By now everyone knows all about the GOP’s report on the path forward. In a nutshell, we need to embrace serious structural reform, gay marriage, and open borders. The kids these days hate us, the old folks don’t trust us, and we need to do some poll tested, kid approved things to get everyone to like us again.Next month, the RNC will make a home porno with its mascot and “accidentally” leak it online, then do the late night shows in an act of contrition to show how cool they are. All the really cool celebrities do that these days. It’ll be the first step forward. Damn the policy, accidentally leaked shot in the iPhone home porn is all the rage these days.In fact, however ridiculous that may sound, it’d be a lot easier to do than what the GOP must do to turn the corner. This week, as all the living Presidents get together to open the George W. Bush library, Republicans need to start ditching the Bush years. Put me in the Walter Russell Mead camp with Ben Domenech. Domenech, in his excellent Transom (you should subscribe!!!!), wrote this today:
Yet my own view is that whatever Bush’s personal qualities as a genuine, honorable fellow, his presidential legacy is of a lighter tax burden, a safer country, and a destroyed Republican Party. The last is not all his fault, but has more to do with who he picked for which jobs, and misplaced loyalty for those who served him ill. I view the entire second term of the Bush administration as a giant black hole for policy: arguably, the only good thing the right got out of those four years was one reliable Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Alito, and they got that only after fighting tooth and nail against Bush’s instincts to choose Harriet Miers instead. And as for politics: Bush’s decisions, or the implementation thereof, destroyed the Republican brand as the adults in the room. The GOP cannot be the party of good governance, balanced foreign policy, and fiscal responsibility in the wake of Katrina, Iraq, the Bush deficits and the financial crisis – and the Republican Party’s inability to recognize the degree to which these factors undermined their core case for existing remains a tangible problem.
Back in 2005 as RedState launched its second iteration, I had the pleasure of doing a podcast with Rush Limbaugh. He helped us launch RedState 2.0. He said something that has long stuck with me. He was, in that podcast, one of the first prominent conservative to say George W. Bush was not a conservative. He made clear he liked Bush, he supported Bush, Bush’s instincts were conservative, but he himself was not a movement conservative intending to advance conservative ideas.Rush was right, as usual.But much of the Bush legacy is now in the hands of guys like Karl Rove and others who were so closely connected to Bush that if the GOP distances themselves from the Bush legacy, they’d have to distance themselves from the keepers of the flame of the Bush legacy. Many of these are great and wonderful people, including President Bush himself, but by continuing to defend George W. Bush’s Presidency and demand that the GOP uphold the Bush Presidency, the GOP cannot move on from the Bush Presidency.Until the GOP is willing to say that maybe, just maybe, TARP, No Child Left Behind, “Big Government conservatism,” Medicare Part D, the Genera Motors bailout, the handling of Katrina, etc. etc. etc. are not worth defending the GOP cannot move on. But to move on from those, the GOP must first move on from those who brought us those things. It’s never easy asking friends, colleagues, and consultants to go sit on the sidelines.But the GOP must.