On Inauguration Day a few weeks ago, I listened intently to President George W. Bush’s address to the American people. As a man with romantic notions of times long passed, I frequently lapse into daydreams of them.

That particular afternoon, I felt as if I was in the days when the German Kaiser, Austrian Emperor, Ottoman Sultan and Russian Tsar sat upon their lofty thrones. I could see the royal families decked in all their regalia, saluting their subjects from the palace gates. Oh, to be alive! What a fabulous daydream!

Or so I thought.

As the television got louder and louder, these images of monarchs of old were combined with the verbal tirades of the fool-hearted Woodrow Wilson. I could hear him speaking of “making the world safe for democracy.”

He was ranting about the United States’ role therein and how it was our moral duty as the leader of the free world. This was no pretty picture anymore! As the Wilsonian hogwash progressively dwarfed the monarchial visions, I snapped out of it.

Why was I dreaming about World War I? Why then? Suddenly, it dawned on me. When Bush was speaking at the inauguration in 2004, he sounded just like Wilson about 90 years earlier!

Bush’s revolution in foreign policy is no secret. His activist approach to democracy promotion is, essentially, “Wilsonianism cum militarism.” Bush and his cronies believe – rather arrogantly – that democracy is the best form of government and that it is the responsibility of the United States to spread it all around the world. Furthermore, they believe that our government should use any means necessary to achieve this end.

A memorable quote comes to mind on this matter, by one Count Joseph de Maistre after the French Revolution – “False opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing.”

As a conservative, a true conservative, I find Bush’s policies frightening. How is disrupting the entire global order a conservative policy? How is propping up democracy in a country that has never had a democratic system of government conservative? And on the domestic front, how is the explosion in federal spending conservative? What has Bush done to support the “moral values” issues that carried the election for him?

What has Bush done for the pro-life, pro-traditional marriage causes?

Any reasonable person, liberal or conservative, can see quite clearly through the faade of the Bush presidency.

After September 11, he used terrorism as a hot-button issue to target enemies on the left and to unite the right. During his re-election bid, he courted the support of moral conservatives and won their vote on issues like abortion and homosexual marriage.

But all the while, he and his cronies engineered a massive budget deficit, outrageous spending, an endless war and indecisiveness on key socially conservative issues.

What is the bottom line? Quite simply, Bush and his neoconservative – I despise this term, as there is nothing new worth adding to conservatism – cohorts are taking all of America for one heck of a rollercoaster ride.

And guess what?

We have got four more years of it. But what can I say? I voted for him, and so did many good conservatives who either didn’t know better or had no other option.

We were all the subject of one big neocon – a new lie. And as an old maxim reads, “A lie by any other name is still a lie.”

Ramey can be reached at aramey@campustimes.org.

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