A Better Man Than His Detractors

On May 15, 2006, the site owner of polipundit.com issued an order to the other five writers on the blog, as follows: From now on, every blogger at PoliPundit.com will either agree with me completely on the immigration issue, or not blog at PoliPundit.com.”

Within hours of that totalitarian action, he barred all of the writers from posting at the site, an action he then called “temporary“, but thirty-two months later the ban remains in effect.

Readers at the site were vocal, and some of them prescient. From the first, one reader observed You’ve just lost the center-right, congratulations (comment 63), while another simply noted this news is very disappointing. Now there is no reason for me to come back and I will go visit other sites that agree with you in principle, but are much more respectful in there [sic] tone (comment 7), while others were less polite, like the fellow (comment 526) who noted “that’s the whole point. We CAN’T engage. Poli took that away. Intellectual cowardice at its finest.”

Examining the meltdown, blogger The Anchoress warned that there would be a price for such inability to allow free and open discussion of the major issues, political as well as social. The short verdict, she warned, was that the public would reject conservatives as reactionary and small-minded.

In the polipundit debacle, a single issue caused the site owner to basically go nuts and kick out a team of writers who had built up his site from a modest readership to one of the leaders in the blogosphere for conservative debate and discussion. But it reflects a deeper and far more serious problem in Conservatism, the inability to tolerate a wide range of opinions, the bitter denunciation of even allies and champions for the smallest variance. This is most apparent in the shameful disrespect of President George W. Bush by conservatives.

Three issues reflect the collapse of conservative sanity with regard to the President; the nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, the Immigration crisis, and the Dubai Port decision. The behavior by leading conservatives in these three cases illustrates the sad decision to abandon traditional conservative stands, and to burn their bridges to the public’s appreciation of their ideals.

With regard to the Miers nomination, conservatives soon after the announcement began to express a sense of “betrayal” about Miers, and in a blatant reversal of their stated moral position that every nominee had a right to an up or down vote, demanded that Miers be removed from consideration before even her first day before a committee to consider her nomination. The hypocrisy was blatant and deliberate, and seriously damaged the moral foundation for the far Right, demoting them from principled activists to self-serving mandarins.

This does not mean that Miers was a good choice. But the opposition to Miers was expressed in exactly the wrong way, a way which played completely into the hands of the Left, as the Right could then be cast with some justification as dishonest and unconcerned with the public interest. Certainly the move showed a disloyalty to President Bush, not so much in disapproving of Miers as the manner and tone in which it was cast. When I wrote about this issue in 2005, I found a range of reactions, from those who thought I was writing “screeds” and was “unworthy of respect“, to those who said I was “exactly right“, those who ‘especially liked’my response, including the Anchoress, who wrote that “DJ Drummond makes some excellent points and probably is quite right“.

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Miers may or may not have turned out to be a good justice, we frankly will never know now because she was never given a hearing much less a chance to show her mind. It was a poor series of events for conservatives, because even though we ended up with Alito (followed by Roberts), conservatives remember not the good judgment of President Bush, but the bitter opposition they had against Miers, and they have never yet apologized for using unethical tactics to get what her removed from consideration. ‘The ends justify the means’ has always been a chilling maxim from the evil side of humanity, and conservatives should be ashamed for having their values sullied by such behavior. Michelle Malkin should be ashamed that she could only refer to the White House Counsel as a “crony“, and Jonah Goldberg that he could only see Miers in terms of “battiness“. George Will had no business claiming that President Bush “has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution.” Such venomous dishonesty does not belong under the byline of a conservative writer, and until recent years we would never have seen it.

The next key issue was Immigration. Absolutely no one in the GOP argues that illegals coming into the United States do not represent a grave threat, but the hysteria from the hardline Right has damaged the credibility of the Republican leaders. One thing that annoys me the most with regard to this issue, is the constant lying on the hardline Right against President Bush, ignoring all of his work on border security like increasing funding for border security by 159% since taking office, working with foreign nations to improve their own border security along US borders, more than doubling the number of agents along the border as well as UAVs and improving interior enforcement. Bush led the initiative to increase the number and scope of ICE teams from 15 in 2005 to 75 teams in 2007.

