Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Will on conservatism

George F. Will reviews two books on conservatism--Jeffrey Hart’s memoir of National Review and Bruce Bartlett’s screed against George W. Bush. Here’s his summary of the two books:

Jeffrey Hart’s "Making of the American Conservative Mind" is a relaxed amble along conservatism’s path to the present. Bruce Bartlett’s "Impostor" is symptomatic of the way many conservatives developed a thirst for fights over ideological purity during the wilderness years, and today slake that thirst by fighting one another. They do so partly because liberalism, in its current flaccidness, offers less satisfying intellectual combat than conservatives can have intramurally. Bartlett is angry as a hornet but, like a hornet, he stings indiscriminately.

Read the whole thing, as it raises some interesting questions about the future of conservatism.

Hat tip: Power Line.

Discussions - 10 Comments

The more salient question for Conservatives is how to account for GW proposing additional entitlements, without reform of those already existing in need of desperate alteration. GW came in with a budget of 1.6 trillion, he will leave office with a budget over 3 trillion. How can the tax cuts he initiated be sustained in the face of such demonstrable fiscal irresponsibility. Additionally, HOW CAN FURTHER TAX CUTS BE CONTEMPLATED, when we refuse to get a handle on the budget. We won’t truly be able to see the wealth creation we desire, we won’t truly see this economy take off, until we carve into the very foundation of confiscatory taxation. And the Democrat party has grown powerful, cocky and fat upon that budget. A pathetic spoil system they’ve created, and GW has done absolutely nothing to reduce it. Reduce the budget, and you slowly but surely begin to carve into the Democrats. But GW hasn’t demonstrated any stomach for that.

It’s all that wonderful "new tone."

I’ve often pondered the meaning of "compassionate conservatism." Perhaps fifty years from now it will be deemed the crown not on Bush’s "conservative" head but rather the aging head of the baby boom generation. Which is to say, it’s not about what you actually do that counts but rather what you feel that matters.

Budgetary concerns are real enough however. And no amount of feeling is going to balance the federal budget. But this is where Bush really is a true conservative (even wrt to UEA ports of call), for conservatives feel we can always grow the economy (to whatever heights needed to justify the drunken sailor spending).

And we all know that only when foreign trade, and raising taxes, is restricted (think 1939) do governments find waging war a sunny alternative to peaceful conservatism. Very smart fellow, that Dubya is. :)

We can grow the economy beyond any budgetary deficity, but only with tax cuts, which can be sustained. And further tax cuts, which can be implemented and maintained.

That’s a good one, if unintential, "deficity,"

You might google "deficit" and get a more historical perspective on just how small the Bush outgo v. income really is. Even Reagan’s were bigger. And the Truman/FDR deficits were simply off the charts. In fact, when FDR tried to get the budget back in balance, ala Hoover, in 1937, the economy crashed just about as bad as it did in 1929, and tossed many back onto the breadlines. And America has not been kind to deficit hawks ever since. :)

There were a lot of factors that led to the recession of 1937, and the spending cuts rank pretty low on the list. Far more important was the fact that in 1937 social security taxes began to be collected.

Bartlett is right to be "angry as a hornet." Bush is responsible for No Child Left Behind Act, a tremendous giveaway to the teachers’ unions and personally endorsed by Sen. Ted Kennedy; the unconstitutional McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" bill; agricultural subsidies; steel tariffs (though repealed, it should never have happened in the first place); and the pork-laden transportation bill.

Then there is the elephant in the room: The prescription drugs bill, the largest expansion of Medicare since Medicare was created.

I know what conservatives would say if Bill Clinton did half of this. There’s no reason this administration deserves a pass just because "he is on our side." By his actions, Bush has clearly demonstrated that he does not believe in a small government.

How small is small?

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