The Corner

Bush the Rightwing Purist

Jay – I couldn’t agree more. Here’s how I (basically) put it in a speech in 2004 to the New York State Conservative Party:

So, this guy’s in the hospital and the nurse gives him a hot-tea enema. The patient screams, “Yeeaahhhh!”

“What!?” exclaimed the nurse. “Is it too hot?”

“No!” replied the patient, “It’s too sweet!”

I bring this up because it captures a certain dynamic to the discussions of the Bush presidency.

For more than a year, we’ve heard one leftist after another complain that President Bush is the most radical president in modern history. I don’t just mean in foreign policy — where more than a little radicalism has been long overdue — but here at home as well. Harold Meyerson actually compares George W. Bush to Jefferson Davis, because they both share such a fundamental opposition to progressive government. We’re told that Bush has gutted education, health care, and protections for the elderly. He’s declared that puppies with thorns in their paws will just have to suffer, and that John Ashcroft plans on confiscating balls of yarn from kittens across America.

In short, they say he is doing at home what his harshest critics claim he’s doing abroad: tearing down the established order which has long served to protect us and keep us secure.

I have no idea where they got this idea.

It’s as if they showed up for algebra class and started reading from their French textbooks. Not only do I have no idea what page they’re on, I really have no idea what they’re talking about.

A few quick facts. George W. Bush has:

• increased federal spending on education by 60.8 percent;

• increased federal spending on labor by 56 percent;

• increased federal spending on the interior by 23.4 percent;

• increased federal spending on defense by 27.6 percent.

And of course he has:

• created a massive department of homeland security;

• signed a campaign-finance bill he pretty much said he thought was unconstitutional (thereby violating his oath to uphold, protect, and defend the constitution);

• signed the farm bill, which was a non-kosher piñata filled with enough pork to bend space and time;

• pushed through a Medicare plan which starts with a price tag of $400 billion but will — according to every expert who studies the issue — go up a gazillion-bajillion dollars over the next decade;

• torched Republican — and American — credibility on trade, in both agriculture and steel;

• got more people working for the federal government since the end of the Cold War;

• not vetoed a single spending — or any other bill, and he has no intention of eliminating a single department;

• sold out like a fire sale at Filene’s on Title IX, a subject I know a little about because my wife is the foremost expert in the universe on it;

• pushed to send more Americans to Mars while inviting a lot more illegal immigrants to hang out here in America.

And that’s all before Bush went into reelection mode. Read Tuesday’s lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal, and you’ll find that this is the spendiest (yes, that’s right, “spendiest”) president in American history, second only to LBJ.

Maybe there’s something about presidents from Texas — they like everything big down there, including their government.

All of this pandering reminds me of H. L. Mencken’s comment about Harry Truman. He said that if there were a sizable number of voting-aged cannibals in the U.S., Truman would promise each a Christian missionary in a boiling pot.

So spare me this mindless blather about how George Bush’s radicalism runs too hot. This guy is too sweet.

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