It’s been a good day so far: Andrew Sullivan critiqued the Bushevik strain of big-government conservatism at a Cato luncheon yesterday, along with fellow conservative writer Bruce Bartlett. This Washington Post article by Dana Milbank has the details. Bartlett, author of the newly released “Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy,” commented that "If Bush were running today against Bill Clinton, I'd vote for Clinton." Sullivan’s remarks weren’t gentle, either:
"You have to understand the people in this administration have no principles. […] Any principles that get in the way of the electoral map have to be dispensed with."
Sullivan blogged about the luncheon yesterday:
By hitching the Republican base to Christianism, and by legitimizing massive spending for a Republican, he [Bush] has been able to dispense with much of what conservatism once meant. Limited government? Yeah, right. Balanced budgets? A joke. Individual liberty? Only if you're in the Middle East. Huge tax increases? Just you wait. They're now inevitable. A welfare state bigger and more intrusive than Ted Kennedy could dream of? That will be Bush's legacy. It will take conservatism a generation to recover its bearings.
Atrios, while agreeing with Sullivan’s critique of Bush, demolishes his reminiscing about the “Thatcher-Reagan legacy that many of us grew up to love and support” this way:
I know the myth of the Reagan era is one of those consensus things impervious to fact but lets go to the numbers.
In 1981 when Reagan took office, as a percent of GDP federal outlays were 22.2% of GDP. When he left, in 1989, federal outlays were an incredibly shrunken 21.2%. Revenues went from 19.6% to 18.4%, which is why we were blessed with those lovely Reagan deficits. […] …the Reagan era was not a magical age of tiny government and ponies.
I suppose mentioning illegally trading arms for hostages, supporting nun-killing Central American death squads, the Marine incident in Lebanon, and of course the incredible number of Reagan administration officials who were indicted/convicted would be a wee bit too much.
That’s a lot of myth-busting for one day, and really whets my appetite for Sullivan’s upcoming book: The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It; How to Get It Back.