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Byron York on Bush Fatigue in the GOP:
In a Washington Post essay on the Bush Administration, Byron York writes that recent events "have left Republicans saying, at least among themselves, something blunt and devastating: It's over."
Baseballhead (mail):
Clearly, Byron York suffers from the dreaded Bush Derangement Syndrome.
7.8.2007 6:08pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
Byron York jumps ship, The NYTimes editorializes in favor of immediate withdrawal, and Colin Powell publicly claims he spent two and a half hours trying to dissuade Bush from invading Iraq.

If the GOP leadership in Congress had an ounce of patriotism, they'd strike a deal with Pelosi for her to take over the oval office for the next 18 months-- and then go to Bush and Chaney and tell them to resign, or be impeached and convicted so quickly their heads will spin.
7.8.2007 6:28pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Cue the, "it's because Bush wasn't conservative ENOUGH" comments in 3, 2, 1, . . . .
7.8.2007 7:11pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Why would anyone bother putting that in a comment? It's exactly what Byron York said in the article that's the subject of the post.

Oh... you didn't read it?
7.8.2007 7:22pm
FantasiaWHT:
That's why conservatives should never even bother trying to please the liberals. 1) You can't please the liberals, even if you do exactly what they want, and 2) You're going to hack off your conservative base.
7.8.2007 7:31pm
TechieLaw (mail) (www):

The problem is that there's still another year and half where the country needs an executive to *govern*. Even if you completely disagree with Bush's policies, 18 months of stagnation is just a scary though. Whether you're a Democrat or Republican, I don't think anybody (except, perhaps, hard-core libertarians) would see it as a good thing for Congress and the President to be bickering over every little detail for the next 18 months. Somebody has to manage the DOJ, FEMA, foreign policy, etc. until the changing of the guard, and it can't get done if the legislative and executive branch can't come to agreements of at least some things.

In other words, "it's over" could be a potentially scary thought. For a President who proclaimed himself a "uniter, not a divider," the rank *stubborness* of Bush and his inability to admit mistakes quickly don't bode well.

For example -- take the mess that Iraq has become. Yes, the majority of the American People want out. Congress -- including, day by day, more Republican members -- knows that it has to do something to prevent voter outrage. But what happens if/when we *DO* pull out? Will Iran pull in? Will Kurdistan become a stable, independent state while the rest of the country disintegrates into chaos and potentially becomes another Afghanistan?

These of the kinds of questions that require an active and thoughtful Commander-In-Chief who has the courage to explain to the American People that there may be no good choices left in Iraq, but that the alternative -- Iran becoming dominant -- might be worse. Somehow, I don't see a president with "It's over" hanging over his head having this kind of courage.

Just to be clear -- I have no idea what the solution is at this point. Whatever that solution may be, it's not going to be pretty. But more importantly, I wish -- for once -- that this President would have the courage to speak frankly about the situation and not retreat into a bubble as all his foot soldiers realize he's lost his grip with reality.
7.8.2007 7:33pm
billtb (mail):
Byron is spot on ... about the only way for Bush get some of the moxie back is to build the 800 mile fence and the other promised enforcement issues in the failed bill. Start with the 1986 law. The invasion has not stopped. The divorce papers got filed over AMNESTY.

I doubt the Conservatives will abandon Iraq, or our troops, they just want a better explainer, and more combative spokesman.

Start with a speech on Zawahiri's last tape, there is enough red meat in there to last the rest of his term ... Mr Pres, you listening?
7.8.2007 7:34pm
Houston Lawyer:
If no new legislation comes out of the current Congress, conservatives will chalk that up as a win.

I am not aware of any president who achieved much of anything in the last 18 months of his administration.

Since an "amnesty" deal has been killed for this Congress, the only legacy item left for this President is avoiding a defeat by Congress over Iraq. Since the only people in DC who are more inept than the President are Ried and Pelosi, he might just pull that one off.
7.8.2007 7:39pm
Buckland (mail):
I think what York and a lot of people miss with Bush is the size of the problems that he's tried to take on.

Bush has attempted some of the thorniest problems that we face. Education reform, immigration reform, tax rate reduction, social security reform, ...er...dictator reform in Afghanistan and Iraq. All of these were large issues that had to be pushed in a wary congress. Some were successful (tax rates and education reform), some weren't (social security and immigration), and the jury is still out on the wars.

Other than the early bout of health care reform, I'm having trouble coming up with anything from the Clinton presidency that compares in scale. Maybe welfare reform, but that really didn't originate in the White House and indeed Clinton was browbeat to sign the 3rd iteration of the bill after vetoing the first 2. Certainly the AmeriCorps, 100,000 cops, or 100,000 teachers are not of the same scale.

Bush may have been more successful -- defined by keeping his approval rating high -- by attempting to leap lower bars. Few groups haven't been offended by Bush's support of one or more of these initiatives. Incremental changes has some advantages, and was the Clinton rule after the early healthcare debacle. But that just wasn't in his makeup.

That's what I think York and most other commenters are missing. Sure there have been some severe failures during Bush's term. Some were because he couldn't secure the conservative base, some that the execution was faulty. But in the areas where he failed completely -- immigration and social security -- it's hard to see a scenario where the problems won't have to be addressed by a successor. In Afghanistan it's hard to see a way that the invasion wouldn't have happened given the government support for a terrorist attack. As for Iraq, it's hard to see a scenario where things ended happier than today given the starting conditions (I won't lay out the possible scenarios, a recent TCS Daily column did a good job).

