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October 21, 2005

Andrew Sullivan nails it:

The culprit here is George W. Bush. What he has done is provide a form of Christianist socialism, and glibly presented it as the continuation of the conservative tradition. He has thereby in one stroke delegitimized conservatism itself by falsely claiming its mantle, and also done the damage that socialists normally do to a society’s self-respect, governmental functioning, public finances and individual liberty. It will take a generation to recover. Jonah Goldberg, in a moment of candor last year, predicted that Bush’s re-election would be terrible for the conservative movement. He was right.

And…while we’re here…take a gander at this:

Number of Pork Projects in Federal Spending Bills

2005 – 13,997
2004 – 10,656
2003 – 9,362
2002 – 8,341
2001 – 6,333
2000 – 4,326
1999 – 2,838
1998 – 2100
1997 – 1,596
1996 – 958
1995 – 1439

Makes me fond for the halycon days of gridlock.  How about you?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennifer Robin permalink
    October 21, 2005 4:34 pm


  2. October 23, 2005 12:03 am

    Not going to comment on the quote in the top part of the post because i haven’t read the whole of sullivan’s posting in context.

    But the beginning of your post says it is Bush’s fault, then you show stats regarding pork barrel legislation….but pork is a function of the legislative branch. It as nothing to do with Bush or the Executive Branch….Bush has no part in the crafting of the bills that reach his desk..all he can do is threaten veto every once in awhile. Fail to see the connection there.

    The pork stats don’t lie, but I see the stats as much more as a reflection of the clear division between the parties which continues to widen every day . Pork Barreling is an unfortunate derivative of people trying to get partisan things accomplished in a legislative environment not conducive to compromise.

    Ironically, I remember writing an article that was published in an Austin newspaper a few months before the 2000 election that focused upon public complaints that there weren’t enough philosophical differences between the Republicans and Democrats. My how things have changed in a few short years. It’s certainly a hostile two-party system now.

  3. Tim permalink
    October 26, 2005 1:04 am

    Mark, true to a large extent. But I think that by allying himself so closely with the religious right, Bush has created an atmosphere where demonizing the opposition becomes accepted or even expected. He sets the tone and holds some accountability here.

    I also think he’s at fault for not putting a leash on DeLay at some point. Granted, Bush has no direct authority over DeLay. They’re two different branches of government. But DeLay created an atmosphere where ethical accountability was absent, rules were routinely bent far beyond what was normal accepted practice in the past, and where he put such a priority on punishing his opponents that hostilities have escalated. Bush is the highest ranking member of his party. He took no action. He’s accountable.

    All Bush? No. But at some point he’s accountable.

  4. October 26, 2005 6:29 am

    Mark, Sullivan wasn’t talking about pork, but about the damage that Bush has done to actual, real conservatism (smaller government, fiscal sanity, etc.). He took up the mantle of conservatism, but really, he’s a Christian socialist with a penchant for tax cuts and adventurism. Sullivan is right – a generation has been scarred by Bush’s “conservatism”

    The pork numbers aren’t directly related…but they are. I think they show just how far a party can swing in ten years. The Republicans have now taken up the aspects they always railed against the Democrats for having…pork, etc.

    My apologies. It is just that both disgusted me, and both are political in nature, so I felt they could fit in one post.

  5. Tim permalink
    October 26, 2005 9:50 am

    Oh, didn’t mean to hijack the thread. Just thought Mark made a good point about how divided the two parties are, and how that’s a contributor to pork. We may differ on how much Bush is responsible for that — I believe he is, and I believe his positioning as the “Christian conservative” has helped create a culture where you demonize your enemies instead of engage them, and that leads to nastier fighting all around. Your mileage may vary.

    I also want to point out that I’m not saying this from a strictly partisan point. Reagan, for example, was a great uniter and strove to pull the parties together. Clinton had some success in that area, at least pre-Monica. I think Bush has been one of the more divisive presidents in recent history, at least regarding the division between parties.

    Just curious — do you think his actions on this front are starting to cause division within the Republican Party? The Supreme Court nomination seems to putting enough stress on his the party that some of those divisions seem to finally be coming public.

    As for the socialist part — yes, I’ve long argued that recent Republican administrations have taken on a distinctly socialist tone, and it’s interesting to see the argument in print. We’ve seen increases in deficit spending on the levels of (actually, increases greater than) FDR during the last three Republican presidents, and FDR was perhaps the most socialist of all US presidents. And you can’t justify it due to the war on terror — FDR was dealing with a war, too.

  6. October 26, 2005 10:45 am

    Oh, I think they are certainly starting to cause a division. Or, at the very least, people aren’t so quick to fall into lockstep anymore.

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