The two winners this week spotlight the national dissatisfaction with President Bush and with the Republican Party. It is a synchronicity of great significance for this year’s elections. These posts are sad portents of an eclipse of what started well and has ended in poor governance and a lack of vision – not to mention a massive lack of communication.
Part of the problem, though not addressed here, is the extreme virulence of the Bush-haters. One cannot know if they drained the Republican party of its energy or made it lose any sense of direction or excellence. But post-Bush, there is no one of stature to take his place. This does not bode well for the immediate future of our country.
The Council Pick
Here’s how Callimachus puts it in the White House Rules:
This is what Bush has done, more than any other wrong turn, to drive me out of the camp of people who support him without really liking him. He’s failed to grow in the office, failed to transcend the limitations of the hard-driving, dirty-fighting Texas politician (as LBJ did). When I voted for him for the first time, in the 2004 election, I was voting in favor of the vision he articulated, and crossing my fingers that he’d grope his way to the skill set and mental energy to make it work.
We’d reached a point where patience was required in Iraq, and I was willing to give it patience. But Iraq was supposed to be a campaign in the wider war, not the whole thing. Where is the rest of it? Where is the serious, sustained, thoughtful effort to explain ourselves to the world. Where’s the push to get Osama? Afghanistan is backsliding into Taliban and al-Qaida control. Where is the awareness that dependence on oil is the root of all this mess.
Non Council Winner
The winner this week is David Frum’s essay in Cato Unbound, Republicans and the Flight of Opportunity:
Whether you interpret these facts, as say Bruce Bartlett does, as a deliberate betrayal of the Goldwater-Reagan-Gingrich limited government agenda – or as an unfortunate series of unintended consequences—the result is more or less the same:
The fairest chance to achieve the limited-government agenda passed with only very limited conservative success.
The state is growing again—and it is pre-programmed to carry on growing. Health spending will rise, pension spending will rise, and taxes will rise.
Now I still continue to hope that the Republican Party will lean against these trends. But there’s a big difference between being the party of less government and a party of small government. It’s one thing to try to slow down opponents as they try to enact their vision of society into law. It’s a very different thing to have a vision of one’s own.
And the day in which we could look to the GOP to have an affirmative small-government vision of its own has I think definitively passed.
Is he right? It certainly seems to be the case. With a larded Congress and a president who never met a bill he wouldn’t sign, the disgust of the Republican base is growing.
Which is worse, a party claiming it wants to rescue everyone by confiscatory economic policies, or a party which betrays its own principles till it looks more or less the same as the opposition? The latest ignorance displayed by our elected representatives over the rise in oil prices is a perfect illustration of this sad question.
The rest of the posts are at Watcher’s Place.