The Astonishing Attempt By Bruce Bartlett To Convince Conservatives That “Democrats” Are really “Liberal Republicans”
Yes, in an article dated December 21, 2012, Mr Bartlett does attempt to show “How Democrats became Liberal Republicans“. In a sense, he might have had a case if he had but limited his comparisons to Democrats and Liberal Republicans, but the unfortunate truth is that he overreached. “Moderate” Republicans, read “of the country club variety”, have always embraced many of the more liberal memes espoused by those ostensibly across the aisle. Theodore White made the historical divide between “Establishment” Republicans and the “Grassroots” one of his main themes in his brilliant book, The Making of the President 1960, In other words, if the purpose of the article was to point out that there is little difference between liberal Republicans and run of the mill Democrats, there was really no need for the article to be written.
The truth is that Mr. Bartlett had a completely different comparison in mind, and that was to suggest that “conservatives” have little to worry about because today’s Democrats are really nothing but Liberal Republicans in disguise. Although the next few paragraphs will attempt to show how he even fails to prove his point using that lower standard, the more important point to note is how disconnected he is from the rank and file conservative in the first place. Mr. Bartlett apparently believes that conservatives, whether Republican or not, still see “liberal Republicans” as political allies and thus if he can only show that the Democrats are no worse than liberal Republicans than conservatives can be convinced to support whatever future policies are advocated by the President.
Mr. Bartlett’s analysis of the situation unfortunately fails from the very beginning. In his opening paragraph he states:
It is only because Republicans demand even more radical cuts in spending that Obama’s fiscal conservatism is invisible to the general public. But those on the political left know it and are scared.
It would seem that he is confusing cause with effect. Rather than acknowledging that it is the pressure being applied by the “Republicans demand(ing) even more radical cuts in spending” that has forced the President to exhibit more “fiscal conservatism”, Mr. Bartlett prefers to ignore that reality and suggests that the President’s innate fiscal conservatism is being hidden by the more “extremist” positions being taken by those on the right. This is what’s known as “expert opinion” and which is later to be used as an example of a “conservative expert opinion” in support of the same narrative in the future.
In the next several paragraphs of his article Mr Bartlett attempts to support his claim that President Obama is “not really liberal”, by citing various liberal sources up in arms over the President’s alleged drift to the right. The evidence that supports this allegation? Why it is in the fact that Mr Obama apparently enjoys some kind of mandate based on his re-election in November. Obviously it is only common sense to assume that the President’s failure to direct the Federal Government to begin implementing his version of a socialist government must prove that he is actually a closet conservative. No? I didn’t think so either. Not to mention, on what basis is the charge made that he:
appear(s) willing to gut social spending while asking for only a very modest contribution in terms of taxes from the wealthy.
In any event, there’s lots more in the article which can, and should, be rebutted, but there is one particular notion that cannot be ignored:
It is only the blind hatred Republicans had for Clinton that prevented them from seeing that he governed as a moderate conservative – balancing the budget, cutting the capital gains tax, promoting free trade, and abolishing welfare, among other things. And it is only because the political spectrum has shifted to the right that Republicans cannot see to what extent Obama and his party are walking in Clinton’s footsteps.
It is hard to believe that the above paragraph was even written by someone claiming to be a conservative. In the first place, there is no question that Ronald Reagan’s Presidency had an affect on the nature of political discourse. Secondly, there is no question that one of the problems that many conservatives have with the Obama Presidency is that it represents an attempt to reverse the gains made by conservatives as a result of the “Reagan Revolution”. Thirdly, neither of those assumptions have anything to do with Republicans failing to “see to what extent Obama and his party are walking in Clinton’s footsteps.”
The larger problem is that the “Clinton footsteps” are being misrepresented as Clinton’s. It goes without saying that the agenda Clinton originally wished to pursue as President was unceremoniously rejected and buried by Newt Gingrich’s Republican House. A point that is such common knowledge that I suggest it requires no citation. On a related note, it was that same House which forced President Clinton to deal by standing firm and, yes it did, forced the 1995 government shutdown.
Years later the narrative propagated by the liberal media continues to be that Clinton somehow won the battle of the budget and yet the truth of the matter is quite different. Adding insult to injury, the liberal media has allowed President Clinton to make lemonade out of his lemons. Let’s take another look at the list purportedly proving that he governed as a moderate:
balancing the budget, cutting the capital gains tax, promoting free trade, and abolishing welfare,
Care to take a guess at how many of those he opposed until he had no other choice? A hint? The only policy that might even remotely be considered to be President Clinton’s is the so-called “promoting free trade”.
Read the referenced article, but ask yourself, can it really be a conservative who wrote it? As to the claim being made in the article…..Seriously?