As I hope I have made clear, I’m no sort of political fanatic, just an anti-communist, or these days better said an anti-socialist. Anti-communists have included such foaming at the mouth right-wing fanatics as Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. Not wanting to be killed or enslaved by sociopaths wrapped up in 19th century German philosophy doesn’t make you a fanatic, it just makes you not crazy, in my book.
Well, then, isn’t shooting nuns in the back of the head not only evil but fanatical? Not at all. A guerilla war, urban or rural, is still a war, and the rules of war as recognized by civilized people apply. If you’re a combatant, you’re liable to being killed, and if you’re not actually engaged in combat but are giving “aid and comfort to the enemy” you are a traitor and liable to being killed. The absence of formal legal channels for doing this is not relevant- for among other reasons that if such legal channels existed they would be subject to terrorism and assassination by the socialists. So yes, if in a society under siege from urban terrorism you are a left-wing intellectual who thinks fighting back is wrong, because it doesn’t address the “root causes” or because the methods required for survival don’t meet some imaginary legal criteria, you are subject to being killed. If it is suspected you know something, you are subject to spending some time on a bed frame with the leads from a car battery on your genitals. Every living creature fights to survive. The Constitution- any constitution- is not a suicide pact.
For the record, and so you might understand where I am coming from better, I am simply a libertarian conservative of the old school, the Goldwater/Reagan school. I voted for George W. Bush twice, and in 2004 I has a community chair for Bush/Cheney 2004. I was in a very blue community, in a purple city, in a red county, in a very blue state. My efforts from a practical standpoint meant nothing. I supported Bush in spite of his Karl Rove inspired attempts to hold the center, the Medicare drug benefit and the steel tariffs being the most memorable examples. But for the War on Terror, it was Bush or capitulation. It would have been easy for Kerry to run to the right of Bush on terror- “Go after the Saudis!”- but all he had to offer was surrender.
The Jedi mind tricks of the New Left- same as the Old Left- are not what I wanted to write about today though. My subject is George W. Bush, Governor of Texas, 43rd President of the United States, son of George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States, grandson of Prescott Bush, U.S. Senator from the state of Connecticut, brother of John Ellis “Jeb” Bush, Governor of Florida. A more distinguished pedigree and political career would be hard to imagine. Bush II was elected twice and served two full terms as President, the most constitutionally allowed. The only greater accomplishment would have been leaving the office to his Vice President, but only two Presidents have ever done that. In neither case was the transfer politically successful, and in any case Dick Cheney was never intended to fill that role. It can be argued that on some level John McCain was Bush’s designated successor, but it would be more correct to say that McCain was the Republican Party’s chosen successor, Republicans often choosing candidates by seniority.
And yet Bush II (I will simply call him Bush from now on as his father is not much relevant to the topic) is almost universally despised, apoplectically hated by the left, dismissed by the right. Was Bush in reality a spectacular failure as a politician?
As young people are earnestly told, usually by older people who should know better, a person must define success for himself, not as others define it. This advice is used by young people to pursue low-paying “careers” that leave them broke and disgusted in middle age. If they are honest they then tell young people to pursue money, but they generally don’t.
Bush seems to have taken this message to heart, and succeeded beautifully with it. Money was not an issue; he entered office with a comfortable amount of money, and while he is not in a position to cash in like Clinton, he will want for nothing.
As a practical matter, Bush did whatever he felt like in his eight years in office, with only a few exceptions. His one significant failure was immigration reform; this was thwarted by his own supporters, who he smeared as racists, as did his allies in the matter John McCain and Lindsay Graham. He was thwarted also in the nomination of Harriet Myers, again by his supporters, who wanted someone who could win an argument with Stephen Breyer. His last failure, another minor matter in the greater scheme, was in the Dubai ports deal. The nature of the opposition in this was somewhat more widespread and ill-defined, but again was mainly the protect America people who supported him, and not the left.
The was criticism then, that seems to have resurfaced, that Bush did not respond to attacks from the MSM, thus harming his cause. It may have harmed the conservative cause, but it didn’t harm him. When did anyone, any group, any movement on the left stop Bush from doing anything? Never, as far as I can tell. If you can name a circumstance, tell me, but I don’t think you can.
Bush was never a conservative activist, never a conservative partisan, never really a conservative of any kind. John O’Sullivan wrote a description in National Review, and he described Bush as an ad hoc politician, not moved by any ideology but only his own feelings on particular issues. I don’t think this is quite right. Bush was at least somewhat ideological, but he came from the old school of northeastern liberal Republicanism, not progressive, but with a strong element of noblesse oblige. But for Bush it was always about him and his family. His sister-in-law comes from a poor Mexican peasant background, so for Bush poor Mexican peasants are members of his family, and he has to look out for him.
So how did he do it? Precisely because Bush was not, is not, an ideological conservative, in fact was a moderate to liberal Republican, and always followed a line pretty close to what the consensus of the American public was, his policies were broadly accepted and not aggressively challenged by the left or right. There was plenty of theater, for the rubes in San Francisco and Boston who haven’t yet realized politics is as real as pro wrestling, but when the time came to vote in the legislature the opposition faded away.
Beyond knowing and following a popular line, that would have been consensus if not for the personal, culturally driven distaste, Bush had another quality virtually no other politician possesses- he just did not give a shit. Or, he did a hell of a job bluffing. Normally criticism is a very effective way of sterring the political process, because politicians, like people in general, hate to be criticized. Criticize a man and he will at least respond, likely qualify his position, and many times modify it substantively. Bush really didn’t do any of this. He was used to dominating people in face to face, personal relationships, and never saw the need to bend for people he didn’t know, never met or dealt with face to face, and had no personal leverage on him.
This is not, repeat not, the same as putting your finger up to the wind. Bush never did that either. He already believed things close to the consensus, usually, so there was no need. When what he believed was not close to the consensus- with immigration reform, Harriet Myers, and the ports- he did not change or bend one bit, instead he fought to the end with the nuclear weapons of politics, accusations of racism and bigotry.
If Bush didn’t bend for people who didn’t like him, didn’t support him, and never voted for him, it’s not surprising- it was to them, because they think they call the tune, but it should not be for anyone else. But he didn’t care about the people who supported him either. They had no other alternative, so why would he? He didn’t even pretend at the end.
Why no one seems to understand Bush is the real mystery, because nothing he is and nothing he does is that complicated. As a politician he is extremely unusual, as a person only unusual. Bush discovered at some point in life that people would bend to him, so he didn’t need to bend to them.