Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Life may not be exactly pleasant, but it is at least not dull. Heave yourself into Hell today, and you may miss, tomorrow or next day, another Scopes trial, or another War to End War, or perchance a rich and buxom widow with all her first husband's clothes. There are always more Hardings hatching. I advocate hanging on as long as possible.”     H. L. Mencken

March 6, 2009

Where Was the Republican Outrage Before Obama Was Elected?

by Stephen Gordon

First of all, I’d like to welcome all of the new Michelle Malkin and Instapundit readers to the site.  Now that you are here, I’d like to ask five quick questions (in all seriousness) of you.

  • Where was the Republican outrage about the burdensome spending created with the No Child Left Behind Act?
  • Why weren’t y’all as upset about the cost of Medicare Part D as you are about Obama’s socialistic health care schemes?
  • Please don’t respond that “at least Bush gave us tax cuts.” Is there any reason that no one seemed pissed off that Bush was the biggest taxer in the world?
  • On spending, as early as early 2004, even the GOP-friendly Heritage Foundation was upset about Bush/Republican domestic spending.  Where were Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the mouthpieces of the right at this time?
  • Since Republican politicians try to jockey for the position of who can sound the most like Ronald Reagan, why didn’t y’all listen to the person who wrote most of Reagan’s words?

To be clear, I think it is cool that it appears that libertarians have some newfound friends on the small-government team.  However, it’s fair to color us a bit skeptical, as we are still licking our Republican-inflicted wounds.  It may take a bit of time for us to recover from the political PTSD we are suffering after fighting Republicans for the last eight years over government spending issues.

A few honest answers may help the healing process, though.

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34 Comments

  1. Well, some of us were busy tiring out Trent Lott.

    http://www.pajamasmedia.com/instapundit-archive/archives/029532.php

    Comment by Glenn Reynolds — March 6, 2009 @ 8:38 pm
  2. Okay, Glenn, that’s more than fair. But the challenge was to readers, not you or Ms. Malkin. :)

    Robert Stacy McCain introduced me to Malkin a few years back at a CPAC (when I was Communications Director for the Libertarian Party) and the first words out of her mouth were complaints about Republican spending. While there may be some differences between all of us on foreign policy issues, neither of you deserve blame regarding fiscal issues.

    Comment by Stephen Gordon — March 6, 2009 @ 8:41 pm
  3. there haven’t been two distinct parties since probably somewhere right after WW2, when an actual conservative viewpoint could be seen as legitimate again, after an era of economic depression, worldwide war, and federal govt expansion into the legacy of the population (legacy meant in a corporate term a.k.a. costs to be paid until death of the beneficiary. this is SS, etc). this is also the aftermath of 20th century modernism that still lives with us today, worldwide.

    this is a serious point that probably a lot of people just blow by, because when they hear “there aren’t two parties” their brains immediately say “oh yeah, heard this crap again and again, whatevs..” and they shut off. but unless you actually embrace that reality, you can’t make progress in regards to the false paradigm presented to you. until that moment that you really understand and move forward past false debates, obvious polarization, worship of the value of personality over the value philosophy and especially the logic aspect of philosophy, and issues of no significance while the real significance keeps being implemented and codified into law, then you will continue being an agent incapable of addressing an argument in its proper context.

    some people say that libertarianism is different in that it embraces political and social philosophy over petty issues of personality and the standard blatant divisive techniques. that is far from the truth when you take a population of the ideal libertarian, individually, and place them in society still dominated by the aura of the media complex. the outcome is little more than a very slightly more morally and ethically aware, yet still petty, lazy, and lost collective. the philosophy of libertarianism is almost as perfect as American society could operate on, but human fallibility ensures that it won’t come to pass.

    but in the case of “where were republicans,” then you’re talking mainly about a society of people *even less* logically capable and discriminating. some of this population may have an instinct that there are no two parties and haven’t been for many decades, but are also happy to suspend that instinct. these include people with advanced college degrees and distinguished careers yet with little or no remembrance or initial knowledge of essential european or american history other than in a modern revisionist political context. in this aspect, the population is identical to a democrat member of society. politics is politics with this person, and it serves roughly the same cerebral function as a talk show or boxing match.

    a lot of what one day long ago was a genuine debate initially between sovereignty of states vs. the authority of the federal body of govt, should have been a central struggle to modern R vs. D in this day and age. that struggle is a myth now. the unspoken struggle now is really the last gasp of national sovereignty vs. international authority. in this respect, there is no room whatsoever for two parties.

