Bush, Reagan, or Palin–Who Is The Most Conservative Of Them All?

Peter Wehner is right in his debate with Mark Levin. George Bush was significantly to the right of Ronald Reagan–except I don’t see that as something to brag about.  The same is true of the present day conservative movement, which would reject Reagan as a RINO or worse if he was still around.

That’s the way the conservative movement has trended. By the end of his career, Barry Goldwater was so fed up with the direction of the right wing that he considered himself a liberal. Reagan certainly was a conservative in his day, but the right wing has moved much further to the right in the past generation.

Levin is also wrong in his view of Sarah Palin. She is no Ronald Reagan. If she were, I would still disagree with her on most issues, but it would be a considerable improvement over how Palin is now. Palin is far to the right of Ronald Reagan, but that is not even the main difference between them. What really characterizes Sarah Palin is not how conservative she is, but her promotion of ignorance as a virtue far beyond what was seen in the conservative movement before Palin.

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  1. 1
    Sherrielle Monroe says:

    RT @RonChusid: Bush, Reagan, or Palin–Who Is The Most Conservative Of Them All? #p2 #p21 #topprog http://bit.ly/eloPdp

  2. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    They might not be fiscal conservatives to match their rhetoric, but they are all definitely conservatives and not liberals.

  3. 4
    b-psycho says:

    People seem to treat “liberal” as synonym for “big spender”.  A more appropriate one would be “politician”.

  4. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    I wouldn’t use amount of spending as having anything to do with distinguishing liberals from conservatives. As you said, that is a characteristic of almost all politicians, although in recent years liberals have tended to be more fiscally responsible than conservatives.

  5. 6
    Doomed says:

    Just as there are liberals and progressives.  With the GOP there are libertarians, Conservatives and Neo conservatives.
    Reagan was more like a conservative/Libertarian hybrid which led the right on a new soul searching campaign that has lasted since Goldwater’s trouncing at the hands of an as liberal as they come Johnson..
    Bush is a Neo Conservative.  A philosophy that believes in a larger government and social programs and a very strong military.
    Palin is a libertarian…..good old common sense constitutional principals…etc. Small government, fiscal restraint.
    Im not sure, having not really followed the left thinking too much lately if the left really realizes that the Right is split on ideaology quite a bit of late…..libertarian vs conservative.
    The Tea Party is mainly Libertarian.  Palin and Bachman have latched on to the small government, less is better tea party AKA Libertarian thought process.
    Reagan espoused the start of the Religious right, moral authority, conservative movement that led to a hybrid Neocon movement that has been trashed by the persistent tagging of Neocon means war mongering Hitlerites.
    If it was not for this trash talking by the left over the NEOCON movement we might well not have the knee jerk reaction to obama by the libertarian….okay we will show you……small government, fiscal integrity….in your face anti spending screed we are getting now from the right.
    Whose more conservative is a question that cannot be answered because conservativism is undergoing such dramatic redefining right now.

  6. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    There are several difficulties in comparing who is more conservative since our political terminology is so poor and people don’t even agree on what criteria makes someone conservative vs. liberal.

    Another problem is that there is a considerable discrepancy between conservative labels and what conservatives actually support and do. Conservatives talk a lot about small government but have actually supported bigger government, which leads to those who take the rhetoric seriously to claim that some conservative leaders have been liberals. They make two mistakes: 1) believing there is any connection between conservative rhetoric and what conservative politicians will do and 2) thinking that betraying their beliefs makes someone a liberal, failing to recognize that liberals might have views quite different from both their views and the views of conservative politicians who have not behaved in a conservative manner.

    The Tea Party and people like Palin are libertarian in rhetoric only. Palin is a religious right authoritarian. While the official Tea Party line is one of stressing economic issues, the membership is also dominated by the religious right which affects who and what they will support.

    Another common misconception on the right is to confuse size of government with what government does. At best conservatives offer a smaller government which is more intrusive in the lives of individuals. In reality they give bigger government which is more intrusive in the lives of individuals. Another problem is that to the degree they stress economic issues, the Tea Party members are frequently pawns of people who support plutocracy, not any form of true libertarianism, and use the power of the state to transfer money and power to the ultra-wealthy.

