Tag-arkiv: Republikanerne

Ugens citat: Norquist om rottehoveder, republikanere & cola

Den farverige amerikanske politiske aktivist Grover Norquist (leder af Americans for Tax Reform) er altid god for en ideologisk metafor.  Det var som bekendt ham, der i sin tid sagde, at han ønskede, at den amerikanske forbundsstat skulle være så lille, at den kunne druknes i et badekar.

Her en en anden metafor, som til med er dagsaktuelt i.f.t. de amerikanske Republikanere, der p.t. argumenterer for en slags “big government”-konservatisme; Norquist sagde således fornylig i en tale, at det er undergravende for tilliden til Republikanernes “brand”, som ellers har været succesrigt netop p.g.a. en politik om lave skatter:

“The reason this is important is the same reason that Coca-Cola has been so successful.  They brand Coca-Cola; they have quality controls.  You can walk into the store and you can grab a bottle of Coke off the shelves:  you don’t have to taste it, you don’t have to look at it, you don’t have to shake it around, you don’t have to ask your friends about Coca-Cola.  You just grab it off the shelf because you know what’s inside it.  Now if you get that bottle of coke home and you look at it and there’s a rat head in the coke bottle, you do not say to yourself, you know I’m not going to finish the rest of this coke bottle.  You tell your friends about the rat head in the coke bottle and you go on local television and show them the rat head in the coke bottle.  And all across the country, and the world, people say I wonder what my coke has? Okay.

Republican elected officials who vote for tax increases are rat heads in a coke bottle. They damage the Republican brand.  This is not a victimless crime:  oh Fred’s over in the corner raising taxes, but that’s Fred.  No! No!  Small children everywhere get discouraged if they see Republicans raising taxes because it confuses them, and they don’t know what it means to be a Republican.”

2008: Hillary Clinton mod George Allen IV

Jeg har efterhånden et par gange “pushet” ideen om, at det amerikanske 2008-præsidentvalg bliver mellem senatorerne Hillary Clinton og George Allen.  Så her er lidt mere om emnet …: I disse dage holder den amerikanske organisation Conservative Political Action Conference (C-PAC) sit 33. årsmøde, og det er efterhånden veletableret som den organiserede højrefløjs største sammenkomst.  Dette er naturligvis de ideologiske græsrødder, men da det i vidt omfang er dem, der driver den tidlige del af primærvalgsprocessen, er det værd at bemærke, hvor de lægger deres stemmer, og et “prøvevalg” blandt de 1.251 deltagere m.h.t., hvem de tror vil vinde nomineringen gav følgende resultat:

  • George Allen: 22%
  • John McCain: 20%
  • Rudy Giuliani: 12%
  • Condoleezza Rice: 10%

Dette kan sammenlignes med sidste års resultater fra samme “event”:

  • Rudy Giuliani: 19%
  • Condoleezza Rice: 18%
  • George Allen, Bill Frist, John McCain: 11%
  • Rick Santorum, Bill Owens, Mitt Romney: 4%
  • Newt Gingrich: 5%
  • George Pataki: 2%
  • Chuck Hagel, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty: 1%
  • Haley Barbour: 0%

Man kan iøvrigt bemærke, at C-PAC deltagernes forventninger ikke er så fjerne fra markedets forventninger til det faktiske udfald.  På Intrade.com handles der p.t. til disse priser

  • John McCain: 30,5
  • George Allen: 27,2
  • Rudy Giuliani: 11,2
  • Mitt Romney: 7,1
  • Condoleezza Rice: 4,7
  • Newt Gingrich: 3,6
  • Jeb Bush: 3,6
  • Mike Huckabee: 2,5
  • Bill Frist: 2,4

Med andre ord kunne noget altså tyde på, at det p.t. tegner til et kapløb mellem McCain og Allen.  Hvad med en McCain/Allen “ticket” i 2008?  Det er efterhånden sjældent set, at en vinder tager sin væsentligste konkurrent fra primærvalgene som running-mate–var det mon Reagan/Bush i 1980? (Og selv da var det en beslutning i sidste øjeblik, hvor meget andet tydede på en Reagan/Ford “ticket” …!) Men alt andet lige ville McCain/Allen nok være et ret stærkt team.  (At min personlig holdning så er–som tidligere antydet–at McCain er en opportunist og/eller en totalt løs kanon, skal ikke skygge for, at jeg mener, at han vil være en stærk kandidat.  Omend næppe helt så stærk, som de foreløbige match-ups antyder.)

