July 5, 2011
Reagan's Eleventh Commandment... Texas Style
President Ronald Reagan used to enunciate what he called "the eleventh commandment," which was, "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican." Obviously that cannot be taken absolutely literally, else it would mean we cannot speak ill of a registered Republican who also happened to be a bank robber. But read rationally and reasonably, it means that we shouldn't waste time tearing down Republicans just because they happen to be more conservative, less conservative, more libertarian, or more "country club" than we. Mindless destruction is the Democrats' job.
So when I read about the supposed "rivalry" between former President George W. Bush and potential presidential candidate and current Texas Gov. Rick Perry, I was skeptical; I figured the Rive Gauche media were just playing "Let's you and him fight" again. I hoped that the contretemps in a cuppa was more like this:
The rivalry has become lore in the state capital, at times bordering on urban legend. “An eight-foot alligator in the sewer,” said Mr. Perry’s chief political strategist, David Carney. Stressing that the two men were friends with more similarities than differences, Mr. Carney said, “They are in the same church, different pews.”
Neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Perry would be interviewed for this article, and people close to both said the rivalry existed far more between their aides than between them personally...
...than like this, from the same article:
But in recent years, Mr. Perry has broken politically with Mr. Bush, questioning his credentials as a fiscal conservative, accusing him of going on “a big government binge” and playing down some of Mr. Bush’s accomplishments in Texas in light of his own.
Mr. Perry’s public statements exposed a long-simmering rivalry that had been little known outside of the political fraternity here but underscores the rightward drift of the Republican Party since Mr. Bush was president. More acutely, Mr. Perry’s criticism holds potential peril and benefit for him should he decide to mount a presidential campaign, allowing him to establish an identity distinct from Mr. Bush but risking a guerrilla campaign against him by the former president’s inner circle.
Yes, of course Perry is more ideologically conservative than Bush, or especially than the latter's father, George H.W. Bush. But W. was certainly never a raging RINO, for all that he differed on issues both politic and policy with many contempo-conservatives. Such a difference resides squarely within the realm of Reagan's eleventh.
So assuming the former -- that the rivalry is more between staffers than principals -- I offer this immodest proposal; most of the onus is on the former president, who is much better known and has nothing to lose, being "at liberty," as the saying goeth. It's a three-step plan; Bush should be comfortable with n-step plans:
- George W. Bush should call a press conference. In a scowling, angry-looking and -sounding voice, he should announce that he won't allow Rick Perry's criticisms of him to go unanswered, so he is going to respond to them right now. That should guarantee maximum coverage; the Casa Blanca press corpse -- sorry, corps -- should be salivating like Pavlov's pups at the prospect of Bush tearing a Republican hopeful a new, let us say, Angus.
On the ordained date, W. steps up to the podium and rattles off the main charges against him from the Perry camp: That he allowed spending to grow far too large, that he was too accommodating to those who wanted full amnesty for illegal immigrants, and that his policies were too "big government" in a number of social policies, notably education.
Then W. says, "I regret to say that most of Gov. Perry's criticisms are true. When I came to Washington, I'd hoped to push more small government, private-sector solutions; but I came to believe that my policies were the best that I could get through Congress at that time. I still think so, but times have changed; and today I would offer very different, more Reaganesque policies than I felt able to offer during my tenure in office.
"While Republicans controlled the House and Senate until the 2006 elections, I never had a majority of fiscal and regulatory conservatives to work with in Congress; and after that election, I had to contend with a Democratic Congress that saw every problem as evidence that the federal government was too small, didn't tax and spend enough, and didn't have enough control over the rest of us.
"But after the 2012 election, whichever Republican is the new president will have a Congress that is much more fiscally conservative, that won't try to balance the government's budget by raising taxes on families and companies, and much more reluctant to put its thumb on the scales and declare winners and losers within the private sector. The Congress elected next year will get out of the way and allow the American economy to roar back to full strength, once the anchor of government regulation is chopped away.
"As far as I'm concerned, the George W. Bush of today has no policy disputes with the Gov. Rick Perry of today. In fact, I would be overjoyed to see a President Perry, or a President Romney, President Bachmann, President Pawlenty, or any other Republican as President of the United States."
And for the last step, Bush should conclude thus: "And to that end, I am announcing here and now that whichever Republican is nominated at the GOP convention in Tampa, my staff, my friends, my fundraisers, and I will work tirelessly to elect him or her in November 2012. Because every Republican running would make an excellent chief executive, and there's not a one of 'em that wouldn't be a gift from God compared to the incumbent.
So you asked for my response to what Rick Perry has been saying about my tenure as president... and this is it: I've listened to Perry and all the rest, and I like what I hear. As far as I'm concerned -- and I'm sure my staff wouldn't want to violate Ronald Reagan's eleventh commandment either -- I can wholeheartedly endorse any one of them. Thank you and good evening; I will not be taking questions."
As I said upstairs, George W. Bush has nothing to lose; so he is the logical person to make the first conciliatory move. If he doesn't, I will be very disappointed... just as I was at the conclusion of his second term.
I hope by now that, like Beaver Cleaver, he has learned his lesson.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 5, 2011, at the time of 5:21 PM
The following hissed in response by: Dale Gribble
I still believe that Bush traded his veto pen for votes on Iraq and Afghanistan.
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