Seeing former President George W. Bush bash current President Donald Trump this week gives me hope for the future of the Republican Party, but it really makes me miss how Grand the Old Party used to be.
Trump spent the weekend at the CPAC conference preaching to the choir about how awful the media is. He banned media outlets from his press briefing that are chasing down stories on his campaign’s Russian connections.
Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) came out in favor of those outlets over the weekend saying he wanted an independent investigation into the matter. George W. Bush said the same thing. He also came to the defense of the media. It isn’t like W. enjoyed softball coverage while he was in the White House.
Bush was ripped mercilessly by the media. But he had thicker skin — and maybe less to hide — so he never overreacted to the coverage of him or his administration.
George W. Bush told Matt Lauer that Americans deserve to know what ties exist between Trump, his campaign and Russia. Remember, W. spent more than his fair share of time dealing with Vladimir Putin.
“One of the things I spent a lot of time doing was trying to convince a person like Vladimir Putin, for example, to accept the notion of an independent press,” Bush said. “And it’s kind of hard to, you know, tell others to have an independent, free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves.”
I don’t think it takes an interpreter to decode the point W. was trying to make there. Just in case anyone — especially anyone who lives by himself at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. — was still confused, he went one step further.
“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. That we need the media to hold people like me to account,” Bush said. “I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”
Not many Republicans — and fewer Democrats — ever imagined a time when they would miss George W. Bush in the White House. They miss him now.
More than that, I miss W’s dad. George H.W. Bush was the first President for whom I ever had the pleasure to cast a vote. After 8 years of Ronald Reagan, the first President Bush had a pretty easy shot at the White House as Michael Dukakis couldn’t get out of his own way.
The thing I liked the most about H.W. is what most of today’s conservatives hated about him. He knew when he was wrong and was actually willing to reverse course to do the right thing. Today’s GOP believes that the best thing to do when you have enacted bad tax cuts or other policies, you have to hold the line and even double down no matter how deleterious the effect is on the state and its essential services.
Kansas’ economic experiment under Sam Brownback has produced total economic growth since 2011 of 2.9 percent in the Sunflower State while the rest of the nation enjoys growth of 9.2 percent since 2011. A new tax plan to address the revenue problems in the state was recently vetoed by Brownback and that veto was upheld by 16 State Senators more loyal to their own ideology than the reality in which the people live who are affected by their constant cuts.
Oklahoma has just declared another revenue failure but lawmakers here are more likely to attribute the revenue failure to alien invasion than they are their own failed tax policies.
George H.W. Bush ran his entire campaign behind the phrase, “Read my lips, no new taxes.” But when it was apparent that the cuts required to meet budget failures were more than he wanted to enforce, he was able to admit that a change of direction was the best course of action.
Those days are gone. Party loyalty over policy quality is the new name of the game. Compromise is seen as weakness instead of effectiveness.
Intransigence has replaced intelligence.
These are not good trends. We need to replace these cold-hearted neo-cons with the compassionate conservatives who cared about people while leading the country with a moral compass that knew its true north.
Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.