REAT FALLS, Va. — What happens if you're a Republican commentator and you write a book critical of President Bush that gets you fired from your job at a conservative think tank?...
Nobody will touch me," said Bruce Bartlett, author of the forthcoming "Impostor: Why George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy." "I think I'm just kind of radioactive at the moment."
Mr. Bartlett, a domestic policy aide at the White House in the Reagan administration and a deputy assistant treasury secretary under the first President Bush, talked last week at his suburban Washington home about his dismissal, his book and a growing disquiet among conservatives about Mr. Bush.
Although "Impostor" is flamboyant in its anti-Bush sentiments — on the first page Mr. Bartlett calls Mr. Bush a "pretend conservative" and compares him to Richard Nixon, "a man who used the right to pursue his agenda" — its basic message reflects the frustration of many conservatives who say that Mr. Bush has been on a five-year federal spending binge. Like them, Mr. Bartlett is particularly upset about Mr. Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan, which is expected to cost more than $700 billion over the next decade.
He is unhappy, too, with the president's education and campaign finance bills and his proposal to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, which many Republicans call a dressed-up amnesty plan. The book, to be published by Doubleday on Feb. 28, also criticizes the White House for "an anti-intellectual distrust of facts and analysis" and an obsession with secrecy.
"The Clinton people were vastly more open and easier to deal with and, quite frankly, a lot better on the issues," Mr. Bartlett said in the interview, in the kitchen of his pared-down modern house on a street of big new homes in Great Falls. Mr. Bartlett hastened to add that although he admired Mr. Clinton's economic policies, that did not mean he had changed sides.
"I haven't switched to the Democratic Party," he said. "I wrote this for Republicans."...
"Bruce is really an exception, not the rule, in the degree and thoroughness of his discontent," said William Kristol, a conservative strategist and the editor of The Weekly Standard. "So I wouldn't make too much of it. On the other hand, one thing I've noticed giving speeches in the last couple of months is that conservatives remain pro-Bush, but the loyalty to the movement and the ideas is deeper than the personal loyalty now. Two years ago, Bush was the movement and the cause."
Maybe those John Birchers are onto something with tying neocons to Stalinists and Trotskyites.
They certainly is a similarity in behavior...