In his Sunday Times op-ed, David Brooks takes Bruce Bartlett to task for breaking with the man Brooks calls "the savior of the right." You guessed it, he means Bush.
I'm afraid that non-subscribers will think I'm making this up, but Brooks actually says:
"Almost single-handedly, Bush reconnected with the positive and idealistic instincts of middle-class Americans."
"Bush has ennobled and saved American conservatism. As the G.O.P. moves forward, its leaders will break into two camps, post-Bush and pre-Bush. The post-Bush conservatives will build on the changes Bush introduced and refine his vision of using government positively to give people the tools to run their own lives."
"He sought to mobilize government ... so people around the world can dream of freedom."
"[T]he G.O.P. has become the party of the middle class."
And lots more to the same effect. I guess Bush is far down enough that Brooks thinks he is being bold rather than sycophantic in writing this stuff.
What does Brooks have in mind, exactly? He refers to the "no child left behind" legislation, which recent research reveals has made no difference in school performance.
Medicare prescription drugs, perhaps? New Orleans? Placing incompetent hacks everywhere imaginable? Cutting taxes again and again while never vetoing a single pork barrel spending bill? I guess the Bridge to Nowhere is an example of "using government positively to give people the tools to run their own lives." Quite a $230 million tool for those 50 or so people out there.
These hopelessly out-of-touch Washington pundits, who don't know policy any more than they know anything else besides the right cocktail parties (no matter how many whimsical books they write), ought to realize that moments here and there of triangulating rhetoric, with the occasional dollop of enormously costly symbolic legislation, don't actually add up to anything except mountains of debt.
A final quote from Brooks concerns British conservative David Cameron, who "has learned the essential lessons of Bushism. He offered a positive, governing conservatism. He talked about helping moms afford child care and helping the people of Darfur survive. "
That's exactly it. "Offering" a positive, governing conservatism, and "talking" about childcare and Darfur.