Democrats & Liberals Archives

Is Bush a Liberal?

In my wildest dreams I never visualized myself referring even tangentially to President Bush as a liberal. He is so far over to the far right that even many conservatives are unhappy with him. And yet, Bush has just nominated Ben Shalom Bernanke to replace Greenspan as head of the Federal Reserve. The conservative National Review, back in August, was unhappy with Bernanke, who was then on top of Bush’s short list, because he is not a “supply-sider” and believes in - what a horror! - “full employment.” Could it be that Bush is a Democrat in disguise?

On Aug 11,2005, John Tamny wrote in National Review Online:

"Bernanke recently weighed in with his opinions on the economy in the Journal, and while he lauded tax cuts, free trade, and legal reform, a supply-sider he is not. His views on how tax cuts impact the economy, his odd interest in demand charts, and not to mention his discredited beliefs about “limits” to growth and “full” employment, should have Bush supporters concerned."

"A supply-sider he is not." This sounds wonderful to me. But then, I'm not a conservative. Bernanke believe in "limits to growth" and in "full employment." I heartily approve. But then, I'm a liberal.

Later, Tamny elaborates about Bernanke's ideas about employment:

"Further on in his Journal editorial, Bernanke wrote about employment, and his belief that there is a 'highest level of employment that can be sustained without creating inflationary pressure.'"

Pure music. To me, that is. Not to conservatives.

I can't imagine what happened to Bush. Why on earth did he nominate Bernanke who believes in the same things I, an acknowledged liberal, believe? Is Bush disappointed with conservatism? Have the traumas he has faced in the last few months gotten to him? Is Bush turning liberal?!?

Posted by Paul Siegel at October 25, 2005 4:16 PM
Comments
Comment #87937

Well, let’s see…

He has no concern about our nations southern border.
He spends like a drunken sailor.
He cozies up to special interests.
He runs a war like a political event.
He appears unconcerned with property rights.
He nominates judges based on ‘quotas’.

Yup, sounds like a modern day liberal to me. good work, Paul!

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 25, 2005 4:58 PM
Comment #87942

Paul


I have told you before that you have a stereotype view of conservatives. It is mostly based on what you think you do not like. There are a wide variety of ideas championed by conservatives. As I mentioned too, the main difference of opinion between you and us is not in goals, but in methods and what we think we can achieve. I am for full employment, but I recognize that it is a goal we cannot actually achieve (unless you define it about about 5%) and one that the government cannot give us. Everyone recognizes that growth has limits, but where are they? China is growing faster than it is sustainable, but when does it have to stop? Is the U.S. growth sustainable? For how long? These are questions, not answers.

You said that moderates were liberal. Maybe if you believe the things we do, you are a conservative. Of course you recall the saying (variously attributed) that if you are not a socialist when you are twenty, you have no heart. But if you are still a socialist when you are forty, you have no brain. The twenty years of experience doesn’t make you less interested in good goals, but you do realize that some can’t be achieved as you thought.

Posted by: Jack at October 25, 2005 5:10 PM
Comment #87953

Even that great Liberal newspaper the New York Times gave Bernanke an endorsement today.

In my cynical mode, I think the selection of Bernanke has more to do with concern over how the markets would react to a non-sensical supply sider running the Fed. Someone must have realized that stock managers would flip out over such change in policy, and a lot of Bush’s weathly friends would lose a lot of money.

On a more policy implication side, someone must have realized that stock managers would flip out over such change in policy, and the markets would suffers.

Interesting how its the same reason, isn’t it.

Posted by: steve K at October 25, 2005 5:30 PM
Comment #87976

Jack


I have never told you before that you have a stereotype view of conservativesliberals. It is mostly based on what you think you do not like. There are a wide variety of ideas championed by conservativesliberals. As I mentioned too, the main difference of opinion between you and us is not in goals, but in methods and what we think we can achieve. I am for full employment, but I recognize that it is a goal we cannot actually achieve (unless you define it about about 5%) and one that the government cannot give us help with. Everyone recognizes that growth has limits, but where are they? China is growing faster than it is sustainable, but when does it have to stop? Is the U.S. growth sustainable? For how long? These are questions, not answers.

You said that moderates were liberalconservatives. Maybe if you believe the things we do, you are a conservativeliberal. Of course you recall the saying (variously attributed) that if you are not a socialist when you are twenty, you have no heart. But if you are still a socialist when you are forty, you have no brain. The twenty years of experience doesn’t make you less interested in good goals, but you do realize that some can’t be achieved as you thought.

(heh, heh)

Posted by: Mental Wimp at October 25, 2005 6:46 PM
Comment #87991

because he is not a “supply-sider” and believes in - what a horror! - “full employment.”