John Fund fra Wall Street Journal kan endvidere berette dette om C-PAC deltagernes syn på Bush/hans administration:

“On issues, the CPAC crowd sent a mixed message to the Bush administration. Support for its policies on some points was nearly unanimous: 92% liked his judicial selections, 87% supported the war in Iraq and 83% liked his tax cuts. But support fell to dangerously low levels on two issues: Only 48% approved of his plans on handling immigration and 43% felt he had done enough to reduce government spending.”

“For a group that wants to support the president, that’s troublesome,” pollster Tony Fabrizio, who tabulated the results, told me. He also indicated that since CPAC attendees are about evenly divided between those who emphasize social conservatism and those who come from a more economically conservative background, the breakdown in support for Mr. Bush is worthy of note. “The social conservatives are more likely to stick with him across the board on all issues,” he told me. “Where he has a problem is with the economic conservatives, who are becoming more skeptical.”

Og med god ret.

PS.  De konservative græsrødder i C-PAC mente iøvrigt også, at Bill Clinton er det mest seriøse bud på en “First Husband” …

Ugens citat: Shadegg om "Ånden fra '94"

Kongresmedlem John Shadegg (R-AZ) er en af kandidaterne til den ledige post som Republikansk flertalsleder i Repræsentanternes Hus.  Han kæmper for sit kandidatur bl.a. med et indlæg i onsdagens Wall Street Journal, hvori han priser Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater m.fl. som idoler for, hvad partiet burde være i dag.  Heri hedder det bl.a.:

Ten years ago, the American people put Republicans in control of the House of Representatives for the first time in more than 40 years. It was a historic achievement, made possible because we stood for the principles the American people believed in: smaller government, returning power to the states, lower taxes, greater individual freedom and–above all–reform.

Some Republican leaders in the House seem to have lost sight of those principles, though the American people still believe in them. Meanwhile, Americans are sick of scandals. To fully regain their confidence–and to retain and grow the Republican majority–we need to make a clean break with the past and return to our ideals.
Republicans promised the American people two things in 1994. First, we promised to rein in the size and scope of the federal government. Second, we promised to clean up Washington. In recent years, we have fallen short on both counts. Total federal spending has grown by 33% since 1995, in inflation-adjusted dollars. Worse, we have permitted some of the same backroom practices that flourished in the old Democrat-controlled House. Powerful members of Congress are able to insert provisions giving away millions–even tens of millions–of dollars in the dead of night. The recent scandals involving Duke Cunningham and Jack Abramoff have highlighted the problem, but this is not just a case of a few bad apples. The system itself needs structural reforms. …

I grew up watching the example of Barry Goldwater, who worked closely with my father. He taught me that “a government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.” That philosophy guided me when I ran for Congress in 1994. I was thrilled to be part of the Revolutionary Class of ’94, and the sense of hope and mission of the early days after the American people elected a Republican majority in the House is still with me. We believed then that we could take back our government, and I believe it today. …

House Republicans differ about policy and tactics, but we stand together in our respect for this institution, our hatred of corruption, and our support for the basic principles of our party. The American people overwhelmingly support the principles we stand for. We cannot allow the current scandals to distract their attention from our substantive agenda. If we do not make a clear, public break with the recent past, there is a good chance we will lose our majority.

I do not need a poll or questionnaire to tell me what Republicans stand for. The party of Ronald Reagan exists not to expand government, but to protect the American people from government’s excesses. President Reagan once said, “If you’re afraid of the future, then get out of the way, stand aside. The people of this country are ready to move again.”

WSJ‘s Brendan Miniter (hvis broder, Rich, har været venlig overfor denne blog) havde tirsdag en artikel netop om Shadegg, Reagan og Goldwater, og Republikanernes problemer p.t.

