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Arrogance, hostility to conservatives sank the moderate president elected as Reagan’s heir.
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On one occasion Rollins was the guest at a dinner given by the Bushes at the Naval Observatory, the official vice-presidential residence. At one point the two men were standing on the porch of the residence discussing the Reagan program. Wrote Rollins:
Then our conversation turned to the tax bill working a tortured path through Congress.
“I don’t think this tax thing is such a good idea,” Bush confided. “What do you make of it?”
Rollins was dumbfounded. The Reagan tax cuts were the centerpiece of the conservative economic program. Rollins was understated in his astonished reply:
“I think it’s pretty important to the president.”
Replied the Vice President:
“But he’s gonna pay a heavy price for all this. I think we need more revenue, not less.”
An astonished Rollins would later write:
It was a fleeting though telling insight into the psyche of the man who would probably be the next president… signaling that he didn’t agree with Reagan’s desire to lower tax rates.
Now, mind you, this conversation took place as the Reagan tax cuts of 1986 were front and center on the agenda. They would later pass, continuing to build on the tax and budget cuts of 1981 and providing some 21 million jobs in the Reagan era.
Two years later, George H.W. Bush stood in front of the 1988 Republican National Convention and said:
“And I’m the one who will not raise taxes. My opponent, my opponent now says, my opponent now says, he’ll raise them as a last resort, or a third resort. But when a politician talks like that, you know that’s one resort he’ll be checking into. My opponent won’t rule out raising taxes. But I will. And the Congress will push me to raise taxes, and I’ll say no, and they’ll push, and I’ll say no, and they’ll push again, and I’ll say, to them, ‘Read my lips: no new taxes.’”
Let’s move the story ahead one year from that moment.
It is now 1989. And Ed Rollins is Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) — the political arm of House Republicans. The latter, in 1989, still in the minority in the House.
He attends a political dinner in Washington, a dinner at which now-President Bush’s pollster, Bob Teeter, is present. Says Teeter:
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?