This piece was written by Gary Hoitsma
The legacy of President George W. Bush and his relationship with the conservative movement is the subject of a timely new book by a young conservative who worked inside the Bush White House for the better part of the two Bush terms in office.
Describing himself, per the book’s title, as “The Man in the Middle,” Tim Goeglein acknowledges that his is not exactly a household name of the Bush era. Yet the thoughtful perspectives he shares from his experiences as a key lieutenant of presidential counselor and political advisor Karl Rove are evocative of the sometimes-complicated relationship that movement conservatives had and still have with the 43rd president.
Goeglein provides an earnest and heartfelt defense of what he sees as President Bush’s conservative record of accomplishment on key policy elements of the culture wars of the time – ranging from stem cell research to abortion, the institution of marriage, the make-up of the Supreme Court, the prosecution of the war on terror and keeping the country safe post-9/11. He gives Bush high marks on all of these, while relating important aspects of the decision-making involved.
He describes Bush as “the most pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-religious liberty president of the contemporary era,” suggesting that this collective achievement on the cultural-social side of the ledger will only “grow with time.”
At the same time, Goeglein deliberately downplays any in-depth discussion of some of the key issues of the period where Bush and conservatives seriously parted company— e.g., out-of-control spending, the size of government, No Child Left Behind, Medicare prescription drugs, and immigration reform, among others. These, Goeglein says, “will be closely examined and debated for years to come,” but not so much by him in this particular book.