President Bush is receiving too much criticism from our side complaining he is not conservative. Using the historic criteria, he is conservative enough for me.
The first economic rule for a conservative is to lower taxes and lessen regulations. This the President has done. He did so against the howls of the New York Times set, whose hatchet man Paul Krugman prophesized an "economic depression" if taxes were lowered. Bush stood his ground, and has come back asking that these lower taxes be made permanent.
He did so not only for income taxes but capital gains taxes as well. The President has stood up to the never ending chant that by removing onerous and silly regulations he is ruining the environment and is in the back pocket of big and small business. He fought to open up barren, nondescript wildernesses to oil drilling, where proven reserves have been recorded, even while they’ve called him a plunderer and a man with "no social conscience".
Contrary to economists, professors, pundits, Democrats and the soft contingent among Republicans, Bush’s steadfastness has produced a revived economy of record-breaking consecutive quarters and historically low unemployment. Only a believer in Laffer theory — which Bush evidently is — could have withstood for so long the barbs and humiliations that the President has, all in loyalty to conservative economic policies.
Conservatives believe in a strong build-up of Defense needs and the judicious use of military power to solve problems that can’t be solved by the corrupt, ineffective, anti-American and anti-Semitic U.N. As realists, conservatives reject the meaningless negotiations that simply give aggressors more time to build up their war and nuclear machines. We’ve seen the failed byproducts of Carterism and Clintonism.
No liberal would have undertaken a real War on Terror. Liberals such as Clinton, Gore, Carter and Kerry continue to view jihadist barbarism more as criminal offenses than a willful war against the West and would, therefore, have tepidly fought it with Interpol, police and some sporadic lobbing of missiles. Their remedy would have been endless, sickening negotiations implying a sort of moral parity. Most of us would have become utterly demoralized and physically ill. Thanks to Bush, we are not. I may have some questions and differences, but, thank God, I’m not plotzing.
In contradistinction, the President has restocked our military with the latest and best equipment, impervious to the constant accusation of choosing the military over "domestic needs", i.e., more redistribution of others’ wealth and expansion of welfare type programs. And he has waged a war against Islamic terror that is serious and bold. Mistakes aside, it is the conviction and implementation that affirms one’s conservative bona fides.
He has fought for the much needed Patriot Act, even against timid members of his own party, whom we call the "finer mentschen" (men who always want to be beyond criticism). He did not cave in to those who demanded from day one we close down Gitmo, refrain from interrogating terrorist prisoners and treat them like criminals endowed with all the rights of upstanding U.S. citizens. He has fought for the imperative to screen calls coming from Al Qaeda to sleepers here in America. He has accurately labeled the jihadists as 1) evil and 2) an enemy — something the politically correct could never bring themselves to do.
He has done this in the face of the greatest, most organized and well-financed attacks against any Republican President in our lifetime. More attacks and vitriol than Ronald Reagan ever received. I was the first rabbi to endorse Reagan, and I loved him as though a favorite uncle, but, truthfully, he did not have to endure the degree and relentless attacks that George Bush has been forced to endure. Against Bush, it is personal, nasty, and 24/7.
And the President has had to do this with a Republican House and Senate far less supportive than they were of Reagan. Bush has no Phil Graham, Jesse Helms, Dick Armey, etc. Our Republican members are today not as feisty as were those during Reagan’s time.
The two vacancies on the Supreme Court have been filled by proven Conservatives with a case-load track record, unlike those chosen by Nixon, Eisenhower and Bush I. They are, also, more scholarly and erudite and thus will their opinions be more effective and influential, as has been the case with Justice Scalia.
The economy, the military, the use of power, the lessened dependence on the U.N., and the Courts. What else remains but the social issues. No president has ever spoken in behalf of the unborn, against abortion, as has George Bush — not even Reagan who authored a pro-life book. Bush has openly stood against the efforts of those wishing to confer on same sex individuals the title "married." He did so in the State of the Union address, in press conferences and in other speeches. He did so with conviction and heart.
Many conservative politicians eschew public declarations on hot social issues. Not Bush. He even came out against government financing of embryonic stem cell research. That was very gutsy. And, he has made religion and the religious an equal and legitimate part and force in American public life — not simply private but public — by vigorously pushing for faith-based institutions to receive federal funds for projects considered "in the public good." He has given us an equal playing field — the first to do so.
To me, a Conservative respects and cements the concept of national sovereignty. By not signing the Kyoto treaty, the President has announced that U.S. manufacturing, and regulations associated with it, remain the exclusive province of our country. Bush undid the pledges of a previous administration that would have submerged our independence to that of a global forum, as well as saying No to the concept of a World Court having power over our military and decisions about when and with whom we go to war. He also abandoned the never ending treaties dictating to us our nuclear quantities. He has saved us from transnationalism.
