What is it that distinguishes Bush Republicanism from the Coolidge, Taft, Eisenhower and Reagan varieties? Four major issues come to mind.
Bush is a "Big Government conservative" who repudiated the "government-is-the-problem" philosophy of Reagan. His No Child Left Behind program, doubling the size of the Department of Education, and his vast expansion of Medicare to cover prescription drugs so testify.
Second, Bush believes in Wilsonian interventionism, including the use of military force, to advance a "global democratic revolution" and "end tyranny on earth."
Third, Bush believes in open borders, amnesty and "a path to citizenship" for 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens, and smoothing the way for untold millions more to come and "do the work Americans will not do."
Fourth, Bush is a NAFTA-CAFTA man who believes in throwing America's doors open to goods from all over the world, regardless of the protectionist practices of our trade partners. To Bush, free trade is an article of faith and faithful observance its own reward.
For seven years now, consistent with these beliefs, Bush has crafted national policy to conform to his convictions. Thus, any verdict on the Bush presidency must also render judgment upon his philosophy.
With his own and his party's approval at the lowest levels since Watergate, one may conclude then that America is not only rejecting Bush the man and his record, but the philosophy behind both.
This should be a matter of grave concern to a Republican Party that has lately embraced all four pillars of the Bush-Republican philosophy.
For consider the fruits.
Interventionism gave us Iraq, the worst strategic blunder in U.S. history. Big Government conservatism wiped out the surplus, fattened the federal bureaucracy and enlarged its share of GDP, and destroyed the Republican reputation as America's bastion of fiscal prudence.
The Bush immigration philosophy was repudiated by Middle America, which rose in righteous wrath against his amnesty plan and demanded he enforce the law and secure the border. Americans are unreconciled to the idea that the America they grew up in will be morphed into some mammoth multicultural Mall of Mankind.