The Corner

Re: W. & Reagan

There is also the philosophical problem. Bush has done real violence to the principle of limited government with all of his talk about how the government has to move when someone is hurting and his aim to leave no child behind. Some of his programs are, I think, easily defended on the merits. But that doesn’t change the fact that as general philosophical issue, Bush has conceded that the government is there to help in a way Reagan never would have. Sure, Reagan made exceptions to his general anti-government position. Sometimes they were pragmatic, sometimes they were legitimate exceptions (conservatives aren’t uniformly opposed to all government interventions), and some times his deviations were hypocritical, at least in the eyes of some. But such hypocrisy was the tribute conservatives must sometimes pay to politics. Bush has conceded much of the fundamental ground to liberals when it comes to the role of government. Now the argument about governmental problem solving is technical — “will it work?” — rather than principled, “is it the government’s job?”

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