George W. Bush, on the other hand, does not tolerate dissent, argument, bitter internal battles. He is the decider. He decides, and the White House carries through. He is loyal to his aides, who carry out his wishes. (It is unclear whether this is a loyalty born of emotional connection or one born of calculation: Do it my way and the tong protects you.) His loyalty means they will most likely not be fired or leaked against, no matter what heat they take from the outside. And so his aides move forward with the sharpness and edge of those who know their livelihoods and status are secure. Bruce Bartlett has written of how, as a conservative economist, he was treated with courtesy by the Clinton White House, which occasionally sought out his views. But once he'd offered mild criticisms of the Bush White House he was shut out, and rudely, by Bush staffers. Why would they be like that? Because they believe that as a conservative, Mr. Bartlett owes his loyalty to the president. He thought his loyalty was to principles.
There are many stories like this, from many others. It leaves friends on the outside having to self-censor or accept designation as The Enemy. It leaves a distinguished former government official and prominent Republican saying, in conversation, "Those people aren't drinking the Kool-Aid, they're sucking it from a spigot!"
Yep. We got a problem. If this is true, and realistically, if Peggy Noonan is writing this, it is, then Dubya's second term is "in the shit," as the French say.
Bartlett's issue about loyalty to the principles is well-taken. Most of us conservatives consider what's happened in the past five years to be a betrayal of conservative principles. The runaway spending, the immigration, the feckless prosecution of the war (despite bellicose rhetoric).
Oh well. Things will no doubt swing back to the Dems now. Maybe they'll grab the opportunity. Or they could nominate a Jimmy Carter. Hey, it took the "greatest generation" six tries before they finally produced a decent president. (Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, Ford and Carter all sucking up the place until Reagan came along.) The Baby Boomers took over starting in 1992. So we should have a decent president by 2012.