Republikansk selvransagelse II

I forlængelse af med-Punditokrat Mchangamas post vedrørende Chris DeMuths fortrinlige artikel bør man iøvrigt også læse denne passage fra et indlæg fornylig af J.C. Watts, det nu fhv. Republikanske kongresmedlem, der var med i partiets ledelse i Repræsentanternes Hus, og som (bl.a. fordi han var sort og en kendt football-spiller og konservativ) var spået en stor politisk fremtid (men som nu er gået ind i konsulentbranchen):

“I was part of that wild and crazy Class of ’94 that shook the political landscape by taking over the House after more than 50 years of unfettered Democrat control. We came to Washington full of ideals and conviction. But sadly, what they say about absolute power is coming to reality in the 2005 GOP Washington. Republicans in just 10 years have developed the arrogance it took the Democrats 30 years to develop. But you know, in spite of the very real arrogance displayed by my party in Washington in the years since taking the House, Senate and White House, I firmly believe the Republicans have a real chance to rebound simply because our Democrat friends just don’t get it. Essentially, they believe the basic plan of getting their base to the polls, increasing Hispanic voters, and better communication will put them over the top. They believe their failures in these mechanical functions have cost them in the past decade.”

Fra “den anden side” har The New Republic også i denne uge nogle kritiske ord om Republikanerne–men (naturligvis uden J.C. Watts’ positive slutning.  Det kunne man nok forvente, og givet hvorledes Demokraterne opførte sig frem til 1994, må man nok tage kritik dér fra med det kendte kilo salt.  Men til gengæld er noget af det faktisk morsomt.  Her er en passage fra tidsskriftets “guide til Republikanernes Washington DC”, nemlig 1. afsnit Forhistorien:

A History of GOP D.C.

The first major wave of conservative settlers, who arrived in the 1980s and 1990s, encountered an indigenous Democratic civilization in serious decline. Much like the Aztecs and the Incas, the Democrats had constructed impressive monuments like the Welfare State and Regulatory Policy. Under the reign of President Bill Clinton, however, they succumbed to the temptations of imperial power, abusing a primitive congressional banking system and seducing young interns. So the arrival of the new settlers, mostly Southerners and Midwesterners of Caucasian stock, coincided with momentous upheaval. One visionary immigrant, Tom DeLay from Sugar Land, Texas, had a plan for a new city of elegantly circuitous money trails and a grid that would link lobbyists to the Republican Party. The DeLay plan for modernizing the city is also known as the K Street Project, and it benefits from the simplicity of its intentions: Want to work with the Republicans? Then you’d better hire Republicans at your law firms and lobbying shops–and then donate your money to Grover Norquist, conservative 527s, and other GOP D.C. charities. Nobody had ever dared to think so transparently.

The DeLay vision couldn’t have come to fruition were it not for a stroke of luck. That luck came to Washington in the form of a failed energy executive, failed congressional candidate, and all-around late bloomer with a recognizable name and a refusal to compromise with himself. Together, Tom DeLay and George W. Bush (with the help of a plucky, can-do guy named Karl Rove) raised the city that has become a magnet for corporate lobbyists and tourists alike.

Visitors expecting to encounter a thriving civilization, however, will be disappointed. After a few hours of exploring, you will immediately recognize that GOP D.C. has taken an unfortunate turn. The city’s culture has come to resemble the old Democratic regime in its final days of decay. Take the fall of Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist who helped DeLay make his vision for the city a reality. Abramoff once bilked Indian tribes for $80 million and enticed congressmen with golf trips to Scotland and free meals at his restaurants. Now he’s facing prison. Or consider another popular attraction–the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. In the prelude to the Iraq war, intrepid tourists who enjoyed a good scare would travel here for warnings about mushroom clouds that might soon appear over GOP D.C. Adrenaline junkies now make the pilgrimage to the OVP on the off chance that they might glimpse Cheney or one of his aides trashing CIA analysts, former ambassadors, and other critics. But we suggest that you don’t let GOP D.C.’s air of decline and omnipresent indictments interfere with the pleasures of your visit. If you place yourself in the 2002 mindset of the city’s lobbyists or Republican congressmen, GOP D.C. can be a magical place.

Republikansk selvransagelse

Præsidenten for American Enterprise Institute Christopher DeMuth har skrevet en fremragende artikel kaldet “unlimited government“. Artiklen demonstrerer på glimrende (og skræmmende) vis, i hvor høj grad den herskende amerikanske politiske kultur afviger fra hvad “the founding fathers” havde i tankerne samt, at den amerikanske forfatnings ord og ånd  dagligt krænkes af politikere og embedsmænd i Washington. Her blot nogle udpluk men artiklen skal læses i sin helhed:

Thomas Jefferson played the pivotal role in choosing the site for our national capital, and selected what was essentially a malarial swamp. He had been in Paris when the Constitution was drafted, and he was not much impressed by its parchment provisions for limited government. So—anticipating the old dictum that “no man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session”—Jefferson added a climatologic backstop. Long, miserable summers were to serve as a natural deterrent to the growth of our national apparatus.

