Bush is No Conservative


for Bruce Bartlett on Bush`s

immigration policy

President Bush passes himself off
as a conservative Republican and a born-again Christian.
These are disguises behind which Bush hides. Would a
Christian invade another country on false pretenses,
kill tens of thousands of innocent civilians, and show
no remorse or inclination to cease the aggression?

Long-time Republican policy-wonk
Bruce Bartlett recently published a book, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy,
in which he proves that President Bush is no

economic conservative
, having broken all records in
spending taxpayers` money and running up public debt.

Were Bush merely another big
spender, his presidency wouldn`t differ from other pork
barrel administrations, but Bush`s radicalism goes far
beyond spending. Bush supports

American jobs, and he has taken an
irreverent approach to the U.S. Constitution.

Bush bears no resemblance to a
political conservative. A political conservative does
not confuse government with country. Patriotism means
loyalty to country. Bush, however, demands allegiance to
his government: "You are with us or against us!"
Critics of the Bush administration are branded "unpatriotic"
and even "treasonous."

Loyalty to country means allegiance
to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the
separation of powers. It does not mean blind support for
a president, an administration, or a political party.

The separation of powers and civil
liberties that were bequeathed to us by the Founding
Fathers are the protectors of our liberty.

Bush, who swore on the Bible that
he would defend and uphold the Constitution, has made it
clear that he will not let the Constitution get in the
way of expanding the powers of his office.

Bush has over-ridden a number of
protections in the Bill of Rights. The right to assemble
and to demonstrate has been infringed. The Secret
Service now routinely removes protesters from the scene
of Bush political events. Many unthinking Americans go
along with this authoritarianism because they don`t
agree with the protesters, but once the right is lost,
everyone loses it.

Bush has ignored habeas corpus and
claims the unconstitutional power to arrest and detain
people indefinitely without a warrant and without
presenting charges to a judge. This is the most
dangerous abuse of all, because whoever is in office can
use this power against political opponents.

Many unthinking Americans are not
concerned, because they think this power will be used
only against terrorists. However, as the Bush
administration has admitted, many of its detainees are
not terrorists. Most are innocent people kidnapped by
tribal leaders and sold to the U.S. for the bounties
paid for "terrorists."

Bush has refused to obey statutory
law, specifically the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act (FISA). Bush claims that as commander-in-chief he
has the right to ignore the law and to spy on Americans
without a warrant.

Many unthinking Americans are
unconcerned, saying that as they are doing nothing wrong
they have nothing to fear. This attitude misses the
point in a large way. If a president can establish
himself above one law, he can establish himself above
all laws. There is no line drawn through the law that
divides the laws between the ones the president must
obey and the ones he need not obey.

FISA does not interfere with
government spying for national security purposes.
Secrecy is protected, because the court of federal
judges that issues the warrants is secret. Moreover the
law allows the government to spy first and then come to
the court for a warrant. The purpose of the warrant is
to be sure that the government is spying for legitimate
purposes and not abusing the power to spy on political
opponents for nefarious purposes.

When presidents sign a bill passed
by Congress that they think might be interpreted in ways
that could impinge on the powers of their office, they
add a "signing statement" to protect traditional
presidential powers.

Under Bush this practice has
exploded. Bush has used signing statements considerably
in excess of all previous presidents combined.

Moreover, Bush uses the statements
not to protect president powers, but to nullify acts of
Congress, such as Republican Senator John McCain`s law
against torture. Bush is using signing statements to
turn the presidency into a dictatorship in which the
executive is not accountable to laws passed by Congress.
The next step is simply to announce that the executive
is not accountable to elections either.

Bush`s government is the first in
our history in which there are no dissenting voices and
no debate. Uniformity of opinion is more characteristic
of a dictatorial government than a conservative one.
Bush`s government is all of one mind, because all
important positions are held by


Neoconservative is a deceptive
term. It means "new conservatives," but there is
nothing conservative about neocons. Neoconservatives
believe in imposing their agenda on other countries—the
antithesis of American conservatism.

In short, real conservatives
believe in conserving the Constitution, government
accountability, and civil liberties, and avoiding
foreign entanglements.

Judging by its behavior and its
statements, the Bush administration stands completely
outside the conservative tradition.



Paul Craig Roberts

] was Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration.
He is the author of

Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider`s Account of
Policymaking in Washington
and the Soviet Economy

Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy
and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of

The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice
. Click

for Peter
Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts
about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.