It is understandable that conservatives would automatically avoid any action that might seem comparable to that of the left. Therefore, given that the liberal political/media cabal has been so unilaterally contemptuous of the Bush Administration, those on the right must be extremely judicious in their own evaluation of this President.
To be sure, President Bush has done a few things right during his two terms. Despite the caterwauling of the left regarding the fabricated "abuses" of hard-bitten terrorists at Guantanamo, phony hysterics over "spying" on American citizens, and the concocted "quagmire" in Iraq, America's prosecution of the terror war has been phenomenally successful.
The most profound evidence to prove this point is the indifference and apathy with which most Americans now regard the terrorist threat. It is a luxury they can only afford in the aftermath of a victorious campaign against the Islamic fanatics who staged the massive attacks against America on September 11, 2001, with plans for many more to follow.
Another Bush success that will likely endure for many years is his nomination of Justices Roberts and Alito on the Supreme Court. They were bold choices who ultimately overcame the liberal games on Capitol Hill by virtue of their steadfast and well-articulated devotion to constitutional principle. And as such, these newest members of the nation's highest court hold the potential to realign the court with its original purpose, which was to uphold the principles of the nation's founding.
Nevertheless, the overall effect of eight years of the Bush White House is that the Republican Party is in shambles. Conservatism has been so seriously undermined that it risks being permanently relegated to the fringe of political discourse (at least among the ruling class). Any intellectually honest analysis of the current situation requires a majority of the blame to be laid at the feet of George W. Bush. To shun this painful truth, whether in deference to the President or for fear of being grouped among the liberal Democrats, is to fail to address the problems that have devastated the GOP, and thus ensure that the situation is not corrected.
From the moment George Bush coined his vapid "compassionate conservatism" rhetoric during the 2000 campaign, principled conservatives knew they were in trouble. Bush was in essence saying that real conservatism was inherently insufficient to sustain a worthwhile society. Hence, a sprinkling of liberalism would be needed to soften it into a form that would be less harsh to America's "victim class."
Nothing could have been more ill advised and counter productive, either as a campaign strategy (Al Gore did garner a majority of the popular vote) or as a governing philosophy. And ever since George Bush's ascension to the nation's highest office, America has been subjected to one ill-conceived effort after another intended to institute this flawed ideology. The results have been disastrous. And it may be a very long time, if ever, before the damage can be reversed.
From the inarguably socialist Medicare prescription drug entitlement, to the blatant unconstitutionality of campaign finance "reform," to the bloated and botched Kennedy education bill, the devastation wreaked by George Bush and his "compassionate conservatism" is almost beyond comprehension. In essence, he affirmed that liberalism was inherently right and good, and merely needed a few adjustments, thus legitimizing the nanny-state while driving Reagan conservatism into a needlessly defensive position.
In return for his efforts at accommodating the left, the President received undiluted venom from Democrats. Never gaining their loyalty or appreciation, he became a by-word for everything they revile among Republicans. Democrat leaders claimed to despise him, as a standard bearer of the extreme right, but in truth he was their invaluable ally, both as a target of their attacks and a regular means of undermining any real conservative opposition.
Unfortunately, instead of recognizing the futility of such attempts at mollifying the left, he has continued in this pattern throughout the entirety of his presidency. The result has been one Republican disaster after another. The 2006 mid-term elections were defined by a public revulsion with the GOP, which had clearly gone wobbly in its commitment to conservative principle.
This pattern reached its abominable climax last fall as President Bush, in the midst of a hotly contested campaign to elect his successor, took the lead in supporting the foolhardy expenditure of nearly a trillion dollars in a dishonest effort to "bailout" the thoroughly corrupted and politicized government lending institutions of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
America's economic future, we were told, was at stake. What resulted was a virtual nationalization of the banking industry, with other major American business interests soon to follow. But while few Americans were surprised at such double-dealing from the likes of Senate Banking Chairman Committee Chris Dodd (D.-CT) or House "Financial Services" Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D.-MA) from whom socialist entanglements are the norm, the collaboration of Republicans, at the urging of President Bush, has been an outrage.
At a time when Republicans could have made great electoral gains by unashamedly characterizing themselves as the proper carriers of the torch of fiscal responsibility while righteously holding Democrats responsible for the mess they created, President Bush rode in to the rescue of the Democrats. Thus was the fate of the GOP in the 2008 elections sealed.
Even during the time of presidential transition, George Bush seems to be doing his best to offer "moral support" and encouragement to the American left. Right up until the end of his presidency Bush loudly touts the collectivist philosophies that opened the floodgates to trillion dollar deficits while doing nothing to "fix" the still-flagging economy. And throughout this time, he has steadfastly refused every opportunity to assign blame to those who originally caused the problem and have since worsened it.
In only the last few days, President Bush worked to further remove any remaining wind from the sails of conservatives by publicly lamenting his inability to grant amnesty to the twenty million or more illegal aliens in this country. On yet another key issue that could contrast right and left, Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative inside Washington, President Bush has done his best to blur the lines.
Ronald Reagan polarized the nation by virtue of his stridently held and courageously professed conservative beliefs. The result was an eight-year media firestorm of criticism. But in the end, their relentless condemnation of him could not prevail against a committed and loyal base of support from the conservative grassroots.
In sorry contrast, George Bush's wretched unpopularity stands as proof of what awaits a "moderate" who disparages his base while seeking the good will of the liberal opposition. Nobody on either side of the aisle will remain to defend him, even for his occasional worthwhile actions. This is hardly the return route to political viability for Republicans.
Copyright ©2009 Christopher G. Adamo