What is it that distinguishes Bush Republicanism from the Coolidge, Taft, Eisenhower and Reagan varieties? Four major issues come to mind.
Bush is a "Big Government conservative" who repudiated the "government-is-the-problem" philosophy of Reagan. His No Child Left Behind program, doubling the size of the Department of Education, and his vast expansion of Medicare to cover prescription drugs so testify.
Third, Bush believes in open borders, amnesty and "a path to citizenship" for 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens, and smoothing the way for untold millions more to come and "do the work Americans will not do."
Fourth, Bush is a NAFTA-CAFTA man who believes in throwing America's doors open to goods from all over the world, regardless of the protectionist practices of our trade partners. To Bush, free trade is an article of faith and faithful observance its own reward.
For seven years now, consistent with these beliefs, Bush has crafted national policy to conform to his convictions. Thus, any verdict on the Bush presidency must also render judgment upon his philosophy.
With his own and his party's approval at the lowest levels since Watergate, one may conclude then that America is not only rejecting Bush the man and his record, but the philosophy behind both.
This should be a matter of grave concern to a Republican Party that has lately embraced all four pillars of the Bush-Republican philosophy.
For consider the fruits.
Interventionism gave us Iraq, the worst strategic blunder in U.S. history. Big Government conservatism wiped out the surplus, fattened the federal bureaucracy and enlarged its share of GDP, and destroyed the Republican reputation as America's bastion of fiscal prudence.
The Bush immigration philosophy was repudiated by Middle America, which rose in righteous wrath against his amnesty plan and demanded he enforce the law and secure the border. Americans are unreconciled to the idea that the America they grew up in will be morphed into some mammoth multicultural Mall of Mankind.
Now, the returns have come in from the Bush policy of free-trade globalism. According to a lead story in The Wall Street Journal—whose editorial page still champions Iraq, the Bush Doctrine, open borders, NAFTA-CAFTA and the WTO—Republicans, by two to one, believe free trade has done more harm than good to America.
"With voters provoked for years by such figures as Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot," writes the Journal's John Harwood, citing Romney adviser and former Rep. Vin Weber, "there's been a steady erosion in Republican support for free trade." [Republicans Grow Skeptical On Free Trade - WSJ.com, October 4, 2007 ]
While one appreciates Harwood's compliment, it is undeserved. What killed the free-trade consensus in the GOP was not provocateurs, but proven failure.
Since 2002, America has run five consecutive world record trade deficits. Three million manufacturing jobs have disappeared. The euro has almost doubled in value against the dollar. The Canadian dollar has reached parity. Plants have been shutting down across this country for years. The wages of Middle Americans have stagnated. The trade deficit with China last year reached $233 billion, a world record between any two nations.
Where Alexander Hamilton's economic patriotism, pursued by Washington, Madison, Clay, Jackson, Lincoln, McKinley, T.R. and Coolidge, created the greatest manufacturing power the world had ever seen, producing 42 percent of all of the world's goods when Silent Cal went home, America's industrial plant has been ravaged by free trade.
And we are only beginning to see the damage done by the "trade-deficits-don't-matter!" Republicans.
The trade deficits America has run up in recent decades have helped give rival nations $5 trillion in cash reserves. They have now begun to transfer this enormous cash hoard into sovereign wealth funds—to buy up America.
China, with currency reserves estimated at $1.3 trillion, used petty cash—one-fourth of 1 percent of its cash pile in May—to buy a 10 percent interest in Blackstone, America's second largest private equity firm.
Huawei Technologies, a firm linked to the Chinese military, now seeks a merger with 3Com, a company that provides the Pentagon and U.S. Army with intrusion detection equipment to keep hackers out. In July, Chinese military hackers were discovered trying to break into a computer system close to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Treasury should veto Huawei's bid, even if Goldman Sachs, which claims one alumnus as treasury secretary and another as White House chief of staff, has been greasing the deal. Yet this is not the end—this is only the first of the foreign raids on vital U.S. assets.
At the 1884 Congress of Berlin that carved up the continent, "The Scramble for Africa" began. The Scramble for America, thanks to our trillions in borrowing to finance consumption of foreign goods, is about to begin. Because of the free-trade folly of this generation, foreigners, not all of them friendly, are about to buy up our inheritance. They are about to buy up America.