There have been a number of articles recently that portray President Bush as someone who strayed from the path of true conservatism. Republicans, these articles say, need to return to their roots. Well, I don’t know what true conservatism is, but while doing research for my forthcoming book I spent a lot of time studying the history of the American political movement that calls itself conservatism – and Mr. Bush hasn’t strayed from the path at all. On the contrary, he’s the very model of a modern movement conservative….
People claim to be shocked at the Bush administration’s attempts – which, for a time, were all too successful – to intimidate the press. But this administration’s media tactics, and to a large extent the people implementing those tactics, come straight out of the Nixon administration. Dick Cheney wanted to search Seymour Hersh’s apartment, not last week, but in 1975. Roger Ailes, the president of Fox News, was Nixon’s media adviser.
People claim to be shocked at the Bush administration’s attempts to equate dissent with treason. But Goldwater – who, like Reagan, has been reinvented as an icon of conservative purity but was a much less attractive figure in real life – staunchly supported Joseph McCarthy, and was one of only 22 senators who voted against a motion censuring the demagogue.
Above all, people claim to be shocked by the Bush administration’s authoritarianism, its disdain for the rule of law. But a full half-century has passed since The National Review proclaimed that “the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail,” and dismissed as irrelevant objections that might be raised after “consulting a catalogue of the rights of American citizens, born Equal” – presumably a reference to the document known as the Constitution of the United States.
Now, as they survey the wreckage of their cause, conservatives may ask themselves: “Well, how did we get here?” They may tell themselves: “This is not my beautiful Right.” They may ask themselves: “My God, what have we done?”
But their movement is the same as it ever was. And Mr. Bush is movement conservatism’s true, loyal heir.
Read the whole thing — Krugman’s got lots more examples in the column.