VDARE.com's skepticism about George W. Bush made us awfully unpopular in some quarters. But since the President unveiled his immigration plan on January 7th, our doubts about Bush have become common among Republicans. And, paradoxically, that's good news for the GOP and even for the President.
Going back all the way to the 2000 campaign, we'd documented that the Administration's obsession with amnesty for illegal aliens and cheap guest workers for employers would turn out to be bad for the Republican Party and bad for the citizens of this nation. Worse, we argued that the White House's continuing obsession raised serious questions about the judgment of Bush and his electoral consigliere Karl Rove.
In contrast, on much of the Right, a strange Bush Cult was growing—even before the trauma of 9-11 created a psychological need to believe that the President was all-knowing and all-wise. Countless pundits rushed to fill the demand of the faithful for reassuring rationalizations that the President really did know what he was doing.
Years of press cheerleading and conservative groupthink about Bush's wonderfulness have not been good for the President.
The man is by no means bereft of talents—decisiveness and the ability to inspire and enforce loyalty are valuable qualities in a leader. But he's obviously one of the more modestly gifted men to reach the Oval Office.
Harry Truman showed that such a man can accomplish much … if he works hard and learns enough on his own to evaluate the quality of the advice he's getting. But Bush is also one of the lazier Presidents. Perhaps he saw his father campaign weakly for re-election after wearing himself out during the first Gulf war and has vowed to pace himself so he'll have lots of energy left for the most important business of his first term: campaigning for a second term.
Or, judging from his entire life story, perhaps the reason is that Bush simply doesn't like learning facts.
But facts are stubborn things. We on the Realistic Right were denounced as heretics by the True Believer Right because we didn't understand that reality had become obsolete, that Bush had shown that new, improved realities could be conjured up through a sheer will to believe.
In the end, however, reality catches up, which it has with a vengeance in 2004.
Lately, the Administration seems even to have lost its PR touch. What genius persuaded the President to appear on Meet the Press? He would have done far better as, say, Barbara Walters' farewell guest on 20/20 or some other primetime show where his semi-cluelessness could appeal directly to the poorly informed general public.
But it was foolish to put him on a Sunday morning show watched only by public affairs aficionados, who naturally are contemptuous of Bush for knowing no more than they do about his job.
To paraphrase Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons, their reaction was,
"Last Sunday's Meet the Press was, without a doubt, the worst interview ever. Rest assured, I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world."
The unquestioning loyalty and inordinate approbation Bush was receiving from Republicans seems to have created in him and his staff a sense of arrogance. This kind of hubris has led Bush into numerous blunders that have sent his chances of re-election dropping despite the business cycle working in his favor (finally).
They assumed they didn't have to listen to what the nuclear bomb designers at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore were saying about Saddam's incapacity to make nukes because those were just a bunch of physics and engineering geeks.
They didn't have to sweat the details about, say, how to prevent looting in Baghdad or what to do with hundreds of thousands of potentially rebellious Iraqi soldiers, because they were on the side of Democracy and the American Way.
They believed they could run up huge deficits because that's all just fuzzy math.
They didn't have to think hard about immigration because the President would bend the world to his mighty will.