Now, with an assist from The New York Times, Rove is presenting himself as a conservative leader. On Sunday, the Times reported that American Crossroads, the super PAC Rove started, was beginning a new program called "The Conservative Victory Project." This project, as the Times put it, will "recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and tea party enthusiasts."
But Rove is no conservative.
If you give him credit for believing in the policies and nominations he helped Bush make and defend, then Rove was wrong on the constitutionally appropriate role of the federal government, wrong on foreign policy, wrong on immigration and wrong on a crucial nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2000, George W. Bush ran for president not as a conservative, but as a "compassionate conservative." This was presumably because unadulterated conservatives are not compassionate.
But to take the term "compassionate conservative" seriously, one must assume that a person in political office deserves credit for showing compassion when he employs the coercive power of the state to take money from one person and give it to another.
Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes coined a more candid, if oxymoronic, description of the Bush-Rove approach to government. In a 2003 commentary in The Wall Street Journal, Barnes said Bush was "a big government conservative." Big government conservatives, Barnes explained, "simply believe in using what would normally be seen as liberal means -- activist government -- for conservative ends. And they're willing to spend more and increase the size of government in the process."
In fact, conservatives believe the proper end of all federal elected officials is to preserve the limits on government that are spelled out in our Constitution and that protect the God-given rights of individuals against an overreaching state.
Yet, with Rove at his side, Bush not only failed in some conspicuous cases to restrict the growth of programs initiated by previous liberal administrations that had overstepped the constitutional limits on federal authority, he expanded their reach and increased their cost.
For example, Bush worked with Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Ted Kennedy to enact the No Child Left Behind Act. This significantly increased federal involvement in public education and the cost of it to federal taxpayers.