In baseball home run hitters tend to strike out more often than the singles hitters. But there are times that we need the home run. It will be interesting to see how Bush is judged in light of his swing for the fence mentality.
7.8.2007 8:11pm
JKS (mail):
Tax rate reduction isn't "thorny" when you combine it with slashes to social programs. Bosnia, Somalia, and the Arab-Israeli conflict were fairly thorny...
Should we give Bush points for Katrina too, because somethign "thorny" happened, even though he has completely neglected the region?
7.8.2007 8:28pm
Randy R. (mail):
Buckland: "Some were successful (tax rates and education reform), some weren't (social security and immigration), and the jury is still out on the wars. "

Sure Bush lower tax rates, at the expense of creating the largest deficit in history. He didn't reform education in any sense, but he did create accountability that many people now find suspect, and in any case never bothered to fund it properly. And these were his major successes?

As for the wars, the jury has NOT been out. The Iraq war never accomplished what he set out to do, which was find the WMD. It has not accomplished the goal of establishing democracies in any country in the middle east, and no one is holding his breath. The war was supposed to be won within months, and paid for by Iraqi oil sales. By this administration's own goalposts, the war has been a complete failure.

What Bush HAS succeded, spendidly, is in alienating our allies, accomplishing nothing with regards to N. Korea, created a huge trade deficit with China, turned us from a creditor nation into a debtor one, greatly expanded the powers of the Presidency, established torture as a means of war, abrogated treaties, and gutted environmental laws.

These all, of course, warm the cockles of conservatives hearts, but they are getting fewer and fewer with each passing year.

It's funny. Old conservatives used to say that the government that governs least governs best. They were happy when Congress and the President accomplished nothing. Now, however, that has been turned upsidedown. Clinton, a Democrat, is regarded as a failure for not accomplishing anything, and Bush, who has failed to tackle problems that really beset the middle class, is a success.

Well, he DID oppose gay marriage. So I guess that makes up for everything....
7.8.2007 8:42pm
Anonym:
JKS wrote, "Should we give Bush points for Katrina too, because somethign "thorny" happened, even though he has completely neglected the region?"

FYI, we've spent more money on Katrina in less than 2 years than we've spent on Iraq in over 4. That doesn't mean that Bush has done well in either area; it does, however, mean that you were argument was not awesome.
7.8.2007 8:46pm
JKS (mail):
Well, it depends on how you measure spending. But anyone who claims that Katrina has been dealt with effectively must be a rich profiteer. The poverty and racial inequality of New Orleans has gotten worse, and a city forsaken. Its not just how much money, but what you do with it (and how you lead). Tax breaks were a huge chunk of that, as were FEMA trailers with no long-term plans in sight. Most of the money has gone to Mississippi, because Haley Barbour is liked more in DC.
7.8.2007 8:56pm
EH:
Hey, maybe he did take on some of the thorniest tasks possible. Maybe he could have lowered the bar by setting the moon on fire. Thing is, he's not very good at any of these huge tasks, and he takes on more than one at a time. What do you do with an employee who does this?
7.8.2007 9:00pm
frankcross (mail):

FYI, we've spent more money on Katrina in less than 2 years than we've spent on Iraq in over 4. That doesn't mean that Bush has done well in either area; it does, however, mean that you were argument was not awesome.


Really? Do you have a source for the details on this spending?
7.8.2007 9:00pm
Mr. Impressive (mail):
I hope the conservative base goes after President Bush and continues to viciously attack and alienate him. Then, we liberals can cut some good deals with him.

I hope that conservatives are foolish enough to attack their President. There is good that come yet from a liberal-Bush alliance in the next year.

Conservatives probably think that attacking the President is a good way to get him to do what they want. But, I think experience with this President suggests the opposite.
7.8.2007 9:16pm
Justin (mail):
These of the kinds of questions that require an active and thoughtful Commander-In-Chief who has the courage to explain to the American People that there may be no good choices left in Iraq, but that the alternative -- Iran becoming dominant -- might be worse. Somehow, I don't see a president with "It's over" hanging over his head having this kind of courage.

- This seems like a great reason to not invade, but does not seem like a good reason to stay in. You use the word "alternative" like the result can be avoided, but that previous sentence shows the only way to avoid that was never to have invaded in the first place.
7.8.2007 9:16pm
Morat20 (mail):
Really? Do you have a source for the details on this spending?

He doesn't have anything reliable, I'm sure. Very simple to figure out:

Iraq alone is running about 100 billion a year, so he's claiming we've spent around 400 billion in New Orleans in less than two years -- or in short, the entire military budget for a year.

If the federal government has shelled out even 100 billion over two years (half of what we spend each year on Iraq) I'd be shocked.
7.8.2007 9:20pm
JB:
Spending money =/= accomplishing anything. It's easy to spend lots of money on problems if you're the President. It's harder to solve problems with that money.

Considering the competence of FEMA, Katrina would have been as bad a mess with $100,000, $100 million, or $100 billion. All that would differ is the size of the mess.
7.8.2007 9:54pm
TechieLaw (mail) (www):

This seems like a great reason to not invade, but does not seem like a good reason to stay in. You use the word "alternative" like the result can be avoided, but that previous sentence shows the only way to avoid that was never to have invaded in the first place.