    There has long been a battle between social and economic conservatives but in terms of power and influence that ended during the Bush years. For years Republican leaders would use rhetoric to attract the religious right and then throw them a few bones but pretty much dismiss them as kooks when in office. Bush was willing, far more than previous GOP leaders, to actually push the agenda of the religious right and since the Bush years those who don’t go along have lost influence. There is still opposition to the agenda of the religious right and neocons at places, such as certain blogs, but at present their views are ignored by those in control of the Republican Party and dominate the conservative movement.

  7. 8
    b-psycho says:

    The “Tea Party” has no coherent philosophy I can discern beyond “benefits to ME are wonderful all-American Mom-and-puppies-and-apple-pie sacred, benefits to anyone else are Evil Commie Trash”.

  8. 9
    Doomed says:

    From Whitehouse.gov
    Barak Obama’s own budget tells us that in 2012 we will collect 899 billion in Income tax.
    The top 10 percent pays 80 percent of taxes so they will pay roughly 750 billion of this 820.
    IF we double the riches taxes to 72 percent.  We will still be 500-800 billion dollars short in paying our bills.
    Someone explain to me why they think the Libertarians have lost their mind over spending and the size of the Federal Government, because I for the life of me cannot figure how the left/liberals/progressives do their math and believe that allowing the rich to pay an extra 4 percent…..39 vs 36 percent taxes….will suddenly and miraculously end our budget woes.

  9. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    Nobody is saying that the budget woes will end. The reduction in top rates was just one of the things Bush did to run up the deficit (such as running two wars off the books), but retrieving the money lost on the tax cuts would be a helpful step. The Bush tax cuts cost $3.9 trillion over the first decade based upon CBO projections and will cost more in subsequent decades.

    The Bush tax cuts are not the sole cause of our budget woes, but they are a far bigger portion than any programs which conservatives oppose.

  10. 11
    Ron Chusid says:


    That is a good summary. These are the people who carried signs demanding that the government keep its hands off their Medicare. I recall one Republican talking about speaking before a Tea Party meeting and found that a major concern of theirs was getting an increase in their Social Security payments. (He didn’t believe one was justified due to the cost of living not going up).

  11. 12
    Doomed says:

    You are saying that cutting the riches taxes by 4 percent cost us 3.9 trillion, and if the cbo projected this then I understand fully why this country is 15 trillion in the hole.
    Once again your math does not add up.
    If they pay 750 billion now at 36 percent…adding 4 percent to that is only 30 billion per year.
    30 billion x 10 years is 300 billion not 3. 9 trillion.
    again the lefts math does not reflect reality.  at all. period.

  12. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    It is not my math. This comes from CBO projections. This is not the “lefts math.” Therefore it is your assumptions and calculations which do not reflect reality. As in most areas, reality has a “liberal bias.”

    Those who manipulate the conservative and libertarian movements spend a fortune on their propaganda machines to con conservatives and libertarians into promoting the policies they want by spreading misinformation.

  13. 14
    Brent says:

    The right has been highly successful in creating an alternative reality to con libertarians and some conservatives into believing they are fighting for freedom when the libertarian movement actually works to subvert liberty.

  14. 15
    Ron Chusid says:

    In the case of conservatives, they are either deluded into thinking they are fighting for freedom or fighting for god.

  15. 16
    Brent says:

    Now with the libertarian movement being so heavily corrupted by its long love affair with conservatives, fascism is more likely to come under the libertarian banner.

  16. 17
    Ron Chusid says:

    Plus with people like Ron Paul, we have a bizarre merger of the religious right and libertarianism/paleoconservatism in his own beliefs, leading to his support including segments of libertarians and Nazis. Of course large numbers of the more pure libertarians, as opposed to conservatives who call themselves libertarians, did reject Paul once it was verified that he was behind the racist writings in his old magazine.

  17. 18
    Brent says:

    I’m sure that those libertarians are not the ones who would classify Sarah Palin or the Tea Party on the libertarian side of the Republican Party.

  18. 19
    Ron Chusid says:

    No, but unfortunately the line is blurring quite a bit between libertarians and conservatives to the point where the label doesn’t mean much anymore.

