Bush as LBJ Nixon

|

Tired of all the talk of Bush = LBJ? Former Reason intern and NY Post scribe Ryan Sager has posited that the better analogue is in fact one Richard Milhous Nixon. From a recent col:

Nixon's eschewing of conservative principles isn't a bad point of reference [for Bush]. Nixon had his proposed Family Assistant Plan, entitling every American to a minimum income; Bush has his $1.2 trillion Medicare prescription-drug giveaway, the first new entitlement since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. Nixon had his wage-and-price controls; Bush has had his steel, lumber, shrimp and textile tariffs. Nixon created the expensive and intrusive EPA; Bush created No Child Left Behind, which has sent federal education spending soaring and meddled with every school board in America….

The difference between Bush and Nixon, up until now, was that Bush hadn't managed to tick off the entire conservative movement at the same time.

But the Miers pick left social conservatives (who have been itching for a fight over the Supreme Court) screaming at the president's representatives in closed-door meetings.

As Sager notes, Bush lost the small-government, free trade, and libertarian GOPers a long, long, time ago.

Whole bit here.

NEXT: The Latest Data on Bush's Spendthrift Ways

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Someone needs to explain the seeming descrepancy:
    Nixon, in the thread nearby, shows a negative 16 percent for discretionary spending.

  2. Did he mention the scandals, based on events committed in the first term, creeping closer and close to the top during the second?

  3. Ruthless: good point.

    Hm, does this make Cheney Spiro Agnew’s equivalent?

  4. Bush lost the small-government, free trade, and libertarian GOPers a long, long, time ago.

    If that were really true, he wouldn’t have been re-elected. Sounds to me like some “small govt, free traders” are engaging in some revisionist history. As I recall from election time, when push came to shove, they voted for him again anyway. Too late to wash your hands now kids. You had your chance, and you fucked it up.

  5. Now more than ever. America Needs Nixon.

  6. “As Sager notes, Bush lost the small-government, free trade, and libertarian GOPers a long, long, time ago.”

    yes, and all 10 of them are very angry.

  7. independent worm, not only the revisionist history, but falling all over themselves to explain why what Bush does is the right thing! Who was it who posted the RedState link a while ago to the guy demonstrating how Bush’s deficit explosion was a net good?

  8. Bush lost the small-government, free trade, and libertarian GOPers a long, long, time ago.

    I wonder if this is really the case. What percentage of small l libertarians voted for Bush because “Kerry would’ve been worse”? It would be interesting to see. Why should Bush make any appeals to libertarians when he can do whatever he pleases and still be seen as better than the alternative?

  9. I wonder if this is really the case. What percentage of small l libertarians voted for Bush because “Kerry would’ve been worse”?

    My exit from the Bush camp happened long before the Bush/Kerry election. …and, indeed, I think I was part of the libertarian exodus from the Bush camp that they’re referring to here. It didn’t happen after the last election, I think it happened sometime after the Bush/Gore election.

    …and kudos to Reason for giving the libertarian exodus from Bush’s GOP so much attention so soon. Reason was way ahead of the curve–as usual.

  10. Apt comparison. Throwing money around while pandering to the sociocons…in libertarian terms, W. is the worst Commander-In-Chief we’ve had since the ol’ Dickster.
    One interesting sidenote: in the last thirty years, one president actually reduced the size of government, another signed a welfare reform bill. Remember who? Hint: they were the Democrats…

  11. Bush = FDR.

    Or Wilson. Both are more apt than either of these.

  12. Tom Crick,

    The GOP “survived” Nixon, gaining the White House back after just one term, because the country was in the midst of a realignment towards his party that was larger than him. The center of the country was becoming more and more favorable to Republican ideas about taxes, crime, the Cold War, and social policy.

    Now? It’s tough to think of a major issue that the GOP is gaining ground on, and easy to think of some that they are way behind or losing on.

  13. Both are more apt than either of these.

    I don’t think I’m beggin’ the question here, ’cause I think I can make the case that we’re in a quagmire .

    …how can Wilson or FDR be more apt than Johnson, considering that the President expanded the Great Society and assuming that he’s slogging us through a quagmire?

    Oh…and one of the differences between Nixon and Bush the Younger is that when Richard “I guess I’m a Keynesian now” Nixon changed direction, he did so against the judgement of his advisors. …Bush is following his advisors judgement–he’s doin’ this shit on purpose! …It’s all goin’ according to plan!