I think that all of the following suggest good reasons for making sure the area is stable -- whether that is accompished by us or somebody else -- before abandoning it to the Iraqis: (1) Iran getting nuclear weapons, (2) Iran exerting control over the area and leveraging it into becoming a regional power that can even further destabilize the region, (3) the chance that Iraq could become a breeding ground like Afghanistan for worldwide terrorism.

None of these are good reasons for going in. If the Libby trial taught us anything, it's that Bush and his cronies lied about those reasons and tried to cover them up. But that's irrelevant. Imagine the situation getting even worse without some stabilizing element there.

And, by the way, I don't think that continuing our current approach will help matters; it will probably continue to make things worth. To be quite honest, I have no idea what even a "fair" solution -- nevermind a "good" solution would be. I don't even know if it's possible to correct this massive strategic mistake that has become Iraq. But isn't that why one should delegate to experts?
7.8.2007 10:10pm
Mr. Impressive (mail):

Considering the competence of FEMA...


Of course. The competence of FEMA had nothing at all to do with "You're doing a heck of a job Brownie" Arabian Horse Judge extraordinaire who was in charge of the agency and decided, in libertarian fashion, to not focus on the actual mission of the agency, but instead on PR.
7.8.2007 10:17pm
Justin (mail):
TechieLaw,

The obvious problem is that you're assuming we can do something to stop the numbers. It's like saying, "if we pull out of Iraq now, we'll never learn the secret to immortality." And if you said that, you'd be just about equally right.

There's just nothing we can do in Iraq anymore, except leave. Staying just delays the inevitable at great cost to both American and particularly Iraqi lives, American money, and American strategic interests.
7.8.2007 10:30pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Daniel:

Sure, I read the article. It's part of a trend in certain right-wing quarters these days. Conservatives used to love to claim G.W. Bush as one of their own -- a true movement guy. And in fact he has been the most conservative President since the New Deal on most things (even more so than Reagan on some issues, although maybe that's because the Gipper had to deal with a Dem Congress for longer). But suddenly, a war goes badly; he supports the big-business wing of the Republicans instead of the more nativist wing on immigration; and he commutes Libby's sentence, sparing him a minute of jail time and causing him little real harm at all, while preserving his 5th Am. privileges; and suddenly . . . well, Bush just not "conservative" anymore. I'm not buying it.

He may be a particularly incompetent, corrupt, arrogant, and clueless type of conservative (I hope it's clear that I know there are conservatives who are none of these things). But he's a conservative.
7.8.2007 10:50pm
JosephSlater (mail):
". . . Bush just is not "conservative" anymore."

Sigh.
7.8.2007 10:51pm
mistermark:
What a bunch of back-stabbers President Bush must deal with. He truly has the patience of Job. Outrageous ingrates, all of them. They clearly hate America.
7.8.2007 10:53pm
TechieLaw (mail) (www):
Justin: But you didn't answer my question: Could there be a worse situation than the gradual slide into chaos currently taking place in Iraq? Could that situation involve Iran leveraging Iraq and becoming a nuclear-based regional superpower?

Again -- I think we're talking about the lesser of evils here, and I'm not completely sure that there's anything more we can do in Iraq, but there has been precious little discussion in the media about what would happen if we leave and how that situation might be worse than what we have now. There may truly be nothing we can do. In fact, I don't doubt that the solution -- if there is anything that can be called a solution -- will involve creating a much more multinational force than we have now. But the fact that we're in a horrible situation doesn't mean it's a good idea to throw up our hands and say "to hell with it," without thinking hard about what that "hell" might look like.
7.8.2007 11:26pm
NI:
While I disagree with Bush on just about every policy decision he's made, and will be ecstatic when his term finally comes to an end, he at least gets points for having the courage of his convictions.

News flash to Democrats: Perhaps if you were willing to follow up words with deeds the voters might take you more seriously. You have the power of the purse; try defunding the war. Bush can't sign what you don't pass. While you're at it, you could defund the Department of Justice until Gonzalez steps down. You could deny confirmation to executive appointments until the White House complies with your subpoenas. You could attach stem cell funding to something the White House can't live without. In short, you could behave pretty much the way the White House has behaved for the past six years. You were elected with majorities in both houses, after all; now govern.

Nah, that would require a backbone.
7.8.2007 11:28pm
Randy R. (mail):
Despite the failures of the Bush Co., his low poll ratings and such, the Democrats as group still act as though taking on Bush will make them look bad. There are good exceptions, of course, but they could collectively do so much more to move us ahead.

But they keep thinking that they have to do things to appease the right wing, and that will somehow get them their votes. I just don't get it. Are they really that scared of Sean Hannity?
7.8.2007 11:44pm
Redman:
I guess this will cause many here to throw a hissy fit . . .

If the Bush admistration is dead, it was suicide, not murder.

It was his support of the amnesty bill (oops; did I really say that?) that removed the last vestige of support from the conservatives. Down the tubes he went.

