The rigidity of moderation: Ex-Florida guv rewrites history of Reagan and Dad
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Alas, Ambassador Bush, like President Ford — moderates both — was proved wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
The Bush 41 presidency — earned by campaigning on the Reagan legacy — quickly became a managerial, process-oriented White House. Entirely devoid of conservative principle. Which, not to put too fine a point on it, is why it lasted for one term and won a meager 37% of the vote in 1992.
Again, it’s important to say this has nothing to do with Jeb Bush or his father or George W. It has to do with the issue — the perpetual and tired issue — of moderation. The pretense that moderates are not ideologically rigid when in fact moderation is not only rigid but more akin to a religious faith worshipping the great gods of elitism and big government, just less so. It is almost always a failure at the ballot box, and inevitably a loser as a governing philosophy. It matters not whether the name attached is Bush or Landon, Willkie, Dewey, Nixon (in 1960), Ford, Dole, McCain or whomever.
Let’s focus here on two examples. The first from the Reagan and Bush 41 presidencies, the second from Bush 41 alone, to illustrate the point. Neither example the infamous breaking of President Bush’s “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge.
THE FIRST EXAMPLE: The Children’s Television Act.
What was this? This was legislation — from liberals but of course — that injected the government, the Federal Communications Commission to be specific — into the business of telling broadcasters how many minutes of commercial advertising could be allowed during children’s television programming. During the week this was to be limited to 12 minutes an hour, and on Saturday morning it was reduced to 10.5 minutes an hour.
What was the reason for this Big Brotherish intrusion into America’s living rooms? Well, you know, those damn commercials were ginning up the tykes to demand Fruit Loops or Tony the Tiger’s Frosted Flakes or some other cereal that wasn’t good for them. Not to mention the toys — Oy, the toys! And the candy! America was drowning in a chorus of “Mommy I want…”.
So, Uncle Sam would become Dr. No. And use the power of the government to put a stop to this because, well, parents are just powerless don’t you know.
Now. Here’s the Reagan-Bush difference.
This legislation was passed by Democrats in Congress and sent to the President’s desk for signature. In 1988. And Ronald Reagan took one look at this, doubtless with a laugh — and vetoed the bill.
Why? Because, he said in his veto message, while (you can imagine the polite nod of the head) the idea was about “laudable goals” in fact this raised a serious constitutional issue about the ability of the “Federal Government to oversee the programming decisions” of television broadcasters. Not to mention that it raised a red flag about those (read: prospective government regulators) who, in Reagan’s words, might “discourage the creation of programs that might not satisfy the tastes of agency officials responsible for considering license renewals.”
Thus, conservative principle at work. Reagan vetoed the bill on November 5, 1988. Done.
Well, no. Not done. This is Washington, some things never die. As our friend Mark Levin noted in his bestseller Liberty and Tyranny, “the Statist has an insatiable appetite for control.” Sure enough, the Children’s Television Act was passed yet again — this time, a second time, in 1990.
The Reagan presidency had been succeeded by the Bush presidency. And 22 months after Ronald Reagan’s veto — the bill once again reached the president’s desk. In the way of the White House world, the staff vets and sends memos back and forth on these things. One horrified Reaganite, now in the Bush White House, discovered that President Bush was preparing to sign the bill. He did his memo and followed up. Why, he inquired of a senior Bush colleague, would the man who campaigned as Reagan’s conservative heir ever consider signing such a thing? Everything about the Children’s Television Act bespoke excessive not to mention dangerously intrusive government regulation — which conservatives opposed on principle and with reason.
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.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?