Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bush Creates Common Ground Between Liberals and Conservatives

Brian Tamanaha

Lest anyone think that only liberals are appalled at the claims and actions of the Bush Administration, consider this passage from a recent New Yorker article (July 3, 2006) by Jane Mayer detailing the dark activities of David Addington, Cheney's Chief of Staff:

Bruce Fein, a Republican legal activist, who voted for Bush in both Presidential elections, and who served as associate deputy attorney general in the Reagan Justice Department, said that Addington and other Presidential legal advisors had "staked out powers that are a universe beyond any other Administration. This President has made claims that are really quite alarming. He said there are no restraints on his ability, as he sees it, to collect intelligence, to open mail, to commit torture, and to use electronic surveillance....It's got the sense of Louis XIV: "I am the State." Richard Epstein, a prominent libertarian law professor at the University of Chicago, said, "The President doesn't have the power of a king, or even that of state governors. He's subject to the laws of Congress! The Administration's lawyers are nuts on this issue." He warned of an impending "constitutional crisis," because "their talk of the inherent power of the Presidency seems to be saying the courts can't stop them, and neither can Congress."

In an interview last week, William F. Buckley, the intellectual leader of American conservatism, made the following tart comments:

I think Mr. Bush faces a singular problem best defined, I think, as an absence of effective conservative ideology--with the result that he ended up being very extravagant in domestic spending, extremely tolerant of excesses by Congress, and in respect of foreign policy, incapable of bringing together such forces as apparently were necessary to conclude the Iraq challenge....

There will be no legacy for Mr. Bush....I think his legacy is indecipherable.

Several publications put out by the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute, two respected conservative think tanks, characterize Bush Administration economic policies in terms of gross "corporate welfare." Republican Peter Peterson's book, Running on Empty, is a frightening description of our huge deficit, and its future implications, brought on by the mindless Bush Administration policy of cutting taxes for the rich. Peterson was quoted in Nation: "I'm rather offended that fat cats like me are getting tax cuts which over the longer term will only serve to increase taxes on my own children and grandchildren at a time when our entitlement programs are underfunded."

In the period leading up to the 2004 election, a number of conservatives expressed opposition to various Bush Administration policies, but most tempered their criticism. The few isolated voices then is now a chorus headed toward a crescendo. Beside oil companies and defense contractors, the one constituency that appears to remain firmly behind Bush are religious conservatives (see stem cell veto).

When liberals criticize the Bush Administration they are often dismissed by conservatives as unbalanced Bush-haters. That doesn't cut it anymore. In an extraordinary feat, the extremism of the Bush Administration appears to be creating common ground for the left and the right.


I can't get excited by these conservatives now complaining about George W. They surely knew back in 2000 that George W was being propped up in his candidacy and qualified only as Republican royalty. They probably thought that he could be managed despite (or because of) his majoring in cheerleading (and minoring in history) at Yale. George W has best been described as a Texas fence post turtle. He needed on the job training more than perhaps any President since Harding. And how has he performed? Take a look at the video of George W's response to David Gregory's question at yesterday's press conference with Tony Blair. (Boy, would I love to be able to read Tony's mind as he attentively listened to George W's rambling nonresponsive response. He was probably thinking of the lucrative offer to join Murdoch's media empire, as the Brits no longer have one.)

while i also don't necessarily get excited by conservatives beginning to realize what a disaster bush is, considering that we do have our share of conservatives who post comments on line, i would be interested in seeing a straightforward opinion from some of them, simply on the issue of how they feel about bush, his policies both domestic and foreign, and if they feel he has been good or bad for the country. one caveat... i'm not interested in seeing a post devoted to liberal bashing, just a post simply devoted to whether or not you truly think the president is doing a good job.

The CATO Institute is libertarian, not conservative. And in today's Republican party, the two labels are mutually exclusive.

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