- The Washington Times - Monday, August 11, 2014


The Republican National Committee is trying out a curious new fundraising tactic: Rewriting history. The organization is actually trying to convince Republican donors that George W. Bush was a principled conservative and a great president.

Maybe the people running the RNC have amnesia. Perhaps they’ve managed to block out painful memories. It’s even conceivable someone at the RNC raided the liquor cabinet and was three sheets to the wind when they crafted their latest fundraising pitch.

There has to be some logical explanation.

Surely, the folks at the RNC aren’t foolish enough to think that they can reinvent reality and manage to make President Bush appear like some sort of limited-government hero and free-market icon. They can’t possibly believe the American public is gullible enough to buy such an outrageous tall tale, can they?

In an Aug. 5 fundraising appeal, the RNC emailed Republican supporters asking for an $18 donation in celebration of Mr. Bush’s “days of principled Republican leadership in the White House.” For shelling out that $18 to the RNC, contributors get their very own official “I Miss W.” coffee mug. People who actually believe that George W. Bush ever provided principled Republican leadership should buy the mug — and use it to bang themselves over the head. Maybe that would knock some sense into them.

As president, Mr. Bush was neither principled, nor conservative. On W.’s watch, federal spending increased 60 percent, according to the Cato Institute, from $1.9 trillion in 2001 to $3 trillion in 2008. The national debt doubled as a result.

Mr. Bush pandered to seniors with Medicare Part D, a completely unnecessary prescription-drug entitlement scheme, which now has a long-range deficit projection of $14.3 trillion, according to the Board of Trustees for Medicare and Social Security.

The supposedly anti-regulation Bush administration added more than 100,000 pages of red tape to the Federal Register and implemented a number of “economically significant regulations” that cost the U.S. economy more than $100 million a year, according to Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy.

Conservatives rightly lambast President Obama for his reckless stimulus spending and bailouts of private companies, but it was Mr. Bush who began the bailout bonanza. Mr. Bush enacted the Troubled Asset Relief Program, authorizing $700 billion in spending to bail out banks. He also signed the first round of auto bailouts into law.

Mr. Bush also oversaw the greatest attack on individual liberty and the Constitution that America has ever known. As the Patriot Act’s biggest proponent, Mr. Bush authorized the government to force libraries and schools to hand over records without explanation, require the release of records from financial-services companies without a court order, allow assets to be seized without probable cause and imprison American citizens without due process.

PRISM, the widely criticized domestic surveillance program that allowed the federal government to spy on Americans’ phone calls, emails and social-media interactions without a warrant, also began under Mr. Bush.

The RNC’s response to Mr. Bush’s pathetic record on spending, regulations and adherence to the Constitution is always the same: “Obama is worse.”

Mr. Obama should be worse (even though, at least in the cases of increasing spending and ignoring constitutional liberties, he’s not). After all, Mr. Obama was elected as a progressive-leaning Democrat, and that’s exactly how he has governed. Mr. Bush, though, ran for president as a conservative, limited-government Republican, and he governed like a progressive-leaning Democrat.

The RNC can praise Mr. Bush’s commitment to his principles all it wants. The fact is, however, that by disregarding his principles and allowing the size and scope of the federal government to increase at unprecedented rates, Mr. Bush severely harmed the Republican brand and made it much more difficult for GOP candidates to win elections. That’s exactly why the Democrats control the Senate and Mr. Obama is in the White House today.

If Republicans want to take back the Senate in November and have a snowball’s chance of winning the Oval Office two years down the road, deifying a president who betrayed his values, trampled the Constitution and financially ruined the country for generations to come is a terrible plan. The best course of action for the RNC, and all GOP candidates and supporters, is to run as fast and as far from Mr. Bush and his legacy of big-government Republicanism as possible.

No matter what the RNC does to try to rewrite the history books, there’s no escaping the truth. When it comes to his time in the White House, there’s not a lot to miss about W.

Drew Johnson is an editorial writer at The Washington Times.

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