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Andrew Sullivan & the Left-Wing Myth
of Conservative Silence in the Face of W’s “Fiscal Recklessness”

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.

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20 Comments

  1. Its very generous of you to take Sullivan seriously so long after everyone else gave up.

    Comment by American Elephant — September 20, 2009 @ 8:42 pm - September 20, 2009

  2. Agreed.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — September 20, 2009 @ 9:02 pm - September 20, 2009

  3. Did you protest? No
    Did you call them Socialists? No
    Did you demand Tax increases to support the Wars? No
    Did you say your liberty was being taken away? No
    Did you say that the spending was destroying America? No

    Did you still vote republican? Yes

    There you go.

    Comment by gillie — September 20, 2009 @ 10:48 pm - September 20, 2009

  4. That’s right, gillie, you didn’t comment on this post.

    Indeed, in a matter of 30 minutes in April, I came up with a list of ten posts (9 from 2006 alone) where we criticized the GOP on spending in Bush Era. And we were far from alone. Bloggers like Stephen Green, R.S. McCain, Dan Riehl and Glenn Reynolds (to name the four whose names come most readily to mind) took Bush to task in the same manner Andrew once did. Not to mention the editorial writers at the Wall Street Journal.

    Just because you can’t say word one against Teh One doesn’t mean the rest of us share your devotion to your Messiah. Once again, you project onto others the fact that you are intellectually and emotionally incapable of anything other than blind obedience to Barack Obama.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — September 20, 2009 @ 11:07 pm - September 20, 2009

  5. Did Democrats support bigger government than did the Bush Republicans? Yes.
    Did spending increase at a faster rate with a Democratic Congress than with a Republican one? Yes.
    Did Bush’s spending increases pale in comparison to Obama’s? Yes.
    Has Obama increased both the size and scope of the federal government to a greater extent than did his predecessor? Yes.

    Was there a viable third party running that proposed small government? No.

    Had fun researching this one. :-)

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — September 20, 2009 @ 11:12 pm - September 20, 2009

  6. NDT
    Please show me where “the right” was protesting, calling republicans socialists and discussing how their spending makes you think that the tree of liberty needs to be watered with blood.

    Comment by gillie — September 20, 2009 @ 11:16 pm - September 20, 2009

  7. #5 – Economic contraction that begun in 2007 is mostly responsible for those numbers.
    But you are right.
    If it maintains it will be very bad for obama and the country.

    When the economy gets right and the reckless bush tax cuts expire we should see those numbers level out and we can get back to what we had under clinton, balanced budgets.

    Comment by gillie — September 20, 2009 @ 11:23 pm - September 20, 2009

  8. Please show me where “the right” was protesting, calling republicans socialists and discussing how their spending makes you think that the tree of liberty needs to be watered with blood.

    That’s right, gillie, you lose.

    You blabbered that other Republicans and conservatives never protested or objected to Republican spending, and you got slapped with facts showing that they did.

    Now, since you lost, you blabber and spin and try to change the rules, ignoring what you were presented and demonstrating the fact that you are neither arguing in good faith or willing to recognize anything other than your Obama ideology.

    And meanwhile, let’s see about those tax cuts.

    President Obama is proposing to add more than $85 billion to the nation’s budget deficits over the next decade to extend two tax breaks for the working poor, a move critics on Wednesday blasted as a violation of Obama’s pledge to pay for new policies.

    The tax breaks were included in the economic stimulus package Obama signed soon after taking office in January, and are scheduled to expire in 2011. But last week, in its midyear update of the federal budget, the White House said it plans to extend the tax cuts through 2019 without covering the cost by cutting spending or raising taxes elsewhere.

    The reason? Technically, the stimulus amended a series of sweeping tax cuts enacted in 2001 during the Bush administration. Obama has repeatedly said he does not expect Congress to cover the enormous cost of maintaining the Bush tax cuts past their 2010 expiration date. And because the stimulus provisions are now part of the Bush tax cuts, Congress shouldn’t have to pay for them, either, White House budget documents say.

