Smart

The Fall of the House of Reagan

Republicans have tried to extricate themselves from George W. Bush’s failure by claiming that he is not a “true” conservative, but Simon Schama warns readers of The Guardian to take such efforts with a grain of salt: “for there never has been and never will be a more doctrinally faithful instrument of the creed.” It was Bush’s misfortune to come “to power armed with an ideology that was about to crash and burn”—an allegiance to voodoo economics without any evidence of its success. “Not even Gibbon,” Schama writes, “could supply a story as fatefully bizarre as the ultimate consummation of Reagan-Bush conservatism, its last act: the most massive shift of financial power from the private to the public sector since the New Deal. Rather like the Pope deciding that all along he really wanted a bar mitzvah.”