    Comment by oilnwater — March 6, 2009 @ 10:56 pm
  4. My answer: Republicans were demonstrating Lord Acton’s famous observation, and Abraham Lincoln’s.

    “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

    Just like the Democrats are in the process of doing now.

    This is why the American system of government was originally designed to check, balance, and limit that power.

    Comment by Akston — March 6, 2009 @ 11:46 pm
  5. 1.) Where was the Republican outrage about the burdensome spending created with the No Child Left Behind Act?

    Because we wanted to try to arrest the continuing downward spiral in public education, but we had no hope of overcoming the organized opposition to school choice and other such initiatives.

    2.) Why weren’t y’all as upset about the cost of Medicare Part D as you are about Obama’s socialistic health care schemes?

    Because the writing was on the wall that the aging baby boomers were going to demand and receive some form of prescription drug subsidy, and this wasn’t as bad as the Democrat alternative.

    3.) Please don’t respond that “at least Bush gave us tax cuts.” Is there any reason that no one seemed pissed off that Bush was the biggest taxer in the world?

    Much of the potential discord was swept under the rug because we were at war, and success in that endeavor was paramount (and yes, I do believe the Iraq war by any measure can now be proclaimed a success)

    4.) On spending, as early as early 2004, even the GOP-friendly Heritage Foundation was upset about Bush/Republican domestic spending. Where were Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the mouthpieces of the right at this time?

    Ditto.

    5.) Since Republican politicians try to jockey for the position of who can sound the most like Ronald Reagan, why didn’t y’all listen to the person who wrote most of Reagan’s words?

    Who cares about the person who wrote the words of which Reagan approved enough to use? He isn’t around to approve them any more.

    Comment by Bart — March 7, 2009 @ 2:55 am
  6. 2) It’s hard to remember now, it seems like ancient history already, but, there was ferocious grass roots opposition to Medicare part D. This was Bush imposing his compassionate conservatism and at the same time alot of representatives were elected as fiscal conservatives and wanted to govern that way. I watched with baited breath hoping it would fail. Rush Limbaugh was on tirading against it. Tom Delay was instrumental in twisting alot of arms to finally get it to pass. He had to seriously bully recalcitrant members into line. I truly believe that this act, more than anything, really broke the spirit of the fiscal conservatives and it was downhill for the republicans after that. This was no easy sell to republicans by a republican president and the president began losing republican support at this point.

    Comment by golddragon — March 7, 2009 @ 4:43 am
  7. I second Bart’s comment and just want to add that after 8 years of Clinton I was hopeful that we would have more unity. In that spirit, I supported the idea of NCLB and Med Part D. I listened to Rush rail against both but hoped that meeting the Dems halfway would be the best course. I was terribly, terribly wrong. I loved Atlas Shrugged and talk about “going Galt” but I started my own insurance agency 2 years ago and I will work to make it a sucess. I think of it as my social security! Great article.

    Comment by Mary Wlodarski — March 7, 2009 @ 5:00 am
  8. Bart pretty much nailed it.

    On part 1:
    Sorry, being Glenn Reynolds does not disqualify his answer.

    On part 5:
    Writing the speeches is wordsmithing. The ideas therein – whose were those again? I think I can tell, reading Miss Noonan these days.

    So we should be hanging on the every word of that juvenile himbo Hillary-fondler, as he writes the speeces for the big 0 – and you can sure tell, when the teleprompter ain’t there…

    OK, dispensed with that one.

