I found this on the weekly standard, and I thought it would be worth sharing with all of you, along with some special commentary.
The postmortems on the presidency of George W. Bush are all wrong. The liberal line is that Bush dangerously weakened America’s position in the world and rushed to the aid of the rich and powerful as income inequality worsened. That is twaddle. Conservatives–okay, not all of them–have only been a little bit kinder. They give Bush credit for the surge that saved Iraq, but not for much else.
He deserves better. His presidency was far more successful than not. And there’s an aspect of his decision-making that merits special recognition: his courage. Time and time again, Bush did what other presidents, even Ronald Reagan, would not have done and for which he was vilified and abused. That–defiantly doing the right thing–is what distinguished his presidency.
Those words alone were enough to have me doubled over in laughter. Sure, the “liberal line” is a fairly accurate statement. Why is that? Because it’s right. However, I digress.
He stood athwart mounting global warming hysteria and yelled, “Stop!” He slowed the movement toward a policy blunder of worldwide impact, providing time for facts to catch up with the dubious claims of alarmists. Thanks in part to Bush, the supposed consensus of scientists on global warming has now collapsed. The skeptics, who point to global cooling over the past decade, are now heard loud and clear. And a rational approach to the theory of manmade global warming is possible.
Well, this too made me laugh a little bit. If you want some good, government funded proof, look no further than the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/). NASA isn’t alarmist. They don’t have the funding to be alarmists.
Second, enhanced interrogation of terrorists. Along with use of secret prisons and wireless eavesdropping, this saved American lives. How many thousands of lives? We’ll never know. But, as Charles Krauthammer said recently, “Those are precisely the elements which kept us safe and which have prevented a second attack.”
If I was a conservative, and Bush was a Democratic President, my first question would be “can your prove that it saved lives?” We have a fair justice system, and this is what sets us apart from many other countries. The entire world complains when political dissenters are thrown in prison because of there views. These men and women are given no fair trial, and they don’t get justice. By forgoing our system, we end up with the same. Even with our system, innocents are executed wrongly. Without the system, we have no idea if these people are even terrorists. How could we? They don’t get a chance to defend themselves before they start getting tortured. Torture? Yes, water boarding IS torture. Even John McCain knows it, and he’s a conservative. Title of 18 of the United States Code defines torture as
- “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
- “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from – (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering; (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality; (C) the threat of imminent death; or (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality;
If making someone think that he or she is drowning, I honestly don’t know what is. Okay, moving on:
Bush’s third achievement was the rebuilding of presidential authority, badly degraded in the era of Vietnam, Watergate, and Bill Clinton. He didn’t hesitate to conduct wireless surveillance of terrorists without getting a federal judge’s okay. He decided on his own how to treat terrorists and where they should be imprisoned. Those were legitimate decisions for which the president, as commander in chief, should feel no need to apologize.
I don’t think that any of the particulars are in need of being addressed, but the overall point does. By making these decisions without consulting anyone below him, Bush was declaring himself above the law. We have three branches of government for a reason. Checks and Balances
are designed to prevent one person from, specifically the president, from taking sole control of the country. We were founded while fighting from freedom from one dictator, and we don’t really want another one.
Achievement number four was Bush’s unswerving support for Israel. Reagan was once deemed Israel’s best friend in the White House. Now Bush can claim the title. He ostracized Yasser Arafat as an impediment to peace in the Middle East. This infuriated the anti-Israel forces in Europe, the Third World, and the United Nations, and was criticized by champions of the “peace process” here at home. Bush was right.
He was clever in his support. Bush announced that Ariel Sharon should withdraw the tanks he’d sent into the West Bank in 2002, then exerted zero pressure on Sharon to do so. And he backed the wall along Israel’s eastern border without endorsing it as an official boundary, while knowing full well that it might eventually become exactly that. He was a loyal friend.
Well, I can say for a start that the bottom part is typical. If you’re going to stand up for something, don’t do it in a half way. I’m not anti-Israeli, but I have to say that they do a lot to disturb the peace too. I’m not going to defend the actions of many of the countries in the middle east, surrounding Israel, because state-sanctioned terrorism is wrong. Period. I also have no desire to be involved in this conflict, so I’ll leave it like this: We’re not the International Police, as Bush liked to think. I’ll defend going into Libya, because it was UN Security Council mandated, but interfering in Israel is not the same. Both sides are doing wrong things, and both need to be sat down and talked to, a little like children in a fight. Endorsing one side is wrong. Moving on to the best one so far…
His fifth success was No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the education reform bill cosponsored by America’s most prominent liberal Democratic senator Edward Kennedy. The teachers’ unions, school boards, the education establishment, conservatives adamant about local control of schools–they all loathed the measure and still do. It requires two things they ardently oppose, mandatory testing and accountability.
