American Proscenium

The Bush Years: A Reversal

We have just survived eight years of the worst American presidency in modern times.  For conservatives, the reign of Bush II was far worse than anything we had to endure previously, but at least in the case of outright statists like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, we knew what we were getting into.  In the case of George W. Bush, however, the reversal is far more dramatic—as are the consequences for the country.

The 2000 Bush campaign was characterized by standard conservative economic orthodoxy in the style of Jack Kemp and the “opportunity society” of the supply-siders.  We could still continue to support a gigantic welfare-warfare state, according to the underlying theory of “compassionate conservatism,” as long as we continued to expand the money supply and give huge tax breaks and subsidies to the investor class, who would then create more wealth and more jobs—and “a rising tide lifts all boats.”  The business cycle, according to this doctrine, was repealed: It was up, up, up all the way, all the time, and there was no need to look back, or down, or in any direction but straight ahead.  We could keep spending and borrowing, and there would be no consequences, no contraction—just eternal growth and rapid “progress.”

The promise of the first Bush campaign was the prospect of “a more humble foreign policy,” as the candidate...

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