Friday, June 01, 2007

Bush and the Reagan Republicans

Peggy Noonan sizes up Bush: She doesn't like him, and thinks he's an existential threat to the Republican Party.

What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them. What President Bush is doing, and has been doing for some time, is sundering a great political coalition. This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party but for the American future.

The White House doesn't need its traditional supporters anymore, because its problems are way beyond being solved by the base. And the people in the administration don't even much like the base. Desperate straits have left them liberated, and they are acting out their disdain. Leading Democrats often think their base is slightly mad but at least their heart is in the right place. This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place....

Now conservatives and Republicans are going to have to win back their party. They are going to have to break from those who have already broken from them. This will require courage, serious thinking and an ability to do what psychologists used to call letting go. This will be painful, but it's time. It's more than time.

Bush likes to think himself as the inheritor of Reagan's mantle. But increasingly Reagan conservatives are saying the equivalent of "I knew Reagan, Mr. President, and you are no Reagan."

Yet another sign that Bush's isolation extends deep into his own party's base.

Meanwhile, White House counselor Dan Bartlett announced he will resign in July, becoming the latest official to depart as the Bush administration limps toward the finish. On the one hand, a slow and steady exodus is natural at the end of a two-term presidency. On the other hand, as discussed earlier, this particular exodus has begun a good six months or so earlier than expected. Isolation and impotence is not much fun.

Update: A new Rasmussen poll finds that the percent of voters identifying themselves as Republicans has fallen to 30.8%, the lowest number since they began asking the question in January 2004. Democrats have also fallen, but not as much: 36.5%. The number of unaffiliated voters has, as a consequence, hit an all-time high: 32.4%.

Update 2: Another conservative, Rod Dreher, weighs in in agreement, while pointing out that conservatives have only themselves to blame.

So yes, by all means let's turn our backs on this failed presidency, and save what we can, while we can. But let's not kid ourselves: Bush has failed conservatives, yes, but we have also failed ourselves. It doesn't take much courage to stand up for conservative principle to a president as weak as this one has become. It would have taken real courage to stand up for conservative principle in 2002, 2003, 2004, even early 2005. How many did? I know I didn't.


(h/t: Central Sanity)

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh give me a break! What is all these articles lately from Democrats trying to portray this big split between the Republican base and the administration???? It's on ONE issue, for heaven's sakes!! And at least the Republican base is "allowed" to step off the plantation, so to speak. Democrats are not. Example----the Code Pink gals who are constantly tossed out of Hillary Clinton's stump speeches.

I don't know if all this hyping up a "split" is trying to make yourselves feel better or what....but believe me, if you think it will translate into Republicans voting for a Democrat next time around, I think you'll be mightly disappointed. Regardless of how angry we might get at our own leaders....and we are allowed to do so.....that doesn't equate to votes for Democrats.

JP5

6/01/2007 4:03 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Since when is Peggy Noonan a Democrat?!?

6/01/2007 4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as Dan Bartlett goes---he has 3 children under the age of 4years. I think his twins were born in January. He wants a less stressful and time-consuming job and who could blame him?

"His wife had given him a nudge back when their third son was born four months ago by suggesting the baby be named "Exit Strategy."

Bartlett says he's leaving for no other reason than to get a job that will allow him more time with his young family. He's 36 years old, prematurely gray, and said he's often had competing families. But after giving the Bush family 13 years of his life, he's ready to spend more time with his own. Kudos to him for being a young man who has his priorities right.

JP5

6/01/2007 4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Since when is Peggy Noonan a Democrat?!?"

I was talking about YOU starting another thread about it. Look around----all the Dems are making hay of the so-called big split. And I re-read the article again and didn't see where Noonan says she "doesn't like him." She's critical of him---yes, but that doesn't equate to "not liking him."

There's ALSO a split with some Democrats who also don't like the immigration bill and the fact that their leaders....Kennedy and others......have helped to author it. So, where's the big hype on that FACT????

