Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Bush admin declines invitation to "conservative" forum

Think of this as a continuation of my prior post about "Why vote GOP?".

The Washington comPost gets it partially correct and partially incorrect...surprise, surprise (note the pungent odor of sarcasm eminating from your monitor right now). The comPost's article is entitled "At Conservative Forum on Bush, Everybody's a Critic", yet in the seventh paragraph, the forum's (and the Cato Institute's) members/attendees are described as "small-government libertarians". Well, which is it: a conservative forum, or libertarian forum? Yes, there are differences between the two, you know!

From the comPost:
If the ancient political wisdom is correct that a charge unanswered is a charge agreed to, the Bush White House pleaded guilty yesterday at the Cato Institute to some extraordinary allegations.

"We did ask a few members of the Bush economic team to come," explained David Boaz, the think tank's executive vice president, as he moderated a discussion between two prominent conservatives about President Bush. "We didn't get that."

Now why would the administration pass up such an invitation?

Well, it could have been because of the first speaker, former Reagan aide Bruce Bartlett. Author of the new book "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy," Bartlett called the administration "unconscionable," "irresponsible," "vindictive" and "inept."
Now just how low has W sunk when Reagan's aide Bruce Bartlett writes a book like this? However, note the following paragraph:
It might also have had something to do with speaker No. 2, conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan. Author of the forthcoming "The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It; How to Get It Back," Sullivan called Bush "reckless" and "a socialist," and accused him of betraying "almost every principle conservatism has ever stood for."
If Sullivan is a conservative, then I'm Ray Nagin. The improper political description of Sullivan notwithstanding, Sullivan's views of Bush are spot on. Continuing:
Nor was moderator Boaz a voice of moderation. He blamed Bush for "a 48 percent increase in spending in just six years," a "federalization of public schools" and "the biggest entitlement since LBJ."

True, the small-government libertarians represented by Cato have always been the odd men out of the Bush coalition. But the standing-room-only forum yesterday, where just a single questioner offered even a tepid defense of the president, underscored some deep disillusionment among conservatives over Bush's big-spending answer to Medicare and Hurricane Katrina, his vast claims of executive power, and his handling of postwar Iraq.

Bartlett, who lost his job at the free-market National Center for Policy Analysis because of his book, said that if conservatives were honest, more would join his complaint. "They're reticent to address the issues that I've raised for fear that they might have to agree with them," he told the group. "And a lot of Washington think tanks and groups of that sort, they know that this White House is very vindictive."
Bartlett certainly thought so. He began by predicting a big tax increase "to finance the inevitable growth of government that is in the pipeline that President Bush is largely responsible for." He also said many fellow conservatives don't know about the "quite dreadful" traits of the administration, such as the absence of "anybody who does any serious analysis" on policy issues.

Boaz assured the audience that he told the White House that "if there's a rebuttal to what Bruce has said, please come and provide it."
There was, in fact, one Bush Treasury official on the attendance roster, but he did not surface. The only man who came close to defending Bush, environmental conservative Fred Singer, said he was "willing to overlook" the faults because of the president's Supreme Court nominations. Even Richard Walker, representing the think tank that fired Bartlett, declined to argue. "I agree with most of it," he said later. (Sure, the country may be bankrupt, but 'bout that Sam Alito, huh? - Ed.)
Bartlett argued that Richard Nixon "is the model for everything Bush is doing."

Sullivan said Karl Rove's political strategy is "pathetic."

Bartlett said that "the administration lies about budget numbers."
If Bush or anyone in his administration disagree with any of these assessments, it sure would be gollyswellgroovy if they'd let us hear a rebuttal or two.