I am conservitive and I believe in FULL EMPLOYMENT.

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 25, 2005 8:24 PM
Comment #87995

Mental

Yes. The ideas of American liberals and American conservatives overlap and your editing has shown the difference. You believe the government can create utopia (full employment)which you specifically DON’T define as something like 5%.

It is the triumph of hope over experience and I notice that you didn’t change the part about experience making a person conservative, or at least less of a believer in government ability to run the economy.

I am also glad to see that you agree that conservatives and liberals often differ over methods and not goals. Many people on the left seem to think conservatives have bad motives.

Posted by: jack at October 25, 2005 8:45 PM
Comment #88004

The thing that worries me about this is… Paul, the way you expressed yourself, at least in your title, is that you cannot separate belief in a political party from support for an issue. Just because I agree with Democrats on some issues doesn’t mean I’m a Democrat. You’re assumption that Bush is becoming a liberal or a Democrat because he did ONE THING that you liked, seems very presumptious and ill-founded. It’s certainly grounds for some serious disappointment.

Posted by: Stephanie at October 25, 2005 9:04 PM
Comment #88005

Jack said:

“Of course you recall the saying (variously attributed) that if you are not a socialist when you are twenty, you have no heart. But if you are still a socialist when you are forty, you have no brain.”

So, Jack, what does it mean if you go through that process at a more excelerated rate?

Posted by: Stephanie at October 25, 2005 9:07 PM
Comment #88015

It was Churchill, and it was “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.”

Of course, if you have no brain you can also be President of the Untied States. Pun sadly intended.

Posted by: Jon R at October 25, 2005 9:50 PM
Comment #88030

Stephanie

I guess it means you had more experiences faster. I think experience is the teacher.

Jon R

Churchhill and lots of others. I have been unable to track down the bottom line on that one. I have seen it attributed to Clemenceau, who would probably have said it before Churchill. Please look at my entry on the other side and the last paragraph about ideas.

Posted by: Jack at October 25, 2005 10:30 PM
Comment #88036
You believe the government can create utopia (full employment)which you specifically DON’T define as something like 5%.

Of course, the U.S. experienced an official unemployment rate of something close to 3% in the 1960’s and then again in the late 90’s. That 2% made a big difference in many people’s lives, not just for the people gainfully employed who were not so at the so-called 5% full employment rate but also for the many people who lived much better lives because wages were higher in general. It’s a willingness to work for economic policies like that that Liberals hope for with the nomination of someone like Bernanke.

Posted by: Steve K at October 25, 2005 10:43 PM
Comment #88057

Paul,
My mantra about this administration has long been “It’s not how far right they are, it’s how far wrong they are.”

As Jack and Mental Wimp have demonstrated the particulars of the values of liberalism and conservatism overlap considerably. Why are so many on both sides so insistent on demanding that one or the other is ill-motivated? That’s the wrong way to look at things.

I’m often amused at Jack’s writing here because at heart we agree very much about what is right and desirable, but Jack has been hoodwinked into thinking that the current Republican party is largely on the right track to getting there, when I see them ripping out the essential structures which we need to keep greed in check.

Jack and I both share some distrust of government and some distrust of corporations. We both believe in balance. We are just in adamant disagreement about where that balance lies.

Walker - Choosing Hope

Posted by: Walker Willingham at October 26, 2005 1:56 AM
Comment #88059

Steve K,

Thank you for pointing out to Jack that his “utopian” 5% unemployment number was surpassed for 30 months in a row under Clinton.

Posted by: Burt at October 26, 2005 2:14 AM
Comment #88060

Going strictly by the heading “Is Bush a Liberal” the easy answer is “no.” But is he conservative? Well, with groups like Republicans Against Bush (http://www.republicansagainstbush.info/) it is pretty obvious that he may not even be a conservative in the eyes of his own partisans.

With only two political parties to vie for support, it will always be that there are many Americans who will believe a little from each party’s platform.

And with Bush nominating a seamingly “liberal” economist for the Fed, I would hope that we can all scrutinize him with a level head regardless of party affiliation. Nay, rather I hope that our politicians and the media can scrutinize his nominees with a level head.

Posted by: Andrew at October 26, 2005 2:50 AM
Comment #88062
I am conservitive and I believe in FULL EMPLOYMENT.

Then you must have hated Reagan as much as Bush Jr. :)

Excellent article, Paul! It’s long been a fact that Wall Street and Main Street both do better economically under Democratic Presidents. I’m happy whenever President Bush makes the right — that is, the Democratic — choice.

