Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Monday, October 03, 2005

My Andrew Sullivan Moment

If you've been reading my postings over at Originalisms, you doubtless know that the Harriet Miers nomination has sent me into a state of utter apoplexy. Not for ideological reasons - I actually see every reason to believe she'd vote in a fairly conservative manner if she takes the seat - but because of the cronyism of the pick. Bush had dozens upon dozens of highly qualified candidates to choose from - including at least a dozen highly qualified female candidates - and he chose someone who seems by all accounts an utter mediocrity, who's only relevant qualification seems to be her closeness to the President. (This is not what I meant, by the way, when I suggested Bush use this pick to show Democrats how bad the GOP's nominees can really get.)

As I indicated in the comments here, I'm increasingly beginning to think I'm having my Andrew Sullivan moment. It's the terrifying point when you realize that the Bush you thought you supported existed only in your mind, and that all the things you were willing to look past or explain away as deviations from the real Bush in fact were the real Bush.

The bungling of the war effort? Well, these things are difficult. Even Churchill and Lincoln had their f***-ups. Can't go squishy at the first sign of trouble. Abuse/torture of detainees? Maybe reports are exaggerated. And if they're true? If the tsar only knew, he would stop these things! Ballooning spending? That's really Congress' fault. And besides, some amount of pork is a necessary legislative lubricant in a representative democracy. The prescription drug plan? Signing a campaign-finance bill even he thought was unconstitutional? Well, politics is the art of the possible. Even Reagan made compromises - you can't govern if you're not willing to cut the occasional deal. Cold-shouldering pro-lifers and other social conservatives (except when it suited him)? Look, we have to remember we're not in the majority. He doesn't want to be tarred as some kind of extremist. I'd like our leaders to make the pro-life, etc, case more forcefully. But substance is more important than rhetoric. Filling the Executive Branch with nobodies and cronies whose only job is to follow orders from the White House? Hey, all modern presidents have centralized authority in the West Wing. Being a cabinet secretary isn't fun, especially if you're a somebody with political aspirations. He's entitled to have people he trusts working under him.

And so on, and so on.

I'm beginning to think this camel's back has finally broken.

It's increasingly clear that Bush isn't someone whose real views are close to mine, but who's been forced by circumstances to compromise. Rather, it seems blindingly obvious that the Bush we see is actual, honest-to-God George Walker Bush: a big spender who likes low taxes (and doesn't much care about any possible conflict between the two), who thinks resolve and loyalty are the only important attributes in a leader, who disdains complicated ideas, loathes criticism, refuses to admit mistakes, and is, frankly, a little slow.

So that's it, I think: I'm out. As a metaphysical matter, I no longer count myself among the President's supporters/defenders. If he does something good: well, bully for him. But he's not My Guy anymore. He's just my president, as he is with every other American.