Mitch Berg follows up on the idea of Bush losing the conservative base by persuasively arguing Bush is still the best choice and also noting quite correctly that if we elect a fiscally conservative Congress we can get the best of both worlds.
George Will has an interesting column on Bush leading a new form of "strong government conservatism" he may be on the right track, but the fact is that such a philosophy still has the same problems that liberalism faces. It’s not that conservatives don’t like government, it’s that pragmatically government doesn’t work. As Milton Freidman notes, whenever you have people spending other people’s money on other people they’ve no incentive to spend that money wisely. It matters little how popular Social Security, Medicare, and other federal programs are – they’re all in a race against time and fiscal collapse, and it is a race that sooner or later they will lose. It would be far better to have an individual system ready before that happens or the results would be disastrous.
Deacon at Power Line also has some cogent thoughts about Will’s theory in which he argues that Bush’s expansions of federal government make him a non-conservative. I wouldn’t go that far – Bush clearly believes in conservative ideology, or at least gives credible lip service to it. However, I also see things like the Medicare bill as being indicative of a sense of political opportunism on the part of the Bush Administration that betrays that conservatism. Bush is trying to persue an incremental strategy on these issues, but he’s compromising too much and not doing nearly as well as he’d like to believe. Eventually this cognitive dissonance will catch up to him, but if there’s a truly conservative Congress to balance Bush’s spendthrift ways I could see a much stronger domestic policy coming out in the end.