This helps explain how “libertarians” and “conservatives” buried everything that they supposedly stood for – small government, limited governmental intervention in private lives, limited federal government power in general – when their governing coalition found itself in power.
On a similar note, I never thought that we would seriously ask whether George W. Bush is a conservative. I guess that makes me that much less perceptive than Digby, who predicted this months ago. Via this characteristically important post by Greenwald, conservatives have a real problem in that they hitched their movement to the president when he seemed like an unbeatable juggernaut. As their designated representative slides from juggernaut to joke, conservatives have to find a way to get unhitched before he drags the movement down with him.
Let me illustrate. We have commenters of every political stripe who bring up the president fairly often. I have noticed that when somebody criticizes the president the defender will sooner or later label that person a ‘liberal’ almost without fail. That seems like a strange thing to say when Bush critics include dyed-in-the-wool libs, Reagan Democrats, independents, GOP expatriates and unreconstructed Republican conservatives who simply detest the current administration. If you follow the logic that opposing the president more or less categorically defines a person as liberal, by definition that makes the president conservative, even the living embodiment of conservatism. As long as the Republican star seemed on the rise and decades of hard work had made the word ‘liberal’ practically an epithet it made for a useful, if dishonest, rhetorical barb.
Obviously personifying conservatism is a bad idea if the person is a loser. That helps explain conservatives who have newfound problems with the president, but for sheer moxie points you can’t beat Jonah Goldberg, a guy who not only steps away from the president but tries to hitch Bush’s fading star to liberalism. Really? I get it now, those angry books from Hannity, Coulter, Savage et al ad infinitum actually called the president a traitor, an enemy of America and a closet sympathizer with the evil men who want to destroy our great nation. Try to parse that logic, and then take an advil.