Another Hayekian tells the truth about the Bush Presidency:
Rove covers the financial crisis of 2008 briefly in his book, only two pages, but blames the entire affair on the Democrats’ failure to support Bush initiatives to regulate Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd were “the true villains.” If only the Democrats had granted the Bush Administration the regulatory powers it sought, the crisis would have been minimized, according to Rove.
Funny, Rove conveniently fails to mention the role of Bush HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, who was accused of corruption and cronyism with Countrywide and other financial institutions. In 2004, Jackson worked hard to increase Fannie’s and Freddie’s “affordable” housing goals for minorities with subprime lending. And under his leadership, the FHA reduced its down payment requirements from 3.5% to zero in the midst of the financial crisis!
Sorry, Karl, but you can’t blame the financial crisis on just the Democrats. There was plenty of blame on both sides of the aisle.
Rove defends Bush’s prescription drug law as an example of “compassionate conservatism,” noting that it introduced free-market competition and health-savings accounts, and thus reduced the costs of this additional Medicare benefit. But then Rove denies that the new entitlement enlarged the welfare state!
By that kind of reasoning, he probably would defend Bush’s signing of the minimum wage law increase in 2007, which has destroyed millions of jobs for teenagers and minorities. So much for compassionate conservatism…
Finally, what about the collapse of the Republican Party during the elections of 2006 and 2008? Surely Karl Rove would take some responsibility for this political debacle? Actually, no. In his chapter, “Republicans on the Run,” he says the Republicans lost not because of the unpopular war in Iraq, immigration reform or excessive deficit spending, but because high-profile Republicans were indicted on corruption charges (Tom DeLay, Mark Foley, et al.).
I could find only one mention in the entire book where Karl Rove claims to have made a serious mistake in policy (p. 457, regarding Katrina). Meanwhile, he devotes page after page describe his successes, such as the war in Iraq, whose long-term outcome is still uncertain.
I actually enjoyed reading his book, especially the details of his family life, his encounters with critics and working in the White House. It’s a fun read, but ultimately, his book might better have been titled “Living in Denial.” Tragically, we’re still paying the price of the Bush-Cheney blunders. If they had done a better job of running the country, President Obama wouldn’t have huge majorities in both houses of Congress, and much of his agenda, including socialized medicine, wouldn’t be law today.
George Bush — as much as the Fed and the Congress — is responsible for creating a massive and unsustainable housing boom and economic bust — as well as an unsustainable Keynesian economy based on deeply pathological government intervention and massive, debt-financed consumption. Bush is our Hoover just as much as Obama is the Depression-deepening and Depression-lengthening FDR of our age.