Can We Say It Now?

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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.

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  1. Good luck.

    Dudes, fiscal conservatism is OVER. It’s dead. As dead as communism. The only question now is do you raise taxes to cover spending or borrow more.

  2. He doesn’t think of himself as the conservative president. He thinks he’s the pious pope.

  3. The conservatives are in no way going to hold Bush accountable for his sins agains traditional conservative values. The whole party has been sliding more and more into the domain of the neoconservatives, who believe in the initiation of force to achieve their goals. There’s not much of a philosophical difference between pointing a gun at the Middle East and saying “liberalize or else” and pointing a gun at my head and saying “pay up or else.” Add it up… control of the legislative and executive branches by a single party- ANY party- is a recipe for disaster.

  4. The majority of the electorate is not thinking clearly and won’t be because it is still high on the War on Terror.
    Like the War on Drugs, revenge offers one of the longer sustained highs–hallucinations lasting years.

    And when you’re hooked on drugs, money doesn’t matter. Least of all, other people’s.

  5. I appreciate optimism, I don’t have much respect for willful blindness. Bush was just told by the majority of this country what a fabulous job he has done for the last four years. This is NOT the best way to change what has been a truly frightening “Republican” administration for anyone who believes principles of limited government are of the slightest import.

    Perhaps I just havn’t lived through enough to have a sense of perspective, but it is clear to me that the mandate the Bush administration has received this election from Republicans spells the end of that party’s allegience to any principles of individual liberty, limited government, including a bare minimum of fiscal responsibility.

  6. What Kate said.

  7. Kate –

    Is the sky falling? Why do you believe that 58 million votes means a resounding, “Great job President!” when if Kerry had won, no one would claim the vote counte meant, “We think Kerry’s better!”

    I’m sure some voted because they believe GW did a good job, and some voted for Kerry because of his unwavering message, but most people are much smarter than that and did no such thing.

    The vote was nothing more than Bush beat Kerry. The intentions of 58 million voters can’t be extrapolated to mean anything that will fit on a t-shirt.

  8. Happy Days are here again….
    .” Add it up… control of the legislative and executive branches by a single party- ANY party- is a recipe for disaster.”-Uh say Dave, by any chance did you ever take Civics or PS 101? How do you think policy is ever enacted? One party or philosophy dominates. Mayhap you’ve heard of the Crtical elections of 1898 or was it 04, plus 1932 and 1964?
    Oh and I take it that YOUR party should NEVER be granted the power that comes from being dominant? Yeah right, what we got here is sour grapes, YOUR team didn’t do well, so that’s wrong…Grow up.
    And all this from a person that fully expected Kerry to win.

  9. The GOP will almost certainly keep the Presidency, they have already widened their margins in the House and Senate, and they will probably widen those margins even more when the final races are called. At what point can we depend on them to spend less? The answer will probably be that they need 5 more Senate seats to end filibusters. OK. But if they were to get those seats in 2006, the answer would be that they need to hold their majority.

    I’m not holding my breath for spending cuts.

  10. SixSigma: It doesn’t matter what you think the vote means.

    What matters is what Bush thinks the vote means. And my money is on Bush thinking the vote is a resouding mandate.

    Bush is a man who doesn’t admit to mistakes and DOES NOT CHANGE COURSE. Ever. Why on EARTH would he change things now that he’s been reelected?

  11. Lets see Bush promised in his first campaign to be a compassionate conservative, a uniter not a divider and was against nation building. How can anyone believe that his administration will work to privitize social security, practice financial restraint or tax reform? I believe that Bush’s 2nd term will focus on invading Iran and possibly Syria and N. Korea, reinstating the draft(out of necessity), and overturning Roe vs. Wade. If terrorists acts reappear inside the US then 1st and 4th amendments will be completely suspended. But Bush’s biggest problem will be finding a way to blame our upcoming economic collapse on the Clinton administraton.

  12. Oh, crud.

    I just might as well swallow the Kool-aid and try to get as much from this big-spending government as I possibly can. Now that there’s a pretty good chance Nevada will have its first ever minority leader in the Senate, maybe he can help swing a few MORE of those national tax dollars over to Nevada and Las Vegas. bleaaaahhhh, I feel dirty 😛 😛

  13. There`s a great article about the origins of the GOP on LewRockwell.com by Tom DiLorenzo, he calls the party “Gang Of Plunderers” —very appropriate.

  14. Drew, bitter much? Or ahve you always had a preference for the tin-foil hat?

  15. Yeah. I should figure out how to get in on this cash cow. I want some subsidies! Where’s my handout?! Might feel a little dirty, the first time, but it will fade.

