Monday, March 13

Conservatives vs Republicans?

From the LA Times:

University of Chicago political scientist (and blogger) Daniel W. Drezner says the president’s trouble with conservatives stems from his foreign policy. “When Bush’s [poll] numbers were high, his popularity papered over the GOP’s traditional ideological splits on foreign policy. Now, Bush lacks the political capital to prevent these rifts from resurfacing,” Drezner writes. And remarkably, Bush has managed to disappoint his own party while also alienating Democrats:

What makes today’s atmosphere so perilous for Bush is that both sides of the Republican divide feel betrayed. The conservative realists outside the administration, who thought the pre-9/11 Bush was one of their own, were alarmed by the decision to invade Iraq. They expressed grave doubts about the war — and it looks as if their fears were realized. The absence of a stable Iraq has hamstrung the White House in other areas where force might need to be an option.

Meanwhile, the neoconservatives have become disillusioned too, as Bush’s second-term foreign policy has failed to even remotely match the ambitious rhetoric of the second inaugural.

Finally, doctrinal disputes aside, Republicans like me are angry at Bush because he has frittered away one of the party’s greatest assets — the belief that when it came to international relations, the GOP was the party of competence. …

In the eyes of his party, Bush’s biggest foreign policy sin is not his aims, or even his means. It’s that he has done the improbable — he’s made the Democrats look like a credible alternative.

Jeffrey Hart, a former speechwriter for Reagan and Nixon and the author of the new book “The Making of the Conservative Mind: National Review and Its Times,” says Bush is an “ideologue,” not a conservative. “Ideology is the enemy of conservatism because it edits, omits or ignores reality,” Hart writes. He criticizes the president’s policies on conservation, privatization, stem-cell research and abortion.

Finally, seemingly omnipresent Bush critic Bruce Bartlett (who is a guest columnist at TimesSelect this month) complains about Bush’s “total lack of control over federal spending.” Without a “massive tax increase” to pay for Bush’s spending, Bartlett warns of a “financial Katrina.” Of that tax increase, he writes, “Future presidents may be the ones to enact it. But Bush’s policies will have caused it.”