Monday, August 05, 2002

Dubya Conservatism Counter-Orrin Judd's in a bit of a definitional food fight. A long post of his last week concluded that the President was 10-for-10 on the following conservative touchstones.
(1) Pro Tax cuts (2) Pro Social Security privatization (3) Pro School vouchers (4) Pro Free Trade (5) Pro Military (especially in favor of defensive military technology--Star Wars) (6) Pro Gun (7) Anti-abortion, anti-cloning, anti-euthanasia (8) Opposed to legalization of drugs (9) Anti Separation of Church and State (10) broadly anti-government
Judd then had a tete-a-tete with Alex Whitlock, who saw Dubya batting 7 for 10, wimping out on vouchers, free trade and "broadly anti-government." James Haney chimed in on Whitlock's side. I think both of them are wrong and both are right; how's that for good mugwumping? Let's see where the President sits on the political spectrum on each of the issues, giving a 1 for a take-no-prisoners, give-no-quarter (and darn few dimes or nickels) conservative stance and 0 for Berkeley-bait liberal. 0.5 is middle-of-the-road. I might be off by a tenth or so, but I think these estimates are fair. A 0.9 would mean he's to the right of 90% of the electorate on the issue. Note I'm trying to estimate where he stands, not what he's been able to get through Congress.
(1) Pro Tax cuts=0.8
His initial proposal was a bit right-of-center even within the Republican party.
(2) Pro Social Security privatization=0.85
The current stock market mess makes this a non-starter for now, but he spent quite a bit of political capital on this during the campaign. He hasn't yet gone to the mat for it, however, and you might give him an effective 0.7 on those grounds.
(3) Pro School vouchers=0.75
It slides to a 0.7 on tactics, but he's a fairly standard Republican on the issue.
(4) Pro Free Trade=0.75
Were it not for the steel debacle, I'd give him a 0.85, but he's a solid free-trader in the generic Republican mold. Even the typical GOP person will have a bit of free-trade "hypocrisy," where they have a pet industry they look after.
(5) Pro Military (especially in favor of defensive military technology--Star Wars)=0.85
He went to the mat for SDI, chucking the ABM treaty. A lesser conservative would have fudged the issue.
(6) Pro Gun=0.8
Having the Justice Department sign off on a pro-Second Amendment, pro-ownership stance made a few enemies. He hasn't had any big policy fights at this point in this area, but the Administration gets some brownie points on this one.
(7) Anti-abortion, anti-cloning, anti-euthanasia=0.75
With the exception of the semi-wimpy stem-cell decision, they've largely went down the pro-life line. Not with the vigor of the harder-core religious conservatives, but he's punched the right buttons as a conservative.
(8) Opposed to legalization of drugs=0.8
I'll give him points for wanting to shoot down medical marijuana laws, putting him on the conservative side of the issue.
(9) Anti Separation of Church and State=0.8
He's looking for ways to allow the church to help, more so than the typical Republican.
(10) broadly anti-government=0.7
I think this is the one area where he's a bit to the left of the typical Republican. His government idea is to spend a bit less money better than before. On balance, I'd say that Dubya is at the GOP center-of-gravity or to the right of it on everything but the anti-government issue. Give him a 7.85, with a 7.5 being the generic Republican conservative. [Update-Claybourn gives him a 7.6]

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