It's a question that has been kicking around my head for awhile. In the wake of the Legacy of Reagan becoming all-encompassing for Rs, in the wake of Newt and DeLay turning Congress into their own personal playground, and you know... W, is what we really need a return to Republicans who are more like George H. W. Bush?
I'm going to talk about him in the past tense because he hasn't espoused many of these views for quite some time, and because he publicly supported his son's very conservative, Reaganesque presidency. Bush the Elder may still privately be a moderate-to-liberal Republican in today's context, but it's hard to know.
A Few Pros of Poppy's:
- GHWB started out pro-choice (before he joined the Reagan ticket), and was so pro-Planned Parenthood (his father, Prescott, was the Treasurer of the organization at one time), that his nickname in the House was "Rubbers."
- GHWB was unquestionably well-versed in foreign policy, intelligence, and military policy. It didn't hurt that he had been the Ambassador to China and the Director of the CIA. He was the last president we had who served in combat (Reagan, by contrast, served the Army in propaganda movie-making). GHWB chose to use diplomacy/sanctions first in the Gulf War, rather than rushing to armed conflict as Reagan and W did (with Grenada, Nicaragua, and Iraq). When he finally did attack Iraq he had the support of most countries in the world, a majority in Congress, and perhaps most importantly, he had a clear plan and clear objectives and used a well-conceived plan to carry them out.
- He chose to put aside an ill-advised pledge not to raise taxes when he thought it was for the good of the country (so did Reagan, btw).
- He supported some civil rights legislation, including The Civil Rights Act of 1991, and signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.
- He supported environmental protection and regulation, and signed a Clean Air Act that was actually helpful to the environment.
- He ran a really nasty campaign, twice, including the most reviled ad in a generation: the Willie Horton ad.
- He was far more interested in foreign policy than in domestic policy, and that showed through his inattentiveness to an economic downturn that affected many Americans.
- He nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. To replace Thurgood Marshall. I'm still bitter. GHWB did also nominate Justice Souter, though it's unclear if GHWB knew about some of Souter's more moderate leanings.
|I'm still bitter.|
...Still, in an era of The Great Republican Sprint to the Right (which has been aided by the Tea Party and folks like Grover Norquist), when hard-liner Club for Growth types are drumming conservatives like Dick Lugar out of office for daring to do anything constructive, it's hard not to be nostalgic for a more moderate, less partisan, more governance-oriented Republican. One like Poppy Bush.