Cultural Revolutions

A New Brand of "Conservatism"

George W. Bush was lauded in the pages of the Wall Street Journal in the summer of 2003 by Fred Barnes, editor of the Weekly Standard, for promoting a new brand of “conservatism.”  According to Barnes, President Bush is a “big government conservative,” and his administration believes “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.”  Later in the same article, Barnes noted that “big government conservatives are favorably disposed toward what neoconservative Irving Kristol has called a ‘conservative welfare state.’”  Then, in an understatement, Barnes added: “Neocons tend to be big government conservatives.”

A cynic might suggest that what Barnes was really saying was that there is nothing wrong with big government, so long as “our guys” are in charge.

To give Fred Barnes his due, he did acknowledge that there had been a “surge of federal spending” during Bush’s presidency, resulting in “swollen deficits.”  (A Cato Institute study refers to Bush as “the biggest spending President in 30 years.”)  Moreover, Barnes pointed out that President Bush had failed to exercise his veto power during his first term...

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