Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Watch Out for the Bus

Peggy Noonan thinks Republicans have a surprise coming from the Bush Administration. In a desperate attempt to reclaim the center of American politics, the Bushies will sell out the Republicans and work in league with the new Democratic majority--especially on immigration. I think she is probably right, but I don’t think it surprising.

People usually actually are what they say they are in their most honest moments. I don’t think Bush has many dishonest moments. About who he is, as in other things, Bush has not lied. It has been conservatives who have lied to themselves about what Bush is all about. Conservatives are bitterly disappointed but have no right to be so. He is what he is--a good man and a decent man, no doubt. He’s a man with an enormously difficult task and I think, generally speaking, he has done what he could. I find it difficult to assault him because I do not feel betrayed by him. He never promised us a conservative rose garden. Think back to the primaries of 2000 and recall the main reasons why conservatives supported him. Was he considered a pillar of Reagan conservatism then? No, we just thought he was better than most and, more important, that he could win. And, there was always a sense of his strong character and even a stubbornness that we have alternately admired and found irritating.

That is why I was (and am still) so surprised by the conservative over-reaction to the Harriet Miers debacle. What did ya’ll expect? Believe me, I’m glad we got Alito. But I still wonder if it wasn’t at a very high price.

The thing conservatives need to remember as we approach another big election is that there is still a lot of persuading to do. It’s one thing to say that the instincts of the American people are still conservative. That may be true. But that won’t be enough to bring forth a conservative golden age.

Discussions - 14 Comments

Julie, if Bush isn’t a conservative then what Republican is... It seems like you are being Platonic and talking of the world of forms. A circle drawn on paper is still three dimentional and thus not a circle? Politics is maleable...thus we have all these calls for creating a "new philosophy", a more modern conservatism... blah, blah, blah. Irrelevant... I suppose it is all in how you want to frame things...but here is the key...redefining "is" just gives you a rose by a different name. Disputes over definitions/ontological structures thing remains constant...Bush is a Republican. The real question is the extent to which being Republican corrolates with being Burkean, Hobbesian, Lockean, Pragmatist, Aristotelian, Hegelian, conservative, liberal, libertarian, religious, atheist? If you ask me this is thinking too deeply... Republicans and Democrats are simply populists...

Amen. Julie and Noonan are right.

With this minor disagreement: We conservatives "overreacted" to the Miers nomination only in the sense that some of us seemed surprised, and we should not have been. But the "overreaction" as to the merits was absolutely warranted, and it contributed to a climate in which this awful nomination became politically untenable.

While we should never be surprised by Bush’s weakness and lack of conservatism, we should always be ready, even eager, to react aggressively to it.

"Republicans and Democrats are simply populists... " That’s not simply true, of course, but there’s enough truth in it, John, to endorse it for the purposes of discussion. So, yes. That kinda my point. Conservatives can get frustrated and impatient with an incomplete conservative like Bush as their president but they should look at what he’s working with and remember who he is before they cry foul. To the victor goes the spoils and conservatives have a long way to go before they are victorious. There will be no shortage of work for conservatives who wish to see it someday.

"Peggy Noonan thinks Republicans have a surprise coming from the Bush Administration. In a desperate attempt to reclaim the center of American politics, the Bushies will sell out the Republicans and work in league with the new Democratic majority--especially on immigration. I think she is probably right, but I don’t think it surprising."

Well it is not surprising except to the extent that you would think even the brain-dead GOP would not be so stupid as to sell out the future of their national prospects, not to mention the prospects of the nation, in the name of temporary gain. If Bush and the GOP sell out on immigration, and that means the Senate not filibustering as well, then the die will be cast. It is so obvious it can not be missed. The demographic dissolution brought about by mass immigration will spell the end of the GOP as a national party.

The GOP used to be competitive in California. Now they are not except for RINOs like Arnold. That is going to be the case all over the country if they don’t get a handle on immigration.

As I wrote on another thread “The solution is to get a handle on the immigration crisis. (Build a fence, deport illegals, and place a moratorium on new immigration) Instead we are told we need to make nice to immigrants, so we won’t alienate them. The GOP is operating in fantasy land here, and is clearly out of touch with its base.

The one good thing that might come out of this Republican tone deafness is that if they pass amnesty or nominate a pro-amnesty candidate, they may precipitate the much needed divorce of conservatives from the GOP.

Gilchrist may run for the Constitution Party nomination. Dobbs may run for the Reform Party nomination. Hopefully Tancredo will run for the GOP nod. (Tancredo is not the perfect paleo candidate because he is pro-War, but demographic dissolution is such an incredibly important issue I’m willing to compromise a bit. If we don’t get a handle on dissolution, all else will be a moot point.)”

P.S. Duncan Hunter might be acceptable on the immigration issue also. Personally I prefer an outsider, but we are getting desperate.

Julie, I agree with your call that conservatives "look at what their leader is politically dealing with" and overall think the (often paleocon-ish) instinct for demanding conservative purity can get pretty ugly and unhinged, but I just have to say...MIERS?!! OVERREACTION??!! Okay, back to polite self...I agree with what David says in, comment 3, nor do I think the sinking of the Miers’ nomination cost lost the election--indeed, had she been appointed, the returns would have been worse.

