God forgive me for writing it, but lately I have missed having Bill Clinton as president. When Clinton was serving as president, I thought he was clearly the worst president in American history. I was right then, of course. But it is now two terms later and what I once believed is no longer a fact.
A few of my fellow conservatives are now moaning, wondering if I've flipped my lid. But consider the facts and the inevitable conclusion is that the current President George W. Bush is more liberal than Bill Clinton ever was during his eight-year reign of terror.
Let's look at spending and the total size of the federal government first, which is the key measurement for conservatives who seek smaller government. Bush says his new fiscal 2006 budget proposal is a "disciplined budget," even though it would spend 38 percent more than Bill Clinton's biggest budget. Can Dubya really be more conservative than Bill Clinton if he increases the size of Clinton's biggest budget ($1.863 trillion in 2001) by 38 percent?
Bush's new $2.567 trillion budget for fiscal 2006 is perhaps more fiscally restrained than past Bush budget proposals, which increased spending on social welfare programs (which excludes defense and security spending) by an average of more than eight percent. Bush's 2006 budget would increase welfare and other social programs by 5.5 percent, which is the same as the average increase during the Clinton Administration.
So this year, George W. Bush is finally as conservative as Bill Clinton.
You can listen to the White House spinmeisters try to explain it all away, but facts are stubborn things. Personally, I just read the transcripts and don't watch any presidential speeches live. I confess that I stopped listening to presidential addresses live during the administration of George "read my lying lips" Bush many years ago. Now, I only read transcripts. I made the switch because I got tired of my wife saying that "I don't want to hear that language in the house." (She was talking about my language, not the president's language. I endure lies rather poorly.)
Like father, like son, I strongly suspected back in 2000. I knew, more or less, that when Dubya called himself a "Compassionate Conservative" by "compassionate" he meant "not a." But I couldn't have known then that he would place himself so far to the left of Clinton.
On the biggest government program of all, war, Bush is far more liberal in his application of that program. Yes, Bill Clinton blew up an aspirin factory in the Sudan to distract from the scandal related to his girlfriend Monica Lewinsky, and established a radical-Islamic narco-terrorist cult over sections of Bosnia. But, hey, at least he didn't get 1,500 Americans killed for nothing. Clinton was a piker on getting our soldiers killed unnecessarily compared with Bush.
Clinton carried lying propaganda to the next level. But during the Clinton administration, the kneepad-wearing loyalists were worn by heterosexuals who didn't pretend to be White House-credentialed journalists. And Clinton didn't put so-called "independent journalists" on the public payroll to sell a political agenda that increased the size of the unconstitutional U.S. Department of Education.
Even on social issues, Clinton was sometimes more conservative than Bush. Clinton signed a marriage law that recognized what all civilizations throughout history have recognized, that marriage is between a man and a woman. Clinton's law respected the conservative principle of states' rights, and didn't tinker with the U.S. Constitution. Bush has cynically backed a constitutional amendment that all of his aides admit privately could never be adopted (and no true conservative would ever want adopted), but has ignored legislation that would have denied appellate jurisdiction to federal courts on state marriage laws.
I don't miss Clinton in the sense that he traded America's nuclear secrets to China for $3 million in campaign contributions from the Chinese military, but at least you knew where he was coming from. At least Clinton was the devil we knew.
And I guess that's what I miss mostly about Bill Clinton. He made big government and military imperialism a scandal, and that limited the damage he could do. But George W. Bush has made the same thing and on a grander scale respectable and even "conservative."
And if George W. Bush redefines "conservative" as something embracing big government with unending imperial wars, then conservative is not something I choose to be.
February 22, 2005