The plain fact is, Bush’s detractors simply ignored the facts because they wanted to attack the President. Tom Tancredo was one such rebel, refusing to cooperate with the President or grant even courteous consideration to White House proposals to deal with the problem. Tancredo was sadly representative of a bitter contingent willing to blow apart any chance of a real solution, simply because they did not get their way. President Bush, to his credit, was willing to re-examine and modify his plans in response to real-world conditions, something the foam-mouthed Right never once considered.

It should be obvious on its face that dealing with twenty-some-odd million people who should not be in the country is a difficult task, not least when you have to fight political opposition, including a bunch of narcissists in your own party, to get anything done. This is a problem that has vexed Presidents and Governors and all manner of political solution for more than a generation. No, that does not mean that it’s acceptable to ignore the problem, or that every solution should be accepted without debate or criticism, but the puerile and vicious attacks on President Bush, from conservatives especially, is unconscionable. In the first place it sabotaged any kind of progress towards a solution, allowing liberals and egotists to pretend they did not have to do anything, while honest efforts to address the problem were mocked and shot down by people who could not offer a realistic alternative.

I especially disliked the people who thought it was a good idea to eviscerate the ones trying to find a workable solution, and who presented themselves as equals to the leaders they attacked, even though such men never actually run for the office they claim they could do so easily, and are unwilling to concede that the people duly elected might have a moral right to claim authority to actually do their job. Back in 2006, I went off on Jed Babbin for that kind of attitude. I still like what I wrote then, so for all you folks who believe you have the right to trash President Bush for not being your personal meat puppet, it’s real simple:

Elections matter, you dope. And nobody elected you diddly, much less President of the United States. He’s the captain of our Ship of State, and if you want to cut him off at the knees, you don’t get to claim he has to earn your allegiance. That’s what the elections did, you hypocrite. Dubs said the same things then as he is saying now, and since he got the win in 2000 and again in 2004, that makes him the boss.
Him, not you. 62 million plus voted for George W. Bush in 2004, and you don’t get to ignore that election now when it’s inconvenient for you, anymore than John Kerry and Al Gore get to pretend they are really the President.

Right about now any of the Rabid Wing will start off saying how I am trying to silence dissent. Not at all. If you don’t like a policy, say so, and by all means tell your Congressman and Senators what you want them to do on any given vote. But disagreeing with a position on a given issue, or several issues, does not give you license to lie about what Bush has really said or done or stands for, and it doesn’t give you leave to attack the twice-elected leader of our party and our country. The man has more than earned your respect and support, and only the most venal and petty sort of person does not see that. And the sort of person who would ride the rise of the Republicans into majority, largely on the work of George W. Bush, but then threaten to sink the ship if they don’t get to set the course and seize command from the rightful captain, well folks that’s nothing but a dirty, low-down mutineer


On now to the Dubai Ports deal. In early 2006, DP World, a company based out of the United Arab Emirates, agreed in principle to take over management of six U.S. ports then managed by a British firm which was leaving the business. It should be noted at the start, that there were only two companies interested in the deal – Dubai World out of the UAE, and the People’s Republic of China. For some reason, the hardline Right decided that there was a third option, a way to either force the British company to keep the ports or that some fictional all-American firm would come into existence just to prevent – what? It seems that the hardright was never clear about what exactly was at risk. Dick Meyer at CBS noted that the UAE would never own the ports or have anything at all to do with their security (security at ports is addressed by US Homeland Security), and in any case the UAE’s standing as a US ally is excellent. As Meyer wrote in his article, the people attacking Bush for the deal were nothing but purveyors of “demagoguery and cheap shots“. Reuters put it bluntly: “Maritime security experts sided with the president
I tried to put the matter in perspective myself, even before I realized that the hype against the deal was paranoid delusion and Bush-hate.

In the end, the deluded jackals of HardRight won, and the deal was destroyed, at the small cost of breaking legal and diplomatic precedent, insulting a valuable ally, and demonstrating once again the refusal of the hardline elements of conservatism to act like adults.

My point is simple – President Bush has made mistakes, but he has been unfairly attacked by people who should, by all rights, have supported him, if only to gain the most of their own goals and ideals.

