Friday, June 01, 2007

Too Bad, Indeed.

Peggy Noonan has an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today about how the Conservative movement is being destroyed by the Bush Administrations stand on the immigration bill. Noonan’s article prompted Ed Morrissey to add:

“I'm a little surprised by Noonan with this piece. I see nothing all that unusual with the way the Bush administration has attacked its critics over immigration. If she was to honestly look at the last six years, she will see that this is the normal mode of operation for the White House -- to always stay on the attack. In fact, they've followed the James Carville model from their first days in the White House.

What's the difference? They've not had to answer substantial conservative criticism very often. When they have, though, they've been consistent. When the Right objected to the poor choice of Harriet Miers as a Supreme Court nominee, they were accused of being sexist. When the Dubai Ports deal came to light -- which the administration failed to properly support -- they accused critics of bigotry and xenophobia. Those same accusations have arisen from Bush himself in this debate, with his accusation that opponents of the compromise bill "do not want what's right for America".

Welcome to the hardball of the Bush administration. We loved it when they used it on Democrats and the war, and it seems just a little hypocritical to start whining about it now that we're getting a taste of it ourselves.

However, Noonan does get the main point correct, which is that the GOP needs to start working on defining itself for the post-Bush era. We support him on the war and on taxes, but on most other domestic issues, we have a lot of daylight between Bush and the party. Discretionary spending went out of control on his watch, and the government grew faster than during the Clinton administration. That's not just Bush, either, but also the Congressional Republican leadership prior to the last mid-terms. We allowed lobbyist influence to increase, and we exploded the use of earmarks.

Republicans used to stand for smaller government, federalism, and strong national defense. Not all of that conflicts with the Bush legacy, but enough of it does that we need to start publicly demanding a return to those core concepts. Rather than repudiating Bush over his insulting attacks on the base, the better path is to generate a positive agenda that demonstrates our dissatisfaction with the previous six years -- and give Republicans something to vote for, rather than something to vote against.”

I might add that the base got its way with regards to Harriet Miers and the Dubai Ports deal; and we will get our way with amnesty too. I also think that Conservatives stand for “for smaller government, federalism, and strong national defense” not necessarily Republicans. Where some of the “movement” disaffection with Bush comes from is they thought he was one of them. Bush is not a conservative and never was, so none of this should come as a huge surprise. But the point of both writers is accurate – the conservative base needs to re-organize, re-energize and re-take the Republican Party.

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