As for being a liberal, don’t forget Bush’s wacko-liberal, Carter-esque foreign policy in Iraq. Only a fruitcake liberal would destabilize the region purely for humanitarian reasons.

Posted by: American Pundit at October 26, 2005 3:09 AM
Comment #88097

AP,

Long been? The past two democratic presidents were Clinton and Carter. The economy did well under Clinton but woeful under Carter. How do you figure, then, that the economy does better under democratic presidents? Isn’t this a bit of simplistic partisan rhetoric?

The *truth* is that the president is pretty anemic in his ability to do anything about the economy. First of all, it’s the house of representatives that holds the pursestrings. Secondly, market forces and drivers, like the ‘internet bubble’ and y2k and oil shortages, are more likely to impact the economy and drive it up and down, etc.

The president has the ability to try to buffer those market trends, Clinton did well in leaving things alone to let the economy bubble during the Internet Investment Banker period, but did little to avert the downturn when it crashed, leading to the last year of his term being part of the recession we had because of it. And he had little choice, a republican congress was doing just as little during that time and would have blocked much of what he wanted to do.

I guess I just get tired of simplistic views of economics espoused by many on here in their attempt to hold one party up over the other and in the process ignoring the real reasons for the upturn or downturn so that we can be assured that we won’t learn a damn thing from them.

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 26, 2005 11:08 AM
Comment #88109
Secondly, market forces and drivers, like the ‘internet bubble’ and y2k and oil shortages, are more likely to impact the economy and drive it up and down, etc.

If there’s blame to go around for the “bubble burst” of 2001, some of it surely rests with Alan Greenspan. The man who famously warned against “irrational exuberance” surely didn’t lift a finger (like raising interest rates) to prevent it. It was plainly obvious to many economists that stock prices were too high and had to fall. I sure hope Bernanke won’t follow in Greenspan’s footsteps in this area.

…leading to the last year of his [Clinton] term being part of the recession we had …

The recession officially started in March, 2001. Perhaps you have other data.

Posted by: Steve K at October 26, 2005 12:18 PM
Comment #88121

Um…no?

Posted by: Mr. Man at October 26, 2005 1:11 PM
Comment #88133

Steve,

Let’s see, it depends on what definition of ‘recession’ you are using. The definition is widely held to mean ‘3 consecutive quarters of falling real gross national product’.

From what I have seen, the Real Gross Domestic Product did not do that at all during this time. The negative growth quarters were:

3rd quarter 2000
1st quarter 2001
3rd quarter 2001

With positive growth in the 4th and 2nd quarters of 2001.

However, the NBER did list a recession from March to November of 2001. They use a slightly different definition, “a significant decline in economic activity’. They also use other factors than real gross domestic product and also do away with quarters and use monthly indicators.

So, according to NBER’s definition, you are correct that economic activity peaked in March 2001 and troughed in November 2001. The peaking was only 2 months into Bush’s presidency and the economic downturn was a large feature of the 2000 election with Bush claiming this was occuring and Gore saying the economy was fine.

The NBER did also say that the recession was very short, shorter than most. Many economists attribute this to the tax cuts that were issued. While their long term impact is being debated now, most people agree that getting money into the economy via the tax custs did a lot to stem the tide of not only the economic downturn (which can be attributed to many things including the tech bubble and y2k boon being over) but also the terrorists attack of September.

… Does that answer your question?

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 26, 2005 2:00 PM
Comment #88139

Rhinehold
Long been? The past two democratic presidents were Clinton and Carter. The economy did well under Clinton but woeful under Carter. How do you figure, then, that the economy does better under democratic presidents? Isn’t this a bit of simplistic partisan rhetoric?

AP is taking the typical party line. Like Clinton saying we were in the worst economy in 50 years, and the press reporting it like it was the gospel truth. Then after Clinton was elected and sworn in, all of a sudden we were in the best economy in 100 years.


Posted by: Ron Brown at October 26, 2005 2:18 PM
Comment #88142

Jack

I think even Adolph Hitler thought he was doing “good” in that he thought he was improving the lot of the only people who really mattered: ethnic Germans. The folks on this blog on the other hand, have a broader idea of what doing good is and I agree that we want the same things.

I also think that 90% of politicians and voters have good intentions and want everyone to be healthy and happy. What gets in the way is ideology that is resistant to experience. If one believes as an article of faith, for example, that the “invisible hand” of the marketplace can always to better than a planned society-wide response, then no amount of experience will convince that person that a government-managed health-care service is better than whatever it is we have now. Likewise, if someone believes that each and every poor person is noble and honest, no amount of proof will convince that someone to support welfare reform.

