July 08, 2003

Leftward W.

Bruce Bartlett convincingly argues that George W. Bush is heading further to the left:

Because the Republican rank-and-file is so happy with Bush over his delivery of tax cuts and their desire to support him in the war or terror, he doesn’t need to move rightward to secure the base. This has allowed him to position himself for the general election - moving leftward toward the center - at an early stage of the campaign.

The prescription-drug subsidy bill is Bush’s signature issue in this triangulation maneuver. By supporting such legislation, he deprives Democrats of the one issue on which they might win next year. Unfortunately, Democrats like Ted Kennedy know how badly Bush wants a prescription-drug bill and are driving a hard bargain. As with the 2001 education bill, Bush is effectively allowing Kennedy to dictate terms.

Conservatives in Congress are appalled by White House demands that they hold their noses and vote for the biggest expansion of government in 30 years. What is the point, they ask, of having control of the White House and Congress if it is just to enact Democrat big-spending programs? Better to be back in the minority, many say.