Conservatives Happy with Performance of `Bush Two'

By Hallow, Ralph Z. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 16, 2001 | Go to article overview

Conservatives Happy with Performance of `Bush Two'


Hallow, Ralph Z., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


George W. Bush's 10-week-old presidency is already easing conservative fears that he would repeat the disappointments that marked his father's term.

Pleased that "Bush Two" does not look to be "Bush Too," skeptics on the right say the younger Bush's administration seems more conservative, more religious and, on foreign policy, less interventionist than his father's.

"We thought Bush One would be an extension of the conservative Reagan White House, and we were wrong," said Christian Josi, executive director of the American Conservative Union. "We thought Bush Two would be a liberal extension of Bush One, and so far, on that one, we were absolutely wrong."

The elder Bush offended many conservatives during his one-term presidency from 1989 to 1993 by, among other things, signing a major tax increase and declaring a "New World Order" in foreign policy.

"Bush the father was the last Country Club Republican we elected, while Bush the son is a conservative that Country Club Republicans are comfortable with," said elections law attorney Cleta Mitchell.

Faith Whittlesey, former ambassador to Switzerland and Reagan White House official, is impressed with the contrast between the "strained relations with conservatives" in Bush One and the way Bush Two "so far is listening to the views of real conservatives, not just tokens."

For conservatives who feel they were snubbed by the first Bush administration, that openness to them and their ideas is no small thing.

Elliot Abrams, former assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration, recalls that the first President Bush came into office as a former "opponent of Ronald Reagan's and the conservative movement. He was not the movement's candidate."

"In Bush One, there was always a sense that there were conservatives and there were Bush people, and they were separate," said Mr. Abrams, who is president of the Center for Ethics and Public Policy in Washington. "In Bush Two, there is no sense of past rivalries or separation. The conservative movement is part of this administration."

Many on the right think the younger Mr. Bush has learned from what they view as his father's mistakes. Bush One alienated conservatives by breaking his "no new taxes" pledge, while attempting to mollify liberal interest groups.

By contrast, the son has fought hard for his promised $1 trillion-plus tax cut, reversed decisions by his Environmental Protection Agency director, and nixed both the Kyoto global-warming treaty and the pre-emptive grading of prospective federal judicial appointees by the liberal American Bar Association.

Hoover Institution fellow Martin Anderson sees more at play than simply placating conservatives and not repeating the mistakes of Bush One.

"Bush Two is more conservative, but not by calculation," said Mr. …

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