Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tea party movement is a delayed Bush backlash

Recall that Bush came into office promising to be a “different kind of conservative,” and one of his first legislative victories was the No Child Left Behind Act, sponsored by Teddy Kennedy. Throughout his presidency, Bush's “compassionate conservatism” surrendered — either rhetorically or substantively — to the assumptions of welfare-state liberalism, i.e. that your decency was best measured by your commitment to large, inefficient government programs. “When somebody hurts,” Bush insisted, “government has got to move.” Many conservatives disliked this whole mindset and the policies behind it, from comprehensive immigration reform to Medicare Part D. Many conservatives muted their objections, in part because they liked the man personally or approved of his stances on tax cuts, judges, abortion and the war on terror (we can see a similar dynamic with so many anti-war liberals who still support Obama). Conservatives didn't necessarily bite their tongues (remember the Harriet Miers and immigration fiascoes), but they did prioritize supporting Bush — often in the face of far nastier attacks than Obama has received — over ideological purity. Besides, where were conservatives supposed to go? Into the arms of John Kerry? The 2008 GOP primaries compounded conservative frustration...more

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