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September 15, 2009

George W. Bush...What Is This Conservative Movement You Speak Of?

Another Bush administration "tell all" book, another sensational grab for attention.

This book is from former Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer. The charge? Bush wasn't really into the whole "conservative movement" thing.

The revealing moment, described in "Speechless: Tales of a White House Survivor," occurred in the Oval Office in early 2008.

Bush was preparing to give a speech to the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. The conference is the event of the year for conservative activists; Republican politicians are required to appear and offer their praise of the conservative movement.

Latimer got the assignment to write Bush's speech. Draft in hand, he and a few other writers met with the president in the Oval Office. Bush was decidedly unenthusiastic.

"What is this movement you keep talking about in the speech?" the president asked Latimer.

Latimer explained that he meant the conservative movement -- the movement that gave rise to groups like CPAC.

Bush seemed perplexed. Latimer elaborated a bit more. Then Bush leaned forward, with a point to make.

"Let me tell you something," the president said. "I whupped Gary Bauer's ass in 2000. So take out all this movement stuff. There is no movement."

I found a lot of what Scott McClellan and Tom Ridge selling hard to believe. This? I buy it.

I'm sure we've all had the experience of dealing with liberal friends who tell us how Bush was the most evil conservative ever to walk the halls of the White House. I don't know about you but my response was always, "if only!".

You know what the first clue Bush wasn't a movement conservative was? "Compassionate Conservatism". It was pretty clear that Bush didn't think all that much of what the rest of us considered a pretty good philosophy.

The 'compassionate' modifier was given full voice when Bush proclaimed, "We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move." There's nothing the least bit conservative about that statement or the thinking behind it.

So no, it wouldn't shock me in the least to hear that a guy who says those things equates the conservative movement of Goldwater and Reagan with Gary Bauer. Those statements combined with out of control spending, signing McCain-Feingold and a host of other actions show Bush wasn't really 'one of us'.

Now don't get me wrong, I voted for Bush twice and wish he were still there but not because I thought he was a great or even a good conservative (had it not been for 9/11 I would have wanted to see someone run against him in '04 primaries from the right). But simply put he was better than Gore or Kerry. Life is about choices between real world alternatives, not theoretical ideals.

We can re-fight the Bush years if we want but right now I don't see the point. Thanks to the overreach of Obama and the Democrats in Congress, conservatives have found their voice again. Yes, we will have to carry the baggage of the Bush years for a good long while but hopefully we won't make the same mistakes again.


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posted by DrewM. at 11:03 AM

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