Rand Paul goes to Washington

While laid up in bed last week recovering from surgery, my coworkers sent me a care package that included Sen. Rand Paul’s new book, The Tea Party Goes to Washington. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to get past the first few pages. But Matt Welch brings us this passage from the book of Sen. Paul slamming George W. Bush:

Imagine this-what if there had never been a President George W. Bush, and when Bill Clinton left office he was immediately replaced with Barack Obama. Now imagine Obama had governed from 2000 to 2008 exactly as Bush did-doubling the size of government, doubling the debt, expanding federal entitlements and education, starting the Iraq war-the whole works. To make matters worse, imagine that for a portion of that time, the Democrats actually controlled all three branches of government. Would Republicans have given Obama and his party a free pass in carrying out the exact same agenda as Bush? It’s hard to imagine this being the case, given the grief Bill Clinton got from Republicans, even though his big government agenda was less ambitious than Bush’s. Yet, the last Republican president got very little criticism from his own party for most of his tenure.

For conservatives, there was no excuse for this.

Welch also notes:

Paul goes on to say stuff like “any self-described conservative who ‘misses’ the last president and his version of the Republican Party should probably quit subscribing to that label,” and “if judgment is based on spending and the budget, then Bill Clinton should be considered preferable to Bush.”

Wow. Agreed.

I noted some of my problems with George W. Bush last year, including his statism on fiscal issues; noting that Bush signed a new entitlement into law, his administration enacted the most regulations since Nixon (“we’re all Keynesians now”) and he backed the Wall Street bailout while telling us that he “abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.” This is only the tip of the iceberg on his fiscal policies.

Reason recently sat down with Sen. Paul to talk about his book, the fiscal irresponsibility of both parties and more:

6 Comments on “Rand Paul goes to Washington”

  1. “Yet, the last Republican president got very little criticism from his own party for most of his tenure.”

    That’s simply not true. I listened to plenty of talk radio in the Bush era. You could make the case that he got away with a lot during the first administration, but not the second. It’s a well-worn myth, but still a myth.

    1. Sounds pretty accurate to me. The criticism I heard was often passive. In fact, the only significant criticism I remember, and I listened to a lot of talk radio until 2009 (especially Boortz, Hannity and Limbaugh), was related to the immigration proposal in 2007.

      And the criticism from talk show hosts on spending was nothing to write home about.

  2. I recall when Jason Pye was part of that “Blogs for Bush” thing. Remember that?

    Yeah, he lost a lot of support in the second administration. Conservatives started to demand that he act more like a conservative, when it came to spending, illegal immigration, judicial nominations, or whatever. Then again, no one is more of an enthusiastic supporter of illegal immigration that Jason Pye.

    1. I supported Bush in 2004. I’ve said that here before. But I deeply regret it, and I joined the Libertarian Party in 2005. However, I wasn’t part of “Blogs for Bush.”

      The complaints on spending, as limited as they were, also came far too late to make any real impact. He largely got a pass until Democrats took control of Congress.

  3. Ahhh…so he got a pass even from you during the first four years. Later, he lost your support.

    Which is exactly what I said. His first administration wasn’t nearly as bad either. NCLB was bad, and so was Medicare Part D. But other than that, he was pretty good.

    The second four years were terrible and he managed to alientate a lot of conservatives. But here comes Rand Paul, saying that no one held Bush to account. Uh, yeah they did. When he nominated Harriet Meirs in 2005, he was chastised by his conservative base. When he started in with this “illegal aliens do the jobs Americans won’t do” he was chastised by his conservative base. When he did the TARP bailout, he was chastised by his conservative base.

    So the conservative base did not sit idly by until Rand Paul came along and revived them from their slumber.

    As far as “missing” President Bush…Yeah, I don’t think his brand of conservatism was conservative enough. The whole “miss me” thing is sets up a comparison between the Bush years and current debacle that we’re living through. And if we’re comparing only those two administrations–Bush and Obama–then yeah, I miss the good old days when unemployment was at 5% and we hadn’t yet spent more money than exists in the entire world.

    1. While I had been exposed to libertarianism in my teens and was interested in it, I wasn’t truly politically active until 2003 or 2004. I was barely in my 20s and preoccupied with other things.

      However, I dispute the notion that his first administration wasn’t bad. We saw a massive extension of Medicare, spending on par with Lyndon Johnson and an utter disregard for the Constitution. Sounds a lot like Obama, but Republicans did it, too. Much of that, if not all, went without a challenge from conservatives.

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