A Movement Torn Apart

Peggy Noonan, now a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, was a top speech writer for Ronald Reagan. For the past few years she's been in a kind of slow burn over the way Bush has squandered opportunities and betrayed conservative principles. She has, I think, been trying to nudge him back, gently and eloquently.

With today's column Ms. Noonan appears to have gone over the edge. Her last straw is the attack campaign the administration has unleashed on conservative who oppose the latest immigration reform plan.

For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don't like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don't like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.

But on immigration it has changed from "Too bad" to "You're bad."

The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they "don't want to do what's right for America." His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, "We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up." On Fox last weekend he vowed to "push back." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want "mass deportation." Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are "anti-immigrant" and suggested they suffer from "rage" and "national chauvinism." MORE

I distinctly remember Ms. Noonan's column reacting to the utopian rhetoric of Bush's second inaugural address in 2005. Read it now and you'll detect the seeds of her current disappointment. At the time I thought she was being too hard on him. Now I see what she meant. Bush has almost single-handedly destroyed the conservative movement that took decades to build.

Peggy Noonan is so respected and so widely read that I have to think her column is sending shock waves through the GOP establishment. It won't matter, of course. As she says, the White House no longer cares what anyone thinks. Bush is playing to the history books now.

If nothing else, Ms. Noonan gave bloggers a lot of material today. As of this evening Newsgator detects 61 links to her column. A quick perusal found one story defending Bush but most are in total agreement with Ms. Noonan. Check out the reaction from Stephen Bainbridge, Rod Dreher, Daniel Larison, Mark Shea, and even Texas Fred.

1 comment:

TexasFred said...

Just doing what I can to run with the Big Dogs... :)