For eight years, conservatives were forced to suffer George W. Bush's betrayals of conservative principles time and time again. The Texas governor who won the Republican nomination as a small government compassionate conservative presided as a big government liberal, created new entitlements and launched pointless wars for democracy as if he was the bastard heir of Woodrow Wilson and Lyndon Baines Johnson. He alienated his base while failing to win over the opposition whose policies he was implementing, and thus ended his presidency as one of the least popular men to ever leave the White House.
Given that, it is amazing that Barack Obama has shown that he intends to follow Bush's blueprint. Although he hasn't even been in office for a week yet, he has already backtracked on Guantanamo, on the Iraqi war, on warrantless spying on Americans and his campaign promise to ban lobbyists from taking jobs in government agencies they had been lobbying.
This was not unexpected. As Justin Raimondo correctly noted at the time, Obama's ritual genuflection to AIPAC after winning the Democratic nomination indicated that instead of holding to the anti-war position that helped him beat Hillary Clinton, Obama would continue the Bush administration's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, he may well expand the war into Pakistan, as the recent Predator strikes there would tend to indicate. And he is almost surely going to take the same pro-Israel stance that Bush did, even though his supporters tend to favor the Palestinian side.
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There will be other areas where Obama will likely disappoint his liberal supporters. The most obvious will probably be in those areas related to the economy. The new administration is full of neo-Keynesians, so it is quite likely that Obama will embark on a series of tax cuts rather than tax increases to enhance the stimulus effect of the massive spending programs that have already been announced. It also would not surprise me if Obama were to shock his supporters by turning a 180 on immigration since it is immigration-related expenditures that currently have California on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. Obama is no foe of the multinational corporations, but neither is he their slavish supporter like Bush and many of the Washington Republicans. Given the financial realities and the growing risk of Mexican chaos spilling across the border, this is a policy area ripe for a political betrayal.
Obama also does not appear to be as connected to the teachers unions as many Democrats are, and education was not a primary component of his campaign in the way that George W. Bush's "No Child Left Behind" was. This is a thin basis for projecting any departure from the usual liberal line of spending more money on more teachers for more public schools, but it is a possible area of departure from the norm.
What both panicked Republicans and exultant Democrats must keep in mind is that when in power, the differences between the two parties are mostly illusory. Republican and Democrat are simply two different factions of the same ruling party, and their congressional battles are primarily over political spoils, not political ideology. This is why a "conservative" president will immediately tack left upon taking office, while a "liberal" president will tend to move to the right. We've seen this with Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43, so there's no reason to expect a massive difference between the previous administration and the current one.
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And after eight years of experiencing regular pain between the shoulder blades, conservatives can enjoy the prospect of the knife sticking out of liberal backs.