January 29, 2004

DAVID BERNSTEIN wonders why liberals hate Bush, when he’s busy enacting all of their policies. Beats me. But then, they hated Nixon, too, and he did the same thing. Bernstein’s probably right about this: “[C]ultural cues are more important than policy and ideology. W just represents lots of things that coastal liberals dislike, and they will continue to dislike him regardless of how he governs policy.”

Bush should worry, though, because his policies are alienating the base. Some of the right-wing mailing lists that I get are turning nearly as anti-Bush as they used to be anti-Clinton. Here’s an example, from one of ‘em:

Bush Spending budget breaking for NEA. Another bottle of urine.

One expects this kind of stuff from those FAR LEFT DEMOCRATS but when a supposed *conservative* sits in office and spends more than the known liberals – well, you really have to ask yourself what is going on. You have to realize that you have elected a PRETENDER to the THRONE.

You didn’t elect a conservative – you elected a fraud who pretended to be conservative in order to get your vote so he could do far worse than Bill Clinton -Al Gore – Jimmy Carter – could do as the *conservative element would scream them out of office if they did what George W. Bush is doing and getting away with.

I’ve followed this list (it’s basically a gun-rights list) for a while. It’s a pretty good weathervane for the sentiments of a chunk of the right, and it has shifted notably against Bush over the past few months. I expect that Karl Rove thinks he can hang on to these people, and maybe he will. But from here, it looks like he’s got serious problems with the base.

UPDATE: There’s an interesting discussion on this topic over at The Corner. Start here and scroll up.

ANOTHER UPDATE: David Bernstein has further thoughts, and Dodd Harris is defending Bush:

I’ve certainly taken issue with Bush’s participation in runaway spending – among other deviations from conservative principle – plenty of times. But the fact of the matter is that Bush never pretended to be the kind of conservative these critics expected him to be. In fact, it was always quite clear to anyone who paid attention that Bush was anything but. Everything about “compassionate conservatism” was a pretty obvious announcement that he had no problem with Big Government except its priorities. . . .

I’m all for criticizing him from the right – if no-one does it, he’ll have every reason to assume his base is safely in his pocket. But calling him a fraud is too much. He told us what he would do and we voted him in, thereby endorsing those plans. If one paid attention to what he said, the best one would have hoped for was that he would turn the Leviathan a bit to the right.

Read the whole thing. But I still think that Bush has a problem with the base. Maybe they heard what they wanted to hear in 2000 — but they don’t like what they’re hearing in 2004.