JP5

6/01/2007 4:40 PM  
Blogger mw said...

Ryan Sager describes the GOP fusionist alliance of evangelicals and libertartians in his book "The Elephant in the Room", documenting how the "Reagan Revolution" was built on this fusionist foundation.

To Dowd's point, I think there are now actually three factions in the Republican party:

1) Traditional Fiscal Conservatives (libertarians)
2) Traditional Social Conservatives (evangelicals)
3) "Loyal Bushies"

Category (3) is wildly over-represented in the blogosphere and the activist Republican base. They have been listening to their own B.S. for so long they actually believe they are the GOP. They are not.

The historically successful fusionist alliance can be rebuilt with the right candidate, but to win the general election would require a candidate who can pull from moderates and marginalize the "loyal bushies". Bona fide oppostion to the failed Bush war effort accomplishes both objectives.

I make the case that Chuck Hagel is that candidate in my post "Can Chuck Hagel save the GOP from the Bushies?"

6/02/2007 9:52 AM  
Blogger mw said...

ummm... I meant Noonan not Dowd.

I cannot explain this.

6/02/2007 10:00 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

I was talking about YOU starting another thread about it. Look around----all the Dems are making hay of the so-called big split. And I re-read the article again and didn't see where Noonan says she "doesn't like him." She's critical of him---yes, but that doesn't equate to "not liking him."

I'd really like to know how those partisan blinders work. This is not something being hyped by Democrats. It was an article written by a Republican and embraced by such right-wingers as Michelle Malkin, Heading Right, Captain's Quarters and more.

MW: Yeah, I'm hoping Hagel decides to run. Socially he's way too conservative for me, but I agree with him on most other things and he clearly has a brain and a backbone.

6/02/2007 1:03 PM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

Leading Democrats often think their base is slightly mad but at least their heart is in the right place. This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place....

Hell has truly frozen over. I agree with Noonan. That reflects EXACTLY my feelings about the base on both sides.

6/02/2007 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Marc Schneider said...

This is simply a right-wing nut complaining that Bush is enough of a right-wing nut. The argument that Bush doesn't like his base and isn't really a conservative is ludicrous because by some tokens, Reagan wasn't really a "conservative." He sat down with Gorbacheve at a time when many "conservatives" blanced at that. Neither Reagan or Bush are true conservatives in the sense of being skeptics about the ability of humans to change society. Reagan was clearly quite radical in trying to reduce government at the same time increasing the military. And his foreign policy was hardly "conservative" in the sense not seeking drastic change in the status quo.

I assume that what Noonan is complaining about is Bush's "big government" conservatism, where the government spends money it doesn't have. She isn't complaining about his cowtowing to business interests or the religious right. And I assume she isn't complaining about his foreign policy either, since it's not much different than Reagan's (and is a lot different than the first Bush's,which many "conservatives" hated).

To say that Bush hates his base is ridiculous and something that only a true ideologue could think. You could say the same about Reagan--what did he do about abortion or social issues? Bush has done more for right-wing social and business issues than Reagan ever did--see the decisions recently issued by the "consensus-seeking" Roberts court. (Consensus as long as everyone agrees with the conservatives.) The only difference is that Reagan's administration went well and Bush's went sour. And that Bush and lackeys are a bunch of incompetent boobs. (And, another difference is that, whatever you think about Reagan's position on a lot of issues, he at least had the wisdom to understand that war was a bad idea, unlike Bush.)

6/05/2007 9:04 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Marc: Yes, a lot of it is mere sour grapes and a reaction to Bush's collapsing popularity. They were plenty happy to have his back when he was riding high, even though he wasn't reliably conservative even then.

That said, I think there's an element of truth to the charge that Bush is fighting with his base. He has never liked oversight or criticism. Now that they have turned on him, he's treating his conservative critics the same way he has treated his liberal critics -- with often scorched-earth rhetoric.

6/05/2007 10:50 AM  

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