Craig Shirley and Don Devine use Karl Rove’s new memoir to argue that George W. Bush was no conservative. I am admirer of both men (and particularly Shirley’s outstanding histories of Reagan’s presidential campaigns), but I respectfully disagree. (Full disclosure, for those who don't know, I was a speechwriter in the Bush administration.)
The thrust of their argument is that Bush expanded the size of government dramatically -- and they are absolutely right. Federal spending grew significantly on Bush’s watch, and this is without question a black mark on his record. (Federal spending also grew dramatically under Ronald Reagan, though he was dealt a Democratic Congress, whereas Bush had six years of Republican leadership on Capitol Hill.)
Yet this is only one part of Bush’s record, and Shirley and Devine ignore a string of unprecedented conservative achievements on Bush’s watch. There is ample evidence to back up Rove’s claim that “Bush is among the most conservative presidents of the modern age.” Indeed, Bush arguably did more to advance conservative priorities than any president that came before him. Consider a few examples:
TAX CUTS. Bush enacted the largest tax cuts in history -- and unlike my personal hero, Ronald Reagan, he never signed a major tax increase into law.
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