    Thanks
    So when do we get to see your reaction to

    Comment by Bill Johnson — March 7, 2009 @ 5:40 am
  9. speeces => speeches

    So when do we get to see your reaction to => I await your thoughts.

    Comment by Bill Johnson — March 7, 2009 @ 5:41 am
  10. Conservatives were indeed angry with Bush and the congress for NCLB and Medicare Part D, as well as many other missteps throughout his two terms.

    That anger was on full display in blogs and on talk radio. BDS-afflicted liberals only accounted for a portion of Bush’s poor approval ratings. Most folks I know were in full support of him on the war effort, but were angry over many domestic policies.

    The treasury did indeed collect a lot of revenue. That’s what seems to happen every time taxes are cut and we experience robust growth. Curious, ain’t it? Maybe one day, when this current experiment is over, we will learn to cut spending first, then cut taxes to spur growth. Bank the surplus, and be ready for the next dip in the cycle.

    What is the difference between then and now? Why are conservatives protesting? It’s because we are not just slowly wandering in the wrong direction as we were under Bush. We are in a full sprint.

    Comment by Espkc — March 7, 2009 @ 6:22 am
  11. “baited breath” … eww

    Comment by sobe — March 7, 2009 @ 6:39 am
  12. Are you really as totally ignorant as your five questions imply?

    Just Google, for heaven’s sake!

    Q: Where was the Republican outrage about the burdensome spending created with the No Child Left Behind Act?

    A: Right here:
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9434814

    Q: Why weren’t y’all as upset about the cost of Medicare Part D as you are about Obama’s socialistic health care schemes?

    A: Right here:
    http://thehill.com/business–lobby/medicare-rx-drug-critics-blast-enrollment-numbers-2006-05-16.html

    Q: Please don’t respond that “at least Bush gave us tax cuts.” Is there any reason that no one seemed pissed off that Bush was the biggest taxer in the world?

    A: Right here:
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2005/oct/13/20051013-110722-8952r/

    Q: On spending, as early as early 2004, even the GOP-friendly Heritage Foundation was upset about Bush/Republican domestic spending. Where were Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the mouthpieces of the right at this time?

    A: First, why doesn’t the Heritage Foundation qualify as a “mouthpiece of the right”? But, here’s Cato on the same theme:
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/briefs/bp-087es.html

    Q: Since Republican politicians try to jockey for the position of who can sound the most like Ronald Reagan, why didn’t y’all listen to the person who wrote most of Reagan’s words?

    A: What are you talking about? We weren’t listening to a wordsmith (any more than the Obama Brigades listen to that breast-grabbing guy), but we were fully on board with the idea that Bush was not conservative.

    Are you totally unaware of how deeply dissatisfied conservatives have been with Bush from the beginning? Bush had the same appeal for conservatives as McCain did: he was anyone but the other guy (Gore, Kerry, Obama).

    Kristo Miettinen

    Comment by Kristo Miettinen — March 7, 2009 @ 7:13 am
  13. Well, I was working, you see. Fresh out of college, newly married, funding my 401k all that. Funny how a college education doesn’t actually educate people on how the government really works, how to protest meaningfully so that those who are supposed to be listening to us will hear, all those things. As a conservative, I was (am) spitting mad that Bush turned his back on us fiscally. I reelected him for one job: Supreme Court. Thankfully he got that right, but that’s all he did right. Honestly, as a 20-something raised in a nuclear conservative family, we aren’t taught how to protest. Everyone I knew was disgusted by the Republicans’ behavior (political and private, I may add), but it’s a machine. I’m only now becoming hopeful there is a chance some of their control can be contained. Which is also why the Republican party doesn’t call my home for money anymore. They got more earfuls than they wanted. You want to know where we were? We were trying to make our voices heard the only way we knew how. Well, I’m learning. We just raised our deductions on the W4 to keep O from getting more of our money; I filed for an extension on my taxes this year; we have “officially” resigned from the Republican party (for whatever that is worth); I went with my children to a tea party (my husband actually works, so he couldn’t go); and our tax refund this year will support our local gun store. You will probably find you have a lot in common with us until-recently-republican folk. Not everything, but quite a bit. If you want to track back into Bush, I’ll bet you find we were fed up, but trying to make it work. But no more!

