Bruce Bartlett

In every administration, there is always one journalist that the White House trusts above the others to represent its point of view. In this administration, it is Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard magazine.
Whenever you read one of Barnes' columns, you know that you are getting an inside perspective. You are, in effect, reading what the White House itself is thinking on any given day on any given subject.

This is an arrangement that suits everyone. Barnes is regularly able to scoop other reporters viewed as hostile to this administration, while the White House has a conduit through which it can get its message out in relatively undiluted form.

Now, Barnes has produced a book about George W. Bush, "Rebel-in-Chief," recently published by Crown Forum. Although not explicitly authorized by Bush, the book virtually carries his endorsement by virtue of his having given Barnes an interview just for this book and allowing senior White House staffers to speak to him on the record.

It is reasonable to assume that similar access would not have been granted to, say, The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, who is viewed as a first-class SOB by the White House. Therefore, we can reasonably say that Barnes' book pretty accurately represents its view on a variety of issues.

Since I have recently published a book that takes a rather dim view of Bush's policies from a conservative viewpoint, I was naturally curious to see if there is any evidence in Barnes' book that supports my thesis. I was not disappointed.

Early in the book, Barnes concedes that Bush lacks a "conservative governing temperament." Although insisting that Bush is indeed a conservative, Barnes admits that he is "no libertarian or small government conservative," even though he notes that virtually all Republicans are one or the other.

Bush "pays lip service" to limiting government, Barnes says. "More often than not," Barnes goes on to say, "he relies on a bigger federal government and billions of taxpayer dollars" to achieve his goals.

Barnes says that Bush has no sympathy for federalism, despite having been a state governor. "He's favorably disposed to federal power in education and health care," Barnes tells us.

In foreign policy, Barnes says Bush's policies are most like those of Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who said, "The world must be made safe for democracy," in his address to Congress asking for war against Germany on April 2, 1917.

Bruce Bartlett

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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