When Bush starts spending high dollars on the NEA you have to start wondering whether he’s crazy like a fox. Maybe the constant drumbeat from liberals calling Bush a monster-barbarian-trog have succeeded with key demographic groups? Maybe this is all calculated to elicit a predictable (and warranted) response from conservatives which the Administration can then exploit; “See, the Gingroid-nasties hate me! They’re complaining I’m too compassionate! I’m a middle-of-the-roader, just like you.”
I’m always reluctant to assume these sorts of multi-carom strategies. But surely Bush doesn’t expect to pick up actual votes or support on the merits of increased NEA funding? I mean he’s on this big kick to cut spending and he chooses to boost spending on the mother of all White Elephants (at least in the minds of millions of Americans. Personally, I can see spending the money on arts, in flush times, if done responsibly). I’m sure the symbolism will help with a handful of people, but in the broad scheme of things, people who care about more NEA funding enough to influence their vote are already lost to Bush — and there aren’t that many of them in the first place. But there are millions of conservatives who want less NEA funding and he’s opting to tick them off. So, maybe it’s intentional. And, it might actually be working, as Glenn Reynolds notes.