Mark Levin On Bush Versus Reagan And Conservatism
The Republican establishment has for years co-opted the label of conservative. We all mostly liked and supported Bush 43, especially because of the challenges we faced together as a nation after 9/11. Most of us still do like him.
However, it's time to set the record straight as regards conservative versus Republican politics. Clearly the mostly Bush-aligned political and pundit class appears strongly committed to falsely defining what both Bush was and conservatism is, for important purposes as we move toward 2012. Before I link Mark Levin's definitive posting on this issue, there are quality sources from Cato to Dan Mitchell, formerly of Heritage, that make it clear Reagan was by far the more genuinely conservative politician and President.
It might also be helpful to re-visit this tid-bit concerning Bush and CPAC.
Bush was preparing to give a speech to the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. The conference is the event of the year for conservative activists; Republican politicians are required to appear and offer their praise of the conservative movement.
… Bush was decidedly unenthusiastic.
"What is this movement you keep talking about in the speech?" the president asked Latimer. Latimer explained that he meant the conservative movement — the movement that gave rise to groups like CPAC.
Bush seemed perplexed. Latimer elaborated a bit more. Then Bush leaned forward, with a point to make. "Let me tell you something," the president said. "I whupped Gary Bauer's ass in 2000. So take out all this movement stuff. There is no movement."
Bush seemed to equate the conservative movement — the astonishing growth of conservative political strength that took place in the decades after Barry Goldwater's disastrous defeat in 1964 — with the fortunes of Bauer, the evangelical Christian activist and former head of the Family Research Council whose 2000 presidential campaign went nowhere.
Now it was Latimer who looked perplexed. Bush tried to explain. "Look, I know this probably sounds arrogant to say," the president said, "but I redefined the Republican Party."
No, what Bush, or perhaps more the image minders behind him, did, was re-define conservatism, until it has become relatively meaningless, just as Republican politics was prior to Reagan. It's time to reclaim conservatism for what it was and is, if only to inform political debate and decision-making as we move forward toward the next election cycle. Mark Levin addresses the topic thoroughly today on his Facebook page.
My friend Pete Wehner took my criticism of President George W. Bush and some of his most senior staff as a challenge to compare Bush to President Ronald Reagan (link). Comparing Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush is like comparing Margaret Thatcher and John Major. That's not to put down Bush or Major, both of whom were fine leaders, but they were not the historical figures their former staffers and supporters insist.