Do me a favor here… is it really 2007? And is Richard Cohen really writing this column on how George W. Bush is a “neoliberal”? Are there no limits to the sage pundit’s lazy contrarianism?
Cohen says he “never really knew what [neoliberalism] meant”, but the term should be revived because George Bush is “more liberal than you might think.” The evidence for this is: (a) No Child Left Behind (a bunch of meddling, liberal do-gooderism), (b) all the incompetent blacks, women, and Latinos in his administration (hiring poorly qualified minorities is just so liberal), and (c) conducting a botched foreign war and justifying it with high-flown Wilsonian rhetoric (losing wars is just so liberal).
Mr. Cohen, I do know what neoliberalism means (if you want to know, you might have Googled it; it’s not that complicated). George Bush is not a neoliberal. And items (a), (b), and (c)—while they ring nicely of the conservative caricature of The Left—are not evidence of neoliberalism. Quite the opposite in fact.
I understand the urge to paint George Bush as “not conservative” (this has been Andrew Sullivan’s bread and butter for about four years), but “not conservative” is not “neoliberal.” (Duh.) And what we really don’t need right now, at this point in history, is a supposedly “not conservative” columnist in the Washington Post using the word “liberal” as an essentially meaningless all-purpose insult.