    “Since these two policies . . . represent expansions of tax cuts first enacted in the 2001 tax bill, extension of the policies are incorporated in the baseline projection of current policy,” the documents explain in a footnote.

    So again, Bush cut taxes for EVERYONE, not just “the rich”. Do you also call those cuts “irresponsible”, gillie — especially since your Obama’s “stimulus” EXTENDED them?

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — September 20, 2009 @ 11:37 pm - September 20, 2009

  9. NDT

    I was refering to protests on the street. (as you darn well know)

    And again, the answer is no.

    Comment by gillie — September 20, 2009 @ 11:58 pm - September 20, 2009

  10. Rampant on blogs, maybe. Totally unrepresented elsewhere.

    Comment by DRH — September 21, 2009 @ 12:42 am - September 21, 2009

  11. I was refering to protests on the street. (as you darn well know)

    That’s right, gillie, you lose.

    You blabbered that other Republicans and conservatives never protested or objected to Republican spending, and you got slapped with facts showing that they did.

    Now, since you lost, you blabber and spin and try to change the rules, ignoring what you were presented and demonstrating the fact that you are neither arguing in good faith or willing to recognize anything other than your Obama ideology.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — September 21, 2009 @ 12:43 am - September 21, 2009

  12. #5 – Economic contraction that begun in 2007 is mostly responsible for those numbers.

    Oh Giltard, you really do amuse! You regurgitate talking points without even bothering to consider if they are appropriate or not.

    First, let’s just remind everyone that the economic contraction that the “Economic contraction that begun in 2007″ began in December of 2007, a year AFTER Democrats took over both houses of congress.

    Then perhaps you would care to tell us how an economic contraction is responsible for Obama drastically increasing the size and scope of the federal govt?

    And how is the contraction responsible for Obama spending more than all previous presidents combined?

    How is the contraction responsible for the increase in Democrat spending over Republican spending?

    You see, Gilltard, when the people who give you your talking points say “the recession is responsible for those numbers” they arent referring to ANY of the above, they are referring to the budget deficit, trying to claim that the deficit has increased because the recession has caused revenue to dry up.

    But nobody is talking about the deficit. He was talking about spending and growth in government, neither of which are even remotely affected by the amount of revenue coming in.

    You really ought to try and understand the talking points you regurgitate before vomiting them forth.

    Comment by American Elephant — September 21, 2009 @ 2:21 am - September 21, 2009

  13. When the economy gets right and the reckless bush tax cuts expire we should see those numbers level out and we can get back to what we had under clinton, balanced budgets.

    You want to try to explain that one? Where’s the money going to come from? There’s no tech boom like Clinton enjoyed, which caused treasury revenues to pour in DESPITE massive tax increases. Nobody’s hiring. Nobody’s spending on expanding. Chairman Obama’s threatening to punish anyone who does. So where the hell is the money going to come from???

    Those “reckless Bush tax cuts” created RECORD treasury revenues. Why in Christ’s name would you want to cut that off? Further, money flows like water toward the path of least resistance. Throw up dams in the form of increased taxes, it’s just going to flow elsewhere.

    How is the economy going to “get right” when we have an angry chump doing everything he can to make damn sure that doesn’t happen? Where’s the money going to come from?

    I sincerely want to know.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — September 21, 2009 @ 3:32 am - September 21, 2009

  14. When the economy gets right and the reckless bush tax cuts expire we should see those numbers level out and we can get back to what we had under clinton, balanced budgets.

    Gilltard! This is such a PERFECT example of the blatant dishonesty of the left. Giving Clinton the credit for balanced budgets that Republicans campaigned on, wrote, and forced Clinton to sign.

    Comment by American Elephant — September 21, 2009 @ 7:10 am - September 21, 2009

  15. “Those “reckless Bush tax cuts” created RECORD treasury revenues.”
    Yet we still had deficits. Right?

