… And they’ll cry if they want to, I guess.
Normally I’d post this as an aside, but it struck me as too interesting for that. For the last six years I’ve often marveled at the level of pretty much unified support Bush has enjoyed among conservatives, even as he serves up one bungle after another along with fiscal policies that are anything but conservative. I’ve always wondered when the “Bush bubble” of support would burst, and what it would take for at least some conservatives to finally turn on him.
So, when a no less than a former Reagan advisor (how’s that for conservative credentials?) says he’d vote for Bill Clinton over George W. Bush if the two were running against each other today, I start listening for a popping sound.
Author of the new book “Impostor : How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy”, Bruce Bartlett called the administration “unconscionable,” “irresponsible,” “vindictive” and “inept.”
… He began by predicting a big tax increase “to finance the inevitable growth of government that is in the pipeline that President Bush is largely responsible for.” He also said many fellow conservatives don’t know about the “quite dreadful” traits of the administration, such as the absence of “anybody who does any serious analysis” on policy issues.
… “If Bush were running today against Bill Clinton, I’d vote for Clinton,” Bartlett served.
Even Andrew Sullivan was on hand to deliver a few zingers, and he’s tended to run hot and cold on Bush much like someone would with a ne’er-do-well fuck-up of a boyfriend they have neither the courage or confidence to send packing.
And this coming on the heels of a few more conservative defections from the Bush camp — nicely cataloged in this Crisis Papers piece, including Bill Buckley declaring Bush’s Iraq policy a failure, and famed neocon Francis Fukuyama jumping ship while labeling neoconservatism a “failed ideology”, comparing its adherents to “Leninists” and calling for a more realistic foreign policy to replace it. And it wasn’t that long ago that any notion of “reality” or “realistic foreign policy” was spoken with derision in neocon circles.
Of course, it’s best not to get too excited, because we’ve actually heard this before when conservatives like Pat Buchanan and Bush family friend (and former national security advisor to Bush Sr.) Brent Scowcroft assailed Bush’s foreign policy in Iraq. All to no avail.
And I recall Scowcroft being pretty upset that his remarks were published at the time, which was just weeks before the 2004 election, only to say pretty much the same thing at a luncheon in January 2005. The only difference I can figure between the two statements is that by January 2005 Bush was safely re-elected and planning his second inaugural bash.
All of which leads me to ask one question. Where was all this conservative discontent before the 2004 when it might have actually done some good? Did these folks have more invested in getting Bush re-elected than they did in changing the dangerous course they believed the country was taking under his leadership? Did they lack confidence in their convictions, or just the cajones to take on a president as inept and boneheaded as at least some of them believed this president was even then?
Either way, waiting until now — when there’s little hope of getting rid of Bush, and little to do where White House policy is concerned but wait out his term — to speak up seems like the cowards way out, and a belated attempt to jump on a bandwagon that started rolling a long time ago. And while it’s possible that the rumblings of conservative discontent may extend to members of Congress who’ve supported Bush’s policies and are up for re-election in 2006, I doubt it will because these guys have already shown where their loyalty lies. And because it’s easy and meaningless to show up and talk trash after a fight is over.
So, I’m sitting on my hands until these guys walk their talk. Or until I hear a distinct popping sound.