Although I am a republican, I hope the House begins impeachment proceedings; they will never succeed, but they might keep this group ('the worst Congress in history') from passing any legislation.
7.8.2007 11:45pm
Randy R. (mail):
Let's see: poll numbers are dropping, the war is going badly, conservatives are leaving. In response, George W. Bush will:

1) Lower taxes again
2) Bash gays
3) Raise the terror alert
4) All of the above

I'm betting on No. 4.
7.8.2007 11:48pm
ATRGeek:
I just wanted to note that Ronald Reagan pretty much brought the Cold War to an end in his last 18 months as President (he made his "tear down this wall!" speech on June 12, 1987).
7.8.2007 11:50pm
Buckland (mail):
JKS

Tax rate reduction isn't "thorny" when you combine it with slashes to social programs. Bosnia, Somalia, and the Arab-Israeli conflict were fairly thorny...


Slashes in social programs? Could you point out a few? That's hard to find during the Bush administration (Indeed, a tough issue he chose to pass on). A much better critique is that he had no interest in slashing social programs.

As for the foreign policy countries mentioned, that was just the type of thing Clinton specialized in. Small, low risk jobs with little potential for payoff. He inherited Somalia and got out as soon as practical (a wise choice, I must say), The Arab Israeli talks never addressed anything of real interest like the final dispostion of Jerusalem or Palestinian right of return. All it provided was good press with no real possibility of working. Don't forget, Arafat unleashed the second intifada in 2000, while Clinton was still in office.

Randy R.


Sure Bush lower tax rates, at the expense of creating the largest deficit in history. He didn't reform education in any sense, but he did create accountability that many people now find suspect, and in any case never bothered to fund it properly. And these were his major successes?


Tax revenue dropped in the first couple years of the Bush administration, but virtually all of that was due to the dot com bust and before the Bush tax cuts kicked in. The total revenue for 2006 was 2.4073 trillion, a 26% increase over the revenue of 1.7825 trillion revenue in 2003 when the tax cuts kicked in. The revenue has continued to come in nicely with Bush's tax cuts. It's the spending that got out of hand.


As for the wars, the jury has NOT been out. The Iraq war never accomplished what he set out to do, which was find the WMD. It has not accomplished the goal of establishing democracies in any country in the middle east, and no one is holding his breath. The war was supposed to be won within months, and paid for by Iraqi oil sales. By this administration's own goalposts, the war has been a complete failure.


So which is it, WMD was the sole goal, or establishing democracies also? Actually there were lots of reasons for invading Iraq. WMD was one (and a number of Kurdish towns will attest that he was able to produce them when needed -- or maybe they won't anymore). Iraq is the closest thing in the neighborhood to a democracy these days (possibly excepting Turkey). And could you point to when Bush (or Cheney for that matter) said that Iraq would be "won within months"? I can point to numerous speeches where he said it was, for example a massive and difficult undertaking. Could you give your reference when he side it would be done in months?

But there were lots of other reasons for having to take out Saddam. The sanctions regime was collapsing under the weight of UN mismanagement and outright fraud. France and Russia were openly defying the trade bans. Saddam was continually tracking American planes on radar and sometimes firing missiles. Iraq was a bad situation that was getting worse.

As Peter J. Wallison writes, It's hard to come up with a scenario where things in Iraq would have ended better than today. A reenergized Saddam flush with UN oil-for-food cash with implicit help of France and Russia. Present George HW Bush left an unstable situation by choosing to appease Arab sensibility and not destroy Saddam. President Clinton allowed the situation to worsen because he had no interest in tackling issues as tough as UN corruption and Iraqi defiance. Indeed, Bush II would have probably done the same had not 9/11 forced his hand.

Tackling big problems is frequently messier than supporting 100,000 cops on the beat, but indeed it sometimes has to be done. And it can only be done by someone willing to risk the all valuable presidential approval ratings.
7.8.2007 11:52pm
BGates (www):
Here's some of that full-throated endorsement of Bush the Movement Conservative
"The Editors of National Review will vote, on Tuesday, November 7, for George W. Bush for President, and we urge the faithful to do the same. The (very) late Bishop Butler, acknowledging a protest again Christian canon, said three hundred years ago that, to be sure, if he had been God, he'd have made things a little bit different.

If the editors of NR had been present at the creation, we'd have struck a finer tuning fork to guide George W. But the choice is as it is, and conservatives need to abide by what was a fair and open process that concluded this political season with a significant national choice. "

Taranto on OpinionJournal in February of last year:
For most conservatives, Bush is not perfect but he is far better than the alternatives that were on offer in 2000 and 2004.

Jerry Falwell in 2000 "has been very clear about his top political goal this year: He plans to do all he can to elect Texas Gov. George W. Bush to the presidency in November, and he doesn't care to hear any complaining from fellow Religious Right activists who say the Republican candidate's rhetoric is not conservative enough."

He's not conservative enough. He lost the center of the Republican party over immigration; he'd already lost reactionary Buchananites like Justin by spending American money trying to improve the lives of brown people in far-off lands like Afghanistan.
7.8.2007 11:56pm
Mike Keenan:
Too bad we can't just have the election this November and kill two birds with one stone.
7.9.2007 12:18am
Justin (mail):
TechieLaw,

Sure. We could stay until 2010, spend a few hundred billion more dollars, kill another million or so Iraqis, lose another 2,000 or so soldiers, and still have that happen.

