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An Interview with Fred Barnes

Fred Barnes is one of my favorite pundits/commentators. The Real Ugly American got a fantastic opportunity when he secured an interview with him.

It's good. Here's a portion:

UA: Something I am curious about and you talk about this in the book as well is how do journalists if you care to talk about generally get all these unnamed sources who leak anything from embarrassing little tidbits to national secrets. I mean what's in it for the leakers.

FB: You know I have often wondered that. You know sometimes you get information just because you ask somebody a question and they will answer it. IN the national security area that's a little different when somebody is leaking really sensitive information about say the NSA spying effort. There is somebody who has an agenda who wants to hurt the administration and the war on terrorism and perhaps in Iraq.

Sometimes people have an agenda and look there are a lot of people working in the Bush administration who are not fans of the president they work for. They are permanent members of the state department or other agencies and they leak against him. They tend not to talk to me but they talk to a lot of people at the Washington post, or the New York Times or Newsweek or time or so on. Some of these people they think they are the government. The presidents come and go but they are still here and they think of themselves as more important and they think presidents ought to follow their policies. And president bush has not done that particularly in foreign affairs.

UA: And we didn't elect them and I know you talk about that in the book as well.

FB: Yeah well they seem to think that they you know elections their fine but we really have to leave it to the experts and the smart people to handle things like foreign policy.

UA: In the book you say President Bush doesn't have the typical Jeffersonian conservative view of less government is better but a Hamiltonian one where it's a valuable tool to provide security and prosperity and the common good.

FB: Look he's not a small government conservative he's not particularly a states righter either and of course Jefferson was both of those. He is someone who accepts that fact that we have big government in Washington and certainly conservatives have from Reagan to Gingrich.

I think he has been successful with some of his policies like the no child left behind program but obviously not as successful with social security. But it's a different way of looking at government and I have sadly concluded and reluctantly concluded that we are going to have big government in Washington basically because people now expect the government to help them on heath care and some of these other things that the founding fathers never envisioned the federal government ever being involved in. but we are stuck with it so why not use it to as great an extent as possible for conservative ends. And that's what Bush tries to do.

Check out the entire interview. It's a good read.

Comments (6)

Good link! Strange love + h... (Below threshold)

Good link! Strange love + hang-ups = good read!

I think he has been succ... (Below threshold)

I think he has been successful with some of his policies like the no child left behind program but obviously not as successful with social security.

This to me sums up where Barnes stands on issues of policy: a success means getting a bill through Congress (NCLB=success, Soc. Sec.=not success); it has nothing to do with the real world, where No Child Left Behind has been pretty unsuccessful.

I like Fred Barnes, he seems like a good guy, but he obviously views policy as a partisan enterprise, but getting your way does not necessarily mean achieving improvement.

I'm also interested in the opinion of some of Wizbang's more "dyed in the wool conservatives" concerning how this presidency seems to be changing the very nature of conservatism in the direction of big government, as Barnes "reluctantly" concedes. Are you along for the ride or do you think conservatism should stick with it's traditional principles?

Hmmm.Frankly any "... (Below threshold)


Frankly any "reform" of education that doesn't include the absolute requirement of charter schools is a failure IMHO.

Hmmmm.I'm... (Below threshold)


I'm also interested in the opinion of some of Wizbang's more "dyed in the wool conservatives" concerning how this presidency seems to be changing the very nature of conservatism in the direction of big government, as Barnes "reluctantly" concedes. Are you along for the ride or do you think conservatism should stick with it's traditional principles?

Bush hasn't change Conservatism one single whit because he isn't a conservative and thus cannot lead conservatives into changing or modifying their ideology. Frankly I very rarely either read, listen to or agree with Barnes. Most times he has his nose firmly planted in someone's posterior and I don't have time to waste on people like that. When policy trumps principle to the extent where principle becomes little more than an adjective, well that's when I think Barnes loses his credilibility. The Harriet Miers nonsense is a case in point where Barnes defended the indefensible.

