Bush, basen og bæstet II

Der bliver i denne tid skruet for volume-knappen blandt kritikerne af præsident George W. Bush–altså vel at mærke fra prominente amerikanske konservative.  Blot indenfor den forgangne uge har tre meldt sig på banen med ny kritik, heriblandt den amerikanske højrefløjs Grand Old Man, "Mr. Conservative" himself, William F. Buckley, Jr.  Det er–som vi tidligere har bemærket–ikke noget helt nyt fænomen, men det er som om, at bunden er gået ud af baglandets opbakning.

TV-interviewet med Buckley fandt sted på CBS Evening News og fik overskriften "Buckley: Bush Not A True Conservative".  I den trykte udgave hedder det bl.a.:

"Buckley finds himself parting ways with President Bush, whom he praises as a decisive leader but admonishes for having strayed from true conservative principles in his foreign policy.

In particular, Buckley views the three-and-a-half-year Iraq War as a failure.

"If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we've experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign," Buckley says.

"I think Mr. Bush faces a singular problem best defined, I think, as the absence of effective conservative ideology — with the result that he ended up being very extravagant in domestic spending, extremely tolerant of excesses by Congress," Buckley says. "And in respect of foreign policy, incapable of bringing together such forces as apparently were necessary to conclude the Iraq challenge."

Asked what President Bush's foreign policy legacy will be to his successor, Buckley says "There will be no legacy for Mr. Bush. I don't believe his successor would re-enunciate the words he used in his second inaugural address because they were too ambitious. So therefore I think his legacy is indecipherable"

Lignende toner kommer i et interview i Saint Louis Today med Richard Viguerie, som et halvt århundrede har været en fremtrædende Republikansk aktivist, forretningsmand og "bagmand".  Han har skrevet en ny bog, der udkommer om få uger, med titlen "Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause":

What is your major complaint with the president?

I guess it's the spending thing. He said he was a conservative, but government has just grown out of sight. It's so frustrating. He's the only president in  200 years not to veto a single bill [before last week's stem-cell veto], which means he approves of all of it. Early on I was impressed with him. I thought he started out strong in 2001, 2002, but when the budget kept getting bigger, I
started getting disillusioned. Then came the largest farm subsidy bill, amnesty for Hispanic immigrants, No Child Left Behind.

What's your view of the war in Iraq?

We're not into nation building, and he ran against it in 2000, said we don't do it. That was music to conservatives' ears. But he was able to make a nexus between Iraq and the war on terrorism, playing the national security card. There's a certain amount of demagoguery there. Reagan wanted to change a lot of societies, but we didn't put American soldiers on the front lines.

What's the reaction of other conservatives to your views?

Most conservatives don't oppose a Republican president in public. But when Bush nominated Harriet Myers (to the Supreme Court), that was a wake-up call for conservatives. The conservative movement engaged him in battle, went toe to toe with him, and won. The next morning, the sun came up. I don't know three or
four conservatives that are satisfied with this president. It's almost
universal, the disappointment with the president. Some are disillusioned, some are dissatisfied, but half are downright angry. It is just palatable; you can cut it with a knife.

Now that's not true of Wall Street, big business. They're very happy with this president. He's been carrying their water. There's almost like a 'conservatives need not apply' sign in front of the White House. Since November 2004, the president has had lots of appointments. It's been all the big business wing of the party, the corporate wing. Big business gets the action; we get lip service. He has given two of them to the conservatives, and we are not a wing
of the party, we are the party."

Peggy Noonans ugentlig klumme i WSJ er som sædvanlig lidt mere tænksom og lidt mere velformuleret:

"Republicans hearken back to Reagan for two big reasons. The first is that they agreed with what he did. The second is that they believe he was a very fine man. This is not now how they feel about Mr. Bush, at least if my interactions with strangers and party members the past year are a judge. They think Mr. Bush is a good man–that he's got guts and resolve, that he can take a lickin' and keep on tickin'. But they are no longer confident about what he does. They're no longer fully comfortable in their judgment of his policies and actions, or the root thoughts behind them. It gives Reagan an even rosier glow, for he was the last national political figure to fully win their minds and hearts.

William F. Buckley this week said words that, if you follow his columns, were not surprising. And yet coming from the man who co-fathered the modern conservative movement, carrying the intellectual heft as Reagan carried the political heft, the observation that President Bush is not, philosophically, a conservative, had the power to make one sit up and take notice.

I have had reservations in this area since Mr. Bush's stunning inaugural speech last year, but Mr. Buckley's comments, in a television interview last weekend, had the sting of the definitional. I agree with Mr. Buckley's judgments but would add they raise the question of what Bush's political philosophy is–I mean what he thinks it is. It's not "everyone should be free." Everyone in America thinks everyone should be free, what we argue over is specific definitions of freedom and specific paths to the goal. He doesn't believe in smaller government. Or maybe he "believes" in small government but believes us to be in an era in which it is, with the current threat, unrealistic and unachievable? He believes in lower taxes. What else? I continually wonder, and have wondered for two years, what his philosophy is–what drives his actions.

Does he know? Is it a philosophy or a series of impulses held together by a particular personality? Can he say? It would be good if he did. People are not going to start feeling safe in the world tomorrow, but they feel safer with a sense that their leaders have aims that are intellectually coherent. It would be good for the president to demonstrate that his leadership is not just a situational hodgepodge, seemingly driven and yet essentially an inbox presidency, with a quirky tilt to the box. Sometimes words just can't help. But sometimes, especially in regard to the establishment or at least assertion of coherence, they can. And it'
s never too late. History
doesn't hold a stopwatch, not on things like this."

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