Can We Say It Now?


Whenever I criticized Bush before the election for betraying conservative principles, I got letters of complaint from Republicans. For the most part, they did not say I was wrong; instead, they said that, bad as Bush's performance had been from a limited-government perspective, Kerry would be worse, so I should keep my mouth shut until after the election. This strategy of refraining from criticism when it was most likely to be effective–during an election campaign in which the president's victory depended upon his ability to motivate his conservative base–never made much sense to me. But now that Bush has won re-election by what looks like a comfortable margin and his party has strengthened its control of both the House and Senate, the conservatives who held their tongues until now presumably will press the Republicans to deliver on their most important promises: fiscal restraint, fundamental tax reform, and Social Security semi-privatization. (Hell, I'd settle for one out of three.) Of course, there's still a war on, so maybe it's not safe yet to ask that Bush have the courage of his avowed convictions.