Once again, you are doing the common but scary-disturbing activity of creating a fictional and impossible "good solution" in order to try to avoid dealing with the inevitable (and entirely predictable) calumnity that is already upon us.
7.9.2007 12:18am
Justin (mail):
I'm a reactionary Buchananite.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHHAHAHAHA HHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHHAHAHAHAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHH AHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH AHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH AHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA HAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA HAHAHHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA
7.9.2007 12:20am
TechieLaw (mail) (www):
Buckland said:


Actually there were lots of reasons for invading Iraq. WMD was one (and a number of Kurdish towns will attest that he was able to produce them when needed -- or maybe they won't anymore). Iraq is the closest thing in the neighborhood to a democracy these days (possibly excepting Turkey).


Please define "democracy." Then, tell me whether you would rather live in a relatively stable country, such as Jordan, or a "democracy" like Iraq.

Somehow, many Iraqis have decided to leave their "democracy" in favor of the semi-free Jordan and the oppressive Syria.

Democracy is worthless without stability and rule of law.
7.9.2007 12:23am
ScottS1:
Hmm. People are complaining about the possibility of a do-nothing president and a do-nothing congress? Hell, that sounds like the best news I've heard in quite a while !
7.9.2007 12:59am
TechieLaw (mail) (www):
Justin: Read what I said. I most certainly did *not* suggest that there's a good solution. I think that the current situation is bad and getting worse.

The difficulty is that this argument is being phrased in only two ways: "Stay the course" and continue a slow descent into chaos, or get out and let what will happen happen.

To get back to the original topic of this thread -- one of the worst things this presidency has done is take this kind of "my way or the highway" attitude and strike down dissent rather than letting more ideas percolate through. This kind of attitude is exactly what has turned off the majority of people in this country and has many Republicans saying "it's over" in order to get out of the way before it's too late.

Perhaps there's a 3rd way. I don't know what it is. And unfortunately, this administration hasn't shown the least bit of interest in thinking outside the box. Thus, "it's over." For lack of willingness to speak honestly to the public and for lack of the President surrounding himself with competent and creative people.
7.9.2007 1:00am
c.gray (mail):
I've been listening to conservatives mutter about Bush since the 2000 primaries. Most conservatives at the time just viewed the alternatives on offer as a lot worse. Were they going to vote for John "Who needs a 1st Amendment" McCain? Or Al "Carbon Tax" Gore?

Nor have conservatives been very happy with Bush's legislative and political priorities since he got into office. Does anyone really think most conservatives liked the No Child Left Behind law? The Medicare Prescription drug program? The Harriet Miers nomination? Not to mention the god-awful-rube-goldberg-ish immigration bill?

Conservatives put up with Bush for a long time for the same reason Liberals put up with Clinton, who never exactly campaigned or governed as a liberal. Both wanted the White House back after an extended absence, and were willing to forgo someone ideologically pure in favor of a moderate with more appeal to the broader electorate.

/shrug

I think liberals clearly got the better deal. Clinton made a point of courting other powerful Democrats, and backed them in confrontations with Republicans until Republicans were willing to make at least token concessions. Bush seems to have gone out of his way to antagonize both the conservative and moderate wings of the Republican party, while demanding they fall on their swords for him politically.

With the immigration bill, he seems to have finally gone too far. Nobody is willing to lend him a hand now, let alone stick their necks out for him.
7.9.2007 1:00am
Randy R. (mail):
Buckland: "The revenue has continued to come in nicely with Bush's tax cuts. It's the spending that got out of hand."

"Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" You aren't seriously going to argue that Bush had nothing to do with the run up of the deficit, which was my original point.

So which is it, WMD was the sole goal, or establishing democracies also? "

I don't know. You should ask Bush, as his reasons for invading are have shifted several times. It was Colin Powell, Sec'y of State, who stated that we would have a consitutiton by August, and would be out by the fall at the latest. It was Paul Wolfowitz who stated that the same thing, and that the Iraqi oil would pay for the war, making it cost-free to the American tax payer. Didn't quite work at that way, did it?

"But there were lots of other reasons for having to take out Saddam. .... Iraq was a bad situation that was getting worse. "

And our invasion made things ... better? That's really laughable. We don't know how many Iraqis have died since our invasion, but it's over 30,000 according to some estimates. And we've about 3000. And now we have a great recruiting tool for terrorists throughtout the Middle East. (Recall that the bombers in Glasgow are angry over our invasion). There are plenty of people who found that we have simply made a bad situation much worse for them, for ourselves, and for the middle east. That domino effect of democracy never occured, did it?

Rumsfeld said that the war would be measured in days or weeks, but certainly not months. Not once did W. ever state that this MIGHT take years. Remember "Mission Accomplished"?

Nope. No matter how you spin it, the Iraq war is a debacle, and the blame falls squarely upon the shoulders of George W. Bush and the Republican Congress.
7.9.2007 1:20am
Randy R. (mail):
You know, it's funny. Thorought the last decade or so, all I ever heard from Fox News and conservative pundits was that Americans are truly conservative. The fact of Clinton's presidency was irrelevant, because he 'stole' the elections, the candidates against him were weak, blah blah blah.

But we are to trust the judgement of ther American people, and they will always go for the sane candidates, which means a Republican congress and presidency. When I tuned into talk radio, it was all about letting 'the people' have their voice, and once they made their voice clear, Washington would wise up and pursue the one true course for America, which was the conservative agenda. Trust the people, they said.

