“Read my lips: no new taxes.” These six words ultimately led to what conservatives have come to see as one of the worst betrayals in the annals of political history. As Dick Armey—who as it happens was the Texas congressman who had led the rebellion over President Bush's tax hike—might say, “the President couldn't have been this wrong by accident."
Let’s look back at 1990. Even before the tax hike the President’s conservative base was restless. A row over funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and signs of a sagging economy had created a political environment perfect for the creation of Monday morning quarterbacks. Even in the the aftermath of a 90% approval rating over his handling of the Gulf War, critics on the right were already charging that the President had cut and run too soon before finishing off Saddam Hussein.
But in 1990 it was too early to tell that a greater breach of trust would come into being—David Souter, Supreme Court Justice. While there were a few writers at the time who questioned Souter’s record, when the decision was initially announced most stories read like the Washington Times article reporting that Souter’s selection "would help rehabilitate Mr. Bush's tarnished image among some supporters on the right…" and was "likely to solidify the high court's fragile conservative bloc." Others news organs such as Human Events ran a story proclaiming “Conservative Legal Experts Impressed with Souter’s Credentials,” and speculated Souter would “significantly advance the conservative thrust of the High Court."