It worked beautifully for more than a century. Legislators, lobbyists, and executive officials fled the capital en masse most summers, right through the late 1920s—when air conditioning was introduced. With the deployment of that subversive technology, there began a notable expansion of the federal leviathan.

The emergence of 24/7/52 legislating is one of many ways in which modern American government has become much busier and more businesslike than it used to be. While busyness is a virtue in most of life, the men who founded our nation would not have considered it advantageous to government. They carefully contrived a state that would be cumbersome and inefficient at getting its act together, with divided and contending powers both inside Washington and between Washington and the states, and a profusion of checks and balances throughout. They wanted government to be robust and decisive in a limited sphere, but also considered government a threat to freedom and happiness, and worried it would engross private society, property, commerce, and culture. “Government,” said John Adams, “turns every contingency into an excuse for enhancing power in itself.” “Government,” said George Washington, “is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” And those were the Federalists.

Let me offer two examples of practices that are unquestionably un-Constitutional yet are hardly questioned at all. Neither even came up at Chief Justice Roberts’s confirmation hearing. The first concerns taxation.

[..]The framers, regarding taxation as the most politically sensitive of government powers, required that all bills for raising revenue must originate in the people’s chamber, the House of Representatives. This is the sort of fussy procedural formality that is just a damn nuisance when it comes to running a modern, efficient government. Accordingly, twice in recent years Congress has empowered agencies to devise and collect taxes all on their own—first the Federal Communications Commission in 1996, and then the new Public Company Accounting Oversight Board established by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002. Both agencies decide how much they want to spend, set a tax that will generate the desired funds, and increase the tax as needed to keep their business plans on track.

[…]My second example concerns federalism. Justice Louis Brandeis wrote in a famous opinion that federalism fosters “laboratories of democracy,” where policies can be tried in individual states and their good or poor results noted elsewhere. The growth of federal power has shuttered many of those laboratories. A federal government that can ban the personal use of medical marijuana grown right in your own backyard—which is plainly neither “interstate” nor “commerce,” yet was easily upheld by the Supreme Court last term—can do just about anything to blot out local policy choices.

Even more striking are the new coast-to-coast regimes being constructed by state officials like New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. He candidly admits that his mission is the wholesale restructuring of entire industries on a nationwide scale. The agreements he has imposed on Merrill Lynch and other financial services firms make detailed requirements of how the firms are to be managed in the future. This has created, thanks to collaboration with officials in other states, new national regulatory programs established entirely outside the legislative process and outside the public rule-making procedures of regulatory agencies. Instead, the deals are cut in lawyers’ offices. The results are policy cartels with no exit for any firm or customer, no policy competition or experimentation, no federalism.

The emerging phenomenon is one of multiplying special-purpose national governments operating in parallel with the official national government and without any coterminous political accountability. This has come to pass because of the desuetude of several Constitutional provisions, none more important than the Compact Clause, which provides that “no State shall, without the Consent of Congress, enter into any Agreement…with another State.” The requirement of Congressional approval is unqualified and it is fundamental. For a gang of states to go off on their own and set up independent governing regimes is, politically, a form of partial secession. Yet this protection has lapsed through judicial neglect.

[..]the principle of limited government is not a bit less urgent today than it was two centuries ago. It has now been 25 years since Ronald Reagan arrived in Washington announcing his intention to “check and reverse the growth of government.” That quarter century has been governed mainly by Republican Presidents, and increasingly by Republican legislatures, and even the one Democratic President declared that “the era of big government is over.” Yet the federal government’s annual domestic spending doubled during the period, from about $900 billion to about $1.8 trillion (in 2000 dollars). Today the federal government’s fiscal imbalance—the excess of projected future expenditures over projected future revenues—is close to $70 trillion. About $20 trillion of this enormous sum was tacked on just in 2003, with the addition of a massive, unfunded Medicare entitlement to prescription drug benefits. Increasing taxes to pay for our standing policy commitments would move U.S. rates to the levels prevailing in today’s socialist European nations.