So now that a majority of Americans are against this war, what do they say now about trusting Americans? What do they say now about the true voice of the people? Well, they just ignore it. Or they say they are unpatriotic. Maybe a majority of Americans are just stupid.

But that's quite a reversal from what they said just a few years ago. I would like to know why.
7.9.2007 1:27am
unhyphenatedconservative (mail):
"The fact of Clinton's presidency was irrelevant, because he 'stole' the elections, the candidates against him were weak, blah blah blah."

Could you cite someone who said Clinton stole the election?
7.9.2007 1:49am
Cornellian (mail):
in libertarian fashion, to not focus on the actual mission of [FEMA], but instead on PR.

Oh come one, no one thinks libertarians are good at PR.
7.9.2007 3:13am
Cornellian (mail):
Let's see: poll numbers are dropping, the war is going badly, conservatives are leaving. In response, George W. Bush will:

1) Lower taxes again
2) Bash gays
3) Raise the terror alert
4) All of the above


I predict he'll merge them and claim that beating gay terrorists can be accomplished only by lowering taxes. He'll find a way to work abortion into that as well. Twenty percent of the electorate will believe it.
7.9.2007 3:15am
U.Va. 2L:
Could you cite someone who said Clinton stole the election?

How about Paul Gigot?

This is what the Senate and media probes have taught us about fund raising in the 1996 campaign. We now know why Mr. Clinton was willing to risk breaking campaign laws in order to raise and spend so much money. He was paying for an unprecedented barrage of early TV attack ads that doomed Mr. Dole even before a single vote was cast.

Don't take my word for this. The proof comes from Mr. Clinton himself as revealed by the latest batch of videotapes. "The fact that we've been able to finance this long-running constant television campaign," he told well-heeled donors at a May 21, 1996, White House lunch, "has been central to the position I now enjoy in the polls." To the extent those ads were financed with illegal money, Mr. Clinton stole the election.

...

The enduring legacy of Mr. Clinton's re-election is that you can cheat and win. And if you're going to cheat, do it first, and do it enough, so you are certain to win. If all hell breaks loose later, you then control the Justice Department, and you can even claim to favor "campaign finance reform."

7.9.2007 4:24am
Gaius Marius:
I ditto C. Gray's post. Bush has been anything but a true conservative. However, I would not let the Congressional Republicans off the hook either. They were irresponsible enough to enact Bush's legislative plans and engage in the most reckless government spending binge since the New Deal. What peeves me even more is that these same Congressional Republicans come home to their own home districts and brag about how conservative they are before flying back to DC in their private jets or 1st Class seats and voting for the No Child Left Behind Act, Medicare Prescription legislation, earmarks, the Bridge to Nowhere, etc. A pox on both parties!
7.9.2007 9:34am
Justin (mail):
While Bush hasn't been a "perfect" conservative, the idea that he isn't a "true" conservative I also find laughable. Like liberalism, conservative philosophy, particularly as practiced in America, has many competing values, which often require contradictory decisions. One cannot point to higher spending as proof that Bush is not conservative if that higher spending is performed on behalf of conservative goals such as an expansionist or aggressive foreign policy, or corporatism. Likewise, while someone clearly does not have to be corrupt or criminal to be conservative, Bush is not "not a conservative" because he is both corrupt and criminal.

The fact that the National Review and others want to avoid the connection between (for the National Review in particular) the policies they advocated and the terrible results that followed is not evidence to the contrary, either.

Also, that Bush is not conservative goes against the RedState/National Review/Weekly Standard meme that Bush's greatest goal (other than the relatively minor and symbolic immigration bill) is either insufficiently prosecuting his goals or failing to adequately defend them in public fora - often why all three are so supportive of Fred Thompson, a person whose views only slightly differ from Bush, but is more eloquent (hey, a former actor!)

NB: It is, of course, entirely possible that a different, equally conservative President, who was not corrupt or criminal, and who made different choices when conservative values conflicted, would have an objectively successful presidency. A statistical sample of one is obviously not significant, even if we could perform additional trials in a lab. That being said, I am not sure this country could survive a statistically significant number of true American conservative presidents, given my personal biases and beliefs. :)
7.9.2007 9:57am
ATRGeek:
Anyone who has thought seriously and objectively about contemporary American politics has recognized that there are at least two major dimensions to American political ideology, and perhaps more. So, trying to decide whether Bush is a "true conservative" or not is trying to impose a one-dimensional model on a multi-dimensional reality, a project which is doomed from the conception.
7.9.2007 10:10am
Justin (mail):
ATRGeek,

is there some way to email you? I have a response to your last post that I think you might find interesting, but do not want to put it on this thread.
7.9.2007 10:19am
Randy R. (mail):
Could you cite someone who said Clinton stole the election?

Rush Limbaugh, and several other conservative talk radio hosts.
7.9.2007 10:55am
Randy R. (mail):
Hat tip to UVal2!
7.9.2007 10:56am
paul lukasiak (mail):
The bottom line is simple.... the only people who call themselves "conservatives" who have any right to now complain about Bush's lack of "real" conservatism are the handful of conservatives who opposed the invasion of Iraq. The rest of them are simply a bunch of Lady MacBeths, trying to wash the blood off their hands....
7.9.2007 11:14am
rarango (mail):
I would suggest that rebuilding New Orleans is ultimately up to the city and state authorities; I think that is how federalism works.
7.9.2007 11:16am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
buckland: "So which is it, WMD was the sole goal, or establishing democracies also? Actually there were lots of reasons for invading Iraq."