This is funny. No Child Left Behind is a joke, and it is destroying our already not-so-good education system. If you want to improve something, do you CUT funding to it? “Hey, look! That school is doing poorly in the standardized tests! How about we give them even less money so that they can do better?” Yeah, that makes sense to me too. Teaching to the test is inspiring even more narrow-minded approaches to teaching than ever before. It is not a big secret that we are falling farther and farther behind many other countries, especially in mathematics and science. We have a problem, and narrowing our system is not going to work. Just one last thing. When everyone is above average, are they really above average?
Sixth, Bush declared in his second inaugural address in 2005 that American foreign policy (at least his) would henceforth focus on promoting democracy around the world. This put him squarely in the Reagan camp, but he was lambasted as unrealistic, impractical, and a tool of wily neoconservatives. The new policy gave Bush credibility in pressing for democracy in the former Soviet republics and Middle East and in zinging various dictators and kleptocrats. It will do the same for President Obama, if he’s wise enough to hang onto it.
I’ve said it before, haven’t I? We are not the international police. We can not interfere with anyone we choose to, regardless of what power we hold. We’re the only super power, and that means we have have lots (and lots) of responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean that we can play games with other people’s politics. I have a question for you. If the UK suddenly disposed of its constitutional monarchy, do you think that we would interfere? My money is on no.
The seventh achievement is the Medicare prescription drug benefit, enacted in 2003. It’s not only wildly popular; it has cost less than expected by triggering competition among drug companies. Conservatives have deep reservations about the program. But they shouldn’t have been surprised. Bush advocated the drug benefit in the 2000 campaign. And if he hadn’t acted, Democrats would have, with a much less attractive result.
You know, when I first read the article, I didn’t think that I would agree with anything, but I actually agree with the idea of this one. I don’t agree with the last line though, considering “Obamacare” has done some great things (I won’t go on… I’m not here to talk Obama).
Then there were John Roberts and Sam Alito. In putting them on the Supreme Court and naming Roberts chief justice, Bush achieved what had eluded Richard Nixon, Reagan, and his own father. Roberts and Alito made the Court indisputably more conservative. And the good news is Roberts, 53, and Alito, 58, should be justices for decades to come.
I think this is a no-brainer. We need liberal justices, not conservative ones. Liberal judges protect the rights of the people, not the rights of the corporations, including the religious ones. I think its a damn good thing that abortion has already passed the Supreme Court, or pro-choice movements would be in trouble. I would like to take this time to point out that Bush raised himself above the other branches when it suited him, but was happy to drop back down to being equal when he could install people with the same views as him in seats of power.
Bush’s ninth achievement has been widely ignored. He strengthened relations with east Asian democracies (Japan, South Korea, Australia) without causing a rift with China. On top of that, he forged strong ties with India. An important factor was their common enemy, Islamic jihadists. After 9/11, Bush made the most of this, and Indian leaders were receptive. His state dinner for Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2006 was a lovefest.
Any relationship founded on mutual hate will always end up turning back upon itself and blowing up in your face. You can’t forge a relationship with another power in the way Bush did. Soon, the Islamic jihadists will be less a threat than they were then and are now, and then what will happen? We won’t have a sustainable relationship with an important country.
Australia is not an east Asian power, it’s not Asian at all. China and Australia don’t hate each other as Japan and China do. In the same way, South Korea and China aren’t friendly, especially due to North Korea, but still, not as Japan and China. And finally, we arrive at Japan. Is it something that he managed to strengthen ties with both? Yes, it is. Much more than anything else Bush did. However, something is being left out. China needs us, a lot more than we need them. China is an export economy, it CANNOT sustain its expansion in any other way. We buy more Chinese goods than anyone else, by a lot. China needs us, and they know it. No matter how they complain, they can’t do anything serious with harming themselves more than us.
And, last but not least,
Finally, a no-brainer: the surge. Bush prompted nearly unanimous disapproval in January 2007 when he announced he was sending more troops to Iraq and adopting a new counterinsurgency strategy. His opponents initially included the State Department, the Pentagon, most of Congress, the media, the foreign policy establishment, indeed the whole world. This makes his decision a profile in courage. Best of all, the surge worked. Iraq is now a fragile but functioning democracy.
Well, excuse me for not liking this. The most important thing the surge accomplished was killing more people, Iraqis and Americans alike. It is not our place to be choosing what government stays and what government goes, and like it or not, we had no real proof that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. This rationale was an outright lie. Bush was continuing a war his father started. The difference? George H. W. Bush was saving another country from invasion, W. Bush was the invader.
Feel free to tell me what a wonderful angel Bush was at my Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002174333319