Rorschach test, Part Two

Andrew Ferguson of the Weekly Standard thinks that President Bush is losing popularity because his transformative legislative agenda betrays the same lack of self-restraint that causes Americans to dislike liberalism. To some extent Ferguson’s piece confirms my Rorschach test thesis — people are reading their own preferences into poll results, results that may not be significant, at that. I agree, however, that Bush is overreaching in the sense that the things he wants to accomplish legislatively — fix social security, enact pro-immigration reform, significantly revise the tax code — are going to be difficult, and in some cases impossible, to get done. And this may adversely affect his popularity. However, I give Bush credit for taking on the tough issues, and I disagree with Ferguson’s suggestion that Bush’s agenda constitutes “busybodyism” or “big government conservatism.” None of what Bush has to offer in the three areas I’ve mentioned strikes me as likely to enlarge the government or its role. And it’s hard to deny that our social security system, immigration laws, and tax codes need fixing.
I’ll be satisfied with Bush’s second administration if he continues to successfully prosecute the war on terror and gets his judicial nominees (including at least two conservatives on the Supreme Court) confirmed. Even on the Supreme Court front I’m not terribly optimistic, though. I believe that Bush will replace Rehnquist with a conservative, but that his second nominee, if he gets one, may well be a moderate, Alberto Gonzales for example. In other words, the conservatives will likely end up batting 500 — their usual average during Republican administrations.
But maybe this is just me taking the Rorschach test.


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