Sunday, October 02, 2005

On George W. Bush

As David Limbaugh writes, "From everything we read from the mainstream media, President Bush is a man on the ropes, beaten, discouraged and out of gas in the middle rounds of his presidency. Already reeling from his problems in Iraq, Katrina nearly delivered the knockout blow." Some are saying that the Bush era is effectively over.

Moreover, "If all this weren't bad enough, many conservatives are now feeling betrayed by him for various reasons, not the least of which are his refusal to restrain discretionary spending and his lax immigration policies."

Indeed, conservatives like myself have been thoroughly disappointed with the spending and immigration issues, as I've continuously written about (most recently in part of this post), and Ann Coulter likes to point out other failures, too, like Bush's support for various liberal Republican candidates (see the same post). But have we been "betrayed"? Limbaugh says no, because "
his ideology has never been easy to pigeonhole."
He has always been somewhat of a political anomaly, conservative on many things, a bleeding heart on others, resolute and firm at times, tentative and malleable at others, righteously indignant about some policies and almost apologetic on others. He's a man who demands and returns deep loyalty, yet rewards some of his enemies, like Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy, for stabbing him in the back. He has a tough side and a soft side, both genuine and both very much of part of who he is.

Limbaugh further explains:

While he is philosophically committed to lowering taxes, he has always been insufficiently allergic to profligate federal spending. So I don't see his unbridled domestic spending and refusal to use the veto pen as betrayals, but as manifestations of concerns many conservatives had about him from the beginning.

Nevertheless, if his tough side outduels his soft side over the next 3 years, I expect him to leave a great legacy. It's also worth noting that although people like Limbaugh and myself may be critical of some of the president's policies, we aren't critical of his character.

Tony Snow also takes a broad look at the Bush presidency, with many similar observations. With regard to domestic economic and spending issues, an area in which Bush has largely been "soft," Snow says that
Critics in both parties are forcing him to declare himself -- Democrats assailing his left flank; Republicans blasting his right. The next four months will determine whether he will ignite a Bush Revolution in domestic policy, or whether he has completed all his significant executive work.

His presidential report card already shows an "A" on foreign policy, but with the exceptions of tax policy and judicial selections, he remains a domestic-policy cipher. It's now up to him to decide whether he will complete his term by earning an A, an F or an incomplete.

His legacy, provided he stays firm on Iraq, will be secured by foreign policy. But if he manages to reign in spending, reform the tax code, fix social security, or crack down on illegal immigration (none of which is likely), it would be all the greater.

Update: Michael Barone, always reasonable and politically knowledgeable, says that Bush is down but certainly not out. After all, "This is a president who responds to challenges with renewed bursts of vigor."

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