The key argument used to sell the war was WMD. Not democracy or anything else. Roughly half the SOTU is about terrorism, WMD, and Iraq. There are at least 15 scary paragraphs (over 1000 words) describing how dangerous Saddam is, how he allegedly has accumulated large stockpiles of horrible weapons, and how essential it is that we move quickly to disarm him. The word "weapon" (or close variants of that word) appears in the speech almost 30 times.

It takes a very, very close look at the speech to find any rationale for war, aside from WMD. The idea of the war as a way to spread democracy in the region is not even mentioned (there is a comment about a "democratic Palestine," but there is no attempt in the speech to connect this idea with the idea of disarming Saddam).

The idea of bringing "freedom" or "liberation" to the Iraqi people is mentioned, but barely. This idea comes up in passing, no more than 2 or perhaps 3 times, and almost literally as a footnote, after the WMD case is hammered home. By word count, the "freedom/liberation" rationale is given roughly 1% the weight of the WMD rationale.

You cannot read the SOTU address fairly and conclude that there was any serious attempt to argue for the war on any basis other than WMD.

A very, very similar analysis applies regarding Bush's famous pre-war address. It also focused mostly on WMD, with barely a few words of lip-service regarding the "power of freedom."

By the way, all this started with PNAC, of course (an organization co-founded by Libby). And this seminal PNAC (neocon) document says exactly nothing about freedom or democracy, and simply talks about the threat of Iraqi WMD.

If you look at those very visible and widely-circulated statements (and many other similar statements, such as those documented in this pdf), you see virtually nothing aside from a whole lot of focus on WMD.
7.9.2007 12:16pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
buckland: "could you point to when Bush (or Cheney for that matter) said that Iraq would be 'won within months'? I can point to numerous speeches where he said it was, for example a massive and difficult undertaking. Could you give your reference when he side it would be done in months?"

The speech you pointed to was in 11/03. What's relevant is what he said before the war. I believe you will be able to point to this many examples, pre-war, where he said the war in Iraq would be "a massive and difficult undertaking" (or words to that effect): zero. He only said that long after it was too late to stop the invasion.

Pre-war, Bush made various vague statements about how the "GWOT" would take a long time. In fact, he once told us it couldn't be won. But he never told us (until we got there) that we would be in Iraq for a long time. On the contrary.

"could you point to when Bush (or Cheney for that matter) said that Iraq would be 'won within months'?"

Rumsfeld told us that after six months only a "residual number" of troops would be needed.

The same idea (that the war would be quick and easy) was also communicated in other ways (1/2/03):

The administration's top budget official estimated today that the cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion ... he said that ... earlier estimates of $100 billion to $200 billion in Iraq war costs... were too high. ... Mr. Daniels declined to explain how budget officials had reached the $50 billion to $60 billion range for war costs, or why it was less in current dollars than the 43-day gulf war in 1991.


A couple of weeks later Rumsfeld pushed the number down a bit:

the Office of Management and Budget, has come up come up with a number that's something under $50 billion for the cost


He also hinted that the US would have to pay only part of this tab:

How much of that would be the U.S. burden, and how much would be other countries, is an open question.


Suggesting that this war would cost less than the earlier war sort of implies that this war would also be quicker than the earlier war (or at least not much longer, if one makes an adjustment to take into account that the troop count is lower the second time around).

The actual cost so far turns out to be about $442 billion, or about nine times greater than what Rumsfeld said.

That ratio is pretty interesting because the current duration is also more than nine times greater than what Rumsfeld said. And of course there's no end in sight.

Anyway, there's reason to believe that the ultimate cost of the war will be $1-2 trillion. This forecast includes costs that are currently hidden, such as lifetime health care for wounded troops.

$2 trillion would be 40 times greater than Rumsfeld's estimate. A slight budget overrun.

That also would be enough money to give eighty grand to every person in Iraq. Or seven grand to every person in the US.

No portion of the marketing campaign for the war was not grossly exaggerated. The level of danger (allegedly posed to us by Saddam) was grossly exaggerated, and how quick and cheap the war would be was also grossly exaggerated.
7.9.2007 12:28pm
JosephSlater (mail):
The idea that Bush, on the substance, isn't a conservative seems odd to me. In the areas I know best -- labor and employment policies -- I can't imagine how he could realisitically have imposed more right-wing policies than he has.
7.9.2007 12:34pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
buckland: "there were lots of other reasons for having to take out Saddam. The sanctions regime was collapsing under the weight of UN mismanagement and outright fraud"

That idea is somewhat at odds with what we were told by Bush's people a number of years ago.

This is what Powell said (2/24/01): "[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors" (video, text).

On 5/15/01, Powell said that Saddam had not been able to "build his military back up or to develop weapons of mass destruction" for "the last 10 years." Powell said we had succeeded in keeping Saddam "in a box."

And this is what Rice said (7/29/01): "But in terms of Saddam Hussein being there, let's remember that his country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

And even Cheney said essentially the same thing, in a moment of uncharacteristic honesty (9/16/01): "the focus is over here on al-Qaida and the most recent events in New York. Saddam Hussein's bottled up, at this point."

Bush exaggerated the threat in 2002, even though his own people knew Saddam had become significantly weaker, not stronger, since 1998.

