The Conservative Revolt
There are six reasons why conservatives have turned on Bush.
12:00 AM, Oct 20, 2005 • By FRED BARNES
WHY have so many conservatives suddenly revolted against President Bush, nearly five years into his presidency? I think their split with Bush is ill advised, counterproductive, and in some ways childish. But there's no doubt it's happening and it's serious. And there's more to it than disappointment with his nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. So why exactly has this revolt broken out now? I've come up with six reasons, and there may be more.
One, a revolt was inevitable, sooner or later, simply because Bush is not a conventional conservative. He deviates on the role of the federal government, on domestic spending, on education, on the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, and on immigration. Given this kindling, it took only the spark of the Miers nomination to ignite a conservative backlash.
Bush, of course, is a conservative, but a different kind of conservative. His tax cuts, support for social issues, hawkish position on national security and terrorism, and rejection of the Kyoto protocols make him so. He's also killed the ABM and Comprehensive Test Ban treaties, kept the United States out of the international criminal court, defied the United Nations, and advocated a shift in power from Washington to individuals through an "ownership society." On some issues--partial privatization of Social Security is the best example--he is a bolder conservative than Ronald Reagan, the epitome of a conventional conservative.
Two, Bush has not courted leaders of the conservative movement. He's left that to his adviser Karl Rove, who did an excellent job until he was distracted by the investigation of the CIA leak case. Movement conservatives feel Bush doesn't respect them. They may be right.
Three, the White House has grown a bit arrogant and self-centered. That's what naturally occurs after a president is reelected. The White House thinks its interests are more significant than those of members of Congress. In fact, their interests (winning a war, for instance) usually are. But senators and House members who are running for reelection, while Bush won't have to face the electorate again, regard this White House attitude with resentment. They may be small-minded, but it's understandable.
Four, Bush is down. His job approval is at an all-time low. He is under fire, unfairly, for his handling of the Katrina rescue and recovery. His bid this year for Social Security reform failed. All of which has provoked the classic Washington response to the plight of a political foe in trouble: kick 'em while they're down. Many conservatives, who rarely complained when Bush was riding high, have joined in the kicking.