The greatest President of the 20th century was Ronald W. Reagan, the man who represents the heart of Conservative Idealism for most self-identified Conservatives. Many conservatives have been disparaging of President George W. Bush, despite a comparable record on major points:

Ronald Reagan was governor of California, where he earned a record for getting the job done by working with all parties, including Democrats. George W. Bush was governor of Texas, where he earned a record for getting the job done by working with all parties, including Democrats.

Ronald Reagan as governor experienced economic crises and had first-hand experience with the causes and effects of illegal immigration. George W. Bush as governor experienced economic crises and had first-hand experience with the causes and effects of illegal immigration.

Ronald Reagan’s judicial appointments in general were excellent, with the exception of Supreme Court nominee Sandra Day O’Connor. Conservatives forgave him for that one bad choice. George W. Bush’s judicial appointments in general were excellent, with the possible exception of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. Conservatives never forgave him for that choice.

Ronald Reagan tried to address the problem of illegal immigration, proposing a program that critics said amounted to Amnesty. Conservatives in general forgave him for that program. George W. Bush tried to address the problem of illegal immigration, proposing a program that critics said amounted to Amnesty. Conservatives in general never forgave him for that program.

Ronald Reagan faced down an enemy that liberals said could not be beaten, in Communism. Years later critics began to grudgingly admit that Reagan played a role in winning the Cold War. George W. Bush faced down an enemy that liberals said could not be beaten, in Global Terrorism. Years later critics still refuse to acknowledge Bush’s success in protecting America.

Of course there are also differences between Ronald W. Reagan and George W. Bush. When terrorists blew up the Marine barracks in Beirut, Reagan withdrew from Lebanon, condemning that nation to another generation of civil war and terrorist violence. When Al Qaeda mounted counter-offensives using car bombs and incursions from Iran and Syria, George W. Bush refused to abandon Iraq, saving that nation from another generation of tyranny and terrorist violence. And President George W. Bush tried to propose solutions to the Social Security and Medicare crises while there was still room to act proactively. One cannot help but wonder what he might have accomplished if the conservatives in power at that time had acted in America’s interest instead of their own myopic political greed. During the 1980s, Republicans were in the minority of power but accomplished a lot because they rallied behind President Reagan. It can fairly be said that this is the source of our present consternation – conservatives expected the President to get behind their pet projects and bills, instead of showing the loyalty due to Bush.

So what did President Bush do, that he deserves any credit? Here’s a short list:

• Banned partial-birth abortion
• Reinstated parental-consent clause in the Medical Privacy Act
• Upheld ban on abortions at military hospitals
• Proposed, worked for, and signed into law two income-tax cuts
• Worked to eliminate the Death Tax
• Worked to privatize Social Security
• Eliminated OSHA’s ‘ergonomic’ rules for home businesses
• Reduced H1B visas from 195,000 a year to 66,000
• Killed attempts to revive Kyoto Global Warming Treaty
• Revised Forestry Management Act to allow cleanup to prevent fires, removed need for Environmental Impact Statement before removing dangerous brush and fallen tress from fire-risk areas
• Removed Saddam Hussein from Iraq
• Eliminated Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan
• Eliminated Al Qaeda operational existence outside North African continent
• Disarmed Libya of its WMDs
• Improved US military review ability, emphasis on asymmetrical warfare
• Best friend to Israel since 1948
• Prohibited putting US forces under UN command
• Brought back EP-3 plane and crew from China without conflict
• Ended participation in International Criminal Court
• Faced down the UN, saying “America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country.”
• Worked to reform Medicare
• Worked to address border security, created largest budget and roster for enforcement, internal fugitive capture, and employer penalty system in history
• Constructed ABM silos in Alaska, Montana, and Maine
• Operation Tarmac
• Denied ABA role in vetting federal judge/justice nominations

It’s quite fashionable these days to deride and attack President Bush. In a few days, he will be former President Bush, so few if any people consider the man except as a target. But it is my contention that Bush has done a fine job, deserving not only of credit and praise, but also that the present condition of Republicans and Conservatives is directly attributable to the shabby treatment heaped on the President. For the ideals of Conservatism to become attractive to American voters again, we simply owe better loyalty and support to our leaders, especially when they are conservatives or at least Republicans.

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