    Comment by Newconstitutionalist — March 7, 2009 @ 7:36 am
  14. Thanks, Stephen. But I should note that Porkbusters was a bottom-up movement inspired by grassroots unhappiness — mostly, unhappiness with the then-GOP-controlled Congress. Yeah, I blogged it and raised its profile, but there were lots of people calling their Senators and Representatives, etc. — and the original idea came from a reader. So I think there were a lot of libertarian/conservative blog readers unhappy with spending pre-Obama, and I agree that, in part, it accounted for Bush’s poor showing with his own party, and the McCain malaise in the 2008 election.

    Comment by Glenn Reynolds — March 7, 2009 @ 7:39 am
  15. Bart,

    Your arguments sound, to me, like excuses. If something is wrong, isn’t it just as wrong with an R attached to the bill as it is with a D attached to it?

    Comment by Stephen Gordon — March 7, 2009 @ 8:35 am
  16. Glenn,

    I’ve always done what I can to promote Porkbusters, probably most recently at a Georgia Center-Right meeting. It thinks it’s a great project.

    Comment by Stephen Gordon — March 7, 2009 @ 8:40 am
  17. Kristo — I’m not stating that there wasn’t any GOP opposition. I’m describing weak opposition that was quickly forgotten. In many cases, it seemed only like token resistance so GOP politicians and pundits could later say “I opposed it.”

    Today, the GOP is actively opposing all sorts of big-government proposals. It was nowhere near this level of intensity one year ago or even eight years ago.

    Comment by Stephen Gordon — March 7, 2009 @ 8:45 am
  18. The author is correct: We on the right GRUMBLED. Only now are we coming together into a movement.

    We let a moderate Republican take us part of the way down the road. Now that a far-left Democrat has anted it up and is taking us further, only now are we conservatives organizing.

    That leaves us WIDE OPEN to the charge of hypocrisy. I look around at my fellow conservatives, and I don’t know whether it’s hypocrisy or not. Maybe it’s a case of “Enough!”. Maybe it is hypocrisy.

    Why are conservatives so furious at the poor who bought more house than they could afford, and yet these same conservatives remain almost silent about the “rich debt” of the multimillionaires who own eight condos, not for use, but for flipping during the housing craze, and now have “more house than they can afford”, and they’re not even looking to live in them. They have financial advisors, and they certainly were smart enough to know what was coming.

    Hypocrisy. Hypocrisy. Hypocrisy. How dare my fellow conservatives remain silent about them.

    Comment by Mike Devx — March 7, 2009 @ 8:51 am
  19. New found friends in the Republican Party?

    Really?

    George Bush appointed former Libertarian Party of Colorado Chair Gayle Norton to the Cabinet Post of Interior Secretary as early as 2001.

    He appointed former longtime Libertarian National Committeeman and David Bergland for President Campaign Manager Bill Evers to a prominent Education Dept. post that same year.

    In fact, Bush appointed more Libertarians in his administration than all other previous Presidents combined.

    I’d hardly call that “new found friends.”

    My gosh, if partisan Libertarians beat up the same people who give them such prominent appointments I’d hate to see what they do to real political foes.

    Comment by Eric Dondero — March 7, 2009 @ 10:02 am
  20. Eric,

    Bush may have appointed so-called libertarians to a few positions.

    It’s quite obvious from looking at his record that he never actually listened to anything those people had to say.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — March 7, 2009 @ 11:36 am
  21. “Bart,Your arguments sound, to me, like excuses.”