Best of all, he and his administration do not seem to arise every morning waiting to see if they’ve been given the OK by the NY Times or Washington Post. It is absolutely refreshing and invigorating to witness leaders not submissive to these editorial pages. Most of today’s Republicans as well as the staff of previous Republican administrations have not displayed, what is for me, this delicious indifference. Because George Bush does not take his cue from these liberal newspapers and colunnists, they call him “arrogant’. Perhaps that’s why these pages are in constant attack mode against the President.
He is a free-trader. Though some may rightly argue that excessive free trade is lessening our capacity to be self sufficient, until otherwise decided, free trade has been a hallmark of conservative economic theory. Most multinational executives opposed to large deficits usually find the answer to deficits in raising taxes. They may be Republicans but are not Conservatives in any other area and, in fact, do not subscribe to answering lower taxes with deep cuts in "entitlement" spending.
I sometimes think our dedicated people out there fighting for our beliefs judge the President by criteria more suitable for assessing the executive director of a conservative PAC. The President is not the head of a Church, nor the director of the Council of All Virtuous Beliefs, nor the head of the Heritage Foundation. Nor is he a conservative columnist or editor at National Review.
In defining the religious movement to which a person belongs, we in the religion sphere have a few criteria. One: a belief in the cardinal principles of that movement. Two: worship at one of its institutions. Three: public identification with the movement. Four: an exhibition thru action and heart that the individual lives by and feels these principles.
Most of us understand that every movement and theory has minutiae that some raise to levels beyond their worthwhile significance. Often, the little things are used as a test as to one’s authenticity, raising the minutiae to a level above the core principles. And so it is with so many other ideologies. In every important and time-tested rule, George Bush is a true and proud Conservative. Besides, unlike Clinton and Kerry, for example, there is no question that culturally he is 100% American, not European. That’s one of the reasons today’s liberals so dislike him.
He could please us more, perhaps, if he had greater support among our own Republican representatives. How many times is he supposed to re-fight the ANWAR battle to prove to us he believes in oil/energy independence?
Philosophers can be absolutists. Keeping in mind the vagaries of politics, it is impossible for a President to be an absolutist. Sure, I’d like the President to stop calling Islam "a religion of peace." But we know why he says it. Sure, I’d like him to end this war tomorrow by using every ounce of American military power, by fighting the war on our terms. But he probably can’t.
It may well turn out that cultures dominated by Arabic/ Islamic thinking and habits can not be democratized. If so, the President’s vision and hope will have been faulty, a mistake, but it says nothing of his conservatism.
Sure, I’d like him to close the borders tomorrow, ironclad — and send every illegal back before they bankrupt our hospitals, clinics, and schools; yes, before crime and certain neighborhoods get out of control. I bet you, he wants the same.
In principle, I’m against a massive prescription drug program. But it was to be. Better ours than theirs. Though I believe we can persuade and indeed convince most people about most issues, it may be impossible to disregard a governmental role and answer to the issue of rising medical costs, particularly drug costs, especially when it comes to the elderly, our parents. So give the President some slack.
I understand why the President followed all those in the party begging for some type of program for seniors in need of help in paying for their life-enhancing medications. It helped win the 2004 contest for House and Senate members by taking the issue away from the Democrats. When it comes to governance, politics is still important.
During Reagan’s two terms, conservatives would implore those surrounding Reagan to "let Reagan be Reagan." The feeling was that Reagan was at times not acting conservatively because his inner circle was shielding him from important facts or obstructing him from acting the way he truly would have wanted. We now know that Reagan was always Reagan. Even the most conservative President knows the limitations to total implementation of any philosophy, no matter how correct and noble. The presidency is no different than any other category of life where reality reigns among even the most philosophically strong.
Though his polls are at what they call "a low point," the President has not made any attempt to refashion long-held principles in an effort to regain popularity and create a rise in his numbers. I am astounded and heart-warmed by this man’s ability to stay the course during this time of war and to choose principle over popularity. I respect him for that.
To me — a Conservative first and Republican second — it is beyond doubt that George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, Andrew Card and even Condi Rice constitute the most conservative administration — and vocally so — we have ever seen, and one stronger and more resolute than even that of Ronald Reagan. It remains Conservative even in its second term.
We do not realize this because, unlike Reagan, Bush has not been blessed with the central-casting characteristics of Reagan. Reagan was endowed with certain physical mannerisms that gave him a larger than life aura. He was very self-confident. He was also a man of not one but two generations previous. Men born a century ago had a certain bearing and unequivocation, an assuredness; more so than those of us today under 60 raised in an era of ambiguity and liberal political correctness.
But when it comes to inner steel, I think Bush has ingot loads, as well as a heart with firm muscle. He is a terrific sheriff. That’s why I have my synagogue make a special blessing for him, every Sabbath at 12 pm — at High Noon.