June 25, 2004


THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: By describing various parts -- deregulation, media consolidation, pre-emptive war -- Americans fail to grasp the problem as a whole: failed conservative politics. (Laurie Spivak, AlterNet)

Search on Lexis-Nexis for the phrase "failed conservative policies," and you'll turn up a grand total of three articles: two in British newspapers and one magazine article, all referring to the conservative Tories in England.

Now try the same search but replace the word "conservative" with "liberal." You'll find that the phrase "failed liberal policies" has been echoed by a slew of conservative commentators and politicians including Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Dan Quayle, George Pataki, Rudy Guiliani, Ralph Reed, and Tom DeLay. For more than a decade, "failed liberal policies" has been the conservative revolution's official unofficial mantra.

In 1988 at a rally for George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle, Ronald Reagan asked his audience, "Do we want to risk going back to the old, failed liberal policies of the past?" to which the crowd in unison responded, "No!" Throughout the rest of the Bush campaign, the phrase made regular appearances on the stump. Then, in the final days before the 1988 election, Bush delivered the wholesale indictment and definitive declaration, "If I win this election, it will be a rejection of the failed liberal policies of the past."

George H.W. Bush did win, but just four years later, after only one term, voters elected to reject Mr. Bush and arguably his failed conservative policies as well. Today, little more than a decade later, voters are being asked to weigh in on the performance of Mr. Bush's son, who according to George Will is the most conservative president in living memory next to Ronald Reagan, "and not second by much." Yet critics of the 43rd President, the second most conservative president in living memory, rarely, if ever, criticize failed conservative policies.

George Bush Senior lost because he raised taxes, a failed liberal policy. Meanwhile, his son is more conservative than Ronald Reagan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 25, 2004 8:14 AM

Conservative policies consist basically of letting people alone, and allowing them to make their own choices about how to live their lives.

Liberal policies consist basically of telling people what they must or must not do, and telling them how they must live their lives.

It's easy to see how "conservative policies" can't really have an attribute of "failed". Whereas "liberal policies" can all too easily be determined to have failed.

Posted by: ray at June 25, 2004 9:54 AM

I just ran the google search and got 11 documents 6 american

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 25, 2004 11:38 AM
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