Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Far Right Criticism of Bush Portends 2008 Battles

For those who believe that President Bush is an extreme right-winger, it might be a surprise to learn that the President has recently heard a lot of criticism from his right flank. Paul Mulshine, writing for the New Jersey Star Ledger reports that conservative talk-radio host Michael Savage has lately been deeply critical of Bush.

Savage has even started calling rabid Bush supporters “Bush Bots” because he feels they’re too stupid to realize Bush is selling them a false line of conservative goods. The crux of Savage’s critique is that (get this) Bush is far too liberal. You’ll have to read the column to get the full feel of the criticism, but far right conservatives really do have a number of reasons to be upset at Bush.

Does this then make Bush a Centrist or at least a Center-right politician? Hardly. What this shows is that the flat-line paradigm of political affiliation is not (and probably never has been) all that accurate or telling. But more importantly, it shows that there are rifts in the Republican party. The same disagreements that spawned Pat Buchanan’s multiple candidacies could spawn a similar candidacy in 2008.

We will likely see three types of candidates in the Republican field. The social conservative/big business/big government model like President Bush, the protectionist/tiny government model like was Pat Buchanan, and the Center-right model like John McCain.

Which of the three types prevail will depend a lot on the individual candidates, but it will also depend on Bush’s next 3 years. If Bush’s second term is perceived by the party to be generally weak, the social conservative/big government candidates might have problems. And if the battle comes down to the protectionists versus the centrists, the centrists will clean up. Like the far left, the far right has far fewer supporters than it thinks.

Whatever the case, I would expect the storied Republican unity to fall apart the closer we get to 2008.


At 12:51 PM, Blogger Shay said...

I would argue that President Bush is a moderate-conservative (with a heavy emphasis on conservative). He is socially conservative, fiscally moderate, and a foreign policy conservative. Just a little right of center-right...but not by much. Bush isn't a fiscal conservative (like myself, and I'm moderate in the other two arenas) because he favors some government intervention in the economy.

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Apaulstle4U said...

Savage is in the Pat Buch. mold of conservatism.

- Generally against free trade agreements

- An America for Americans first approach (i.e. effectively deporting illegal imigrants)

- Staying out of wars unless their is a direct threat to US interests

Savage's critsicm is really just a voice for the P Buch conservatives, not an indication of a deep rift in the Rep party.

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Yep, Savage and Buchanan are of the same mold. And it IS a rift. It's a rift that's been there for awhile--remember Buchanan gave Bush I a little bit of a run for his money back in 1992.

My point is that the rift has not gone away and I expect it to show back up in the 2008 elections. I do not, however, think those on the Savage/Buchanan side have enough support to do much more than make noise.

At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Lex said...

President Bush is socially conservative, although not enough so for all on the far right.

He is nowhere close to being a fiscal conservative, or a fiscal moderate. He has been growing government spending faster than any President since LBJ. He has been growing the national debt even faster.

There are probably 25-30 candidates, Democrat and Republican, thinking about entering the Presidential race in 2008. To a moderate libertarian voter like me, ANY of them would be an improvement.

At 9:17 PM, Blogger Ted Carmichael said...

You know, it's funny, Shay ... I always considered myself a fiscal conservative. Balanced budget, equitable tax rate, cut down bloated programs. But I wouldn't say I favor no "government intervention in the economy." Maybe I need to update my labels, but I always thought of that as a libertarian stance.

For example, if a program ... let's say, some sort of education thing in prisons ... can be shown, with a rigorous study, to reduce recidivism in the prison population, and that makes us safer and/or saves us money, then I'm all for it.

But I do agree the government shouldn't try to micromanage the economy. The President and Congress act - probably because we expect them to - as if they have more control over the economy that they actually do. Most of the time, getting out of the way helps more than anything, sure. But on the fringes, there are many programs that may be 'liberal' but can clearly be shown to have a net benefit, economic or otherwise. I say we should keep those programs, regardless of what side of the aisle first championed them.


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