Rubio: Bush “did a fantasic job” as president
If you listen to Sean Hannity and others in the conservative movement, it’s clear that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is their pick to serve as Mitt Romney’s running mate this fall. They say that he offers a contrast to Romney that will bring a needed balance and excitement to the ticket to help motivate Republicans to go to the polls this fall.
It may be true that Rubio is much more conservative than Romney, but there should be some hesitation on the part of conservatives due to recent comments by Rubio where he said that George W. Bush “did a fantastic job” as president.
I’m not naive enough to believe that Bush isn’t a hero to conservatives for various reasons, let alone that Barack Obama, who frequently blames his predecessor for many of his own failures, makes that easy to do. But from a fiscal perspective, Bush’s presidency was a disaster, and that isn’t limited to the 2008 financial crisis. While some would defend Bush’s big spending as a necessity due to the so-called “war on terror,” Veronique de Rugy noted in her analysis on spending under Bush, domestic spending alone went up by more than 20% in his first term. He expanded Medicare, adding more in unfunded liabilities to the already unsustainable government-run health insurance program.
Conor Friedersdorf also explains some of the problems with the statement made by Rubio in context of, not just fiscal issues, but also foreign policy:
George W. Bush’s tenure began with a catastrophic terrorist attack. It ended with a catastrophic financial crisis. In the interim, it was consumed mostly with fighting a costly war of choice. The invasion of Iraq was launched on false premises with inadequate planning; it was poorly managed for years on end; and even America’s fallback goal of a stable democracy in the Middle East wasn’t achieved. In fact, the invasion and occupation mostly just strengthened Iran’s position. Our enemies also benefited from the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.
On the domestic front, President Bush signed an education reform bill that liberals and conservatives now agree was a mistake; he failed to reform Social Security, and rather than finding a way to save money on Medicare he added a costly prescription drug benefit to it even as he cut taxes. It’s no wonder that the deficit exploded during his spendthrift two terms in the White House. Bush’s faith based initiatives were a bust, as were his immigration reform efforts, and he signed into law campaign finance reform legislation he’d previously deemed unconstitutional. He created the instantly dysfunctional Department of Homeland Security and illegally spied on American citizens without warrants. His dubious appointments included Alberto Gonzalez and Harriet Miers, a Supreme Court choice so bad that his own base revolted. And he left office so unpopular that his party suffered a historic defeat; even four years later its presidential candidates did their utmost to avoid saying his name in speeches and debates.
That is the record Marco Rubio deems fantastic.
And let’s not forget that all of the complaining about Obama’s constitutional missteps, including expanding executive power and running roughshod over basic civil liberties, Bush signed the PATRIOT Act into law and implemented blatantly unconstitutional wiretapping schemes through the NSA. Obama is terrible from this perspective, I don’t disagree, but let’s not kid ourselves into believing, as so many in the conservative movement have done, that Bush was a good or “fantastic” president.