The conservative case for George W. Bush...
... The biggest fiscal achievement of his presidency is the $1.7 trillion in tax cuts that helped the U.S. economy overcome the blows inflicted by the 9/11 attacks, the corporate accounting scandals and Hurricane Katrina.The passing of Gerald Ford gave us a great example of how a few decades can make all the difference for a President's legacy. I do give him a lot of credit for Roberts and Alito, although Scalia would have been my first choice for Chief Justice and Miers was a disaster.
Those tax cuts are conservative free-market economics at its best, and they are the reason why our economy remains -- through wars and numerous domestic disasters -- the strongest and most affluent in the world.
No conservative reform is bigger than the idea of privatizing Social Security, a revolutionary notion that most Republican leaders were afraid to embrace. Bush not only proposed it but he ran for president on its merits and traveled around the country arguing for its implementation.
That he did not succeed
is beside the point.
He was willing to spend a lot
of his political capital for
a gigantic conservative idea
That he did not succeed is beside the point. He was willing to spend a lot of his political capital for a gigantic conservative idea: freeing workers to invest some of their payroll taxes in stocks and bonds to create wealth. It's unlikely Bush can resurrect his proposal in the next two years, but he has boldly opened a path for a future president to follow and deserves great credit for the boldness of his attempt to bring down the last pillar of the New Deal welfare state.
Even his prescription-drug program, which expanded entitlements at a time when they are going through the roof, has turned out to be far less expensive than its critics forecast. Democrats and Republicans wanted something bigger and costlier and would have gotten it, too, but Bush won a more limited and price-competitive alternative.
Presidents never do everything we want them to, and Bush is no exception. But on some of the biggest ideas of conservative orthodoxy he has been willing to enter the arena, take some big risks and fight some big battles, winning some and losing others.
Win or lose, these initiatives need to be added to the scorecard when we measure his presidency against all of the others.
From the same column, here are Lambro's thoughts on Bush's Iraq policy:
As bleak as things look right now, Bush's advisers believe that planting the seeds of democracy in the midst of these terrorist breeding grounds is the only way to combat a fanatical Islamic movement that still threatens the safety and security of the West.Time will tell George, and I hope you're right.
As chaotic as things seem, these governments, still in their infancy, are going to survive. They have made mistakes and no doubt will make others, as our young government did before them. But Bush believes, as I believe, that these free and independent governments will exist long after he has left office and that they will ultimately triumph over the terrorists.