The “Bush-Is-A-Liberal” Meme

Ken AshfordBush & Co., Republicans, Right Wing Punditry/IdiocyLeave a Comment

Two great back-to-back posts by Glenn Greenwald — here and here — about the current "great rightwing fraud to repudiate George W. Bush". 

His thesis?  That the conservative moment, upon (finally) admitting the failures of the Bush Administration, are now trying to prop up the theme that "Bush is not a real conservative" or — amazingly — that "Bush is actually a liberal".  (Here’s a popular hardcore conservative denouncing Bush’s "neo-socialist" programs!)

Well researched and written, Greenwald’s pieces are a must-read:

The great fraud being perpetrated in our political discourse is the concerted attempt by movement conservatives, now that the Bush presidency lay irreversibly in ruins, to repudiate George Bush by claiming that he is not, and never has been, a "real conservative." This con game is being perpetrated by the very same conservatives who — when his presidency looked to be an epic success — glorified George W. Bush, ensured both of his election victories, depicted him as the heroic Second Coming of Ronald Reagan, and celebrated him as the embodiment of True Conservatism.


What is going on here, quite transparently, is not any assertion by conservatives of their alleged "principles," but rather a craven rehabilitation project. Bush’s presidency cannot be salvaged, but the reputation of conservatives and conservatism can be — but only by separating the former from the latter.

In his second post, he concludes:

One of the few things more dishonest than the administration itself is the conservative movement which built and sustained it and now wants to pretend that it didn’t.

Greenwald has many examples, including this:

Jonah Goldberg, May 29, 2007 (Bush approval rating – 32%)

Bush, The Liberal [Jonah Goldberg]

Richard Cohen discovers something some of us on the right have been saying for a while: if you hold your head just so and look at Bush from the right angle, he looks an awful lot like a liberal.

Jonah Goldberg, November 8, 2003 (Bush approval rating – 60%)

But it is now clear that Bush’s own son takes far more after his father’s old boss than he does his own father, at least politically speaking. From tax cuts (and deficits, alas), to his personal conviction on aborrtion (sic), to aligning America with the historical tide of liberty in the world, Georrge (sic) W. Bush has proved that he’s a Reaganite, not a "Bushie."

Of course, as Greenwald notes, this was somewhat predictable, and people such as Digby knew it over a year ago when he wrote:

"Conservative" is a magic word that applies to those who are in other conservatives’ good graces. Until they aren’t. At which point they are liberals.

Six years ago, conservatives got the hardcore conservative president that they wanted since 1992 (and possibly even 1988).  He was able to operate for most of the years with a conservative majority in Congress, and a compliant timid Democrat opposition.  In other words, conservatives ruled the day.  The fact that things are not going well in this country, and the war, cannot be blamed on any political ideology other than the one that has been in place since the beginning of the millenium.

But watch for more of the "Bush ain’t conservative" meme in the weeks and months to follow.