Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Late to The Party...
[T]he small-government libertarians represented by Cato have always been the odd men out of the Bush coalition. But the standing-room-only forum yesterday, where just a single questioner offered even a tepid defense of the president, underscored some deep disillusionment among conservatives over Bush's big-spending answer to Medicare and Hurricane Katrina, his vast claims of executive power, and his handling of postwar Iraq.Why does this sound oh-so-familiar? Oh, right:
[Andrew] Sullivan was on hand to second the critique. "This is a big-government agenda," he said. "It is fueled by a new ideology, the ideology of Christian fundamentalism." The bearded pundit offered his own indictment of Bush: "complete contempt" for democratic processes, torture of detainees, ignoring habeas corpus and a "vast expansion of the federal government." The notion, he said, that the "Thatcher-Reagan legacy that many of us grew up to love and support would end this way is an astonishing paradox and a great tragedy."
"You have to understand the people in this administration have no principles," Sullivan volleyed. "Any principles that get in the way of the electoral map have to be dispensed with."
This link takes you to the full article as originally printed in The New Republic in October 2004.
Ultimately, on both foreign and domestic policy, the public's trust has been betrayed. Why should the public trust its leaders with future policy if those leaders deceive and manipulate the people's elected representatives to get a favored policy passed? If the American public and the world at large now react skeptically to future presidential claims that the United States faces a foreign threat, who can blame them?
Similarly, the president's intent to reform Social Security will now be judged by the still-emerging costs of the Medicare reform--to say nothing of the political backlash from some seniors incensed at having to pay 17 percent more in premiums. The mishandling of domestic spending, of which Medicare is the prime example--whether because of ignorance, incompetence, or deceit--casts the same pall over Bush's domestic agenda that the collapse of Iraq does over his foreign policy. The president who dismisses criticism of the cost of Medicare is the same one who "miscalculated" the costs for rebuilding Iraq by at least $100 billion--and submitted a subsequent budget that omitted even an estimate of spending for the current military campaigns. Medicare actuary Richard Foster was threatened with firing if he told the truth about the costs of the reform bill, while his boss who pushed forward the lower numbers, Thomas Scully, departed quietly to a cushy health care-related policy job at a Washington, D.C., law firm. That was, of course, the same pattern we witnessed with the management of the Iraq war. Individuals who got the prewar details right--either in terms of troop strength (General Eric Shinseki) or in estimated fiscal costs (former National Economic Council Director Lawrence Lindsey)--were publicly rebuked or dismissed. Those who got the prewar details wrong remain in positions of authority.
Conservatives--who fear unchecked, unaccountable government--should
be especially appalled.
Tags: politics, conservatives, George W. Bush, libertarian