  14. This just shows how absurd political discourse has become in this country. Politics is becoming like sports, people just root for laudry and the pleasure of lording victories over supporters of defeated rivals rather than ideas. Richard Nixon gave liberals the EEOC and the EPA. Jimmy Carter gave conservatives airline and energy regulation. Ronald Reagan gave liberals huge spending hikes in domestic spending (while of course they derrided him as being a mean old man who wanted to throw grandma on the street). George Bush gave liberals a huge a tax hike rolling back many of Reagans cuts. Bill Clinton gave conservatives NAFTA and Welfare Reform. Things of which Reagan could only dream. Now, George Bush II gives liberals endless domestic spending, a bloated throw money at the problem education bill, and the first new federal entitlement in 40 years. Yet, both sides loath the other’s Presidents and with regard to Nixon, Clinton and Bush II, to the point of irrationality. Democrats hate Bush for the same reason Red Sox fans hate Alex Rodriguez. He just happens to wear the wrong uniform.

  15. Correction. Carter gave conservative airline and energy DEREGULATION.

  16. Dream on Joe. The Democrats will have to come up with some ideas besides Chimpler and get the U.S. out of North America before they can win any elections beyond the occasional reaction to a Republican scandal. See 1974 and 76.

  17. Comparing Presidents who had major opposition in congress to those with a rubber stamp contingent probably isn’t fair. George Bush’s discretionary spending record is all his own.

    Ronald Reagan gave liberals huge spending hikes in domestic spending (while of course they derrided him as being a mean old man who wanted to throw grandma on the street).

    The following is taken from a Cato report Reason linked to recently. I’ll look up the link when I get off this conference call.

    Reagan’s discretionary spending increase is mainly a result of his defense buildup. However, he paid for that defense buildup in part with offsetting cuts in the nondefense budget. During the first year of Reagan’s presidency, nondefense spending went down by $10 billion in nominal terms.

    By the end of Reagan’s tenure, nondefense spending was up in nominal terms but down considerably once you adjust for inflation. All told, Reagan presided over a real nondefense discretionary spending cut of 9.5 percent.

  18. John, you are right that Democrats will have to sell their ideas to the public.

    But you have demonstrated on many threads your inability to accurately judge whether they are doing so.

    Universal health insurance, a war on terror that actually focuses on terrorists, healthy neighborhoods and a balanced budget are all political winners, and they all belong to the Dems.

  19. Universal health insurance…

    People vote for Universal health insurance when they think it will get them medical care and drugs for free and then vote against it when they find out they’ll actually have to pay for it.

  20. Here’s the link to the Cato report:

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/tbb/tbb-0510-26.pdf

    …and here’s the link to the Reason thread:

    https://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2005/10/thats_one_way_t_1.shtml

  21. Universal health insurance, a war on terror that actually focuses on terrorists, healthy neighborhoods and a balanced budget are all political winners, and they all belong to the Dems.

    Some of those items seem contradictory to me. …A balanced budget and universal health care? …but I do think the Democrats should run their next slate on a balanced budget.

    …Wouldn’t it be nice if the budget debate had balanced budget Democrats on one side and anti-Tax Republicans on the other? …I can dream.

  22. Joe,

    I think 1993 proved that universal healthcare can be a looser for the Democrats. Its a good example of the need to come up with new ideas. If by universal healthcare you mean copying the failed and inhumane systems in Canada and the UK, then you are never going to win any elections. If you mean something else that recognizes that unless you want to ensure that no one gets good care not everyone is going to get equal care and that price and market incentives need to play a role in reducing costs, then you may have a winner. The problem is of course that terms like market incentives drive the Democratic base over the edge. I see no particular reason why Democrats should be so wed to the single payer model and couldn’t embrace something else that included subsidies to ensure that everyone can afford some kind of basic health insurance, but good luck and selling that to the rank and file.

    Education is another example. Take bi-lingual education. Everyone except for the bureaucrats who make their living from it agrees that its been a terrible failure and robbed generations of immigrant kids of decent educations. Yet, the Democratic Party continues to defend it and immersion learning is a completly Republican issue. What the hell is so conservative about teaching kids how speak, read and write English? Nothing that I can see other than the teachers Unions and moonbat La Raza members love bi-lingual education. If the Democrats would give up their statist dogmatism and embrace any idea from any source that helps people, they would have a chance to win elections again.

