Who is President Bush?
By Keith D. Cummings
The Miers nomination is the fight that conservatives have been itching for. It has all the ingredients: a serious discussion about the role of the courts in America; the first two-term Republican president since Robert Bork was "borked"; and ideologues up in arms at the choice. The only problem is that the debate is limited to the right side of the political spectrum.
President George W. Bush hauled out the big guns last week. With his approval rating slipping so low that it's clear even his base is abandoning him, rather than admit his mistake, or even seek a face saving "exit strategy," Bush turned to the only help he truly has left: his wife. Her performance on the Today show proved unconvincing to most.
The First Lady joined the President and defenders of Miers in declaring that her opponents were "sexist" and "elitist." These are just the things we would expect to hear, had Mr. Bush been Bill Clinton, Al Gore or John Kerry and Harriet Miers been, well, Harriet Miers.
The left has always resorted to attacks against the character and motivation of their opponents. When conservatives opposed Bill Lann Lee to run the Civil Rights division of the Department of Justice, it was because he was an outspoken advocate of racial preferences, the exact opposite of the equal protection under the law that the Fourteenth Amendment demands. This didn't stop some on the left from calling Lee's opposition to the post (he served as acting head for several months) racist. He was a minority and conservatism is a white men's only club.
What then, when a conservative president parades his demure wife onto national television to call his own supporters sexists and elitists? Perhaps it is how this President faced the overwhelming backlash to this nomination that gives us a clearer look into who he really is. There are two possibilities: George W. Bush has grown so arrogant in his position that he believes that conservatives not only will, but also should support his every action; or George W. Bush is no conservative.
Most people who know the President (and since I am not one of them, I can't say myself) swear that he is a humble and faithful man. As an evangelical who found Christ in his middle age, he understands his place in the universe and his lowliness before God. It's hard to believe that such a man would suddenly raise himself to the level of arrogance that would expect those who fought tooth and nail to get him elected twice, to just roll over and do what he says.
Yet, we are also told that Bush respects, almost demands, loyalty. His sense of betrayal when Paul O'Neill trashed him in Ron Suskind's 2004 hit piece The Price of Loyalty was clear. It's Mier's loyalty to Bush, her fealty to his whims and wishes that is the basis of the President's "trust me" comment. Someone who believes that loyalty to him extends forever could have believed that his base would just say, "Yes, George," no matter what he did.
There is another, and much more likely answer to the question of why Bush selected Harriet Miers, and it's one I have yet to hear on the web. Perhaps, just perhaps, Bush picked Miers not to be a stealth conservative, but rather to be a stealth liberal. Perhaps Miers is "Souter in a skirt," and Bush knows it. Perhaps, just perhaps, Bush isn't the conservative he claimed to be.
Last week, I listed the reasons that Bush has disappointed conservatives. Since his taking office in 2001, Bush has done two things to please conservatives, tax cuts and the War on Terror. Everything else has been an abysmal failure. If you don't believe me, ask Pat Toomey and Steven Laffey. Why would a CINO (conservative-in-name-only) do this?
George W. Bush, first and foremost is the son of George H.W. Bush, a liberal who lead from as close to the center as he could while standing in the shadow of Ronald Reagan. In 1980, when GHWB was running for president, he attacked Reagan as too conservative. Who can forget "voodoo economics?" Conservatives have long believed that W. was an apple that fell far from the tree, but how likely is that?
From his father, W, learned that taxes would lose a Republican an election faster than Bill Clinton can unzip for an intern. "Come out swinging, cut taxes and get them on your side." I can almost hear H.W. saying it.
The War on Terror wasn't something W. wanted but frankly, without it he and Laura would be picking out carpet for the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Midland while President Heinz-Kerry asked his wife to borrow the keys to Air Force One. Still, in it he's seen to opportunity to do something big, very big. It's that legacy thing that obsesses every President who lacks any real principles.
So, in his desire to get elected, Bush paid lip service to the conservatives in America. With a smirk on his face, and his Texas swagger, he invented "compassionate conservatism." It was his name for what others called "big government conservatism." It's what Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater would have called "liberalism."
There it is, I said it. George W. Bush isn't a conservative, compassionate or otherwise. He's a big government, tax and spend liberal. He placated the base in 2001 with his tax cut, and fear of mushroom clouds and anthrax attacks got him reelected when, by all rights, he should have been thrown out on his ear. Now, we're stuck with him and unless a dozen or so Republican Senators grown a backbone, we're stuck with Harriet Miers too.
Keith D. Cummings is the author of Opening Bell, a political / financial thriller. His website can be found at http://www.keith-cummings.com.
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