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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill


He May Be Compassionate, But He's No Conservative

Bartlett on Bush:

For me, the tipping point was the Medicare drug bill, which was rammed through Congress in the dead of night just hours after a conference agreement had been reached. Neither Bush nor his congressional lackeys dared allow any member to actually read the bill or know what they were voting for because then it would be obvious that the bill was unaffordable and almost certainly would go down to defeat. The only hope of passage was stealth, speed, and massive political pressure on principled conservative holdouts — a few of whom eventually buckled and allowed the bill to pass.

Bush’s strongest argument for passage of the Medicare bill had nothing to do with the problems some seniors were having with the high cost of prescription drugs. It was all about the politics. Republicans had to support the drug giveaway to buy the votes of the AARP, the giant senior citizens lobby, which had endorsed the legislation.

Bush assured wavering congressmen that they were guaranteeing their reelections by getting the large and growing elderly population to vote Republican. He told them that Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson had gotten earlier generations of elderly voters to go Democratic by giving them Social Security and Medicare.

Rather than buy the elderly’s votes for good, however, they were only rented for the 2004 election — the only one Bush cared about. There is precious little evidence that the multi-trillion-dollar drug benefit has done anything to change the basic political leanings of seniors. According to CNN, Bush got 47 percent of the over-65 vote in 2000 and Al Gore got 50 percent. Perhaps in gratitude for the largess Bush bestowed upon them, these voters gave him 52 percent of their vote in 2004, while John Kerry got 47 percent. But in the 2006 congressional elections, Republicans and Democrats exactly split the elderly vote, with both getting 49 percent. I predict that a majority of seniors will go back to voting Democratic next year.

Now it seems that conservatives will once again be asked to throw away their principles for illusory political gains. Bush will no doubt explain to congressional Republicans that they must vote for the immigration bill without taking any time to study or analyze it because otherwise they will forever lose the large and rapidly growing Hispanic vote.

According to a Census Bureau report released last week, Hispanics are now the largest minority group in America. There are 44.3 million of them, compared to 40.2 million blacks and 14.9 million Asians. Furthermore, the number of Hispanics is growing faster. Between 2005 and 2006, their population grew 3.4 percent. Meanwhile, the non-Hispanic white population grew just 0.3 percent. Consequently, Hispanics accounted for almost half the total U.S. population growth during this period — 1.4 million out of a total population increase of 2.9 million.

Perhaps if there were some reason to believe that Hispanics would be so grateful for this immigration bill that they will vote heavily Republican for years to come, then it might be worth supporting purely out of political expediency. But there is no reason whatsoever to believe that this will be the case, since the Democratic Congress will at least get equal credit for passage.

It’s worth remembering that despite Bush’s support for an immigration bill last year, congressional Republicans only got 30 percent of the Hispanic vote, versus 69 percent for Democrats. This was a sharp decline from the 44 percent of the Hispanic vote Bush got in 2004. Thus whatever gratitude Hispanics might have for him because of his support for immigration reform, it is not going to transfer to other Republicans.

I was early to the Bush-is-no-conservative party---in 2001, when Bush gobsmacked me with his steel tariff silliness. My boss actually tried to defend him by invoking WWII naval shipbuilding. I laughed and said, "One big difference might be that Dubya isn't building any damned boats."

I don't know what evidence there is that Bush the Younger is any more conservative than Bush the Elder. His personnel choices (Harriet Miers, Alberto Gonzales) don't bear it out. His domestic policy (prescription drug coverage, amnesty) doesn't bear it out. His foreign policy (punt on North Korea and Iran, establish DHS and a "war czar") doesn't bear it out.

Maybe he listens to country music.



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