    Or perhaps more like Kubler-Ross’s final stage of grief, with a dash of Reinhold Niebuhr for flavor, and an obeisance to Liebnizian optimality.

    Comment by Bart — March 7, 2009 @ 3:51 pm
  22. Small government team?!?!?!? Are you effing kidding me? There was a small government presidential candidate and your ‘team’ did everything you could to trash him with innuendo and vile calumny.

    Comment by John Newman — March 7, 2009 @ 6:21 pm
  23. Eric,

    It’s not unusual for a person to claim to be a libertarian, but to support government oppression by, say, accepting a position on their local draft board, for example.

    ‘Libertarian’ is not a team name, like ‘Red Sox’ or ‘Dodger’. It’s a philosophy, and one that was completely and utterly absent from everything the socialist Bush administration did.

    Comment by tarran — March 7, 2009 @ 6:27 pm
  24. John,

    If you are talking about our supposed ‘sabotage’ of Ron Paul, I should point out that some of us worked on his campaign and were horribly disillusioned by the incompetent way it was run.

    Speaking for myself, I eventually, grudgingly, realized that Ron Paul would have been a rotten president who would set the pro-freedom movement back for decades had he been elected: he lacked executive ability, was a poor judge of character, and had a habit of surrounding himself with scary people like Gary North, a Christian Dominionist. It does not matter that Ron Paul was the most pro-freedom candidate. He was unacceptable, period.

    The lesser of evils is still evil.

    Comment by tarran — March 7, 2009 @ 6:39 pm
  25. “Evil?” “Scary people?”
    There you go again!
    But trillion dollar bailouts, a budget made up of 50% red ink is ok with you smaller government guys?
    Exactly what part of ending the empire, restoring the dollar, getting rid of the FED do you disagree with? That he didn’t have a degree from Yale?
    Your libertarian(?) guilt by association position is quite amazingly ignorant.

    Comment by John Newman — March 8, 2009 @ 6:08 am
  26. Well since the only tools most of us have to respond to the behavior of our elected representatives is to 1) contribute to their cause, and 2) vote for same I think you pretty well can see the manifestations of our outrage.

    Comment by DanMan — March 9, 2009 @ 5:42 am
  27. Maybe y’all should take a look at this evisceration of the conservative intellectual movement and the GOP from an an Objectivist perspective:

    http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2006-fall/decline-fall-american-conservatism.asp

    Comment by Peter — March 9, 2009 @ 5:44 am
  28. I can answer only for myself:

    1. I was frustrated at NCLB, like I am at all federal involvement in education. But NCLB wasn’t a grab for control of almost 1/3 of the US economy and didn’t threaten to destroy our currency.

    2. You don’t listen to conservative radio or read conservative papers, do you? Rush was pretty hyped up about “the biggest entitlement expansion EVAR under a supposedly conservative President.” Bush got reamed pretty badly for it in a number of conservative rags. So this question is built on false premises.

    3. Tax revenues going up after a mid-recession cut is a feature, not a bug. Taxes are cut, spurring investment, which spurs growth, which results in more actual revenue collected by the government than under the higher rate. This idea has been promoted by conservatives since Reagan.

    4. Ranting about Bush spending and the betrayal of conservatism by K-Street Republicans like Mitch McConnell. You don’t listen to Rush, do you?

    5. Because Republican politicians thought they could establish a “permanent majority” by ingratiating themselves to special interests via pork-barrel spending, just like the Democrats did for 40 years. The response by conservatives was what similar to #4.

    Comment by Fearsome Comrade — March 9, 2009 @ 6:03 am
  29. I pick the Lesser of two evils. Politics often prevent a party from achieving thier goals, and instead force the leaders to make choices between two non-ideal situations.Also, you should understand there is a difference between Republicans ( a political party ) and the people who vote for them (largely classified under the title conservative). Politicans and Parties are package deals. A person may approve of some of the agenda and not other parts. But they vote for that person because they feel the agenda offered by the other side is worse. Specifically I don’t vote for libertarians because I feel they have unrealisitc isolationist views for foreign policy.

