Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Question for Conservatives

George W. Bush: conservative president, or not? What's underrated about him? What does the conventional critique get right?


  1. Progressive president: neocon democracy exporter (look at his foreign policy team) signed endless prog legislation like the one that's foisted compact fluorescent bulbs on us. Fickle protectionist. For open immigration.

    Underrated: IQ

    1. For open immigration? I thought that you fancied yourself a libertarian?

    2. purusha: I am neither a conservative nor a libertarian, but I know that not all libertarians are pro-immigration. There are some who argue that open borders are wrong as long as there is a welfare state in the US. This view is especially associated with the "paleolibertarians" around Lew Rockwell.

    3. David T mostly nailed it. Unlike those at Plain Blog, I think it awful that diversity leads to voting on ethnic differences instead of ideology. As an ethnocentric Jew who votes at odds with other whites, Bernstein probably has a good story for why it makes sense to import more ethnic strife. I don't see it. Especially when immigrant groups all tend to vote to make the US more similar to the countries that they fled.

    4. You seem to think that except for Jews, whites vote heavily Republican, but this is actually true only in the South and Appalachia (and, especialy in 2012, in Mormon areas). Obama easily carried overwhelmingly white and non-Jewish Iowa. I haven't noticed that many blacks and Hispanics and Jews (despite the late Warren Rudman) in New Hampshire either (which Obama also carried fairly easily.)

    5. Some Jews agree with you. But be serious, most Jews do not want to suffer directly the effects of disparate impact lawsuits and enhanced scrutiny. Liberals enjoy pointing to the differences in outcomes between whites and NAMs, but the contrast between Jews and gentile whites is perhaps greater. The current arrangement is too cozy.

  2. Another problem with the Bush years is more subtle: the WH is an incredible bully pulpit, and since thinking follows language, the President to a large extent gets to define our thinking on the big issues of the day. In that respect, Bush did us no favors, it seems to me.

    Suppose we read about a young man from a distant immigrant culture, a graduate of the nation's oldest public high school, a home of sports heroes and noble laureates. Unlike his fellow alums, our young man stunk: in spite of his pride he was pitifully raising his family on welfare. Our story ends tragically with a mass casualty attack in the public square.

    At that point, would you have enough information to begin to understand why that tragedy occurred, and what might be attempted to address the underlying problems? Would memes like "Islamic Jihad" and "evildoer" provide any additional, helpful information?

    I can't remember if I linked to this already, but Reihan Salam recently did the "Cool Hand Luke" (there's some men you just can't reach) thing to dismiss "bad" Muslims like the Tsarnaevs. How very Bushian, how very American. I suspect it hasn't occurred to Salam - or any of his readers - that, personality differences notwithstanding, the obvious difference between Salam and the older Tsarnaev is, well, their career glidepaths as of two weeks ago.

    I'm not saying my alternative frame (terror a symptom of frustration, not an inherent personality trait) is more right than Salam/(every other American's), but importantly mine is the point-of-view about which you can begin to approach the problem. The Salam view (which is the American view, thanks largely to George W. Bush) leaves you just hoping you're not in the wrong place at the wrong time.


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