Churchill, Trump, and George W. Bush

I am currently reading Andrew Roberts’ biography of Winston Churchill. So I followed, with interest, the link that someone (probably Scott) put up as a Power Line Pick to this piece by Roberts in the Spectator about his book tour in America. His theme is that Americans, in general, esteem Churchill now more than ever. Which is a good thing. I want to comment on a single paragraph in Roberts’ article:

The livid scar down the center of his forehead that Churchill received in that accident is visibly to the fore in George W. Bush’s excellent portrait of him that hangs in the Dallas Country Club. At dinner à trois with the former president and Laura Bush there, ‘43’ — as everyone in Texas seems to call him — pondered whether he might turn out to be the last Republican president in American history, because clearly Trump doesn’t count. We discussed the Whig-Democrat struggles of the 1830s and 1840s, and the way that no political party has an inherent right to exist.

Having no reason to doubt Roberts’ account, I take it that at a private dinner at the Dallas Country Club, former President George W. Bush suggested that he might have been the last Republican President ever, on the ground that Donald Trump doesn’t count. And maybe after Trump there will be no more Republicans.

I have never thought of W as an arrogant man–on the contrary–but this attitude reeks of the ignorant contempt with which the establishment, in all its many branches, views President Trump. In what way is Trump not a “real” Republican? I can think of one: he is not a budget hawk. But then, I don’t recall either of the Bushes being much of a budget hawk, either, when in office. At least Trump didn’t run as one.

Trump has governed considerably more as a traditional Republican than I expected. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a classic Republican measure, has been a smashing success, as I testified before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. Lots of Republicans talk about cutting needless regulations, but Trump has actually done it to an extraordinary and praiseworthy degree.

Some years ago I was invited to attend an event at SMU sponsored by the George W. Bush Presidential Library. (I wrote about it on Power Line, but I can’t readily find that post in our archives.) The theme of the event was the need to increase our rate of economic growth. Various economists and President Bush himself explained that we should be striving for 4% annual GDP growth, something that used to be considered routine in the U.S., but during the Obama years was said to be a thing of the past. Strong economic growth solves a lot of problems.

Under President Trump, our rate of economic growth has doubled, although not to 4%–not yet, anyway. George W. Bush should be delighted with this result, but it doesn’t sound as though he expressed such delight to Andrew Roberts.

Then there is foreign policy. President Trump is standing up to Russia and China. He has rejected Barack Obama’s absurd dream of an alliance with Iran’s mullahs. He is completing the destruction of ISIS. He is staunchly pro-Israel. To what, in this litany, does W object? Nothing, I assume.

Then we have the voters. Gallup reports that 90% of Republicans approve of President Trump’s performance. Other surveys have placed the number even higher–higher than W’s own approval among Republican voters through most of his time as president. So, in what sense is Trump not a “real” Republican?

In this sense, I think: George W. Bush was a good president. I gave him a B- rating when his second term ended. But he had one great failing: he didn’t fight back against the Democratic Party’s continuous assaults on his administration. He was BusHitler. We haven’t forgotten. Has he?

“Artists” produced images of W’s brains being blown out by assassins, in what turned out to be a preview of the Trump administration. Liberals absurdly claimed that, contrary to the CIA’s assurances, Bush was the one person who knew all along that Saddam Hussein didn’t have vast stocks of chemical weapons–it turned out that Saddam only had small stocks–and Bush lied his way into Iraq in order to “steal” that country’s oil. Which, of course, didn’t happen. It was all a Democratic Party lie.

George W. Bush was slandered in myriad ways, almost all of them absurd. But instead of fighting back, he just took it. His administration gave little or no aid to those, like us at Power Line, who wanted to defend him. And the Democratic Party press-the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Associated Press, and all of the fringe characters whom they empower–destroyed his administration.

Donald Trump isn’t like that. He fights back. He calls out liberal news sources that lie about him as “fake news,” which they are. He may lose in 2020–no one knows what next year’s presidential election might bring–but if so, he will go down fighting against the forces that hate him and that hate America, and want to move our country toward socialism. The same forces that ultimately defeated George W. Bush.

The sad thing, in my view, is that W apparently has joined the establishment. He thinks Trump isn’t a Republican, and the Republican Party likely has no future after the current aberrant office-holder. News flash, W: the cause of freedom didn’t die when you moved back to Texas. The Republican Party stands for liberty, for limited government, for a strong foreign policy, for a better life for ALL Americans, not just app developers and Wall Street wizards. And guess what, George: Donald Trump, for all his faults, has done a better job of advancing these ideals than you did.

Which is why virtually all Republicans approve of what Trump is doing. I don’t know what the future holds, but I think Donald Trump has made it more likely, not less likely, that future presidents will be Republicans.

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