At artiklen allerede har haft effekt kan ses på National Review, hvor Jonah Goldberg, som undertegnede ellers ofte har det svært med, roser artiklen til skyerne og under overskriften “Republican Reformation” argumenterer for, at amerikanske konservative skal “genfødes” som tilhængere af en begrænset stat. Hvis det er den fremtidige linje hos toneangivende konservative såsom skribenterne hos National Review som ellers ofte går mere op i moralske spørgsmål end at begrænse den føderale stat, så er der håb for, at den næste republikanske præsident fører (klassisk) republikansk politik og ikke som den nuværende bruger penge “som en fuld sømand på orlov” som en punditokrat for nyligt udtalte det på tv.

Ugens citat: Toomey om Republikansk identitetskrise

I dagens Wall Street Journal har Pat Toomey (tidl. Republikansk kandidat til kongressen og nu ny leder af Club for Growth, som vi tidligere har omtalt) en kronik, hvor han opfordrer Republikanerne til at rense ud i eget hus (og som nok også kunne give hjemlige danske borgerlige/liberale lidt at tænke over):

“After 10 years of controlling Congress, Washington Republicans have an identity crisis. It was Republicans who gave us a farm bill that only a Soviet central planner could love; a campaign-finance reform bill that expands government’s unconstitutional restrictions on speech; a prescription-drug entitlement program that Lyndon Johnson could only have dreamed of; and a transportation bill with more than 40-times as many pork projects it took to earn Reagan’s veto. So, we ask a fair question: Is Reagan’s vision of limited government–the fundamental principle that brought Republicans to power–still part of the Republican identity, or has it been abandoned in favor of the seductive power of controlling unlimited government?”

Ugens citat: Blankley om Bushs konservative kritikere

Den konservative kommentator og redaktør ved Washington Times, Tony Blankley, affærdiger, at det var “det kristne højre”, der fældede Bushs højesteretsdommer-kandidat, Harriet Miers:

“The successful opposition to Harriet Miers was not a triumph for just some faction of the conservative movement … From the market-oriented Wall Street Journal, to my own Washington Times’ classic Reaganite conservatism, to the social conservative opposition of Phyllis Schlafly and so many others on the social and Christian right, to the neoconservative opposition of the Weekly Standard and Charles Krauthammer, to the paleo-conservatism of Pat Buchanan, to the high Toryism of George Will, to the popular talk-radio titans Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and their legions of regional voices, to the lawyer turned hip radioist Laura Ingraham, to the iconoclastics: Michael Savage and Ann Coulter, to most of the conservative blogdom … This was a never-before-seen moment of comprehensive conservative opposition to a Republican initiative.”

Tæm Leviathan

Den amerikanske skatteaktivist Grover Norquist har som bekendt sagt, at han mener, at den offentlige sektor skal være så lille, at man kan drukne den i et badekar.  Men mindre kan vel også gøre det.  Altså: noget mindre drastisk.

I dagens Wall Street Journal har den fhv. Republikanske præsidentkandidat og guvernør i Delaware Pete Du Pont en konstruktiv kronik med den sigende titel “Don’t Spend, Amend”, som amerikanerne i disse tider kunne have brug for–og som ambitiøse danske forfatningsarkitekter som Niels Helveg Petersen og Svend Auken måske burde læse.  I kronikken slår Du Pont til lyds for at sætte forfatningsmæssige restriktioner på de offentlige udgifter:

How big, how expensive and how fiscally generous to industries and local communities should America’s national government be?

The spending policies of the current administration have made this the central domestic public policy question, for government has substantially grown under the leadership of a political party that for many decades has claimed to be the party of smaller government.

The real annual growth rate of federal government outlays is nearly at its highest modern percentage. Under President Clinton it was only 1.5%, under Ronald Reagan 2.6% and under Lyndon Johnson 5.7%. Spending has grown 5.6% a year since George W. Bush took office, and it seems likely to keep rising. Of course the war in Iraq is a part of it, but the current administration’s domestic spending increase is 7.1% a year, the highest since the 1960s. …

The president has signed on to whatever spending increases Congress has chosen to enact. He promised to veto the transportation bill if it contained more than $256 billion in spending. It contained $295 billion, and he signed it anyway. …

But the better solution to the huge increase in federal spending would be a constitutional amendment to hold the growth of federal spending to specific percentages of revenue unless there is a supermajority override by both houses of Congress. It is not a new idea–Delaware, for example, passed a constitutional amendment in 1980, when I was governor, to limit state government spending to 98% of revenue unless there is a three-fifths vote of each legislative house to spend more. The extra 2% goes into a Rainy Day Fund–the kind of fund that could be used for relief in Katrina-type national catastrophes. The amendment has produced 25 consecutive years of balanced Delaware budgets, a fiscal discipline that the federal government needs even more that state governments do.

