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If only Bush were a real conservative

Nick Fickling

Conservatives believe that poor decisions and illegal acts must have consequences. If you mess up then do not expect to be bailed out. Personal responsibility is the key, not the nanny society.

The Bush plan to bail out homeowners under threat of foreclosure, and subsidize financial institutions over-exposed by the sub-prime lending market is rather bemusing. One can understand socialists like John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton calling for greater homeowner assistance and greater finance industry regulation. But “The Decider” behaving like a caring, sharing Democrat and flip-flopping away from his Republican dogma is incomprehensible. Or is it?

In 2000 we had Bush promoting financial innovation, the relaxing of government control of financial institutions and preaching the merits of the ownership society with greater emphasis on personal responsibility. The Rove/Bush/Cheney thinking was to remove taxation and to allow markets to operate freely, without government control and constraint. Rove preached that those changes would allow innovative thinking, grow the economy and result in Republicans’ rule for decades to come.

Osama bin Laden must be chuckling at how his Sept. 11 has altered the Bush regime’s actions away from their professed beliefs. The tax cuts were pushed through and had a good effect on the economy. Unfortunately, those cuts have been largely negated by massive spending increases year after year.

There have been huge subsidies of various industries ” either directly, as in the case of the airline industry, or by no-bid contracts, as in the case of Halliburton and other defense-related concerns. There have been vast increases in the size of government, both through the creation of new government departments and the wholesale movement of jobs from the private to the public sector. Invade Iraq just for good measure and we suddenly have massive uncontrollable spending on the books for the foreseeable future. Isn’t this all the stuff that Republicans claim you get from Democrats?

Add in a badly handled natural disaster and a financial disaster or two and suddenly the free spending Decider finds himself with nowhere to go, economically speaking.

Taxes can’t be cut to stimulate the economy, a card already played. Interest rates can’t be cut much further as the dollar is already low, and each interest rate cut hits the dollar exchange rate hard. Oil is priced in dollars ” if the dollar drops then gas prices and inflation will surely rise, as will the deficit. That is all politically damaging and risks a permanent Democratic U.S., not a permanent Republican one.

So what can Bush do? As a fiscal conservative he does not want to bail people out, unless it is big corporations, but there again he cannot ignore the foreclosure crisis completely. He cannot appear to be too much for corporate executives and not for the people; that could hurt the Republicans badly in 2008.

Basically Bush has few options. we can look forward to a rather sickening year of political posturing, vetoing of bills and initiatives that are more aimed at diverting attention away from the hole that has been dug than actually improving things.

George Bush will go down in history as more liberal than conservative, more flip-flopper than solid leader, more ditherer than decider. Maybe Rove could spin this one by reminding us that Churchill was a liberal who became a conservative. George is clearly being Churchillian in moving across to the social democratic fold. Maybe he is after Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat when Ted moves on. He could go windsurfing with John Kerry.

We cannot afford another George Bush. In 2008, give us a real leader, Republican or Democrat, less driven by political dogma and more by common sense and integrity.

Osama bin Laden is winning with Bush and that is the consequence of electing him.


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