Conservatives seem torn between gushing over what a decent and honorable man President George W. Bush is and what a disappointing president he was. As if the two possibilities were mutually-exclusive, and one must by necessity choose between them. This question was certainly not laid to rest even before his new book, “Decision Points,” came out this week. Now the book has everybody buzzing.
Personally, I find the two claims made by conservatives to be equally true. I believe former President Bush is a decent man, and he has shown me to be an honorable one. President Obama’s incessant whining about the mess left him by the previous administration does nothing to make him look good in comparison. It’s past time for him to put his long pants on and deal with the fact that he occupies the Oval Office now, and the responsibility has been his for two years. The contrast between the current leader of the free world and his predecessor — the latter of whom refuses to lower himself to playing the blame game — could not be clearer.
President Bush could have been a great leader, and in some ways he was a very good one. But he was a big-government social conservative — and you know what I think of those. I have been too harsh on him in some ways, but I will not relent on that one. His main fault was that he listened too often to war-mongering neocons and religious hysterics. The tyrants had his ear right from the start.
This is sad, because the former president showed, on many occasions, that he was a better man than that. His basic impulses seemed to be the right ones. He’s never been a hater or a fanatic, and I believe he loves this country. The lesson that must be learned, from his disappointing eight years in office, is that big-government conservatism — like big-government “progressivism” — is a disaster. It is sheer folly that may yet bankrupt this nation, and we must never succumb to it again.
Big-government conservatism is not conservative in any genuine sense at all. And it is a lie those on the Right must forever see as dangerous to the survival of the republic. Social issues will be hashed out by We the People — and we require no American Taliban to take over for us. We can only defeat those who would destroy this country if we refuse to be like them.
Do I like President Bush? I certainly like him better than I used to. But what I like best about him is that he is no longer president. And that those to whom he all too frequently listened are destined — far more than he — for the scrap-heap of history.