I’m a conservative. I’ve been a conservative since waaaay before it was unfashionable and politically incorrect to be one. But when I say “conservative,” what I mean is that I adhere to the principles of smaller government and self-reliance – not the kind of “compassionate conservatism” and borderline soft Socialism that has been masquerading as conservatism lately.
And I’m mad as Hell this morning.
Tell you a little secret…I voted for George Bush four times – twice for Governor and twice for President. I thought – and still think – that he’s a good man, and the best candidate for the job. At no time, however, did I ever believe that he was a genuine conservative. Oh, sure, I acknowledge that he’s more conservative than Ann Richards, Al Gore, or John Kerry. But he’s far from a believer in the kind of conservatism I believe in.
Case in point, the automobile bailout decision.
I saw trouble on the horizon, when the bailout bill went down in flames in Congress. The Bush Administration indicated then, that they would not allow the Big Three to fail. Let’s be clear: The UAW’s Ron Gettlefinger played brinksmanship politics…and won. He held out for a better deal, and refused to compromise with Congress. When Bush said he wouldn’t let the Big Three fail, Gettlefinger knew he had no reason to compromise.
Here’s the bottom line, campers…no amount of government bailout is going to work. Period. Why? Because the business model of the Big Three is unsustainable. Look at it this way: there are two American automobile industries: the Big Three (GM/Ford/Chrysler) and the so-called “transplants” – BMW, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, et all. One is failing, one is thriving. The one that is thriving use non-union shops, unencumbered by outrageous health plans, crippling retirement plans, and union rules that force manufacturers to pay workers up to 80% of their salaries for up to three years after they’ve been laid off, and prevent them from shuttering factories that pump out cars nobody’s buying.
The Big Three are doomed. That is, unless the government gets out of the way, and allows them to reorganize under the protection of bankruptcy. To survive, the Big Three must ditch unprofitable models and brands, reduce capacity, cut white collar salaries and jobs, and ditch the unions completely. (I believe the unions once provided a vital service to their members. No more. They are completely corrupt, and exist only to justify their own existance, but have become like creeping, parasitic vines that choke off and kill their hosts.)
All Bush has done is to dump this problem in the lap of the incoming Obama Administration. He’s playing the role of “enabler” to a bunch of cash addicts, unwilling to perform an intervention that is so desperately needed. That’s not conservatism. That’s not leadership. And it’s certainly not what’s needed here.
Until and unless the Big Three go bankrupt and reorganize (or unless the government goes completely socialist and forces Americans to buy cars exclusively from the Big Three), GM, Ford and Chrysler are on a toboggan to oblivion. Bush sold us out, so he can look like a “compassionate conservative” and get the Hell outta Dodge (no pun intended) before it becomes obvious that the government cannot save Detroit.
I respect President Bush for what he did for us – in many ways, by keeping us free from terrorist attacks since 9/11, he gave far too many Americans a false sense of security, and took terrorism off our collective radar. He put two good men on the Supreme Court. He cut taxes. He did many things that are near and dear to the hearts of conservatives. But some of his fiscal policies look more like those of Clinton and Carter, than Ronald Reagan. That hurts. It hurts conservatives. It hurts our country. And ultimately, it will hurt Bush’s legacy. I believe the President will ultimately be judged as a great President for recognizing and standing up to the threat of Islamic Fundamentalist terrorism. But that judgement will be tempered by the fact that he’s made a lot of mistakes on domestic policy, ultimately making his Presidency less successful than it could have been.