George W. Bush was hardly an ideal conservative president. But he has character, earned the hard way through personal sin and redemption. And he has faith, faith that has seen him through national crises and nasty tirades against him from the left.
We may complain about “compassionate conservatism” and the unrelenting creep of an overwhelming state, creep that continued unabated during his terms.
On the other hand, if you are a conservative, would you rather have Bush or Obama? For that matter, would you rather have Bush or either Bill or Hil Clinton? Or, for that matter, virtually anyone the Democrats are likely to nominate?
For conservatives, these questions answer themselves. Can we do better, have a candidate who is truer to conservative norms than Bush? Probably, if we may consider relative unknowns such as Marco Rubio and Chris Christie. But we live in the here and now, and while I might like most Republican contenders, some of them are just plain un-electable (Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, all for different reasons).
Let’s recall William F. Buckley’s maxim: find the most conservative candidate who is electable. I voted for Dubya, and gladly. I’d do so again if he could run. I can only hope that our next nominee has the strong character and faith shown by George W. Bush.