Out of curiosity, I checked Google to see how historians are rating G.W. Bush’s presidency – and whatayaknow, there was a conservative website with “Top 10 Conservatives Presidents.” I couldn’t resist.
My primary interest was the list itself (in order): Washington, Reagan, Lincoln, Coolidge, Cleveland, Eisenhower, Jefferson, Monroe, Truman and (da-da!) G.W. Bush. Some ho-hums, some hoo-hahs.
But more fascinating were the reasons given for each one in the list. It’s a right-wing walk through history – and a vivid lesson in Republican values.
Cleveland was “pro-business” – which in 1884 and 1892 meant indulging and even collaborating with robber barons like J.P. Morgan. Clevelandism rules in Raleigh today. Republicans sweep a clear path for corporate profits while they cut Medicaid and schools. The people are told not to be “irresponsible.” Cleveland was a union-buster, too.
Monroe is touted for vetoing improvements on the Cumberland Road because, he said, “Congress does not possess the power under the Constitution to pass such a law.” But then Eisenhower’s credentials include building the Interstate highway system. This same loosy-goosy approach to the Constitution brands today’s GOP.
For example, the first principle of the Constitution is popular sovereignty – that is, the people rule, through their elected representatives. But Raleigh Republicans’ extreme gerrymandering of voting districts makes elections a farce and the people, spectators. Likewise their passing laws that inconvenience opposition voters. They claim devotion to the Constitution, but by their actions they disdain it.
Eisenhower and Coolidge are cited for presiding over booming post-war economies. Coolidge was the modern Republican’s dreamboat. He repealed regulations and cut taxes on the rich. But then what happened? Crash! Hoover, now president, responded with more Coolidge, making loans to businesses. He was unwilling to help the public because he believed that would “injure the spiritual response of the American people.” He faithfully did the conservative thing, so where is he in the list? Oh my, they forgot him.
Another reason for inclusion is toughness. Truman dropped the bomb and stood up to Communism. Reagan broke up the USSR. Eisenhower was firm against Communism and built a super power. Today’s Republicans in Washington want intervention everywhere.
Lincoln, never anybody’s conservative, is praised for saving the Union – never mind, I suppose, that he didn’t pay much attention to the Constitution in doing it. And Truman proposed universal healthcare and won reelection by bashing the “do-nothing” conservative Republican Congress.
I have no problem with religious conservatives or social conservatives. We all have our beliefs. And I’m mostly an economic conservative myself. But conservative Raleigh Republicans? Ah now, they’re a skunk of a different color. They’re self-serving frauds.
(Oh yes, George Bush. He cut taxes. No mention of resulting deficits.)