It has been a long time coming, but finally somebody came out and said it; George Bush is not a conservative. There have been others who have made this point, faux conservative and beagle aficionado Sully comes to mind, but until yesterday very few true conservatives were willing to announce what has been obvious since the day Bush declared his candidacy for the Office of President. All I can say is welcome to the club boys.
Lets let Mr. Buckley tell it in his own words shall we?
"I think Mr. Bush faces a singular problem best defined, I think, as the absence of effective conservative ideology Â with the result that he ended up being very extravagant in domestic spending, extremely tolerant of excesses by Congress,"
Translated for earthlings; That boy's mind ain't right!
I don't mean to throw Mr. Bush under the Bus and I'm not about toabandone those policies that he has pursued which I support. I think, however, it is important for conservatives to acknowledge that this man does not believe in the same principles of limited government that those of us who have been in the movement for years believe in.
I've made the point here before, and I'll make it again today. Mr. Bush threw us all a huge clue back in 1999 that he didn't quite get conservatism when he announced that he was a compassionatee conservative". This was an extraordinary admission that the man was not a believer. In one sentence he managed to be both insulting and redundant. I never understood why this didn't anger my fellow conservatives as it did me.
Compassionate Conservative? First the man is announcing that he believes that "normal" conservatives are some how not compassionate - the insult. As for the redundancy, Conservatives believe in their heart that government has no business in people's lives and that it's main purpose should be little more than defending the country, providing for a rule of law that protects private property and ensuring a stable currency. That's it. Giving people the chance to make the most of their lives with as little "help" from the feds is in our view the epitome of compassion! To suggest that some form of conservatism is required that is more compassionate than normal conservatism is to announce to God and everyone that you don't get it.
What angers me most about Mr. Buckley and my other conservatives who went along with this gambit is that they knew all along what Mr. Bush was really saying. See Mr. Bush made the calculation that instead of Reaganesque conservativism he was a social conservative and an economic liberal. Then, as is typical of Mr. Bush, he went out and told us exactly what he believed. Believe me, my fellow conservatives knew this and instead of supporting another conservative for the Republican nomination, their hunger for power was such that they chose to go along with George.
So to hear Mr. Buckley now express surprise that he finds Mr. Bush is a profligate spender is just a bit rare. Look, there is plenty that we can find fault with in Mr. Bush, but the one thing we can't say is that he didn't warn us that he wasn't fully on board with that economic conservatism stuff. With all due respect to Bill Buckley, next time when somebody tells you he's not a conservative, you might want to take him at his word.