The Souter Presidency

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One
of the odd things I have noticed when chatting with various liberal
friends is the extent of their visceral hatred for President George
W. Bush. I'm not talking about mild dislike…I'm talking about eye-rolling,
mouth-foaming disgust for the man.

When
I hear these sentiments, I can only think of one question: "Why
do they hate him so?"

From
my perspective as a libertarian with paleoconservative leanings,
I am at a total loss as to identify the great transgressions that
Bush has committed which would justify this liberal loathing. In
all honesty, I think that they should be thrilled with his performance.

His
election campaign and subsequent actions in the oval office remind
me most of Supreme Court Justice David Souter. As you may recall,
back during Souter's confirmation hearings, we were treated to a
hysterical propaganda campaign from the political Left about how
Souter was a reactionary Neanderthal. The Democrats in the Senate
were gearing up for an ugly battle, which ultimately failed to keep
him from the bench.

But
look at his record since them! This guy is somewhere to the left
of Ruth Bader Ginsburg!

As
far as I'm concerned, we are the victims of yet another bait-and-switch
scheme with this president. The results leave the Left no reason
for griping at all…much less having apoplectic fits about him.

Take,
for instance, Bush's record on government spending. The Left in
this country generally believes that the path to social utopia is
paved with taxpayers' dollars, which should be poured endlessly
into a myriad of social welfare programs. They believe that the
only things standing in the way of this utopia are greedy rich people
who don't want to pay "their fair share."

By
what possible measure of Bush's performance could they come away
frustrated with the progress towards this goal? Bush's presidency
has seen an explosion of non-defense discretionary spending. The
rate of growth has been several times that of Clinton's. President
Bush's "compassionate conservatism" has translated into
a steep increase in overall government spending and a surging government
budget deficit.

So…what's
the gripe?

Another
thing that the Left traditionally loves is grandiose entitlement
programs. They long for the good-old days of LBJ when a giant new
bureaucracy was created every year or so to administer some great
new program. President Bush has achieved passage of the largest
new entitlement program since the 1960's. His prescription drug
plan was a long-sought goal of the liberals. Now they have it, thanks
to W.

Or
how about the arts?

The
liberals adore lavishing tax money on various Leftist artists who
pollute the culture with their nonsensical creations. The "Republican
Revolution" of 1994 made the elimination of the National Endowment
for the Arts one of its main goals. What has Bush's response been?
He recently proposed a giant increase in the budget of the NEA.
So now we can look forward to even more photographs of crucifixes
in urine jars and Madonnas smeared with elephant dung.

And
what about illegal immigration?

More
Souter.

The
Left in this country generally likes massive illegal immigration
because it gives them millions of new, impoverished voters who are
easily lured by the ideology of socialism and class envy. Instead
of making a strong stand to uphold the law and protect America's
borders, Bush has proposed a plan which, in essence, would result
in a massive amnesty program for illegals. Bill Clinton wouldn't
have dared to propose such an initiative.

But
the most common gripe about Bush that I hear from my liberal friends
concerns foreign policy and Iraq. They claim that Bush deceived
the American people and invaded a sovereign nation in violation
of international law. They allege that he is a dangerous cowboy
who should not be entrusted as commander-in-chief.

Actually,
these are sentiments with which I happen to agree. My issue here
is that I do not understand this criticism in the larger context
of the history of American liberalism.

Let
us break the points down:

First,
is the "WMD issue." Bush claimed that Hussein's government
had them and was in bed with terrorists. No WMD's have been found,
and chances are that someone in this administration "cooked
up" the intelligence to justify the war for ulterior motives.

While
I find this to be repugnant, how is it different from most of the
Democratic presidential icons of the 20th Century? Woodrow
Wilson lied us into World War I. FDR lied us into World War II.
LBJ lied us into Vietnam. Yet all three of these presidents are
revered by liberals to this day. President Clinton even bombed a
pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan on the same day that Monica Lewinsky
gave testimony to a grand jury (though I suppose that we should
be grateful that Paul Wolfowitz wasn't around back then, or we'd
have probably nuked Khartoum).

Furthermore,
the Leftists insist that Bush should have obtained permission from
the UN before launching his attack. But President Clinton engaged
in numerous wars without international approval…the most spectacular
of which was the bombing of Serbia over the Kosovo situation. He
had no UN mandate and no significant international coalition.

Bush's
Democratic critics further state that a war to unilaterally remove
Saddam's government violates norms of international behavior. This
overlooks the fact that the removal of Saddam was the stated policy
of the Clinton administration, which attacked Saddam once (Operation
Desert Fox) with the approval of most of the Democratic leadership
in Congress (an attack that occurred, again, without specific UN
sanction).

Clearly,
the current hatred of Bush's policy in Iraq by Leftist America is
not based on principle, but rather political expediency and hypocrisy.
The Left is currently engaging in revisionist history. Their newfound
love of non-intervention and international law is a day late and
a dollar short. In the run-up to this war, the only prominent antiwar
voices to be heard anywhere were from the outright communists (ANSWER,
etc.) and the libertarian/paleoconservative Right (Buchanan et.
al.). Most of the current Democratic presidential candidates were
in favor of the Iraq war, as was much of the Democratic Congressional
leadership.

In
truth, mainstream liberalism today is an ideology of military interventionism.
President Clinton launched a variety of military escapades (Haiti,
Bosnia, Kosovo, etc) that were fully supported by the Left. Any
opposition voiced from the Right was shouted down as "isolationism."

But
despite this hypocrisy, I will go out on a limb and say that barring
a truly dramatic occurrence, George W. Bush will probably lose the
election this coming November. He will not lose because the liberals
hate him (a hatred which is absurd, given his policies), but rather
because those Americans who thought they were getting a president
who was fiscally conservative, believed in a "humble"
foreign policy, desired border control, and wanted a generally smaller
government were sold a phony bill of goods.

Many
of these folks will stay at home on Election Day. One David Souter
in our federal government is enough.

February
27, 2004

Steven
LaTulippe [send him mail]
is a physician currently practicing in Ohio. He was an officer in
the United States Air Force for 13 years.


        
        

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