The idea that "the sanctions regime was collapsing" is quite incongruent with the idea that "we are able to keep arms from him."

The GOP sold the war dishonestly, so it's no surprise that they are now using dishonesty to run away from accountability for the war.

Apologies to anyone who saw me cite these quotes in another thread around here recently.
7.9.2007 12:35pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
buckland: "UN mismanagement and outright fraud"

Something else about this. You may not be aware of Bush's role in the oil-for-food scandal:

the Bush administration was made aware of illegal oil sales and kickbacks paid to the Saddam Hussein regime but did nothing to stop them ... the Senate report found that US oil purchases accounted for 52% of the kickbacks paid to the regime in return for sales of cheap oil - more than the rest of the world put together ... The United States was not only aware of Iraqi oil sales which violated UN sanctions and provided the bulk of the illicit money Saddam Hussein obtained from circumventing UN sanctions ... On occasion, the United States actually facilitated the illicit oil sales.


More here. Lots of details here.

There's one thing this group values above all else, above peace, above security, above human rights, above truth. Hint: it's green. In other words, they have the same value system as any other criminal organization.
7.9.2007 12:48pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
buckland: "So which is it, WMD was the sole goal, or establishing democracies also? Actually there were lots of reasons for invading Iraq."

A bit more on this subject. Bushists love to cite the IWR as 'proof' that the war wasn't mostly about WMD. Trouble is, a close look at the IWR tends to demonstrate the opposite. Details here.
7.9.2007 12:51pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
buckland: "a number of Kurdish towns will attest that he was able to produce them [WMD] when needed -- or maybe they won't anymore"

I guess I might as well also mention this.

Yes, Saddam gassed Kurds. While he did this, he was getting support from us (including Reagan and Rumsfeld, specifically), including all sorts of benign items such as cluster bombs, anthrax, bubonic plague, and pesticides that could be used as chemical warfare agents. This despite the fact that we knew he was gassing people on an almost daily basis.

If you look at the situation from an appropriately broad perspective, you can see the guiding principle that reconciles all sorts of apparent contradictions: if it's good for business, it's good.
7.9.2007 1:07pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I think liberals clearly got the better deal. Clinton made a point of courting other powerful Democrats, and backed them in confrontations with Republicans until Republicans were willing to make at least token concessions. Bush seems to have gone out of his way to antagonize both the conservative and moderate wings of the Republican party, while demanding they fall on their swords for him politically.


I don't think that's true. Other than immigration, the main complaint against Bush from the Republican base has been his failure to veto the excessive spending that was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress. IMO Bush's failure in the latter regard was an unwillingness to antagonize elected Republicans who were presumably supported by both the conservative and moderate wings of his party.
7.9.2007 3:00pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
As a conservative and supporter of President Bush, I agree that it is madness to say that President Bush is not conservative. In many ways, he is the most conservative US President since Coolidge. More than Reagan surely.

I think the "not conservative enough" thing comes mainly from his wiillingness on a few issues to depart from conservative orthodoxy. Immigration and education are the main ones. He pushed NCLB and immigration reform in association with Ted Kennedy, whom most conservatives consider the devil himself.

This "not conservative enough" view is not confined to President Bush though. John McCain, who is a pretty conventional conservative on most things, is widely despised by conservatives for immigration, the fillibuster deal and especially McCain-Feingold.

Liberals, I should add, are not immune from this purity quest. Joe Lieberman, a conventional liberal on 99% of issues, is widely despised for his view on one issue.
7.9.2007 5:05pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
As a conservative and supporter of President Bush, I agree that it is madness to say that President Bush is not conservative. In many ways, he is the most conservative US President since Coolidge. More than Reagan surely.

I agree with that statement. Bush hasn't raised taxes, has been willing to at least talk about personal retirement accounts for Social Security, has probably been better on judicial nominees (although it might be too early to tell), and hasn't cut and run from the Middle East.
7.9.2007 5:33pm
whackjobbbb:
If you spend like a drunken sailor, then sorry, but you can't claim the mantle of "conservative".

Bush spends like a drunken sailor... his foreign policy is Wilsonian... and he's just as anxious as Wilson to ram his version of castor oil down our throats. Sorry, but that ain't conservative... not as I understand it. It's more like contemporary leftism, if anything.

Oh and for those discussing the reasons the US went to war in Iraq, you might wanna review the actual resolution passed by the Congress and signed into law by Bush, if you want to know what 3/4 of our body politic actually thought on this matter at the time.
7.9.2007 6:35pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
whack: "you might wanna review the actual resolution passed by the Congress"

You might "wanna review" what's already been said in this thread, like here and here, regarding how the war was sold, and regarding the IWR in particular. The IWR was mostly about WMD.

A lot of lawmakers swallowed the WMD story because they trusted the White Paper, even though it was a not a faithful summary of the NIE. And the NIE itself was not faithful to the underlying intel (all this is detailed here). Bush had his thumb on the scale every step of the way.

"if you want to know what 3/4 of our body politic actually thought on this matter at the time"

It's worth noting that most Dems in the House voted no. And about 40% of the Dems in the Senate also did the right thing.

The overall vote in the Senate and House was 77% and 68% in favor, respectively. So your approximation ("3/4") is a bit stretched.
7.10.2007 1:08pm