Dean Esmay goes to town with a meme going around the Blogosphere that Dubya isn't really a conservative, going so far as to equate him with Clinton
Bush says he believes in global warming and wants to do something, but opposes Kyoto. Clinton said that he believed in global warming and we needed to do something about it, but the country wasn't ready for Kyoto.There is a difference here, even though Esmay wants to blur the lines. It was Clinton people who were in favor of Kyoto. Bush may "believe in global warming," but doesn't agree with the hard-core environmentalists on the magnitude of the problem or the need for massive intervention to mediate against it. Bush also believes that Transi schemes like Kyoto are overkill.
Clinton said he believed in the 2nd amendment, but signed the Brady Bill. Bush says he supports the 2nd amendment, and has done absolutely nothing to loosen gun control.Here, as in many areas we'll look at, Bush is a hostage to Congress; there's little that Bush can do administratively to loosen things. What pro-gun things he could do would get filibustered by a center-left coalition in the Senate.
Bush raised Federal education spending. So did Clinton.True. Bush also pushed through some reforms on education standards and vouchers that Clinton would have vetoed. He hasn't done nearly as much as conservatives would have hope, largely because of moderate Republicans balking at reforms that would shift power away from public schools and towards private, often evangelical or conservative Catholic, schools.
Both men are pro free trade, but both have made occasional compromises on tariffs.True. One of Clinton's true accomplishments was getting NAFTA and the WTO passed. Bush 41 would have had a much harder time passing them, although credit should go to Bush 41's people for laying the groundwork for the deal that Clinton closed. Dubya might yet get to Clinton's free trade creds, but projects like the Free Trade Area of the Americas are still a ways off from fruition.
Neither was involved in massive increases in the regulatory state.The Family and Medical Leave act was fairly big, and Clinton would have cranked up the regulation in health care and other areas if left to their own devices. Were it not for the policy screw-ups of '93-'94 and the subsequent Republican takeover of Congress, Clinton would have dinged the red-tape counter big-time. The results were similar (you can make a case for the Patriot Act being analogous to the F&ML Act) but the intentions were far different.
Bush believes in allowing religious groups to compete freely for Federal funds alongside of secular groups. Clinton supported a Constitutional amendment to return prayer to the public schools.I don't remember Clinton pushing too hard for that amendment. Clinton did have a soft spot for "faith-based" stuff, but not to the extent that he'd seriously tick off the Bright wing of the party or the teacher's unions. Conversely, Bush has tried to punch out some doors in that wall between church and state, with a modest amount of success. Writing them off as two people of faith is too broad a brush, for Clinton's liberal Baptist background is different from Bush's evangelical Methodist background.
Clinton wanted abortion "safe legal and rare," while Bush wants "encourage a culture of life," the sum total difference between them being that Bush cut funding for abortions overseas and has cut a few million dollars from funding for stem cell research--a compromise position that is, perhaps, 2% to the right of Clinton's own hemming and hawing on stem cells.Clinton didn't do much on the rare part, but sure did focus on the legal part. Colin Powell might actually act on that construct, but Clinton sure didn't. Bush is constrained by Supreme Court precedent on doing much more than he's already done on abortion. He's tried to put anti-Roe people on appellate courts, only to have them filibustered.
Clinton never did have to make a tough call on stem-cell research, but would have made a decision that was more than 2% to the left of Bush. Bush has also taken some heat over Leon Kass, Papa Blog's absolute favorite ethicist. More than 2%, Dean, much more.
On Affirmative Action, Bill Clinton wanted to "mend it not end it," while Bush wants to, uhm, alter it slightly but still keep racial preferences in placeWas it not the Bush administration who filed an amicus brief against the UofM? I didn't see Janet Reno doing that.
Both men oppose medical marijuana and support the "war on drugs."Pro-legalization folks are in the minority in both parties, with medical pot maybe getting a majority of Democrats. Here, Dean's correct, but that marks Clinton as not totally hard-left as opposed to making Bush centrist.
Clinton was unwilling to declare all-out war on terrorists. So was Bush, until 9/11.Granted, but once Bush got rolling, he did things that Clinton wouldn't have done. If Gore were in the White House, Saddam would still be in power and Afghanistan might have gone down a lot slower and bloodier. Bush isn't afraid to give the French and Russians the middle-digit salute when they have it coming, while Clinton was much more enamored of diplomacy and multilateralism.
Clinton was a little more extreme in one area: he issued several vetoes of things the Congress sent him. Bush, on the other hand, has gone nearly three years into his Presidency, and has yet to issue a single veto. On anything.Clinton had Republicans rolling back a liberal status-quo in many areas, such as partial-birth abortion, and needed to defend against a center-right coalition that had taken over Congress. That same center-right coalition will stop any significant liberal encroachment that Bush would have to veto.
Probably in part because his party has controlled both houses of Congress for most--not all, but most--of his Presidency. On the other hand, conservative Republicans in the Congress bewail the fact that Bush is so unwilling to use his veto pen in order to control spending or move forward the conservative agenda.The thing that makes Bush look so centrist is that conservative proposals don't get out of Congress. On things like tax cuts, he can negotiate so that he'll get the highest number that will get 51 votes in the Senate. On other issues where the circle can't be squared, like judicial nominees or school vouchers, things get shot down.
Because, after all, except for the war on Iraq, and a few judicial nominations, Bush has done almost nothing to forward the "conservative agenda." Moderate Republicans and centrist Democrats are the ones truly in control of the agenda in the Congress.
There's an old saying-there are two things you don't want to see being made; sausages and laws. True believers don't like the horse-trading and compromise that passing legislation requires. Filibusters make the process even slower. However, the system is designed to make things hard to get to, so that a consensus is needed. If you can get a majority in the House, 60% in the Senate and the President to sign off on something, it should have broad support. It stops good things from happening, but it more often stops bad things from happening.
It stops a president with strong values from acting on them in full. Conservatives don't like it much at the moment, but picture a Prime Minister Clinton pushing his health-care package through the House of Commons, and thank the Founding Fathers for the system we've got.
Bill Clinton opposed his own impeachment. So did Governor Bush of Texas, who at the time said that his party was making a huge mistake and should not impeach Clinton.I'm having trouble coming up with a cite having Bush be against impeachment, the closest I've found so far had one of his supporters call it a "kamikaze mission." If you can come up with a better cite, let me know.
On the whole, then, that "right wing conservative" Bush sure looks a lot like "liberal leftist" Bill Clinton, doesn't he?
I know Bill Clinton. He was no friend of mine. George W. Bush, you're no Bill Clinton. Josh, you're one of the bigger pushers of that meme. What sayest thou?
Thanks to Jeffery Collins for the link.
[Update 7:10PM-Quick turnaround, Josh; with a 3:41 stamp, he returned serve in under an hour. He comes up with some good arguments that go against my hypothesis. "But we all know he isn't a conservative in the typical sense of the word, and a sketchy Clinton comparison isn't needed to drive that point home." He's to the right of Clinton and to the right of center, but not as much as Josh and I would like]