Bush The Radical?

Powerline has a good piece fisking E.J. Dionne’s statement that Bush somehow squandered Democratic support. Dionne states that Bush engaged on some kind of campaign to enact "bold conservative policies" that alienated his Democratic friends.

So, out of curiosity, I grabbed my dog-eared copy of Renewing America’s Purpose, the book of Bush policy speeches that the Bush campaign released in 2000. Pretty much every major policy speech given by Bush during his campaign is in the book – it’s an indispensible look at the policy objectives of the Bush campaign before it became the Bush Administration.

Now this book is full of "bold conservative policies". Social Security choice, school vouchers, tax cuts, health care reform, and regulatory streamlining galore. In other words, it was exactly what conservatives were hoping for.

Of course, after the first three years we got our tax cuts, but lost school vouchers, Social Security choice, health care streamlining (and got a massive and expensive entitlement program instead!), and much of the other plans of the Bush administration. Some of this is to be expected, lofty political goals usually don’t survive the harsh realities of pragmatic politics, but to paint Bush as only turning conservative after Inauguration Day is simply wrong.

If anything, conservatives are grumbling that the Bush agenda was hardly radical, but a program that expanded the role of government in key areas of the economy and didn’t delivery key reforms that were promised. To anyone who believes in conservative politics, calling Bush a conservative radical is laughable.

Dionne states that Bush somehow squandered the goodwill after September 11, another accusation that rings false. The Democrats started their partisan bickering with the Homeland Security bill, an action which cost Max Cleland his Senate seat. The Democrat’s "era of good feelings" was quickly sacrificed to a wave of constant Bush bashing that exists to this day. The Democrat’s rhetoric against Bush began long before the last round of tax cuts or the war in Iraq.

Dionne’s article is more revisionist history from someone who should know better.

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