Sunday, March 19, 2006

To "Fiscal Conservatives" Now Distancing From Bush, What's Your Plan?

As more and more conservatives looks for ways to distance themselves from George Bush, I’ve heard many statements to the effect that “He’s not really one of us because he’s a ‘big government conservative’ who believes in running up huge deficits, and who pursues an aggressive foreign policy; while we ‘true conservatives’ believe in balanced budgets and strengthening our economy at home through deregulated markets and the elimination of government programs.”

Paul Krugman described the phenomenon well in last week’s NYT column (available free here), in which he points out the irony of Bruce Bartlett’s new book, "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy" in light of scathing comments Bartlett has made about Krugman specifically for opposing the same Bush agenda against which he now rails.

Krugman’s point is that the current crop of “fiscal conservatives” now bashing Bush and claiming some sort of moral high ground are largely responsible for his election in the first place, while those who were observant enough to oppose Bush from the beginning are still considered shrill and unpatriotic.

In other words, those conservatives who are only now distancing themselves from Bush have an even greater responsibility than the Democrats to do something to mend what Bush has done to the countries’ economy and to its standing in the world – because they helped put him in power! It’s not enough to be born-again budget balancers speaking out against an irresponsible administration. They had better come up with a plan to fix things, or they shouldn’t suddenly expect to garner political support for their brand of “traditional fiscal conservatism.”

And what would their brand of fiscal conservatism suggest to repair the damage that Bush has wrought? How would they improve the financial health of the country, and regain respect and moral authority in the international community? Lets see . . . they don’t like to increase taxes, so I guess they would have to cut spending on just about everything in order to eliminate deficit spending. Presumably this would include programs to actually rebuilt Iraq, or to pour money into a seemingly endless stabilization effort.

There would be no consideration for anything resembling a “Marshall Plan” abroad. There would be no stimulating the economy with another form of “New Deal” at home. These are the big government programs they despise, although these very programs have been successfully implemented by Democratic administrations.

From what I can guess, since they aren’t telling, the so-called “fiscal conservatives” now running from the Bush legacy have nothing to offer to fix the damage but what I can only describe as “cutting and running!” That is, cutting spending and running away from Iraq! Until the new conservative Bush bashers can come up with a specific plan that promises to clean up their own mess, their newfound claims of outrage at the fiscal irresponsibility of Bush’s policies are a bit hollow!


  1. Anonymous10:00 AM

    It's an election year for senators amd reps. CYO-Cover Your Ass. These guys wanna keep thier jobs, so naturally, they go with the flow of the latest poll reports that say "Monkey-Boy" is unpopular and say "I never supported him! I never even liked the guy!"

  2. First, Paul Krugman takes as his starting point a hatred of Bush. His columns from the Clinton years extol many of the policies that he has excoriated Bush for pursuing.

    Second, I'm guessing you didn't read Barlett's critique. Fiscal conservatives assail the prescription drug benefit, federal education spending, earmarks, and the DHS. Fiscal conservatives education spending should take place at the state level and that much of what the DHS does could be done without the creation of a new and expensive bureaucracy.

  3. It's true that I didn't read Bartlett and am basing my opinion on several interviews I've seen, and the title of his book, all of which give the impression of Bush bashing, rather than what I would expect - an apology for supporting him in the first place!

  4. Few go so far as to suggest that Gore or Kerry would have done better.

  5. AC this is about the 50 time that you have prefaced an argument by trying to discount the other side by saying that this or that person "dislikes" or "Hates" Bush.

    I suppose you never felt dislike for President Clinton. You were just calmly against his policies that led us to economic growth and a huge federal surplus.

    Of Course we "dislike" Bush and we "hate" what he is doing to this country.

    I won't suggest, I will state that Gore or Kerry would have done infinitely better. Have you looked at the polls lately? The rest of the country is coming around to the same conclusion.

  6. My problems with Clinton largely concerned foreign policy and his personal life. Of course I was nineteen when he left office, so my opinion of the man is largely governed by hindsight.

    Identifying Krugman as an ardent Bush foe is the roughly the same as suffixing a Rice editorial with "Dr. Rice is the Secretary of State." The economy is on solid footing at present and all but a handful of countries in the developed world would kill for our growth rate and unemployment. Krugman treats his column as though he's in the legislative opposition. Compare him to Tom Friedman, an avowed liberal whose views have remained consistent no matter the occupant of the Oval Office.

    As per your latter comment, I was referring to those who supported Bush. Those who have loathed him since 2000 simply believe they have more company.

  7. Comments on three different segments of this "true conservative" crowd.

    First, there's not one Republican legislator who can claim "fiscal conservative" status after five years of voting with the party.

    Second, if it's the thinktankers and editorialists,that's their MO. Look at how Bill Kristol and others have turned on the administration over Iraq.

    Last, although I disagree with some of their positions, the Pat Buchannon, AmCon magazine folks, are really the only conservatives who can morally take this position because they have been criticizing this profligate fiscal policy for years, even when Bush was so high in the polls.


  8. Conservatives, be they "paleo-con" "neo-con" "crunchy con" or any other ridiculous appelation, have long criticized Bush's spending programs. Much like with Reagan, however, most simply prioritized foreign policy or other Bush programs rather than turning on the Prez wholesale.

    As per Bill Kristol, as Bob Novak has long argued his anger at the Administration (Rumsfeld in particular) owes as much to an attempt to shift blame for problems in Iraq from an ideology that he trumpeted to its practitioners. The problem is Kristol called for regime change from the outset and he certainly offered no concrete suggestions for managing 'Phase IV.' Much of the punditry is distancing itself from Bush so that these individuals retain their credibility if the Republican candidate in 2008 distances him(or her)self from the Bush Doctrine and other elements of his legacy.

  9. Much of the punditry is distancing itself from Bush so that these individuals retain their credibility if the Republican candidate in 2008 distances him(or her)self from the Bush Doctrine and other elements of his legacy.



  10. Credibility is in the eye of the beholder. If I want a credible liberal perspective I'll turn to WaPo, New Republic or Slate. If a liberal wants to hear what the other side is thinking the usual starting point is the National Review or the Journal. Merely because someone has disgraced themselves in your eyes does not mean that he or she does not retain a substantial following. In conclusion, "bwahahahaha!!!!!" is not an argument.

  11. In conclusion, "bwahahahaha!!!!!" is not an argument.

    Yes it is!

  12. For a continuation of the above argument, look here.