  16. Morat –

    I agree it doesn’t matter what you, Kate, or I think about the votes. I was simply responding to what Kate said –

    “Bush was just told by the majority of this country what a fabulous job he has done for the last four years.”

    Bush wasn’t told by the majority of the country anything close to what she is claiming. That’s all I said, and that’s all I meant.

    If Bush believes he was told this, and you might be correct that he does, then so be it.

    But now it seems, you’re having the same problem Kate is. Whether or not you’re correct, you have no way of supporting an allegation about the “thoughts and/or intentions” of others. You simply can’t speak for other people, no matter how hard you try.

  17. Piss off Joe L, what I’d like to see is some good old fashioned gridlock, that’s all. I dislike Kerry as much as I dislike Bush, and for the record, I’m a registered independent. It is my belief that the political parties and their monolithic platforms are what is wrong with the system. I would be just as ticked if it Kerry had won and the House and Senate went to the Dems.
    My point was that the Republican party is no longer conservative on fiscal policy, and they are most certainly NOT going to hod Bush accountable for his errors in judgement.

  18. “Happy Days are here again….. ‘Add it up… control of the legislative and executive branches by a single party- ANY party- is a recipe for disaster.’-Uh say Dave, by any chance did you ever take Civics or PS 101? How do you think policy is ever enacted?”

    Joe L, I think you missed the point. We don’t want more policy enacted — especially when it means warmongering and deficit spending.

  19. SixSigma, put down the reefer; it’s too early to be toking. Maybe you have a sophisticated Jungian/Hegelian/Lucian analytic metric for voting for Bush, but the majority of Bush voter cast their ballots because they get their rocks off from picture of dead Muslims (see, e.g., almost every single Bush supporter on this blog).

  20. Are we clear here?
    The War on Terror trumps anything good that could possibly come from Repuglickins.
    Our only hope is a “Nixon goes to China,” and Dubya admits it was all a catastrophic mistake.

  21. SR –

    I’d like to be toking at this particular point, but my job and the local law enforcement officals don’t allow me the pleasure as of yet, so I’ll have to refrain.

    On your points though –

    1. I never claimed to support Bush, just claimed that others don’t have the slightest idea, nor do they have the capabilities to understand why others voted the way they did.

    2. You seem to be in the same position as the others, believing you know the “true” reason. And while you’re observations on this board my give you a fair belief as to why others on “this” board voted, it surely doesn’t extrapolate to the population as a whole.

    I’m not sure why this particular point is so hard for people to take. I’m basically saying you can’t read other people’s minds. Just because you believe something, doesn’t make it so.

  22. This nonsense about how the voters are stupid, or ignorant, or ‘drunk on the war on terror’ is something I’d expect from the left – they don’t trust the people to run their own affairs. But it’s a baffling comment to read on a libertarian message board. If you don’t believe that the people in aggregate make good decisions when free to do so, then how can you support Libertarianism? The whole fundamental concept of free markets is that the people, when left to their own choices, will choose wisely.

  23. SixSigma, yes, through the magic of polling we ***can*** know why people voted the way they did. Going into the final weekend, voters ranked security issues as their most important concern.

  24. Joe L.,

    What the hell is a tin-foil hat?

    And yes I am bitter, mostly at the ignorance of the american public to reelect such a horrible president. Not that Kerry is any better but at least with him we’d have a bitterly divided government that couldn’t get anything done. History will be a harsh judge to GWB and in the next 4 years our economy, war and terrorism are going to get much worse.

  25. Dan H.-

    Although I have a little more confidence in the power of the electorate than a lot of people, I suppose one could argue that people make bad decisions in elections because they’re making decisions about other people’s money, but they make good decisions in markets because they’re making decisions about their own money.

  26. Dan H.
    I don’t trust people to run their own affairs. I just want them to have the freedom to run their own affairs.
    And I don’t give a shit about “people in aggregate.”

  27. Dan H.,

    Yes libertarianism says that people make the right decisions in a free market. But what makes you think that our election system resembles a free market? Badnarik and other presidential candidates are not allowed to debate the Republicrats. When Badnarik was arrested it wasn’t even covered in the tv news media. Voting districts are drawn to specifically favor one of the major parties. Restrictive ballot access laws prevent many candidates from even appearing on the ballots. And our major media organizations are in bed with the Republicrats and refuse to take them to task when they lie or mislead the public since they would “lose their access.” How is that a free market?
    All I can say is thank god for the internet. I hope that the real free market of the internet will force the major media to do a better job and then libertarianism will start to win over american’s hearts and minds.