Bush is in fact mostly liberal. That's why Rove came up with the "Compassionate Conservative" nonsense. IMHO if liberals look at Bush without the massive issues of the 2000 election and the "R" in his title, I think that they'd accept him as one of their own.

For me I've largely parted ways with the GOP. I don't care for their excesses in office with regards to spending like a bunch of drunken louts. I don't see why Alaska can have a $1.4 billion dollar budget surplus and $34 billion in the Oil Trust but the rest of the country has to pony up the money for a couple of useless bridges. I don't see why taxpayers have to pay for a fricking indoor rainforest in South Dakota. And there's quite a bit of budgetary nonsense getting passed because someone has the gall to claim it's for national security or the GWOT.

Also I oppose the President and the GOP on the issue of illegal aliens, amnesty and the guest worker program. I oppose them all and see them as nothing but an enormous problem.

Etc etc etc.

The mistake a lot of liberals make is thinking that the conservative movement is a monolithic block. It isn't. We're divided amongst a multitude of pet issues but we do have a relatively stable set of core issues over which we're uncompromising. It's this last bit that makes people believe in the myth of the conservatives as a single group.

I can assure you that, absent the GWOT, the Republican party would have been utterly slaughtered in the 2004 elections with mass defections by conservatives. But as long as there is a GWOT and the Democrats have no viable credibility in fighting that war and defending America, then the conservatives will not abandon the GOP en masse.

But under no circumstances would anyone knowledgeable of the conservative movement argue that Bush is leading conservatives anywhere on any issue.

Ed: I agree with so much o... (Below threshold)

Ed: I agree with so much of what you say. But without a line-item veto, how is any President, whether he/she be a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Communist for that matter, able to handle the issues you identify? I agree -- how ridiculous that you and I are paying for the stupid bridge in Alaska. But how can any president ixnay that item without throwing out the entire budget?

I'm not being confrontational here -- I want a discourse. I want to know.

Hmmm.It's not the ... (Below threshold)


It's not the President's responsibility for a Senator from Alaska wanting the rest of the country to pay for a couple bridges to nowhere in Alaska.

It's the responsibility of the House and Senate leadership. It's why they are there. It's why they exist. It's why we need strong leaders in these leadership positions who can actually lead.

Frankly the President doesn't have all that much power over the budget. Sure he can do some strongarming to a point but both houses of Congress are very jealous of their powers and don't generally brook any intereference from the White House. So I don't expect a line item veto any time soon nor do I think one is necessary.

What is necessary is a strong majority leadership that can actually bring some order into Congress and crack the whip if necessary.

Now in terms of the illegal alien issue what I find aggravating is that this issue, along with school vouchers/choice, is that these two issues are absolutely solid wedges that can be driven deeply between the ultra-left and the African-American community. Additionally many legal immigrant latinos also support control over illegal immigration.

This is because illegal immigrants take up much of the support services and social money that would otherwise go to them. The illegals also take many jobs that would otherwise be available to the African-Americans at the bottom edge of the wage scale. Illegals aren't just picking fruit any more, they're working for large businesses and make excellent wages. Wages that aren't going to Americans that would like the opportunity if there was one. A lot of high schoolers in my area don't work anymore because illegals have taken most of those jobs.

The Democrats must support two things: illegal immigration and teacher's unions. They derive much of their political power from these two groups. This is one primary reason why the Democrats are so opposed to identification verification at the polls. It would bar most illegal aliens from voting and that would badly injure the Democrats ability to win elections.

The teacher's unions funnel money to the Democrats, hire Democrats in cushy consultancy jobs and otherwise provide a solid base for activism and money. But all of that is predicated on the teacher's unions being both extremely powerful and sacrosacnt, which also has the result of making the children and their parents shoved into a subordinate position vs the teachers.

*shrug* I tend to carry on far too long on subjects. But you get the gist.






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