    If you feel we weren’t loud enough, soon enough, thats fine. In the end we can be allies or not, and recriminations for the past are unlikely to be helpful. We have enough enemies to cause us trouble without making more for ourselves.

    Comment by Weisshaupt — March 9, 2009 @ 6:14 am
  30. Where was the Republican outrage about the burdensome spending created with the No Child Left Behind Act?

    Kept under a lid, since it didn’t seem as great a threat at the time as, say, the combination of President Obama and a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.

    Why weren’t y’all as upset about the cost of Medicare Part D as you are about Obama’s socialistic health care schemes?

    We were upset, but you dance with the one who brung you (as they say). Given the choice between Bush and Gore, or Bush and Kerry, I think the answer’s obvious.

    Please don’t respond that “at least Bush gave us tax cuts.” Is there any reason that no one seemed pissed off that Bush was the biggest taxer in the world?

    Why is this about Bush? He’s not the president nor the problem right now. The rank and file of the GOP didn’t always like his domestic policies, especially his spending. Go back and look at the number of complaints about his unwillingness to use his Veto stamp.

    On spending, as early as early 2004, even the GOP-friendly Heritage Foundation was upset about Bush/Republican domestic spending. Where were Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the mouthpieces of the right at this time?

    Trying to keep John Kerry out of office, and trying to get the Ron Pauloids to shut the hell up and join the winnable fight. Yes, it’s short term vs. long term, but you’ve got to survive to fight again.

    Since Republican politicians try to jockey for the position of who can sound the most like Ronald Reagan, why didn’t y’all listen to the person who wrote most of Reagan’s words?

    Because she doesn’t sound like Reagan any more. She sounds like an upper-crust Republican who has spent too much time in and around Washington DC. This is exactly the kind of Country Club Repub that Reagan was against.

    Memo to the Libertarian Party: Shut the hell up about legalizing drugs, especially the heavy ones. We’ll have that conversation when you can get people to be financially responsible for their own actions.

    Comment by Woody — March 9, 2009 @ 9:07 am
  31. I can sum this up for you: WE WERE PISSED!
    Did you not notice how many “Republicans” were tossed out of office on ’06? WE DIDN’T VOTE FOR THEM. We stayed home.

    Why do you think Bush’s approval numbers were so low? We hated his domestic policies.

    On many occasions I asked the question: Where can I go? The Republicans are spending money like drunk Democrats and the Libritarians don’t get the war on terror.
    Finally, there are some conservatives that get it and are fighting for what we believe in. Unfortunately, they are outnumbered and we will pay for it for years to come.

    Comment by Knuckledragger — March 9, 2009 @ 10:50 am
  32. This two party system is locked in place. It will remain locked in place as long as we have an election system that makes all alternatives spoilers. I believe that as long as we have an “only vote for one” election rule that the pendulum will swing back and forth between them and farther away from freedom. The most effective change we can make is to a ranked ballot of some kind. I happen to like IRV but others would be so much better than the single vote, 1st past the post system we currently have. Eliminate the spoiler effect so that alternative candidates can compete.

    Comment by Norm — March 9, 2009 @ 7:22 pm
  33. [...] II: For those of you coming in from the right, I’ve got five very earnest questions for you. Also, you might wish to check out the Instacomment from [...]

    Pingback by The Liberty Papers »Blog Archive » Will Atlas Shrug? A Compilation of Blogosphere Commentary about “Going Galt” — March 9, 2009 @ 10:01 pm
  34. Q: Please don’t respond that “at least Bush gave us tax cuts.” Is there any reason that no one seemed pissed off that Bush was the biggest taxer in the world?

    A: This article proves the conservative point that when you cut taxes, tax revenues actually rise due to increased reinvestement and productivity.

    Comment by Donna — March 25, 2009 @ 7:59 am

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