Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bush on Conservatism, Palin, Biden and Clinton

Byron York has a piece in The Washington Examiner giving details on the forthcoming book by Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer. The book relates Bush criticisms of evidently numerous other politicians Republican and Democrat alike. York details an interaction recounted in the book "Speechless: Tales of a White House Survivor,"between Lattimer and Bush as they were preparing for a speech for CPAC.  
"What is this movement you keep talking about in the speech?" the president asked Latimer.
Latimer explained that he meant the conservative movement -- the movement that gave rise to groups like CPAC.
Bush seemed perplexed. Latimer elaborated a bit more. Then Bush leaned forward, with a point to make.
"Let me tell you something," the president said. "I whupped Gary Bauer's ass in 2000. So take out all this movement stuff. There is no movement."

York elaborates that Bush equated the entire Conservative movement with the Evangelical Christian Bauer and considered his defeat of Bauer a redefining moment for the Republican Party.  Bush, in fact, believed he redefined the Republican Party.  In the eyes of the MSM and the Democrats, Bush was the epitome of this movement and drew none of the distinctions that Bush seemed to think were obvious.  For many conservatives, however, there was a great distinction and Bush's questioning of this movement in preparation for the CPAC speech is revealing.

Despite the constant barrage of criticism from the left that conservatives are hypocritical for challenging Barack Obama's massive expansion of government and spending that does, in fact, pale in comparison to Bush's spending, conservatives never abandoned this principle, though it is likely too many held their tongue.  There was much about Bush's administration that conservatives appreciated, notably the Supreme Court nominations and Bush's recognition the war on terror would never be won in a court room.  The Democratic control of the White House, Senate and House shines a light on the movement Bush believed reformed with his election and Democrats mistakenly believe defeated in 2006 and 2008.

While York points to a moment in Latimer's book that reveals Bush's fundamental departure from conservatism, other publications are highlighting some of Bush's criticism of other politicians. 

On Hillary Clinton: "Wait till her fat keister is sitting at this desk."

On Barack Obama: "This is a dangerous world and this cat isn't remotely qualified to handle it. This guy has no clue, I promise you."

On Joe Biden: "If bull was currency, Joe Biden would be a billionaire." It's hard to argue with that one.

On Sarah Palin :
"I'm trying to remember if I've met her before. I'm sure I must have." His eyes twinkled, then he asked, "What is she, the governor of Guam?" [...]
"This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for," he said. "She hasn't spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family. Let's wait and see how she looks five days out." It was a rare dose of reality in a White House that liked to believe every decision was great, every Republican was a genius, and McCain was the hope of the world because, well, because he chose to be a member of our party.
While conservatives will have no argument with Bush's take on Obama or Biden, it is interesting that believed Clinton perhaps most likely to be the next occupant of Oval Office. Bush's statement on Palin is sure to draw some fire from Palin admirers and I do include myself among them. Bush raises a fair point, however, on the question of preparedness and I lay the blame for that entirely in the lap of John McCain. McCain had a distinct advantage built in this race having wrapped up his nomination early on leaving the Democrats to slog through a prolonged primary. McCain took no advantage of this opportunity to lay ground work in pointing out Obama's glaring flaws as a man lacking any experience in governance. Had McCain not waited until the last possible moment to choose Palin, those precious months could have been spent in preparing Palin to take the national stage without a hiccup. Palin is a natural political talent with all the star power of Obama and then some.

McCain, however, had no star power and Bush seems to have been well aware of this:
I was once in the Oval Office when the president was told a campaign event in Phoenix he was to attend with McCain suddenly had to be closed to the press…

“If he doesn’t want me to go, fine,” the president said. “I’ve got better things to do.”

Eventually, someone informed the president that the reason the event was closed was that McCain was having trouble getting a crowd. Bush was incredulous—and to the point. “He can’t get 500 people to show up for an event in his hometown?” he asked. No one said anything, and we went on to another topic. But the president couldn’t let the matter drop. “He couldn’t get 500 people? I could get that many people to turn out in Crawford.” He shook his head. “This is a five-spiral crash, boys.”
Conservatives are unlikely to forget anytime soon who pulled McCain from what would have certainly been a "five-spiral crash."
H/T: Hot Air and Memeorandum

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