  19. 20
    Doomed says:

    March 30, 2001 Issue Brief #154
    Relying on a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projection of a $5.6 trillion budget surplus, President Bush has proposed an aggressive $1.6 trillion tax cut as if the surplus had already filled the treasury’s coffers.
    This is what the CBO predicted when Bush proposed his 1.7 trillion dollar tax cuts in 2001.  Did they get it right?….its seems they missed it by oh say NINE TRILLION DOLARS….considering we went from 5.6 trillion SURPLUS to about 4 trillion in deficits for Bush’s 8 years in office.
    By Ruth Carlitz and Richard Kogan
    Revised January 31, 2005
    The new CBO data show that changes in law enacted since January 2001 increased the deficit by $539 billion in 2005. In the absence of such legislation, the nation would have a surplus this year.
    Notice here that the spin is that had bushs 1.7 trillion tax cuts which amounted to 170 billion per year not been enacted we would have a surplus.
    539-170 equals a surplus???
    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released on Friday a preliminary analysis of the Obama administration’s budget proposal for the 2012 fiscal year. The CBO reported that the administration underestimated its budget proposal’s impact on the national deficit and debt.
    “Federal debt held by the public would double under the President’s budget, growing from $10.4 trillion (69 percent of GDP) at the end of 2011 to $20.8 trillion (87 percent of GDP) at the end of 2021,” the CBO wrote.
    Now let me go back to the debt.  899 Billion per year and the rich pay 80 percent of that….or 720 billion.  4 percent of 720 billion which equals the tax cut….is 29 billion per year.  29×10…equals 290 billion dollars.
    The math just does not add up and the CBO is never right or for that matter even close to being right.  The numbers posted by them over the years show year in and year out they are so off base that they are or should be considered unreliable because they are asked to score stuff with politics being painted all over the scenario they are given.

  20. 21
    Ron Chusid says:

    I (and pretty much everyone else I read) would agree that the Bush tax cuts are not currently responsible for the entire deficit, regardless of whether this was the case back in 2005. However the tax cuts along with other Bush policies are responsible for the size of the deficit. The tax cuts are only responsible for a portion, but a rather significant portion of the deficit. Here’s one analysis here. They are actually softer on Bush than they might otherwise be as they didn’t include the cost of Medicare D (with Bush even threatening to fire the Medicare chief actuary if he testified as the cost of the program).

    “and the CBO is never right or for that matter even close to being right.”

    Which makes it a waste of time to discuss the matter with conservatives who tend to claim that available date is wrong when they don’t like it, with conservatives then turning around and quoting CBO data when it does support their biases.

  21. 22
    Alex says:

    Doomed is essentially trying to get away with a straw-man argument that liberals believe the deficit is one hundred percent caused by the Bush tax cuts when that is not what liberals believe. He totally ignores all the other factors which were also being considered in attributing the deficit to Bush’s policies as Ron noted. This year continuation of the Bush tax cuts probably accounts for around 30% of the deficit, with the impact increasing further over time.

  22. 23
    Ron Chusid says:

    I also wonder if there isn’t some confusion as to what people are projecting due to different projections based upon repeal of all of the Bush tax cuts versus repeal of just the tax cuts on incomes over $250,000. Repeal of all the Bush tax cuts would obviously reduce the deficit far more and bring us much closer to a balanced budget.

  23. 24
    Doomed says:

    You are assigning ulterior motives to me.  I am simply pointing out reality, based in fact.
    Barak Obama’s own budget projection…posted on Whitehouse.gov states that we will collect 899 billion dollars in income tax.
    The wealthy pay 80 percent of this or 720 billion.  Raising their share by 4 percent which is the cuts given by Bush would raise the revenues by 29 billion dollars only per year.
    If you read his budget which I have done…..you will find that there are many sources of revenues and less then 1’/2 of the budget revenue is income tax.
    You can say im building a strawman by simply pointing out facts…as laid out by Obama himself….or we can all agree that we are ALL being taken to the cleaners by the US government as they continue…every freakin one of them…to pad the pockets of their favorite pacs…be their unions, Boeing, George Soros or Investment bankers.
    The real facts are these.  If our government was not padding the pockets of AFL-CIO….Boeing….George Soros Types….Wall Street Bankers…..Oil Companies…..NPR…the list is freakin endless…..
    If they were not doing this…we would have adopted the deficit commissions recommendation which was cut spending and RAISING TAXES….but of course thats not fair as long as the left thinks the rich are getting by with paying less then their fair share and the right thinks the left wants nothing but entitlements while their unions are scamming us all to the tune of billions per year.
    But not a one can dispute the very basic math I put forth.  Period.

  24. 25
    Ron Chusid says:

    I’ll stick with the CBO and other conventionally cited numbers regarding the effects of the Bush tax cuts.

    Yes, there is money which should be cut from the budget along with needing to raise taxes, however it is not NPR which is responsible for any meaningful portion of the deficit.

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