Another approach is the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or Tabor, which Colorado put into place via a constitutional amendment in 1992. It limits annual state government spending to inflation plus population growth, with any extra revenue going back to the taxpayers. From 1995 to 2000 Colorado ranked first in the nation in GDP growth and second in personal income growth. Its success has generated a furious effort to allow more spending that will be on the 2006 ballot.

Amending the Constitution is not easy, but is the best solution to the long term spending challenges that have faced every modern president since the Great Depression of the 1930s. And offering it up in our troubled big spending times would energize a policy debate that America needs to have.

Noonan om Bush, barbecue-sovs & "the Bridge to Nowhere"

En af mine absolut mest yndede skribenter er den fænomenale amerikanske taleskriver, Peggy Noonan, som over de sidste +20 år har skrevet nogle af de mest velformulerede taler i amerikansk politik nogensinde.  Og det siger ikke så lidt.  Blandt talerne er Reagans farveltale, hans VE-Day tale og Bush Srs. “Read My Lips, No New Taxes”, og til Republikanernes konvent sidste år havde hun skrevet en tale til guvernør George Pataki, der næsten fik ham til at lyde interessant.

Damen skriver også som kommentator ved Wall Street Journal, og her er lidt af hendes kommentar til George W. Bush; hun opfatter ham, modsat Berlingske Tidendes Poul Høi, ikke som repræsentant for “nulstats-konservatisme”, men kalder ham det, han er, “big spender”, og nu er mor sur på og træt af ham.  Hun skal nok ikke regne med at blive inviteret tilbage til Det Hvide Hus som skribent lige med det samme, efter den svada hun her leverer:

“In his Katrina policy the president is telling Democrats, “You can’t possibly outspend me. Go ahead, try. By the time this is over Dennis Kucinich will be crying uncle, Bernie Sanders will be screaming about pork.”

That’s what’s behind Mr. Bush’s huge, comforting and boondogglish plan to spend $200 billion or $100 billion or whatever–“whatever it takes”–on Katrina’s aftermath. And, I suppose, tomorrow’s hurricane aftermath.

George W. Bush is a big spender. He has never vetoed a spending bill. When Congress serves up a big slab of fat, crackling pork, Mr. Bush responds with one big question: Got any barbecue sauce? The great Bush spending spree is about an arguably shrewd but ultimately unhelpful reading of history, domestic politics, Iraq and, I believe, vanity.

This, I believe, is the administration’s shrewd if unhelpful reading of history: In a 50-50 nation, people expect and accept high spending. They don’t like partisan bickering, there’s nothing to gain by arguing around the edges, and arguing around the edges of spending bills is all we get to do anymore. The administration believes there’s nothing in it for the Republicans to run around whining about cost. We will spend a lot and the Democrats will spend a lot. But the White House is more competent and will not raise taxes, so they believe Republicans win on this one in the long term.”

Mere effektive til at administrere en større offentlig sektor–lyder det ikke bekendt?

“As for vanity, the president’s aides sometimes seem to see themselves as The New Conservatives, a brave band of brothers who care about the poor, unlike those nasty, crabbed, cheapskate conservatives of an older, less enlightened era.

Republicans have grown alarmed at federal spending. It has come to a head not only because of Katrina but because of the huge pork-filled highway bill the president signed last month, which comes with its own poster child for bad behavior, the Bridge to Nowhere. The famous bridge in Alaska that costs $223 million and that connects one little place with two penguins and a bear with another little place with two bears and a penguin. The Bridge to Nowhere sounds, to conservative ears, like a metaphor for where endless careless spending leaves you. From the Bridge to the 21st Century to the Bridge to Nowhere: It doesn’t feel like progress.

A lot of Bush supporters assumed the president would get serious about spending in his second term. With the highway bill he showed we misread his intentions.