    #12 As the links in #5 show, Stim. spending + bailouts are responsible for the spending.
    As I said, if it does not work and the if the economy does not improve, we got problems.

    “That’s right, gillie, you lose.”
    A nonrepublican knows his point is proven when a moonbat like NDT had declares victory.

    Comment by gillie — September 21, 2009 @ 9:42 am - September 21, 2009

  16. So gillie admits that tax cuts increased revenue.

    There might be hope for him yet.

    Comment by The_Livewire — September 21, 2009 @ 11:58 am - September 21, 2009

  17. gillie’s whole “point” (I dignify it by calling it that) is so profoundly dumb and wrong.

    Bush cut taxes, boosted spending, and racked up $100-$400 billion deficits. Numerous liberatarians, conservatives and Republicans protested the deficits, i.e. Bush’s spending increases, and rightly slammed him for it. gillie was too busy drinking the Kool-Aid at Kos and Puffington Host to ever notice. THEREFORE: libertarians, conservatives and Republicans now have NO RIGHT to protest Obama’s gargantuan spending increases and existentially-threatening and $1.6 trillion deficits that threaten the very foundations of our Republic.

    That’s the kind of “logic” only a left-liberal could believe, or even dream up.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — September 21, 2009 @ 4:24 pm - September 21, 2009

  18. Good post Dan. I sent Sullivan an email 2 weeks ago informing him I would no longer be reading his blog.

    While I respect his blogging about Iran and the libertarian in me enjoys his commentary on the drug war, none of his positions these days are distinguishable as anything “conservative.” Yet his last book, was about the “conservative” soul and he is the token “conservative” on shows like Bill Maher’s if he bashes Bush and loves Obama.

    What took the cake was his display of a small child’s head in the aftermath of Israel/Palestinians battling. Honestly, when you’re blogging pictures of children’s dead bodies and swooning over whether Levi Johnston will do Playgirl, who the fuck can take you seriously? Maybe he’s got some bad weed (see recent incident where judge dropped federal marijuana possession charges against him so he wouldn’t worry about gaining US citizenship) or something, but the Palin obsession, rabid characterization of tea baggers and the right etc. just get so old. I might as well be reading DailyKos.

    It’s a very hollow argument when the only time you can take on the left is when you’re directly affected, ie war on drugs, ban on HIV positive travellers, gay marriage. As if all the non-pot smoking, HIV negative heterosexuals don’t matter and have nothing to add to the debate.

    Comment by Tim — September 21, 2009 @ 5:34 pm - September 21, 2009

  19. The argument that we didn’t oppose GWB’s policies is always kind of weird to me anyway, because the man left office with abysmal approval ratings. Not sure where the myth of the hordes of fawning conservatives comes from.. by the time all was said and done, plenty of conservatives seemed plenty unhappy about what went down.

    And that’s to say nothing of the fact that, y’know, Obama has astronomically increased the Bush deficit in a matter of months. It would be like if somebody flicked me on the arm and I kind of swatted at them, no big deal. Then somebody else clobbers me over the head with a 2×4 and I knee them in the groin. Would anybody really be confused as to why being whacked in the head with a wooden plank prompted a more violent reaction than being flicked on the arm? A dollar of Bush deficit is just as bad as a dollar of Obama deficit. The problem is that Obama has to haul his deficit around in a luxury ocean liner and Bush could fit his in a sailboat, by comparison.

    I don’t even know why I’m bothering– if libs like Gillie need this explained, they’ll never be convinced.

    Comment by CH — September 21, 2009 @ 11:00 pm - September 21, 2009

  20. CH, I enjoyed reading your comment. And you’re right, gillie will never be convinced… but you never know if some “unsure” person isn’t reading, that you just helped.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — September 22, 2009 @ 12:23 am - September 22, 2009

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