Jonah Goldberg writes at National Review that the left’s characterization of George W. Bush as Richard Nixon is right but not for the reasons they believe.
It is clear that the troubles of the Nixon administration gave the United States Jimmy Carter, but the dreadful policies of Carter brought on Reagan. Should conservatives hope for a Nixon-like fall for Bush and the election of a staunch liberal in hopes that both will lead to another conservative take-over?
I am tired of defending the current GOP. They stopped defending me a long time ago. They’ve abandoned small government principles and core conservative values for political pandering and vote grabbing.
I’m sure many conservatives felt the same way during Nixon’s term. While the left was busy hating him (sound familiar?) Nixon was busy giving them much of what they wanted. Goldberg writes:
The truth is, Nixon was the last of the New Deal-era liberal presidents. He sponsored and signed the legislation creating the Environmental Protection Agency, the Water Quality Improvement Act and the Endangered Species Act. He oversaw the establishment of Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Nixon created the Philadelphia Plan, the springboard for racial quotas; pushed for Title IX (the women’s “equality” law); and hired Leon Panetta (later Bill Clinton’s chief of staff) as his director of the office of civil rights.
Nixon pushed aggressively for national health insurance that would cover 100 percent of the nation’s poor children. He increased federal spending on health and education programs by more than 50 percent and massively boosted spending on the National Endowment for Humanities. He tried to increase welfare with his Family Assistance Plan and Child Development Act.
Economically, Nixon got along swell with the chamber of commerce crowd, but he was well to the left of almost any leading Democrat today, championing wage and price controls as a legitimate tool of state, and boasting “Now I am a Keynesian in economics.”
While Bush is hated by most of the left, he has been spending on social programs like no president before. He and Ted Kennedy co-wrote the education bill. As Goldberg pointed out, Bush said in 2003, that when “somebody hurts, government has got to move.”
That’s not conservatism. Which is why his poll numbers are so low. If his base supported him, he would be at least at 40%, but conservatives are jumping ship – tired of being taken for granted.
But again back to the analogy, if Bush and the GOP’s collapse brings about an ascenion of liberal policies like the ones Carter implemented – weak national defense, price and wage controls, taxes on profits, etc., will that be what it takes to form another Reagan revolution?
The nation was tired of Carter’s pessimism and yearned for Reagan’s optimism and belief that America was the best country in the world. They had seen what price controls did on gasoline – huge lines, requring costumers to buy gas only on certain days. They saw what unabashed liberalism had done. They were ready for conservatism. The political landscape was changed for 20 years.
You had eight years of Reagan, only four of Bush I (partly because he departed from conservative ideas) and then eight years of Clinton, who if you remember did not run as a liberal, but rather a “new Democrat,” a moderate Southern Democrat. And as much as the right may want to hate him, he was basically a moderate. He would not push a liberal agenda if the polls went against him.
As much as I do not want to see a President Hillary or some such tragedy, it may be the only cure for the power-sick GOP. It may be the only way to bring back true conseratism in the Republican party – a lofty goal, but is it worth the risk. We may not have a choice.