Some of my former friends on the right have attacked me as an opportunist who sold out his party and his president to get a best-seller. They would not think so if they knew that I started this project knowing that I would probably lose my job with a think tank closely allied with the White House, which I did. My advance on the book was less than the salary I was making, so if I am an opportunist, I’m a pretty poor one.
My new friends on the left are, of course, delighted to find someone on the right who is articulating a critique of George W. Bush. But if they read the book, they will find that my criticism bears nothing in common with theirs. Just because I find fault with a president from my party doesn’t mean I’ve switched sides. On the contrary, I wrote the book in order to help my side win.
My basic argument is that Mr. Bush has enacted policies contrary to conservative principles on too many occasions. Some of those that disturb me the most are these:
- No Child Left Behind Act. Republicans used to campaign on the idea of abolishing the Department of Education. Bush greatly increased its budget, despite a paucity of evidence showing that educational outcomes are correlated with educational spending. No wonder Sen. Ted Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts and Congress’s leading liberal, loved it. The “reforms” Bush got in return were far too modest to justify his support for this legislation and it hasn’t even helped him politically. All we ever hear from the education lobby are demands for even more spending.
- Campaign Finance Reform. I don’t know a single conservative who doesn’t think that this legislation is a fundamental violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution, the Supreme Court’s ruling to the contrary notwithstanding. Personally, I consider that Bush violated his oath to defend the Constitution by signing this monstrosity, especially since he said he would veto such a bill during the 2000 campaign.
Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.
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