  23. Joe,

    War on terror? Okay, how? I don’t you can be serious about the war on terror and also go out of your way to give illegal immigrants every possible measure of due process before being deported, expect every terrorist subject to be proven guilty of an actual criminal act in federal court before being incarcerated, object to any sharing of intelligence information between law enforcement and nation security agencies and expect the Justice Department to go to a different district court for a wiretap order everytime a terrorists leaves his home or changes cell phones. Democrats claim they are so serious about terrorism but all they can claim to want to do about it is not invade Iraq. Had it been up to Democrats we wouldn’t have the Patriot Act and we most certainly would not have grabbed and deported the large number of people that we did after 9-11. Now, maybe those were bad things to do, but I do not see the Democrats offering any alternatives other than claiming GUTMO is a gulag and John Ashcroft is going to read your library records.

  24. I think 1993 proved that universal healthcare can be a looser for the Democrats.

    I think it runs into the same problem that school choice does.* …Most of the people are happy with their health coverage.

    …There are a lot of people who wish health care was less expensive, but it isn’t clear to them that universalizing health care will make it less expensive. …and most fear it will risk the quality they already enjoy.

    …Sure, there are a number of disenfranchised groups that support universal health care–cater your pitch to them and you’re sure to lose.

    *Most people are happy with the schools their children attend. …at least they’re happy with the aspects of it that choice claims to fix.

  25. I’m big on the idea that the Democrats should do a Contract with America pitch. …but I think they should keep the list small–maybe just three things. …and I think one of things on the list should be a balanced budget.

    …but for the life of me, I can’t think of what the other two should be. It has to be something that their core supporters can get enthusiastic about, but it also has to appeal to Soccer/Security Moms. …maybe free health care–just for children?

    …I don’t know what you mean by “healthy neighborhoods” joe. …but I think Soccer/Security Moms are already happy with their neighborhoods.

  26. Tom Crick, “Some of those items seem contradictory to me. …A balanced budget and universal health care?” No moreso than promising a balanced budget, lower taxes, a stronger military, and protecting Grandma’s checks, as Republicans did in every campaign of my lifetime. “We’re gonna cut waste, fraud and abuse. We’re going to close tax loopholes. We’re going to cut welfare.” (Except Dems as “corporate welfare.” “We’re going to make these things a priority.”

    See, look how you just twisted the facts and demogogued on bilingual education. Of course most people are going to support what you describe, and not what those nasty Democrats and bureaucrats want, with their social engineering and windsurfing. Your argument has nothing to do with the actual issues and merits surrounding the issue, but it’s very persuasive.

    John,

    Polling done the week the Congress killed Hillarycare showed that it had majority support. Remember, even Poppy ran on a universal health care platform in 1992, and the debate for a few weeks was whether a plan that covered 98% of people counted as universal, or whether it had to be 100%. He didn’t do this because he believed in it, but because he knew he would lose in a landslide to a candidate who promised it if he didn’t follow suit.

    “If by universal healthcare you mean…” Focus, John. We’re talking electoral politics. Your Kerryesque tangents about merits don’t exactly play well on the stump. “I believe people who work hard and play by the rules deserve health care. My opponent wants your children to die of diptheria so he can give tax breaks to his rich friends.” You have this horror of Canada’s health care system. Could you please name for me a politician who won a race by accusing his opponent of wanting to emulate Canada’s health care system?

    “Democrats claim they are so serious about terrorism but all they can claim to want to do about it is not invade Iraq.” Even if all Democrats were saying is “the money the want to spend in Iraq, we’ll spend hunting down terrorists and disrupting their plots,” the Democrats would win the issue in 2006. More Americans think Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror than an essential part of it, and the trend it towards less and less support.

  27. Joe,

    No question there was a real push for universal health care in the fall of 1992. The more people got to know about it, the less they liked it, however. A Democratic Congress voted down Hillarycare. They didn’t do that because it was popular. Also, we have found out in the 10 years since that the Canadian and U.K. systems don’t work nearly as well as we thought they did. I will be the first to admit we need new ideas in this area and I don’t see why the Democrats neccesarily can’t be the ones to come up with them.

    As far as terrorism, spending money to do what? The Democrats have to show the country that they have the stomach to do the nasty business of catching terrorists. Doing so means detaining and deporting people and killing people. How willing are the Democrats to do this. Maybe they do have the stomach for it, but I would be a lot more convinced they would show half of the outrage against Al Quada as they do against Ashcroft and Bush.

  28. “The more people got to know about it, the less they liked it, however.”

    If issues were hashed out at this level of detail in political races, we’d have a president who could speak French right now. Or English, even.

    “A Democratic Congress voted down Hillarycare.” Actually, it never came to a vote. The Republicans wouldn’t allow one, because there was no way they could go on record opposing Health Care Reform.

