Big government by any other name

Here is Jonah Goldberg’s take (courtesy of Real Clear Politics) on the question I asked yesterday — is the Bush administration conservative. Goldberg’s answer is that, yes, the administration is conservative, but in a new kind of way. Goldberg classifies the administration as “big-govenment conservative,” which, he says, “used to be an oxymoron [but] now means ‘compassionate conservative.'”
I’m afraid I don’t buy this. Presidents are powerful people, but they don’t remake the political landscape in two years (most don’t remake it at all). A fair-minded analysis should try to place Bush in the traditional political continuum and, I think, must place him not very far from its center. Conservatives should either accept this (as I do) for pragmatic resaons such as those Goldberg cites, or not. But they shouldn’t use catch-phrases to define the problem away.


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