While Andrew Sullivan, despite his lurch to the left these past five years, remains a gifted writer, he, more often than not uses his verbal and literary gifts to conceal an increasingly incoherent political philosophy.** He claims to be a “small government” conservative, but has been almost unstinting in his praise of a big-government liberal Administration. And while he regularly blasts conservatives, often in quite impolitic language, he lectures the right on the “civil and civilized way” to oppose Obamacare (while ignoring those conservatives and Republicans who have done just that).
Like many of his fellow travelers on the left, Andrew describes the right not in its manifold manifestations, but by its most extreme elements. And if there’s an aspect of or individual on the right he doesn’t particularly like, well, he dresses it or her up as a extremist to suit his fancy — and so he can make his point, even if it’s more imagination- than reality-based.*
He calls himself a conservative and yet on nearly every significant issue facing the country these past five years, six months and twenty-seven days, he has sided with the leading left-wingers of our day, often repeating their hysterical accusations and imitating their breathless tone. And one of those accusations is that many of their ideological adversaries on the internets silently acquiesced in the big-spending domestic policies of then-President George W. Bush.
At the same time, he congratulates himself as being the lone conservative voice for fiscal sanity in those dark days of the Bush-Administration. And as a reader of his blog in 2003 and 2004, I can attest to his regular criticism of the then-President, often in the most civil of terms, for his budgetary imprudence. Yet, he was far from alone.
Indeed, such criticism was rampant on right-of-center blogs throughout Bush’s second term, with most conservative bloggers agreeing that Republicans lost Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008 because the GOP, when in power, had failed to restrain domestic spending. Even so, we hear again, again and yet again that we slavishly followed George W. Bush, supporting his every policy. And while we did indeed support that good man, but flawed executive, when he served in the White House, largely on national security grounds, we also regularly criticized him for failing to hold the line on spending.
In short, it’s a myth (and not the good kind) that we stood silently by and Bush failed to contain the costs of government. Long before the first Tea Party, we had been speaking out for smaller government. It’s most ironic that those who fault us most regularly for refusing to condemn Bush’s big-government ways, do so in order to discredit our criticism, so as to more readily push through Obama’s big-government boondoggles.
*Let me acknowledge at the outset that since I don’t read Andrew all that regularly, this ¶ is based on the posts I have read in the past year or so, nearly all by right-of-center bloggers.
**UPDATE: No wonder he so admires a certain very prominent Democrat.