    “The Democrats have to show the country that they have the stomach to do the nasty business of catching terrorists.” You mean like the Millenium Dome plot, the LAX plot, and the Airliners Over the Pacific plot? Or do you mean showing that having a Republican in office will mean the president will go on vacation while the national security staff desperately tries to get his attention about an impending attack? Or do just mean showing that a Democrat can be tough enough to, say, demonstrate extreme courage and skill in a mortal confrontation? It’s not 1988, Joe – mission accomplished.

  29. As Sager notes, Bush lost the small-government, free trade, and libertarian GOPers a long, long, time ago.

    Unfortunately, not before they voted for him twice.

    When was the last time Bush did or proposed anything that supported small government, free trade, or libertarian goals? During the 2000 campaign?

  30. joe

    Of course there is big support for Universal health care. But there are big reasons why it will never happen.

    Almost everyone would like it if someone else paid their medical bills.

    Trouble is practically nobody wants to pay someone else’s medical bills.

  31. Isaac, polls that phrase the question as “Would you be willing to pay higher taxes for..,” or that follow up a general support/oppose question with a question about taxes, consistently show majority support.

  32. Polls may show that, joe. Problem is, the way people actually vote tends to verify my claim.

    People make all kinds of claims when answering poll questions that are not born out by actual observation of the way they act.

  33. You see, joe, good compassionate and concerned people like you want a welfare state because you’re concerned about the wellbeing of the little people.

    But the majority is just not like you. They want a welfare state because of what it will give them for nothing. Politicians love both you and them for it guarantees they will always have power.

  34. “Problem is, the way people actually vote tends to verify my claim.”

    Really? Would you care to point out a candidate who won a race promising to stop universal health care?

    Please, Mr. Libertarian, enlighten me more about the majority’s opinions.

  35. Candidates win promising Universal healthcare, but then it never gets implemented when everyone figures out who has to pay.

    I am not speaking as a libertarian, or any one who is for or against Universal health care, just making some observations of facts as I see them.

    You really need to quit the mindreading. Your record so far isn’t even as good as someone making wildass guesses.

    The fact that every democratic party platform since HST* has advocated it and failed to deliver when its candidate won (even when he controlled congress ie every time) makes me pretty confident that it ain’t ever gonna happen except as a mishmash interest driven clusterfuck like most American welfare programs.

    *That’s Horrible Shithead Truman for those who need to look it up.

  36. “Candidates win promising Universal healthcare, but then it never gets implemented when everyone figures out who has to pay.”

    Seeing as how the conversation is about winning political strategies, my work here is done.

  37. Seeing as how the conversation is about winning political strategies, my work here is done.

    Reread and you will never find I said that Universal Health Care was not a winning strategy.

    Considering that free medicine enjoys about the same levels of support as the death penalty and prohibition of gay marriage, the real winnig political strategy will be free health care and incorporating Leviticus into the Criminal Code. We’re getting there but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.

  38. And again pols get elected promising expensive programs. They then fail to deliver for fear the people will vote them out because of the cost. The find a way to pin the failure on some other guy.

    No wonder the people are convinced that politicians are lying sacks of shit.

  39. “Polls may show that (people support universal health care), joe. Problem is, the way people actually vote tends to verify my claim.

    People make all kinds of claims when answering poll questions that are not born out by actual observation of the way they act.”

    led me to believe you were, in fact, saying “that Universal Health Care was not a winning strategy.”

    You know, the part about people not voting for universal health care – I took that as a comment about the issue’s effectiveness as an electoral strategy.

  40. “As Sager notes, Bush lost the small-government, free trade, and libertarian GOPers a long, long, time ago.”

    I wish it were true.

    What’s strange to me is that every right-wing blogger and their mother claims to be “more or less libertarian.” Seriously, has anyone else noticed this? I think libertarianism is the new chic: the blogospheric right’s version of Che. Hints of anti-government here and there, but nothing that would make the GOP tremble. Little yelps of dissent always qualified by examplesof how the other side is worse, or how the cause is still crucial. Libertarian shadings make them feel cool, but when it comes down to it they’re merely war-bloggers who’d vote for Bush and the GOP every time.

  41. No, I meant the part about the taxes. I concede that may not have been clear.

    But, oh, let’s offer people free stuff and appeal to the majority’s most base authoritarian desires. That’s always a winning strategy, duh.

    So, yes, pols will continue to offer free goodies to get elected, but don’t expect anybody to deliver anything but a token mishmash interest driven clusterfuck. And then look for them to find the other guy to blame it all on.

    But, I misunderstood. I had given you credit for actually wanting good public policy not just getting your friends elected. So I guess I’m no better at mindreading than you are. 🙂

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.