Our basic problem, as I see it, is that so much of our political decision-making is based on ideology. If you believe a priori that there is only one way to do something, it is a waste of time to look at data, and if someone waves it in your face, you just dismiss what contradicts your beliefs. This is how religions thrive.

I believe we should always look at evidence with a skeptical eye and brain fully engaged. When data are not presented to support an assertion, then try to find some. Our government currently runs on anecdote and wish. Our people believe what the see on TV and in the movies, but have little sense of the size and shape of the population. I am astounded, for example, that both cons and libs often believe that most poor people are black and that most blacks are poor. Neither statement is true, but our media perpetuate these myths because the owners have underfunded serious reporting. Our belief systems drive our voting, our fears, and our expenditures. When they diverge from reality, we go off course. Simple as that. My assessment of the facts (and I am partial to careful studies in peer-reviewed literature) is that most of the policies of this administration have little empirical support. As an added bonus, they seem to want to manipulate misperception to accomplish their goals. They probably see this as doing good; my philosophy views this activity a more malign.

And yes, I do believe that children become more conservative as they age into adults, but it’s a differenct meaning of conservative. It doesn’t mean they become Ebeneezer Scrooge (what, are the jails full?). It just means that their libertarian impulses are mediated by the realities of self-support and stability. “I used to want to burn down the capitol, but now I just want get my candidates elected.” This applies to both the right-wing and left-wing, in my observation.

Thanks for the opportunity to opine about this.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at October 26, 2005 2:31 PM
Comment #88166
The NBER did also say that the recession was very short, shorter than most. Many economists attribute this to the tax cuts that were issued.

Regardless of when the recession exactly started, we are all in the same general ballpark. (who would we blame it on if it officially started at January 20, 2001 at 12 Noon?)

But as to many economists attributing the short duration of the recession to tax cuts — that’s streaching it. Most of those cuts were phased in over time (remember: we were still living under the 90’s budget rules) and would not have had an impact on spending decisions until, well, the recession was basically over.

Posted by: Steve K at October 26, 2005 4:46 PM
Comment #88193

Conseritive, Liberal, Democrat, Republican, left or right, it doesn’t mater who is making the decisions. No one has the back bone to close the borders!!! There’s way to much special interest. Its too bad our politicians are so caught up with getting re-elected that America’s real problems, the war, our borders, health, drugs, education & jobs become political footballs that are dropped & fumbled.
One term no retirement. Let them pay for their medical like the rest of us. I don’t have a problem with anyone getting ahead, but when you put Americans second that’s just wrong. JUST DO IT RIGHT

Posted by: TomVandegrift at October 26, 2005 6:32 PM
Comment #88195

Conseritive, Liberal, Democrat, Republican, left or right, it doesn’t mater who is making the decisions. No one has the back bone to close the borders!!! There’s way to much special interest. Its too bad our politicians are so caught up with getting re-elected that America’s real problems, the war, our borders, health, drugs, education & jobs become political footballs that are dropped & fumbled.
One term no retirement. Let them pay for their medical like the rest of us. I don’t have a problem with anyone getting ahead, but when you put Americans second that’s just wrong. JUST DO IT RIGHT

Posted by: TomV at October 26, 2005 6:34 PM
Comment #88207

Mental Wimp,

“I think even Adolph Hitler thought he was doing “good”…”

Why is it when debating between liberal & conservative view points Adolph Hitler is brought up so frequently? If you’re going to compare our politicians with those who committed systematic acts of genocide, why not compare them to Stalin who we were actually allied with, instead of the guy who was our enemy? Better yet, why bring it up at all when none of our politicians are committing systematic acts of genocide?

Posted by: Stephanie at October 26, 2005 7:49 PM
Comment #88282
The economy did well under Clinton but woeful under Carter.

Better than under Nixon/Ford.

No, it’s a fact that for about the last 50 years, Democrats have been better or the economy than Republicans. Republicans have increased government growth more than Democrats, Republicans have raised the deficit and the national debt far higher than Democrats. Democrats have done better at raising GDP and Democrats raised per capita income far more than Republicans. Democrats also have a better record on inflation and unemployment.

It’s long been a fact that Wall Street and Main Street both do better economically under Democratic Presidents.

Here’s a good article about it. Here’s another one. Those are the top two that came up when I googled: economy better under democrat. There are plenty more.

Hope that gets Rhinehold and Ron Brown up to speed. Glad to help clear that up for you guys. Any time. :)

Posted by: American Pundit at October 27, 2005 10:32 AM
Comment #89213

He is a JEW right what else is new in America.

Posted by: Albert Garibay at October 31, 2005 5:46 PM
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