Originally posted by smass
When you say you consider him to be a radical - I assume you mean in relation to your own ideological views. I don't mean to argue semantics - but Bush is certainly no radical in his political ideology.
I wouldn't use myself as a reference point to tar anybody with the term "radical," because 1) my views don't fit neatly in a slot on the political spectrum (they really don't--I'm vigorously in favor of capital punishment and opposed to affirmative action, for instance, while being very anti-monopolistic and extremely pro-social spending), and 2) for such terms to have any meaning they should possess some point-of-reference outside personal opinions.
The term "radical" describes Bush's economic, personal rights and foreign policies nicely, because he is, both in a general and specific sense, implementing policies that have never been tried before in the US government, and that neither refer back to older conservative American value systems (as perhaps best exemplified by the Republican senator, Barry Goldwater), nor to liberal American ones (Ted Kennedy).
His combination of drastic tax cuts, an enormous expansion in government spending, and a foreign war has created the single largest hard currency deficit in US history--this, after his predecessor had finally, unequivocably, brought deficit spending under control. (For the record, as I've stated before, I really, really don't like Clinton. But he succeeded brilliantly in the economy; I give him that.) Typically, conservative and liberal approaches to US federal spending have varied on emphasis, but never on the need for a general sense of balance between revenues and expenditures. (We might make an exception here for the unilateralist changes in the first Reagan administration, but it could be said that they spent their way in defense out of inflation.) Bush is the first US president who has shown no concern for maintaining that balance.
On the foreign front, no American president has ever previously invaded a sovreign foreign nation without being in a declared war with it, rescuing US citizens under threat, or having a UN mandate. The US government has always lobbied for an international world court; now, for the first time, it has opposed the formation of such a body. The US government has never previously sought to barter immunity for its own politicians/military in foreign courts. The US has previously refused to fund publically funded US organizations that mentioned abortions in health education overseas, but never before has funding been refused (or in some cases, stopped) when such organizations simply mentioned condoms/safe sex. The US has previously had a mixed record on the support of UN-sponsored global environmental concerns. This is the first president under whom the complete slate of global environmental issues, forums, etc, have been refused. This is the first president who has led an administration that now actively lobbies against these environmental pacts. All of this relates back to the man in the Oval House, who sets both the tone and substance of dealings with foreign nations in the US.
On the personal liberties front, Bush is the first president to tighten restrictions on information access of government records to the public since Eisenhower in the 1950s. A host of new regulations now make it harder for the first time in half a century to gain access to relevant facts. For example, some fairly basic executive transcripts were previously accessible by all media, anywhere in the country. Now, there are ten locations where a media representative *most present themselves in person* to access this information, thus putting it outside the reach of many concerned citizens. Bush is also the first US president since Nixon to refuse to provide the US Congress with requested materials. He has done so repeatedly, and issued an executive order stating that no information shall go from any part of the Executive branch (this includes the Cabinet) to the Legislative without his final approval.
This is the first US president to set up and approve the creation of an enormous, expensive bureaucracy meant to investigate every single legal transaction and written communication by every single American. Bush has also approved that lists of purchased and library-loaned books by US citizens and foreign nationals in the US be documented and sent for investigation by the FBI. These are remarkable developments that would never have been contemplated by his predecessors. Whatever you may think of his reasons for doing this, it remains that nobody has tried it, previously.
This is a sampling of the reasons behind my terming Bush a radical. He is not conservative. No conservative would approve the destruction of America's history of personal liberties, which form the bulwark of our nation's heritage. He has caused a great deal of dismay among traditional conservatives in Congress, who have (in some unprecedented cases) taken the step of speaking out publically against many of Bush's fiscal and social policies. Bush is a radical, and a radical exists outside the rather simplistic line stretching left-to-right in day-to-day politics, IMO.