, or who enacts policies that don’t noticeably improve said problem, is going to rapidly become unpopular. So it’s either an empty phrase, that’s the popular kind of Republican president, the kind who ignores it (George Bush was at his *most popular* during NCLB and the prescription-drug rollout!) - or else it’s political suicide (thus even Ron Paul did not campaign on eliminating Social Security.)

Seriously, you’re angry about a mythical bundle of animating concepts, like creation myths, but I’d like to know if you could name even one specific domestic policy change you’d like to see your candidate make that would have a positive outcome on your life, personally. Tax cuts... and then what?
George Bush has learned that cutting taxes on a sinking ship does not make you a popular captain.







 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
GOP problem: They do the easy stuff (cut taxes) but not the hard stuff (cut spending). The democrats can be blamed here (both parties always blame the other), but the trend continued even when the GOP controlled everything. The result: when Reagan came into office the US debt was 30% of GDP. When he left it was 60% of GDP, and that even with decreasing oil prices (which acts like an added tax cut). For all its faults, the GOP Congress in the 90s managed to head the right direction, with the Democrats and Clinton going along. Serious question: if not for 9-11 and/or the war in Iraq, might Bush not have been able to undertake more structural reform? Would he have been forced to compromise fiscal responsibility if he had maintained popularity (and GOP control of Congress)? Could it be that as Vietnam killed "the Great Society," Iraq has destroyed the effort to create an "opportunity society?" Maybe the GOP should look back to its more isolationist roots. Not 30’s style isolationism, but a less interventionist foreign policy which seems now to want to social engineer the Mideast and perhaps beyond.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

"Small-government" principles is an empty shell of a term. Everyone of every conceivable political persuasion wants government to be no larger than necessary to solve whatever problems they feel need to be solved, but any politician who acts indifferent towards any kind of problem, or who enacts policies that don’t noticeably improve said problem, is going to rapidly become unpopular.
Exactly — it’s easy to want cuts that you won’t feel, but if it hits close to home (for this particular crowd at Q&O that would likely be military spending, for me it would be cuts in education, for someone else it might be food stamps), then suddenly there’s a myriad of reasons why a particular area of spending shouldn’t be cut.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris Erb:
They do the easy stuff (cut taxes) but not the hard stuff (cut spending).
Cutting taxes is cutting spending, deficits being the only sure way to stop the growth of a government. As Milton Friedman pointed out the most dangerous thing is the balanced budget, because that leads to things like Hillarycare. "We can afford to do this now." The deficits and the debt should share a Medal of Freedom for their part in stopping that monstrosity in ’94.
The result: when Reagan came into office the US debt was 30% of GDP. When he left it was 60% of GDP,
And the 25-year growth of the economy has been stupendous, but the federal government still hovers around 20% of GDP. That debt buffer does its job.
Could it be that as Vietnam killed "the Great Society,"
If only! Nixon cultivated the "Great Society." You see the result of the "Great Society" in the black community today—dependency, disintegration of the black family, rotten hell-hole public housing.
Iraq has destroyed the effort to create an "opportunity society?"
No it hasn’t. Deficits have been shrinking during the Iraq war. They’ll rise on an economic slowdown, but the cost of Iraq has been minor. And too much is being made of this subprime "crisis."

Are you getting ready for your yearly prediction of a "crisis of capitalism," Boris? Socialism, state interference in trade, is the crisis of capitalism.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Here’s an imbecile:
Everyone of every conceivable political persuasion wants government to be no larger than necessary...
blink
...to solve whatever problems they feel need to be solved,
In other words, no larger than the infinite possibility of problems to be solved.

Hayek, laddie, he’ll explain it to you. The Road to Serfdom.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Boris Erb, apparently unfamiliar with the purpose of the national government:
Exactly — it’s easy to want cuts that you won’t feel, but if it hits close to home (for this particular crowd at Q&O that would likely be military spending, for me it would be cuts in education, for someone else it might be food stamps), then suddenly there’s a myriad of reasons why a particular area of spending shouldn’t be cut.
The military, first of all, exists for the purpose of national defense. National defense is the first job of the national government. Food stamps aren’t even in the area.

But, since you raise it, the defense budget was persistently eviscerated during the ’90s, which is one of the reasons you run around doing your pee-pee dance and holding yourself while spouting about the military being exhausted by its minor mission in Iraq.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Talk a good game, pander, arrange "grand compromises" which inevitably lead to expansion of government, and get your place in the history book. Limited government principles? Who needs ’em?
Dude, this is the Reagan model. They didn’t call him the Great Communicator because he actually shrunk the government.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
One could in fact say that the George W. Bush administration hastened America’s decline. I suspect there’s enough blame to go around.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Dude, this is the Reagan model. They didn’t call him the Great Communicator because he actually shrunk the government.
It’s not like he had antagonistic Democratic congress acting like spoiled children because Reagan spent some money rebuilding the Military and gave people back some of their money. Oh wait, he did.

It was pretty clear the setup was for Congress to spend the deficit into oblivion and blame Reagan’s tax cuts and military spending. With a liberal MSM, no internet & no talk radio, the blame still never fully got affixed to Reagan. That’s why he’s the "Great Communicator". Fortunately, Carter being broomed out of office and Reagan’s tax cuts, the government essentially doubled revenues on a revitalized recovery.

 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://

 
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