- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2001

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. Anderson, a Reagan White House economic and domestic policy adviser. "It's more instinctive. The son is a Texan, not a northeasterner. He loves his father but differs with him on policy."
Even deeper values may explain the difference.
"He is more intensely religious as an individual than the first President Bush," said Mr. Abrams. "His faith-based initiative is not going to disappear."
Intellectuals on the right claim to see in the new president the ideological genuineness born not of a movement conservative but of an honest aspirant.
"In Texas, we say there are three kinds of conservatives," said Merrill Matthews, a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas. "Bush the father was conservative because that's what he thought he was supposed to be. Bush the son is conservative because it's what he wants to be. That's different from a Bill Buckley or a Robert Novak, who are conservative because they can't be anything else."
Conservatives aside, the elder Mr. Bush remains a man beloved by his party and with experience and knowledge to spare. Yet, conservatives rate the son more favorably even on foreign policy, which was the father's strong suit but also what most irritated many conservatives.
"Bush One had a soft spot for communist China, probably based on his experience as ambassador there," said Mr. Josi, the American Conservative Union executive director. "Clinton treated Beijing as a friend. But Bush Two made it clear early on that the People's Republic is not going to set U.S. policy toward [Taiwan]."
China aside, few things drive "America-first" conservatives up the wall as much as the United Nations.
"Bush senior actively trusted the United Nations as no other administration," said Angelo Codevilla, professor of international relations at Boston College. "He dreamt of having Gorbachev as a partner in a kind of global [hegemony] in a way not entirely different from Roosevelt's dream of having [hegemony] of the world with Stalin, both of which were to last indefinitely."
"I am unaccustomed to praising people in power, and the last thing I want anyone to think is that I am toadying to the younger Bush," said Mr. Codevilla. "But his foreign policy is more traditionally American and Washingtonian than anything I've seen since before Wilson."
But Stephen Blank, professor of national security studies at the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, thinks it is a bit early to conclude that the new president is less globalist than his father.
"I can't say yet, given that in the Macedonia conflict, Bush has given only political and certain kinds of intelligence support" to the Macedonian government in its fight against the Albanian rebels, Mr. Blank said. "But there's no crisis like the Gulf War or Bosnia."

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