Daniel J. Mitchell asserts "If Bush is a Conservative the Word Has No Meaning." The sad truth about the statement is that Mitchell just might be the one in error on this statement.
My view of modern politics is that the US was founded on a set of principles that might best be described as "classical liberal." The founders developed a refinement of classical discourse that placed a high value on individual freedoms.
The modern era spawned a large number of clowns who with an inverted philosophy where they concluded that freedom is slavery and slavery freedom. The modern liberal (progressive) decided that the next stage of social evolution would be a massive government that saves the proletariat from the perceived excesses of the free market. This new modern philosophy essentially rebranded the term liberal.
The Reagan Revolution occurred when classical liberals and conservatives formed an alliance against the modern liberal. Just as progressives were able to infiltrate and rebrand the term "liberal" (transforming its term into its opposite), classical liberals probably thought that they could infiltrate the conservative camp and feed into conservative mouths the language of liberty. While the left is extremely adept at rebranding terms (they control both the media and university), classical liberals fail at such efforts.
Rather than build on some vague assumption that somehow classical liberals and conservatives, the classical liberal would do better to admit that the Republican Party is a mix of people with different points of view.
Living here in Utah, I see that Republican politicians are well trained in reciting speeches about freedom. However, when you get down to the brass tacks of Mormonism, you find a philosophy that is exceedingly paternalistic and that favors big government controlling business and personal lives.
The deal you have to watch out for in politics is that there are groups that seek control by infiltrating and rebranding a movement. It happens time and time again that people will be supporting a cause, then at the last minute they find that a group has muscled its way into the center and changed the meaning of the cause.
Mitchell's assertion: "If Bush is a 'conservative' the word has no meaning" might better be understood as "The attempts of classical liberals to rebrand conservatism have failed." The neocons attempts to dominate have succeeded.
BTW, one of the reasons that I keep associating the terms "progressive" with "Marxism" is not that I think that all people who call themselves progressive are Marxists, but that there is a cadre of Marxist thinkers ready to step in and rebrand the term.
The classical liberals have been effectively driven out of the Republican Party. We now have two parties that support big government, but with differing opinions on what the big government should do. The classical liberal is not caught in the middle. They are squeezed out. As classical liberals are not welcome in the Democratic Party and are ineffective in the Republican Party, it makes one wonder if the US can continue the classical liberal tradition that made the country a superpower.