Is Bush really a conservative?

Andrew Sullivan doesn't think so, and for once I agree with him, although not entirely.
If you decouple the notion of being a conservative from being a Republican, no one can doubt that the Bush administration has been pursuing some highly unconservative policies.

He has essentially junked two decades of conservative attempts to restrain government and pushed federal spending to record levels. He has poured money into agricultural subsidies; he famously put tariffs on foreign steel; he has expanded the biggest entitlement healthcare program; and dramatically increased the role of the central government in the matter of education.

He has little interest in the bedrock conservative belief in leaving as much decision-making to the states as possible, endorsing a federal constitutional amendment that would prevent individual states from enacting gay marriage, and using federal powers to prevent other states from allowing medical cannabis.

He has little or no concern for the separation of church and state, funneling public money to religious charities; and has appointed some of the most radical jurists to the federal bench. Whatever else these policies might be called, they have very little to do with traditional conservative themes of federalism, small government, the free market, the separation of church and state, and a strong, independent judiciary.
Although Sullivan is right to claim that Bush isn't really much of a conservative, in the traditional sense, his policies don't represent a radical departure from the agenda that began with the Reagan revolution. If anything, Bush has come to represent all that is wrong with the GOP leadership. Lest anyone forget, Reagan/Bush grew the government, especially the military, and exploded the national debt from $1 trillion to $6 trillion while engineering the same sorts of policies that put federal dollars in the hands of the wealthy, whether through corporate welfare or tax cuts.

As for the claim that states' rights is a "bedrock conservative belief"? Maybe it was when Eisenhower was president, but it hasn't been true since Reagan. The modern conservative movement uses states' rights as a weapon. They say one thing while doing another, supporting states rights only when states advocate a right that they respect -- so yes on banning abortion and weakening gun laws, while no on medical marijuana, right to die and right to marry the one you want laws.

Bush is no more a conservative than he is a Christian. So I keep wondering, when will true conservatives take back their party from the likes of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Delay, Frist, etc?