- - Sunday, May 22, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Is there anything more laughable than all the former members of the George W. Bush brain trust torching conservatives for getting behind Donald Trump? The stale complaint is that conservatives are tossing overboard their “core principles” when they get behind the fairly elected Republican nominee.

I won’t mention names, but here is the latest offensive rant of one longtime Bush aide who wrote in — where else — that bastion of conservative thought, The Washington Post:

“Now loyalty to party is causing many to abandon their ideals. Conservatism is not misogyny. Conservatism is not nativism and protectionism. Conservatism is not religious bigotry and conspiracy theories. Conservatism is not anti-intellectual and anti-science. For the sake of partisanship — for a mess of pottage — some conservatives are surrendering their identity.”

Wait.

This from the Bushies who shoved down our throats the biggest expansion in Medicare in decades and the No Child Left Behind buildup of the Department of Education, who spent money at twice the pace of Bill Clinton, who wrote Hank Paulson and the Treasury Department a $700 billion check to bail out financial companies, who sent American troops into Afghanistan for the Wilsonian purpose of “nation-building” with no apparent result, and who passed the worst energy bill in American history — a bill that regulates every electrical appliance in your home, from the light bulbs you put in your bedroom to the energy efficiency of your refrigerator.

Trump supporters have to listen to holier-than-thou sermons from these people? Really? This is like being lectured to by Snoop Dog about smut on the radio.

What the Bush never-Trumpers can’t seem to get over is that the rise of Mr. Trump is not just a rejection of President Obama — which it is first and foremost — but a thorough repudiation of the brand of unprincipled “conservatism” that marked the Bush years. Conservatism is supposed to be about improving people’s lives and opportunities. Free markets and limited government. Sorry, the Bush years didn’t turn out so well for the middle class. Wages started stagnating around 2000.

Of course, the unforgivable sin of the Bush administration was the Troubled Asset Relief Program bill that bailed out banks. We unconstitutionally handed out hundreds of billions of dollars to the losers who made egregiously bad financial decisions. This only laid the groundwork for the Obama “stimulus” debacle. At the very time we needed to embrace free-market principles, the Bush team lit a match to them. The Bushies even made crazy justifications such as we have to abandon the free market to save it.

Not only have the Bush folks never apologized for this apostasy, many of them still cling to the ridiculous belief that they did the right thing. Maybe rather than bashing Mr. Trump, these folks might want to just tell conservatives: We’re sorry.

I’ve never been a Bush basher, and I like George W. Bush personally very much. And, sure, Donald Trump is no saint, and he does indeed stray from conservative principles. But he has proposed the biggest tax cut since Ronald Reagan, he wants to repeal Obamacare, he has proposed hundreds of billions in spending cuts, he wants a pro-America energy policy, and he has launched the most successful counterassault against political correctness in American history.

It turns out that conservatives today — the tens of millions who voted for Mr. Trump, are challenging many of the worn-out orthodoxies of the party. No, we don’t want to be the policeman of the world. Yes, we are going to insist that Europe pay the cost of defending itself. No, we don’t think the federal government has done anything to advance educational outcomes in America. No, we don’t want to let terrorists into the country simply because political correctness says we have to.

Is this “anti-intellectual?” No, it is common sense. I’ve been to Trump rallies. There are thousands of veterans who served our country valiantly. They are patriots.

You can disagree with the priorities or even the values of Trump voters. But to call them misogynists, bigots, anti-intellectuals and anti-science? Shameful. What’s next: calling Trump voters fascists? No wonder the grass roots thumb their noses at the Republicans’ intellectual leadership. They’re just returning the favor.

What is worst is that the never-Trumpers are playing into the hands of the Hillary Clinton campaign. The Washington Post will joyously run these kinds of Republican-on-Trump attacks every day of the week and twice on Sunday. The only way the left can retain power is if the GOP is a house divided. The never-Trumpers are Hillary enablers — and if they are so smart, they should get this.

Stephen Moore is an economic consultant with Freedom Works.

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