President Bush's acceptance of a tax increase was reason enough for a panel of conservatives to mark him down in midterm grades, and one of them suggests the president might flunk out at re-election time.
The conservative Heritage Foundation lined up seven figures from the right to grade Bush, his Cabinet and top aides for the "sophomore slump" report card. They gave Vice President Dan Quayle better marks than Bush.The critique released Thursday is to be published in Policy Review, the foundation's quarterly magazine. A year ago, in a similar exercise, Bush got grades ranging from "B" to "D." This time, one rater gave him an "F" and three said "D" in judging his domestic policy performance.
The budget deal and tax increase were their common complaint.
Martin Anderson, a White House adviser to Ronald Reagan who now is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, said Bush rated a "B minus" overall, and could have made "A" if he hadn't flunked on the budget and economic policy.
At the other end of the scale, Edward H. Crane, president of the libertarian Cato Institute, gave Bush an "F."
"George Bush will go down as one of the worst presidents in American history," Crane wrote. "The Republicans were the anti-tax party and now they are the dumb party."
James C. Miller III, a Reagan budget director who is now chairman of Citizens for a Sound Economy, said "D" because of Bush's "incredible blunder" on taxes.
"His credibility has suffered a mortal blow," said Miller. "Can he promise anything in the 1992 campaign without evoking giggles from the audience?"
Burton Yale Pines, senior vice president of the Heritage Foundation, who has suggested that conservative Republicans may challenge Bush in the 1992 presidential primaries, also gave him a "D" on domestic affairs.
"At best, he is reactive," Pines said. "At worse, he risks being a Herbert Hoover-William Howard Taft one-term president."
Most of the conservative graders ranked Bush higher on foreign policy and his handling of the Middle East crisis, while reserving final judgment pending the outcome of the confrontation with Iraq.
Crane didn't agree, contending that Bush blundered by sending troops to the Middle East, and with "his dangerous and costly vision of a New World Order" involving U.S. military and economic involvement abroad. He stuck with his "F."
"Bush's foreign policy has unraveled like a cheap Russian sweater," Crane said.
The conservative panel gave Quayle four "A's" and two "B's," praising his loyalty to conservative tenets as well as to Bush and saying he'd tried to talk the president out of the budget and tax deal. But Crane said "D-plus," with points off for loyalty.
"The vice president has proven to be a loyal team player, which would be okay were it not for the fact that he's playing on the Bush administration team" Crane said.
Vice President Dan Quayle played golf at a club banned from a national tournament because of its all-white membership, teeing off a local official.
Quayle shot more than 18 holes Thursday at Cypress Point Club at Pebble Beach, Calif. The Professional Golfers Association in September ruled the club ineligible for the 1991 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
"I have a great concern about the vice president of the United States playing at Cypress Point and not being aware of the sensitivity of the issue that revolves around it," Monterey County Supervisor Sam Karas said.
Quayle couldn't be questioned for reaction because Secret Service agents kept reporters and photographers off the club's private grounds.