Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Why Conservatives Love Bush

David Boaz of CATO has a nice point:

Why do conservatives like Bush? After all, even his defenders call him a "big-government conservative," which was once an oxymoron. He's increased federal spending 48 percent in six years, further centralized education (which on this side of
the pond we consider both un-conservative and un-[classical] liberal), inaugurated the biggest expansion of entitlements since the profligate President Lyndon B. Johnson, lured 17 percent more people onto the welfare rolls during five years of economic growth, and declared that "When somebody hurts, government has got to move."

So why do conservatives who grew up on Reagan like Bush? I can think of several

1. Tax cuts. Defying the establishment media and the class warfare of the Democrats, he has persisted in the Reaganite mission of cutting taxes, especially income tax rates.

2. The war. He stands up to the Islamo-fascists, as Reagan stood up to the evil empire. And as long as conservatives believe that the war in Iraq is part of the war on terrorism, they will support Bush there.

3. Religion. Conservatives like his willingness to talk about his born-again faith and to bring conservative Christian values (as he defines them) to political issues such as abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, and government funding for religious charities.

And finally,4. As a nominating speech for President Grover Cleveland once put it, "They love him most for the enemies he has made." Conservatives love Bush because the left hates him. If the New York Times would run a front-page story headlined "Bush Delivers the Big Government Clinton Never Did," and the leftybloggers would pick it up and run with it, maybe conservatives would catch on.

So here's your challenge, lefty bloggers: If you don't like the tree-chopping, Falwell-loving, cowboy president - if you want his presidency fatally wounded for the next three years - then start praising him. One good Paul Krugman column taking off from that USA Today story on the surge in entitlements recipients under Bush, one Daily Kos lead on how Clinton flopped on national health care but Bush twisted every arm in the GOP to get a multi-trillion-dollar prescription drug benefit for the elderly, one cover story in the Nation on how Bush has acknowledged federal responsibility for everything from floods in New Orleans to troubled teenagers, and maybe, just maybe, National Review and the Powerline blog and Fox News would come to their senses. Bush is a Rockefeller Republican in cowboy boots, and it's time conservatives stopped looking at the boots instead of the policies.

Very nice.