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Bush, the Conservative Imposter



Bush, the Conservative Imposter

   By Robert S. McElvaine


        Conservative voters, we hear, are solidly behind George W. Bush, “because President Bush is a strong conservative.”

      But, just what is it that makes President Bush a conservative?  He says he’s a conservative, but what if we follow the advice of Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell to “watch what we do, not what we say”?

      Bush says he’s a conservative, but what he does sure doesn’t make him a fiscal conservative.  He has transformed a $230 billion surplus he inherited from the “liberal” Bill Clinton into a $440 billion deficit in three years—by far the worst fiscal record in American history.

      Bush says he’s a conservative, but what he does sure doesn’t make him an anti-federal spending conservative.  He has increased discretionary nonmilitary federal spending at a rate about twice as fast as it increased under the “liberal” Bill Clinton.

        Bush says he’s a conservative, but what he does sure doesn’t make him an anti-big, intrusive government conservative.  He has taken the position that the government should have many secrets from the people, but the people can have almost no privacy from the government.

        Bush says he’s a conservative, but what he does sure doesn’t make him a foreign policy conservative.  He has thrown conservative caution to the wind and foolishly taken us into the sort of war that General Omar Bradley accurately called the Korean War: “the wrong war in the wrong place, at the wrong time, against the wrong enemy,” undermining our vital war on terror.

        Bush says he’s a conservative, but what he does sure doesn’t make him a champion of true freedom.  He asserts that we are fighting for freedom in Iraq .  But he says that anyone who questions his disastrous course is aiding the enemy.

        President Bush seems to believe in freedom and fighting for it—or, rather, sending others to fight for it—but his version of freedom is the sort that the people in Iraq had before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein: the freedom to agree with the government.

        “How dare anyone criticize me?” Mr. Bush’s statements imply.  “I’m the president of a free country?”

        So just what makes this man a conservative?  He cuts taxes on the rich.  Maybe that’s all some people who call themselves conservatives care about.  But I don’t think that’s all that most conservatives want.

      Labeling a man with this record a “conservative” is deceptive advertising.  It is about as accurate as Fox News, which is essentially a 24-hour-a-day mouthpiece for the Republican party, claiming that it is “fair and balanced.”

        Such noted conservatives as Tucker Carlson, Charley Reese, and John McLaughlin have turned against President Bush, largely because of the foolish, unnecessary war into which he has taken us.  When Carlson was asked on August 30 whether it was true that he wasn’t going to vote for Bush, he responded, “I think the war in Iraq was a major mistake.”

        The word conservative means keeping things as they are.  If only President Bush had conserved things the way they were under President Clinton, we would all be vastly better off.  But he didn’t.

      Those conservatives who now wish to keep things the way they are in Iraq and the economy should vote for George W. Bush.  He’s an imposter as a conservative, but he is genuinely someone who can be counted upon to conserve the disasters his administration has produced.

      When George W. Bush says, “I’m a conservative,” voters who accept anything he says on the basis of faith in their Leader will buy it.  For those who use evidence to judge whether a statement is true, however, that claim is in the same league with his assertions that his record deficit, net-job-loss economic plan is working and that his catastrophic invasion of Iraq has made us safer.

      When it comes to his claim that he is a conservative, George W. Bush is what he is on the Iraq war, the economy, healthcare, taxes, the environment, ties to Enron and Haliburton, and his willingness to fight in a war of which he approved:  This president is the Great Pretender.

        With apologies to William Shakespeare, let us modify Juliet’s words so they apply to George W. Bush calling himself a conservative:

        What’s in a name?  That which calls himself a “conservative”

        By any other name would smell as sour.

{ Robert S. McElvaine teaches history at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, is the author of Eve’s Seed: Biology, the Sexes, and the Course of History, and is currently completing his first novel and screenplay, What It Feels Like. }


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