Jonah Goldberg has written today a superb article entitled, "Is he one of us?
" He addresses the quite reasonable concerns of many conservatives (both social and fiscal) regarding the leadership of President Bush. Says Goldberg:
... the relevant point is that Bush is definitely more of an anti-left guy than an anti-state guy (his valiant efforts at Social Security reform notwithstanding). He's comfortable with a conservative welfare state, hence his expansion of Medicare. Recall that he famously declared that "when someone hurts, government has to move."
Libertarians spontaneously burst into flames when they say things like that.
This last statement about sums-up the thrust of my last 20 or so posts here at R-Nuts. Goldberg continues:
Then there's disappointment. I don't think it violates my moratorium on writing about Miers if I say that her nomination was a letdown for many conservatives. And, while I don't think it's true of Bork himself, I do think many conservatives are using their legitimate anger about Miers and Bush's overspending as an excuse to jump ship from a lame duck presidency at its low point.
Well, my question is (and will be until it is answered), "Will this president turn it around - abandon his spendthrift ways and strong-arm the Republican leadership to do likewise?" I would forgive his lazy choice of Miers for a seat on the Supreme Court in a heartbeat if he'd take the bull (federal deficit and debt) by the horns and bring it into submission. Goldberg wraps up his piece:
I have been critical of Bush's big-government conservatism for years. So I'm not entirely displeased by the venom being unleashed at that aspect of his presidency. However, Bush ran as a big-government conservative. And it's not fair to call our own buyer's remorse a betrayal by the seller.
This is where I believe Goldberg is unfair in his assessment. Call me naive, but I believe Bush conned me. Or perhaps I should say that I conned myself through misreading Bush. I could not fathom that a Republican could be such a fiscal lightweight. Thus, when Bush spoke of "compassionate conservatism" and using government to help - well, quite frankly I thought he was only doing the normal pandering that politicians do - telling people what they want to hear in order to get elected.
I suppose I should admit my naivete and at the same time applaud Bush for at least being a man of his word. While I now see that at the time I hoped he was lying (what does this say of me?), he was in fact telling the truth - albeit a nonsensical, nonworkable truth (is this an oxymoron?). In any event, he was telling *his* truth, as it is vogue to say in our relativistic and pluralistic society.
Has this not been the case with the entire Bush presidency? He does what he believes. There are no Machiavellian layers of skullduggery to his agenda - hard as we might be looking for them, conditioned to do so through 8 years of duplicity in the Clinton administration. Bush is a man of *his* word. That that word may be skewed from reality is the principal issue bothering my conscience. When he says "the state of the Union is strong", he believes it - just as he believes those weapons of mass destruction were in Iraq when we invaded, that our border with Mexico is secure and that America has a "great friend" in Vicente Fox, that Islam "is a peaceful religion, a religion that respects others", that Saudi Arabia is "our friend" (though the 15 Saudis among the 19 9/11 hijackers certainly were not) - he really believes these statements.
I may have been naive in voting for a candidate I believed was not going to follow-through on his statements. But then who am I, but a sometimes reasonable nut? He's the President of the United States and I'm beginning to wonder if he's not just as naive - albeit in a different, more tragic way.~---~Editor's note: OpinionEditorials.com agreed to publish this piece in a slightly edited (by the author) form. You can read that here.