Monday, March 22, 2010

Credit where due

Mad About Obamacare? Blame Bush

The question conservatives should be asking though, is how did we get in this position in the first place? How come, over the course of two elections, Democrats were able to take back the White House and amass substantial majorities in both chambers of Congress, allowing them to enact this sweeping legislation with no Republican votes – and huge defections in their own party? How could a generally right-of-center nation be taken over by liberals from Chicago and San Francisco?

The answer, of course, is that none of this would have been possible without George W. Bush -- or more broadly speaking, Bush era Republicanism. While they were in power, Republicans squandered an opportunity to push free market health care solutions. When they did use their power to pass major legislation, it was for policies like the big government Medicare prescription drug plan, which was (until today) the largest expansion of entitlements since the Great Society. They took earmarks and doled out farm and energy subsidies. They earned a reputation for fiscal recklessness and corruption and incompetent governance. President Obama ultimately forced through the health care bill in spite of the political consequences to his party because he’s ultimately a true believing liberal. But it was only because of the failures of Bush-era Republicanism that an ideological liberal with little experience was able to capture the presidency on the abstract notion of change

(HT: R. S. McCain)


GWB:The man in full

UPDATE: Klein left out maybe the biggest Bush failure of all: his inept handling of the two wars he launched but did not win.

UPDATE (3/24): Stand by your man was a great song; it is lousy politics.

Many of the comments at Am Spec and TOM attack Klein for criticizing Bush. I don't know which worries me more: the whiff of totalitarian party-lining implicit in the idea that true conservatives must only attack liberals and never Republicans or mounting evidence that for most commenters the 'net brings out their inner idiot. (Fortunately, the only commenters i have are reasonable or spam-bots. I delete the latter and appreciate the former so read what CJinPA wrote on this post.)

If conservatives and free-marketers don't criticize the Bush/Rove record, then three bad things happen. One, we look like hypocrites when we criticize liberals and Democrats. Two, the Bush years (and their disasters) get chalked up conservative ideas. Who could be surprised if the public was less than eager for a repeat. Three, Bushites end up appearing on TV as conservative spokesmen and get their heads handed to them.

For item 3 check out this:

Karl Rove appeared on ABC's This Week with a chart full of facts about the Obama health care bill and what it would do to the U.S. economy. Obama political consultant David Plouffe appeared with several humorous talking points provided him by the White House.

"We wanted him to be ready," says a White House communications aide. When Rove raised the issue of the damage the health care bill would cause the U.S. economy, Plouffe jumped in, saying, "Karl and the Republicans would be familiar with that. Under their leadership, they took us from big budget surpluses to a $1.3 trillion deficit."

Later, he used the line: "Karl and the Republicans have zero credibility -- about as much credibility as the country of Greece does to talk about fiscal responsibility

Rove may have had the facts on his side but television is all about soundbites. Right now, any Democrat will win the soundbite battle if the issue is economics and his opponent made his bones serving Bush II.


CJinPA said...

I would not say ‘blame Bush for a legislative defeat more than a year out of office.’ But I have for some time been pointing out that W sold out the GOP. He took 30 years of conservative opposition to federalizing schools and tore it up for No Child Left Behind. He contradicted conservative views on health care with his Medicare drugs. He let conservatives be painted as racists for not embracing amnesty for illegals. The only thing he did that demonstrates to Americans a conservative mindset was his initial tax cuts, some judicial nominations, and a heap of bible references.

But we all defended him because, well, he was our guy and, you know, 9/11 and all.

The GOP wave lasted as long searing 9/11 memories did, and not a moment longer. The party did NOTHING in that time to actually implement the conservative principles we’ve been yapping about for, oh, a half-century.

Liberals make no secret about their philosophy: Pick a problem, elect us, and government will solve it. Any problem. They’ve been talking health care for decades, and in the end the GOP STILL could not make a coherent case against it. Against this particular bill? Sure. But the BIG PICTURE? No. In the end we almost won because we changed the topic to….abortion. Pathetic.

I still don’t know what the GOP Health Care Plan was. I don’t recall anyone constantly challenging the ever-changing figures of “uninsured Americans” that was the FOUNDATION of the liberal effort. A couple of years ago it was “47 million” then “49 million” then it suddenly dropped to “36 million”…..The actual number of longterm uninsured is a fraction of that. But if you don’t read George Will, you didn’t know that.

This is almost a good thing. I was worried that, once again, the GOP would slip into power unprepared and unwilling to lead, following the incoherent Bush model of doing just enough to win and stay in power. The party almost stumbled to victory on this, not because they made the better case in this defining struggle for which they’ve had decades to prepare, but because of abortion. They may have taken power based on a weak incumbent and a bad economy, and resorted to meaningless governance. Give us some new GOP leaders who can speak in complete sentences and don’t need index cards to tell them what they believe.

craig said...

Good points all.

I especially agree that too few GOP leaders can articulate a principled and intellectually honest case against bigger government.

CJinPA said...

Thanks Craig. I'm a longtime reader who is happy to be able to comment here!

The last articulate (and effective) Republican was Newt. I still think I'd rather lose with him than win with another empty suit. maybe.

craig said...

I'm of two minds about Newt, Out of power he was well nigh perfect: he could think strategically, he had the boldness to dream of taking over the House, and he was a wonderful spokesman on TV.

Once he became Speaker, however, he was less effective. The book deal, the frequent loose rhetoric, and the unbelievable sloth in the 1998 campaign limited the good he did with his majority.