The conservatives’ doomed marriage to George W. Bush
Not to say, “I told you so,” since there is no pleasure, only bitterness, in what is now happening, but I can’t help but feel that my ongoing critique of the conservatives’ ruinous surrender of principle over these past years has been vindicated.
The conservatives married George W. Bush. They loved him, and expected the best of him, even though some of them knew that his heart was not entirely in the marriage and that he needed frequent encouragement and coaxing to stay interested. What they didn’t realize was that he didn’t love them at all. The truth was that he had married them solely for his own advantage, in an act of pure, calculated cynicism. In fact he was annoyed and resentful at their constant pleadings that he act like a loving husband, when he felt only cold dislike mixed with contempt. Every time he betrayed them, they grumbled a bit, but always accepted it, avowing their love for him more ardently than ever. As they kept going along with more and more of his betrayals, his contempt for them increased, and his betrayals became more shameless.
Finally there came the Supreme Court nomination of John Roberts, he who had given his high-level legal advice to a homosexual lobbying organization to overturn the Colorado anti-homosexual-rights referendum. (In that decision, by the way, the Supreme Court said that the referendum was motivated by nothing but “animus” against homosexuals; thus Roberts had helped empower the movement that sees all conservatives as bigots, a tradition Mrs. Bush followed when she suggested that conservative opponents of Harriet Miers were sexists.) When the national conservatives supported Roberts despite his left-leaning record, I said the conservative movement was now dead. But the end of the story was yet to come. The conservatives thought that, since they had gone along with Roberts despite his not being their top pick, Bush really owed them on the next court opening: a real conservative at last. Instead they got Harriet Miers. Only at this point did the conservatives finally rebel against Bush. But it was too late. Bush was in the saddle, he had gotten all he needed from the conservatives, and he could do what he wanted. Free now to express his true contempt for the conservatives, he sent out his wife to say that it was “possible” that conservatives opposed Miers out of sexism. As Bush cut his cords with the conservatives, a new political base opened for him: the Democrats supported Miers even if the Republicans didn’t.
If only the conservatives had listened to the promptings of more serious conservatives, if only they had stood up to Bush sooner, if only, even as late as summer 2005, they had opposed Roberts, then Bush would have been forced to appoint a real conservative in Roberts’s place, and then another real conservative when the second spot on the court opened. But by supporting Bush every step of the way, and then, finally, by even supporting Roberts, and thus rendering themselves meaningless as a political movement, the conservatives let Bush realize that there was nothing he could not get away with. And so came Harriet “le coup de grace” Miers.
All along, conservatives thought their marriage with Bush and their forgiving acceptance of his liberal politics represented the height of political realism. In fact, it meant the destruction of the conservatives as a political movement and the enabling of Bush to take the country ever further to the left.