Carl, I don’t think the conservative reaction to the Miers nomination cost us the election by any means. Bush made a mistake nominating her. I agree. I like Alito much better, yes. But that whole thing was ugly and unnecessary all around. A real fight over the direction of the court is going to come and should come and when it does come I won’t support a Miers any more than I would support a Brennan. But it is silly to argue that a Miers is equal to a Brennan. I just think the timing of that fight was off by a mile. The larger and more important fight at that time was Iraq and beating up on Bush like we did then weakened him. He needed us to rally around him (and I grant you he didn’t give us much to work with). But sometimes you have to swallow hard and I think that was one of those times. We may have to agree to disagree but I think it was an example of people with whom I utterly agree in principle just behaving badly and lacking all prudence. We needed to do about 16 other things before we took on that fight and against our own man like that.

It is most imprudent to let a Supreme Court seat slip away out of deference to the president of one’s party. I’m glad some conservatives made a stink about it.

And now we’ll get no more appointments unless the Democratic controlled Senate approves it . . . those will be some mighty fine appointments, I’m sure . . . there had to be a better way to go about that whole thing. But I don’t want to replay this whole debate. It’s really academic at this point.

Yawn, more harping about Bush by people who were his most partisan supporters in 04 (see Julie). I guess you don’t know who your friends are until you’re down, or out of power.

W has done a fine and good job for America and American conservatives. Sure I wish less money was spent, but he’s been as good as anyone. You can fault Congress and our crappy House and Senate for spending just as easy as Bush. I’m tired of people like Julie dreaming up the Reagan myth. He wasn’t that conservative either; it just seemed like it after Carter and the years of Democratic control of Congress which led GOP Presidents around by the nose. Reagan spent money, had scandals, and made some downright bad court appointments.

So you can complain about Bush a lot, but it’s really just blowing smoke about nothing. He’s been a good President and stacks up well with Reagan’s conservatism, or lack thereof.

Julie, it’s not "academic" at all. There will probably be a Supreme Court vacancy in the next couple of years. Conservatives can either keep quiet about who should be appointed or make their views clear. If they keep quiet, history suggests that Bush may appoint a squish who will get us nowhere. If we make noise and Bush appoints a squish anyway, we need to make more noise, as we did with Miers. If a conservative is appointed and not confirmed, we have a great 2008 issue.
We might even get a serious debate for the first time ever in an American campaign over the rule of the judicial branch and the meaning of the Constitution. I don’t see that the Miers fight weakened Bush with swing voters. It certainly didn’t weaken the Republican party’s congressional delegations, and they, not Bush, were on the ballot last week. To say that it was unpleasant is simply to say that serious politics is often unpleasant. The fact that we stood up on Miers got us a much better Supreme Court justice. The value of this is immeasurable. It also means that at least some people in the White House will probably take us more seriously when the next appointment comes up.

Ditto on David Frisk’s comments #8 & #11. We (fill in the blank - social conservatives, Republicans, etc.) voted for President Bush in significant part (especially in 2004) because of his positions on judges and the Constitution, even though we knew (or discovered) he couldn’t give a coherent discourse on the Constitution and jurisprudence to save his life. (Perhaps Karl Rove could - or did, at the Federalist Society.) Harriet Miers - an incredible insult to those of us who know something about these matters, a constitutional lightweight of astounding proportions - was a heart-felt Bush appointment which brought to the fore some of his worst qualities: I know her heart, I can outcalculate the opposition, stubbornness, and a tinge of anti-intellectualism. (George Will’s columns at the time were spot-on, and David Frum should get major credit for helping to articulate and lead the loyal opposition.) It was a glorious smack-down by members of the keep-him honest segements of the Right. The only line in David’s comments I don’t necessarily agree with is the last line in #11. I share something of Peggy Noonan’s apprehensions about a post-2006 Bush Administration and the direction they may take. Getting the attention of "some people" is not (necessarily) the same as the power-players, especially the President himself.

No argument there, Paul. "Some people" may not be enough. We can only try.

I guess I just don’t get being disappointed when you ought to have known better than to expect more. It may be that Bush was as good as we could get at the time and he was/is a damn sight better than Clinton. I wish I could be as sanguine as Paul and David are about what happened in the Miers fight. I am, as I have said, much happier with Alito than I would have been with Miers. But I still have a nagging sense that turning on Bush like that at that time was not the most prudent thing to do. In politics perception is reality and Bush was shown to be weak when he backed down and withdrew her nomination. It doesn’t matter if the independents were swayed by this to support Democrats--the point is that it emboldened Democrats and possibly even our enemies abroad. I don’t generally support mindless partisanship (heck, I even agree with those who say that Reagan wasn’t as conservative as he is sometimes portrayed to be) but everything has a time and a place. In retrospect, it is at least a fair question to ask whether or not the Miers fight was the right time to call Bush out on the carpet for a smack-down. Even if he deserved it. My mind is not settled on the question because I am torn in my support for Alito over Miers. But I can’t get past this one huge thing: we are at War.

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