Conservatives chew their fingernails

Bob Novak has doubts about the second term:

The inaugural address, which evoked lavish praise from many Republicans attending the ceremonies, sounded less conservative than neo-conservative in advocating a global crusade for democracy. But it was not the speech that generated unease among some of President Bush’s staunchest supporters. A re-elected president’s speech at his inauguration is not supposed to be an ideological manifesto.

Instead, concern about Bush’s second-term course is derived from a variety of signals, small and large, coming from the White House. None of them separately signifies a president abandoning the principles upon which he was elected. But taken together, they generate doubt and more than a little unease on the right….

It cannot be disputed that George W. Bush’s tone has changed since the election. The 22nd Amendment, prohibiting a third presidential term, is a two-way street. I reported last month that even loyal Republican lawmakers feel less constrained to follow a term-limited president. But that same president is under far less pressure to obey the demands of his political base.

Of course, that same president almost completely ignored the demands of his political base in his first term, so I see no reason to believe that he’ll even bother throwing the occasional bone to conservatives now that he no longer needs them. This is the drawback of falling for the “lesser of two evils” philosophy; no matter what the president does, his defenders will always argue that conservatives should be happy because the other guy might have been even worse.

And so the country continues to slide to the Left and down towards the landfill of history….