George Bush: Radical Perhaps, But Certainly Not Conservative

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

George Bush often calls himself a conservative, but to an increasing number of Republicans and conservatives, he is no such thing. He certainly is a social conservative, putting faith over science in opposing increased stem cell research that probably will save lives and signing an abortion bill that failed to include an exception in the case of danger to the mother?s life. Still, in many other areas, chiefly economic policy, foreign policy, and civil liberties, he has hardly been conservative, and in some cases he has been quite radical. For this reason, several prominent conservatives, including Pat Buchanan, who ran for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2000, and former Congressman Bob Barr (R?Ga.) have started abandoning Bush?s sinking ship, and other conservatives, including George H.W. Bush?s national security advisor Brent Scowcroft and many Senate Republicans, have been vocal about their opposition to many of the President?s policies.
It?s not hard to see why conservatives have been abandoning Bush en masse. Economically, Bush inherited an economy that under the Clinton years created 22 million well-paying jobs, lifted millions out of poverty into a flourishing middle class, and created a ten-year $5.6 trillion surplus. He could have followed the Clinton model of fiscal responsibility, limiting government growth, paying down the debt, and creating jobs at home. Instead, he has pursued reckless and gigantic tax cuts for the rich, while at the same time signing Republican bills from Congress that have produced enormous increases in nondefense discretionary spending, and a Medicare bill that created a $540 billion giveaway to drug companies without actually improving prescription drug coverage for seniors. Conservatives have often supported tax cuts, but without equivalent cuts in government spending, this shifts the debt to future generations and increases the threat of a fiscal crisis in future years. Bush promised that his economic policies would reduce the national debt and create six million jobs, but with Republicans controlling Congress and the White House, and Bush failing to veto a single bill, he is seven million jobs short on his promise, according to the payroll survey, and we have annual deficits of half a trillion dollars that are on the increase, thanks to his radical policies.
Bush in 2000 promised a ?humble? foreign policy, saying that ?if we?re an arrogant nation, they?ll resent us; if we?re a humble nation, but strong, they?ll welcome us.? Instead of following through on his promises, Bush has abandoned the multilateral approach of his father, of Bill Clinton, and of many decades of American Presidents who utilized international institutions and large coalitions in order to enhance America?s power in the world and advance her interests. Bush could have worked closely with allies in order to effectively confront the growing nuclear threats of Iran and North Korea, as well as to secure loose uranium and confront terrorists. He has instead pursued radical policies that ignore and alienate our allies, and his foreign policy has been directed by a small group of neoconservatives who have radical notions of using military force to create a new American empire, all the while ignoring the real threats that America faces and engaging in a war of discretion that national security analysts say undermined the war on terror.
On civil liberties, George Bush and John Ashcroft have repeatedly undermined and attacked core American values that are codified in the Constitution in order to increase the power of government, under the guise of the War on Terror. It is true that America faces historic threats, and after September 11 law enforcement certainly did need to be improved, but detaining American citizens indefinitely without the right to a lawyer or trial, torturing people in Iraqi prisons, conducting ?sneak and peek? searches, getting lists of what people have been checking out of libraries without
probable cause to suspect a crime, and talking about delaying elections are not ways to strengthen our country. There are plenty of ways we can keep our country safe without violating our civil rights and Constitution, but unfortunately the Bush administration has violated our rights, while failing to inspect 95 percent of containers that enter our ports, failing to confront Saudi Arabia over its terrorist connections, failing to prevent Pakistan from sharing nuclear secrets with Iran, failing to provide adequate funding for homeland security, failing to stop North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons, and failing to secure loose uranium abroad.
People often connect Repub-licans with conservatism and Democrats with liberalism, but these labels don?t say much. George Bush masquerades as a conservative while attempting to portray his opponent as an extreme liberal. John Kerry has pledged to fight a more effective War on Terror that would use all of America?s resources to stop another attack, and do so without alienating our allies. If being a foreign policy moderate, fiscally responsible, and a defender of civil rights makes Kerry a liberal, then I don?t think he?d want to be anything else.