On June 7, 2005, I wrote
Has she [Laura, bloghost of 11D] paid attention to all to the whirlwind of conservative howls against Dubya for signing McCain Feingold and the steel tariff, establishing the Transportation Safety Administration, making an empty response to the Terri Schiavo crisis, and spending money like a drunk teenager on Spring Break in Cancun with the parents' credit cards? (At least drunken sailors use their own money.)
On March 16, 2006, Peggy Noonan wrote:
The question has been on my mind since the summer of 2005 when, at a gathering of conservatives, the question of Mr. Bush and big spending was raised. I'd recently written [her Sep 22, 2005 column] on the subject and thought it significant that no one disagreed with my criticism. Everyone murmured about new programs, new costs, how the president "spends like a drunken sailor except the sailor spends his own money."
Emphasis added in both instances.
Noonan has some questions for President Bush:
Did you ever hold conservative notions and assumptions on the issue of spending? If so, did you abandon them after the trauma of 9/11? For what reasons, exactly? Did you intend to revert to conservative thinking on spending at some point? Do you still?
Were you always a liberal on spending? Were you, or are you, frankly baffled that conservatives assumed you were a conservative on spending? Did you feel they misunderstood you? Did you allow or encourage them to misunderstand you?
What are the implications for our country if spending levels continue to grow at their current pace?
What are the implications for the Republican party if it continues to cede one of the pillars on which it stood?
Did compassionate conservatism always mean big spending?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Update: Earlier in the article, Peggy Noonan wrote this:
I believe it is fair to say most Republicans did not think George W. Bush was motivated to run for the presidency for the primary reason of cutting or controlling spending. But it is also fair to say that they did not think he was Lyndon B. Johnson. And that's what he's turned into.
Samizdata quotes Bush praising the LBJ legacy.