The rigidity of moderation: Ex-Florida guv rewrites history of Reagan and Dad
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Answer from senior Bush colleague? First, the votes weren’t there in House or Senate to sustain a veto, came the reply. Second, the Bushie told the Reaganite that said Reaganite “didn’t really appreciate or understand the problem. After all, he [the Bush senior staffer] had four kids, and those Saturday morning ads on TV were awful. Something had to be done about them.”
The appalled Reaganite dared to suggest the obvious. That it was the Bush guy’s parenting job to deal with the issue. “Why not turn off the television set if it’s a real problem. After all, kids don’t buy TVs, parents buy them.”
The Bush guy: Well, it’s not that easy. His kids went to the homes of other kids, and he had no control over what went on over at those homes.
The Reaganite: Talk to the parents of the other kids if this is a problem. “If the situation is out of control — which I seriously doubt is the case — keep your kids at home.” And on he went….how conservatives talk about family values, more parental involvement being a supposed “hallmark of this [the Bush] Administration.”
Back and forth this went, yada yada, until the conversation mercifully ended for the Bush guy with a phone interruption.
The end result? President Bush refused to sign the bill — but he refused to veto it. So, he just let it become law without his signature. Why the refusal to veto? Because, well, it might get overridden and thus make the President look bad.
Thus the opportunity for a principled stand on a small but pointed issue completely blown. The Children’s Television Act is now, but of course, embedded as another brick in the Tower of Babel that is the federal government bureaucracy, with God knows how many regulations oozing forth telling television broadcasters the rules for the bureaucratic game of “Mother May I.”
The mainstream media, but of course, never said a peep about all this. There was one man who did, however. That would be William F. Buckley, Jr., who from his perch at the National Review chastised Bush for abandoning Reagan’s principled conservative opposition.
This story comes courtesy of Charles Kolb, who, after the implosion of the Bush 41 presidency in which White House he had served, wrote a book called White House Daze: The Unmaking of Domestic Policy in the Bush Years. A book in which Mr. Kolb, who served, as did I, in both the Reagan and Bush administrations and saw the considerable differences, wrote of how “the Bush Administration squandered the successes of the Reagan years and its unrivaled popularity after the Gulf War victory.”
THERE ARE SIMILAR stories, dozens. But one involving my own boss at HUD, Secretary Jack Kemp will suffice. After two years of advancing an imaginative, energetic conservative urban agenda and getting exactly no one in the Bush White House to listen — along comes, believe it or not, ex-President Jimmy Carter. With an urban agenda of his own for Atlanta, Georgia. The telling response from the Bush White House? The response to the man Ronald Reagan had trounced in 1980 — against all the expectations of moderates like Gerald Ford? The same Ford who had in fact lost to Carter?
If they didn’t want to pay attention to Kemp, the Bush red carpet would be rolled out for Carter.
The entire upper echelon of the domestic side of the Bush Cabinet was summoned for a meeting with the ex-President. As a matter of fact, a chastened Carter had been paying attention to his defeat — and his ideas were more conservative than expected. Kemp met his ideas head on with his own, which he had been futilely trying to get tended to by most of the people in the room — his colleagues — not to mention President Bush himself and the Bush senior staff.
Meeting over, Kemp exploded to Kolb:
“Charlie, will you tell me what the hell is going on here? We spend two years trying to advance these ideas inside the Administration and nobody listens. Now, a former Democratic President like Jimmy Carter — of all people! — waltzes in and we’re supposed to set up a damn command center for him in the White House? Are we crazy or what?”
The conclusion drawn was an unhappy one. That the Bush Administration had a “penchant for dealing with elites.” The Bush inner circle, says Kolb, saw Reagan’s old friend and ideological ally Kemp as, in Kolb’s words, “a zealot.”
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?