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A conservative house, divided against itself, cannot stand

By Frank Salvato
web posted October 24, 2005

If just a year ago, as George W. Bush proclaimed victory in the 2004 presidential election, you would have told me that the Democrats would be sitting back and laughing as the conservatives fed on their own, like a pack of self-indulgent jackals, I would have dismissed the notion as incredible. But as we approach the 2006 mid-term election cycle it would seem that notion isn't so far fetched. We are starring directly into the eyes of a Republican-Ross Perot moment and the Democrats are enjoying every minute of it.

For many on the "rightest" side of the right, the Harriet Miers nomination has proven to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. They saw an opportunity to pull the trigger on a political nuclear confrontation and, in their opinion, President Bush shied away from it. This, coupled with a lackluster approach to border security and a perceived indifference to spending excesses, has stirred passions of contempt among many in the conservative political community.

While I agree that the Bush Administration has been less than the vision of a conservative archangel on a few issues, I disagree with those who are advocating the withholding of support for the president. The plain and simple fact of the matter is this, if conservatives maintain a divided house because of ideological differences with the Bush Administration, the Democrats will not only win seats in the upcoming midterm elections, they just may wrap up the 2008 presidential election two years early.

Conservatives in the United States have a habit of shooting themselves in the foot when they have the opportunity to advance their cause. One needs only to look back at the defeat of George H.W. Bush to validate this claim. He was most definitely the more qualified of the candidates. But, because of an unyielding ideology and because they held him in contempt for breaking his promise on taxes, many conservatives chose to withhold their support.

Refusing to realize that Congress had more to do with the tax increase than President George H.W. Bush did, they opted to champion Ross Perot, a third party candidate who had the same chance of winning the White House as George McGovern did when he ran against Richard Nixon. This extremely poor choice of who to support was directly responsible for the election of Bill Clinton and eight years of quasi-Socialistic government.

Make no mistake; it was less about the hard work of the left-leaning Democrats and more about the lack of conservative cohesiveness that allowed the Clinton dynasty to emerge. We should all live with that "stain" upon each of our "blue dresses" for the remainder of our political lives.

Purity of conservative ideology aside, Harriet Miers deserves her day in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee – and then in front of the full Senate – if for no other reason than because the President nominated her. In the end, it will be the Senate's advise and consent role that will determine if Harriet Miers is sworn in as the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, not the president's will. To think otherwise is to give conservatives in the Senate a pass on their Constitutional duty. If they don't believe that she is capable, they can vote her down. They have that power.

As for the obscene level that government spending has reached, it needs to be pointed out that Congress approves the budget, not the White House. If real fiscal reform is ever to be attained it will be the appetites of those in Congress that will have to be suppressed. While many waste no time pointing out that President Bush hasn't once used his veto power where government spending is concerned, it should also be noted that he isn't the one proposing legislation to pay for the building of bridges that go to uninhabited islands in Alaska.

The bottom line on spending is this; if Congress sent pork-free budgets to the president's desk there would be no pork in government spending. To lay the blame of excessive government spending solely at the feet of George W. Bush is not only disingenuous, it again gives Congress a free pass on the role they play in the problem that is out-of-control government spending.

It is easy to play the blame game, especially in Washington DC. It is convenient to finger-point in the president's direction because he is just one man where the conservatives in Congress are many. But ease and convenience most often lead not to those ultimately responsible, but to those who are most easily targeted.

If President Bush is responsible for sending Harriet Miers to The Hill as his nominee, the Senate is responsible for whether she is confirmed or not. They have the last word on the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices. The onus is on the Senate. And where the president is responsible for sending budgets to Congress, Congress is responsible for sending budget legislation to the president's desk. There is no other way to look at this issue. Congress is the bigger villain where government spending is concerned.

So, conservatives, should they choose, can continue to deride George W. Bush about his nominees and his administration's policies, but they do so at their own peril. You see, they have unwittingly joined the "hate-Bush" bandwagon, a bandwagon that includes Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, Code Pink and the rest of the socialist liberal left. That is why the Democrats are laughing.

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." If conservatives don't hang together now we will all hang separately, and President Hillary Clinton will be the hangman.

Frank Salvato is the managing editor for TheRant.us. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, socio-political education project. His pieces are regularly featured in Townhall.com. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor and numerous radio shows. His pieces have been recognized by the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention and are periodically featured in The Washington Times as well as other national and international publications. He can be contacted at oped@therant.us. Copyright © 2005 Frank Salvato

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