  28. SR: “Going into the final weekend, voters ranked security issues as their most important concern.”

    Maybe according to many pollsters, but we now know how smart they are. SixSigma makes good points.

  29. Boys I didn’t miss the point of the posts, You guys like GRIDLOCK, when it SUITS YOU! Well, children, and I don’t care about your acutal ages, you are being children here, that’s what power is about. Doing things, and you have to have it to do things.
    Now, all you Gridlockers, REALLY don’t mean you like gridlock, what you REALLY mean is that you don’t want anyone else to do something if YOU CAN’T! That’s childish…
    IF you Democrats had run a decent candidate you’d be in 1600 Pennsylvania and for you Libertarians, WRITE IT OFF. You’re doomed… you are irrelevant! Ralph Nader did better than your guy! A DUDE, an Indepenedent with no party, did better than you guys! In fact, as a third party you guys are laughable. Perot and Nader eclipse you!
    So, for the Libertarian grid-lockers, I pity you, what you’re saying is that until Hell freezes over and the LP comes to power, the US should do NOTHING… You do realize how silly that sounds, right?

  30. Joe L, responding to a prediction that Bush was going to start new wars, wrote “Drew, bitter much? Or ahve you always had a preference for the tin-foil hat?”

    So, Joe L, what would sort of headgear would you have accused me of sporting if I had suggested, on 9/12, that Bush was going to take advantage of the situation to invade Iraq?

  31. As for Jacob’s original point, I think you attribute too much of the GOP’s consenting to big government/big spending/world’s policeman policies to a genuine philosophical shift among Republicans in those directions. I disagree; this dynamic results not from the attitude of rank and file Republicans towards policy, so much as their attitude towards power.

    The Republican Party is, and has been for my entire life, a patriarchal party. All is right with the world when people knuckle under to the Big Daddy above them. The Man of the House, the Boss, the President, the Man in the Sky. Right now, the President (who is in tight with God, and who has made it clear that he doesn’t like people mucking about with the old patriarchal structure of the family) wants things done a certain way, and decent people respect proper God-given authority.

    If Bush was pursuing aggressive policies of cutting government at home and isolating ourselves in the world, the same Republicans who are cheerleading for neocon ideas would be hoisting the banner for paleoconservatism. It’s all about Follow the Leader.

  32. “So, Joe L, what would sort of headgear would you have accused me of sporting if I had suggested, on 9/12, that Bush was going to take advantage of the situation to invade Iraq?”-Wouldn’t have accused you of any chapeau faux pas, dude (note the French lingo) I’d have said good idea to me. Just like it was a good idea in 2003 to invade, it would have been better to have gone in 2002.
    And Joe, YOUR guy supported the war (having voted for the authorization of force), too, or did you lose sight of that in all the “nuance?” Under JFK, we “might” have removed Hussein, so I believe you really are on shaky ground criticizing a decision that Kerry supported and admits that he himself might have made.
    And Joe, unless you’re a different “Joe” I KNOW you’re a Kerry supporter so don’t try the “I’m a Libertarian/libertarian/anarcho-capitalist” dodge.

  33. Does anyone find it plausible that Joe L. would have congratulated me for my clear thinking if I’d accused Bush of planning an Iraq war in 2001? Anyone?

    Second, if you don’t understand the difference between credibly threatening force to coerce cooperation, and initiating force regardless of the subject’s response to the threat, then I’m glad you’re not a cop. “Open that trunk.” “OK”
    Whack, whack, whack.

    And where did I claim to be a libertoid? Liberals dislike patriarchy, unquestioning obedience to authority, and the invasion of countries that don’t threaten us, too.

    Finally, I’ve always said that my beef with the Bushies on Iraq was about HOW they decided that war was the only option, HOW they convinced the nation to follow them, and HOW they executed the operation. Going back to 2002, I repeatedly declared the decision to invade “a close call” – look it up, you can google old Hit and Run pages. I’ve said all along that we had to credibly threaten force to keep Saddam in his box, and that war might have been necessary if we couldn’t secure adequate containment. So has Kerry. Or is that nuanced for you?

  34. Uh Joe, that’s the fundamental difference/problem between us… you want “I’ve said all along that we had to credibly threaten force to keep Saddam in his box, and that war might have been necessary if we couldn’t secure adequate containment.”- I don’t and never did. I wanted him GONE! You and your lot like signals, and threats and containing, well if he was the USSR I’m with you. He wasn’t. He was a vicious tyrant, being protected by the UN, France, and Russia. He’s gone and good riddance.

