diet coke for breakfast

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Posted by Jake
A Questionable Kind Of Conservatism (

Given George Will's -- and Andrew Sullivan's -- very reasonable questioning of Bush's policies, I would say it is also reasonable to ask why Bush would be willing to take relatively centrist positions on a variety of issues. I have three theories:

1.) Reelection: You do your really radical conservative stuff at the beginning of your second term. At the end of the first term you try and frame yourself as a centrist.

2.) Destruction (or Routing) of the Democrats: They got trounced in the last of election (I seem to remember one James Carville with a trash can on his head.), and the Republicans would like to see a two decade stint of Republican rule. To do this, if you believe Karl Rove, is to triangulate Democratic issues and push them further to the Left.

3.) Changing What Conservativism Means: Although this is the most appealing to me personally, it is also probably the least likely. But we do see hints of it. Bush embraced "big tent" conservativism at the last GOP Convention, much to the chagrin of social conservatives who were not amused by gay speakers. Perhaps Bush has decided that neoconservative foriegn policy, rather than isolationist, combined with libertarian hands off on social issues, particularly gay rights, is a better than more traditional conservativism. If that were the case, I would be inclined to agree with him, but only time will tell.

I do very much agree with both Will and Sullivan on one point.

Sure, Bush has named some worrying fire-breathers to the lower courts. But my hunch is that his Supreme Court pick (if he ever makes one) will be firmly centrist. All in all: the record is socially moderate. -- Sullivan

Alberto Gonzales, the White House counsel who came with this President Bush from Texas, may be chosen to fill the next court vacancy. The likelihood of a vacancy during this presidency has given rise to a grim joke among conservatives: How do you say "Souter" in Spanish? "Gonzales." -- Will

As much as he has put some contreversial nominees to lower court benchs (mostly I think to please social conservatives), he is very likely to put a moderate up for the Supreme Court -- although for which of the above three reasons is anybody's guess.


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