by Charles Gordon
July 14, 2007

From spending to immigration, many conservatives are disappointed in President Bush, with some labeling his presidency a disaster for conservative values and principles.

Are they right?

On spending, yes. Clearly, domestic spending has risen at a faster clip than under Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan. Some have argued that the rate of increases rivals that of Lyndon B. Johnson, the architect of the failed Great Society and War on Poverty.

On immigration, it was galling for conservatives to see the President and his allies working with none other than Ted Kennedy on a reform bill while a border fence had yet to be built.

Nonetheless, compared to conservative icon Ronald Reagan, President Bush is Pat Buchanan when it comes to border enforcement. Reagan’s response to the problem was to obliterate by word and deed the distinction between legal and illegal immigration. His 1986 immigration reform bill was flat-out amnesty, no ifs, ands or buts. And there is zero evidence that the Gipper ever expressed any regret for it.

On gun rights, the Bush administration’s Justice Department has been the strongest of any in modern times.

On sanctity of life issues, the President has consistently appointed constructionist, pro-life judges, notably Justices Alito and Robert to the Supreme Court. Tellingly, his first veto ever was of a bill that would have expanded research on embryonic stem cells. Recently, he vetoed the bill again.

On missile defense, what Ronald Reagan proposed, George W. Bush imposed. Thanks to the President, we have in place the beginnings of a real defense, just in time, given the threats we may face in the future from rogue nations such as Iran.

On taxes, President Bush was the first president since Reagan to institute true supply-side tax cuts, reductions which probably saved our country from terrible economic dislocations following 9/11.

On Social Security, the President came out strongly for the kind of conservative reform that would give people their own accounts and an opportunity to create far more wealth than the government could ever do. It was Congress that chickened out and doomed the proposal.

In response to 9/11, President Bush ended the liberal policy of treating terrorism as the actions of isolated criminals and put us on a war footing so we could knock out Al Qaida’s Afghan base and hosts, kill or capture terrorists on every habitable continent, deploy intelligence assets around the globe, and secure our country at home. He has since stood firm against appeasement of Iran, Syria, and other terror-sponsoring tyrannies and has resisted pressure to surrender in Iraq.

By any reasonable measure, the President deserves more credit than he’s getting from conservatives. With the exception of domestic spending, his record compares favorably to that of Ronald Reagan. It’s time to give some credit where credit is due.