Sunday, October 29, 2006

Christine Todd Whitman

Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey and former head of the EPA, was one of the guests on this week's Real Time with Bill Maher. She took a number of stands against the policies and practices of the Bush Administration and the current Congressional leadership, but it all left me wondering how she could be saying these things, having been the state chair of Bush's re-election effort just two years ago. Very few of the things mentioned are particularly recent revelations: by the time of the 2004 election cycle, we already knew that Iraq was a disaster, and that incompetent management from the top was the culprit.

Andrew Sullivan made the point that it was not only Democrats who were spineless in failing to stand up to the Administration's blundering, but also true conservatives and traditional Republicans who failed to call out the Administration. Whitman's response: "The Democrats didn't call them on it. And I agree, the true conservatives — when you see spending the way it's going, when you see the kinds of government interference in our everyday lives, those are not conservative principles. They're contrary to conservative principles. And we need to get back to conservative principles."

True enough, but what of that is news to you in the last two years? Back in 2004, the Iraq War had already dragged on far longer than the "I doubt six months" that Rumsfeld predicted, Bush and the Republican Congress were already spending money hand over fist, and we already had conservative heresies like the Patriot Act. While I applaud Ms. Whitman for speaking out now, I still must ask, as I did back in 2004, why she didn't speak out then. Andrew Sullivan had the courage of his convictions to speak out as a conservative Republican and endorse John Kerry in 2004 and now to endorse Democrats for Congress, because of the necessity of reining in the abuse of power that is endemic in the Bush/Neocon ruling faction of the Republican Party.

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