What's Left of the New Deal

WASHINGTON, D.C.-George Bush begins his second term as President of the United States with audacious domestic and foreign policies that aim to grind into dust what's left of the New Deal.

On the verge of institutionalizing the goals of conservatives first put forth in the Reagan revolution of 1980, Bush is determined to turn over a big hunk of the Social Security system to Wall Street; his conservative supporters are equally intent on getting rid of the income tax, which they want to replace with a flat tax. With the income tax out of the way, nobody will have to worry whether tax cuts benefit the rich or poor.

American foreign policy under Bush already has been recast around the doctrine of the pre-emptive strike. For conservatives, the United Nations will have a steadily declining role in world affairs. Like it or not, Bush is fully prepared to strike without warning against Iran and Syria, as well as other Middle Eastern nations—those nations his team views as tyrannical—listed by his new Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and including Cuba, Burma, North Korea and even Belarus, a last vestige of a Stalinist state.

"We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world," Bush said. In other words, the U.S., its armies already strained, will be expanding further across the world.

Bush and other top leaders of the administration already have signaled they will not give in to congressional oversight or criticism, be it from Democrats or nervous Nellie Republicans. Condoleeza Rice abruptly shoved aside any talk of an exit strategy for Iraq and refused to admit Bush might have erred in foreign policy during his first term. As for Alberto Gonzales, he couldn't remember his role, if any, in setting forth guidelines that narrowed the definition of torture, giving American forces more leeway in their rough handling of prisoners. Gonzales not only could not remember his part in any "such notes, memoranda, e-mails or other documents," but obtusely noted, "I have not conducted a search." Gonzales made it perfectly clear he had no intention of pursuing the subject any further.

 
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