    And you know what, you’re right… you guys were too “Nuanced”. There is do or not do, there is no try… there is no contain, there is remove or not remove. And YOUR GUY would never have gotten his “buddies” on board. The result would have been not the containment of Hussein, but the collapse of the sanctions regime and Saddam uncaged.

    And if youd supported the removal of Hussein in 2001 I’d have said, first the Taliban, THEN Hussein, of course your guy would have lost to Howard Dean, then, because the only decent Democrat (Lieberman) never got out of the starting gate, ‘cuz he wasn’t Michael Moore enough for your party.

  35. Fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party will never criticize Bush for his pork. The conservatives believe in the boogey-man, they’re sure the boogey-man’s a Democrat, and they’re afraid that if they criticize Bush, he could get elected, and that’ll be much, much worse.

  36. And Joe, the Democratic Party, is and has been for my entire life, a matriarchal party. Mommy is going to make sure you have a job, a house, free healthcare and more. If you behave, she’ll give you an extra serving of low-fat, organic vegan soy dessert. All mommy asks is for her dear, sweet little children to behave. You may not play with guns or sharp objects. You may not say anything that hurt the feelings of other children, particularly those special children who have low self esteem. Good little boys and girls (mostly girls) recycle, ride mass transit and support the teacher’s unions.

    Mother, father… it’s all about somebody wanting to be a parent.

  37. Jacob, dude… take another toke, man. Where’s your head been? Conservative values are the keys to the things that got W 4 more years. That and that most of you reading this bitched about him but still couldn’t get your ass out the door to vote. (Finger and the thumb in the shape of an L on the forehead.) But, fear not, stoners… you too will grow to be old and conservative. That’ll whizz in your corn flakes ’cause you know it’s true.

  38. TW,
    You’re wrong.
    Dubya won because Kerry was pro-war too.
    Howard Dean could have licked Dubya.

    Peace and love to you too.

  39. Ruthless, did you ever hear of a man called George McGovern? We’d have beaten Howard Dean like a DRUM! The only Democrat,, that ran, that could have given Dubya a run was Lieberman. He was PRO-War, undercutting bush there and SOCIALLY LIBERAL… and what was Dubya gonna say about his spending plans, “Mine were smaller?” IF you’re a Dem. you guys blew it in not selecting Lieberman.

  40. “Does anyone find it plausible that Joe L. would have congratulated me for my clear thinking if I’d accused Bush of planning an Iraq war in 2001? Anyone?”

    Given that more people than Bush were talking about just that before the end of September, (Including Kerry, a little after September,) I would have told Joe L. to read the paper or something.

  41. “The only Democrat,, that ran, that could have given Dubya a run was Lieberman.”

    Wesley Clark would have made a compelling choice.

  42. Coming within 3 points of beating a sitting wartime president doesn’t count as “a run?” Have you people been able to access any media for the past six months – this was a run. Kerry ran a great campaign. Rove just ran a better one. Close race, Bush pulled it out. Close race in a closely divided country.

    “Kerry should have been more/less supportive of the war” is this year’s “Gore should have been more/less populist.”

    Since we could neither undo the Iraq invasion, nor talk about starting another war, neither a bloodier-than-Bush nor an anti-war position was very plausible.

    Ken, Wes Clark looked great on paper, but had a creepy fuhrer/messiah thing about him. One of his ads featured a black female soldier in uniform saying, and I quote, “He made you feel like an ordinary soldier in a great man’s army.” Wilco Tango Foxtrot is that all about? They all had the feel of “a great man, born to command,” and Americans don’t buy that shit.

  43. “Since we could neither undo the Iraq invasion, nor talk about starting another war, neither a bloodier-than-Bush nor an anti-war position was very plausible.”

    joe, I think Howard Dean would have promised to undo the Iraq invasion… by withdrawing ASAP.

  44. Ruthless, he may have promised that, but no one would have bought it.

    You can’t undo 1100 dead soldiers, X0,000 dead civilians, $200+ billion spent, etc etc etc. Prominsing status quo ante bellum would have been seen, rightly, as nonsense.

  45. They all had the feel of “a great man, born to command,” and Americans don’t buy that shit.

    Um, joe, I think you need to see the ad where Bush consoled a woman who lost a loved one on 9/11 and made her able to live again instead of withdrawing. Some people do in fact buy the “Dear Leader” concept.

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