The administration, in answering charges of profligate spending, has taken, interestingly, to slighting old conservative hero Ronald Reagan. This week it was the e-mail of a high White House aide informing us that Ronald Reagan spent tons of money bailing out the banks in the savings-and-loan scandal. This was startling information to Reaganites who remembered it was a fellow named George H.W. Bush who did that. …

Poor Reagan. If only he’d been strong he could have been a good president. … At any rate, Republican officials start diminishing Ronald Reagan, it is a bad sign about where they are psychologically. In the White House of George H.W. Bush they called the Reagan administration “the pre-Bush era.” See where it got them.

Sometimes I think the Bush White House needs to be told: It’s good to be a revolutionary. But do you guys really need to be opening up endless new fronts? Do you need–metaphor switch–seven or eight big pots boiling on the stove all at the same time? You think the kitchen and the house might get a little too hot that way?”

Og så rejser hun et tema, som danske borgerligt-liberale også kender til: Selvretfærdiggørelsen med henvisning til, at “de andre” er langt værre:

“The Republican (as opposed to conservative) default position when faced with criticism of the Bush administration is: But Kerry would have been worse! The Democrats are worse! All too true. …  But saying The Bush administration is a lot better than having Democrats in there is not an answer to criticism, it’s a way to squelch it. Which is another Bridge to Nowhere.”

Bushs mest grundlæggende fejl er, siger Noonan, én, som danske borgerligt-liberale også vil kunne genkende:

“First and foremost Mr. Bush has abandoned all rhetorical ground. He never even speaks of high spending. He doesn’t argue against it, and he doesn’t make the moral case against it. When forced to spend, Reagan didn’t like it, and he said so. He also tried to cut. Mr. Bush seems to like it and doesn’t try to cut. He doesn’t warn that endless high spending can leave a nation tapped out and future generations hemmed in. In abandoning this ground Bush has abandoned a great deal–including a primary argument of conservatism and a primary reason for voting Republican. And who will fill this rhetorical vacuum? Hillary Clinton. She knows an opening when she sees one, and knows her base won’t believe her when she decries waste.”

Og denne strategi er kortsigtet, siger Noonan–og igen kan vi nikke fra vore hjemlige erfaringer:

“… Mr. Bush seems not to be noticing that once government spending reaches a new high level it is very hard to get it down, even a little, ever. So a decision to raise spending now is in effect a decision to raise spending forever. …

Money is power. More money for the federal government and used by the federal government is more power for the federal government. Is this good? Is this what energy in the executive is–“Here’s a check”? Are the philosophical differences between the two major parties coming down, in terms of spending, to “Who’s your daddy? He’s not your daddy, I’m your daddy.” Do we want this? Do our kids? Is it safe? Is it, in its own way, a national security issue? …

I never understood compassionate conservatism to mean, and I don’t know anyone who understood it to mean, a return to the pork-laden legislation of the 1970s. We did not understand it to mean never vetoing a spending bill. We did not understand it to mean a historic level of spending. We did not understand it to be a step back toward old ways that were bad ways.

I for one feel we need to go back to conservatism 101. We can start with a quote from Gerald Ford, if he isn’t too much of a crabbed and reactionary old Republican to quote
. He said, “A government b
ig enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” “

Og igen er der en parallel til hjemlige forhold:

“The administration knows that Republicans are becoming alarmed. Its attitude is: “We’re having some trouble with part of the base but”–smile–“we can weather that.”  Well, they probably can, short term. Long term, they’ve had bad history with weather. It can change.”

Noonan opfordrer den amerikanske højrefløj til ikke stiltiende at acceptere en så dramatisk omlægning af de idealer, man tidligere har haft:

“Here are some questions for conservative and Republicans. In answering them, they will be defining their future party.
If we are going to spend like the romantics and operators of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society; If we are going to thereby change the very meaning and nature of conservatism; If we are going to increase spending and the debt every year; If we are going to become a movement that supports big government and a party whose unspoken motto is “Whatever it takes”; If all these things, shouldn’t we perhaps at least discuss it? Shouldn’t we be talking about it? Shouldn’t our senators, congressmen and governors who wish to lead in the future come forward to take a stand?

And shouldn’t the Bush administration seriously address these questions, share more of their thinking, assumptions and philosophy?

It is possible that political history will show, in time, that those who worried about spending in 2005 were dinosaurs. If we are, we are. But we shouldn’t become extinct without a roar.”

Hvad gør dinosaurerne i de danske politiske partier?  Brøler de som løver, eller mæh’er de som lam?