The sudden surge of far-right Tea Party candidates on the Republican ticket this election season has made former President George W. Bush seem leftist by comparison — or so says his predecessor, Bill Clinton. "A lot of [Republican] candidates today," said Clinton at a fundraiser for Minnesota Democrat Mark Dayton on Wednesday, "they make him look like a liberal." Has the conservative political landscape really shifted so far to the right since Bush left office?
Tea Partiers would dismiss Bush as a RINO today: This is "actually a pretty acute observation," says Ed Kilgore in The Democratic Strategist. Since the rise of the Tea Party, Republican incumbents who supported Bush initiatives like No Child Left Behind, immigration reform or TARP have been "routinely denounced as RINOs by opponents." If Bush was in politics today, he'd be described in exactly the same terms.
"That liberal, George W. Bush"
No doubt the right wing will turn on Bush, too: Hardline Republicans are already being thrown under the wheels of the Tea Party Express, says Hart Van Denburg in City Pages. Even "Karl Rove, the guy who masterminded Bush's White House victories, is persona-non-grata," now that he has slammed Tea Party darling Christine O'Donnell. It's only a matter of time before "today's teabaggin' GOP" decides they never liked Bush, either.
"Bill Clinton and Mark Dayton welcome George W. Bush to their side"
Being a moderate was Bush's biggest problem: Although Clinton is simply playing "the tired old leftist game of trying to paint his opposition as radical," says Selwyn Duke in American Thinker, he does have a point. "Bush was never a true rightist." He authorized spending hikes, bailed out the banks and "tried to ram amnesty down America's throat" instead of securing the borders. He "pales in comparison" to the true Republicans of today.
"Bill Clinton Helps the Republicans run against Bush"