Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bush's Legacy

As the good and the great attend the opening of President Bush's presidential library people are suddenly discovering that Bush wasn't so bad after all. No kidding!  You mean he wasn't a complete failure and extremist as we have all been ordered to believe?

I suppose that President Bush's biggest failure is that this decent and cooperative president didn't do enough to counter the Democratic campaign to make him into a crazed warmongering extremist.

Because the fact is that the overwhelming majority of his policies were mainstream and bipartisan.  He pushed No Child Left Behind, a centralization and federalization of education that Democrats had to love.  He passed the Medicare Part D drug bill, that had been a Democratic issue for years.

He pushed back on 9/11 to spank the mullahs in Afghanistan, and did regime change in Iraq, which you may recall was Clinton administration policy.  What he did not do was cut and run in 2006 when his Iraq policy was in ruins.

If we turn to the financial crisis, that wasn't about "fighting two wars on a credit card. "

Earth to Democrats: all wars are fought on a credit card.  Ever heard of the National Debt?  What is really bad is running the whole welfare state on a credit card.  As in trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.

No, the big problem was the easy credit policy that had obtained ever since the Plaza Accord of 1985 ended the hard money policy of the Paul Volker Fed and ended in the Fannie Freddie sub-prime mortgage orgy of the mid 2000s.  What should Bush have done about that?  Hard to say, because the rest of the political establishment was pushing cheap credit right up to the last minute, from Nancy Pelosi complaining about a "jobless recovery" in 2002 to Barney Frank calling for another roll of the Fannie dice in 2004 as the Bushies pushed for reform.

Many conservatives fault Bush for not being conservative enough.  They forget that the country wasn't in a mood for conservatism when Bush ran.  That's why he called himself a "compassionate conservative."  People were all jazzed about the federal budget surplus in 1998 and were ready to loosen the budget strings a little.  So Bush went with the consensus.  After 9/11 Bush felt that he should work on unifying the country for a long twilight war against Islamic extremism, and didn't want to create division.  That's what he meant with his line that he was a uniter not a divider.  Pity that Democrats had other ideas.

The fact is that Bush was a mainstream president, pushing a little to the right, and that is what the nation wanted at the time.  What it needed is something else.

What the nation needs is to get off the death-ride of the administrative welfare state.  What conservatives need to do is persuade the American people that the conservative prescription of limited government and unlimited civil society is a good thing that will both be good for them as individuals and families and good for the nation as a whole.

The problem is liberals.  They own the culture, and they will demonize anything that conservatives propose to "do something" about the mess we are in.  They are the ruling class and that's what ruling classes do.

When we talk about a "pre-revolutionary" situation we mean a situation in which the authority of the ruling class is coming into question.  It means that ordinary people are beginning to question whether the ruling class knows what it is doing.

Think France in the decades coming up to 1789.  The old ruling class of the monarchy and the Church and the nobility went from disaster to disaster and people started to coalesce under the leadership of a new class of thinkers and publicists.  It was the "new class" that is still today the ruling class in the West.

Nothing can change until the present ruling class has staggered from disaster to disaster for a decade or so and had lost its "mandate of heaven."  Then we shall see.

By then, of course, President George W. Bush will be remembered practically as a saint.

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