Saturday, November 27, 2010

No, I Don't Miss Bush

The billboards ask me if I miss George W. Bush, and my honest answer has to be, "No, I don't." I do miss Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. I miss John Bolton. But I don't miss Bush. I appreciate that Bush, who found himself suddenly leading a country at war, said most of the right things, and even did some of them too. But he didn't say the most important things of all. And that's the problem.

Bush looks best against the background of Obama. But that's setting the mark fairly low, because there is hardly an occupant of the White House in the last 60 years who doesn't look pretty good compared to Obama.

The Bush I remember picked up a loudspeaker and talked tough at Ground Zero. But he was also the man who gave CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood groups a hall pass to the White House. The man who posed in flight suits and cowboy hats also pushed for amnesty for illegal aliens. He warned about the need to regulate Fannie Mae, but he also oversaw out of control spending, not just for the war effort, but even for the NEA, which even most Republicans marginalized. It isn't so much that Bush was a man of contradictions, we all are. But that he's a poor role model for the challenges that we face today.

Bush confronted terrorists, but appeased Muslims. He threw around money like it grew on trees, which only helped feed the spending frenzy in congress. Bush didn't treat hundreds of billions of dollars like pocket change, the way Obama does. But he did treat hundreds of millions of dollars that way. We just weren't paying attention then, because the economy seemed to be humming along nicely. And so it all sounded good. So what if the NEA's budget got the biggest increase since 1984. It's only money. And it's still only money.

Much as we would like to believe that the Bush era was an abrupt break from the Clinton era, it wasn't. Bush not only kept on some of Clinton's people, from Tenet to Minetta, but kept many of his policies too. Similarly the Obama era isn't a complete break from the Bush era. The men at the top are very different. Many of their associates have changed. But many of the Washington D.C. policies have remained, they've just gotten more irresponsible and destructive. And so have the people implementing them.

Bush didn't endorse a mandatory carbon tax, but he had no problem pushing voluntary ones in global summits. He didn't bow low to the Saudi king, but he did hold hands with him. Before Obama nominated his Associate White House Counsel to an open Supreme Court seat, Bush did the same thing. It was only a desperate effort by Republicans that gave us Justice Samuel Alito, instead of Harriet Miers. Condoleezza Rice was pressuring Israel, before Hillary Clinton got into the act. And before Obama's bailouts, there was Bush's own bailout. There's no comparison between Bush and Obama in matters of character, but unfortunately there are points of comparison in matters of policy.

The point is not to bash Bush, as it is to say that we can do better. That we have to do better.

While George W. Bush's book promotion tour didn't take place before the election as threatened, the post-election tour has taken the focus off the extraordinary coast to coast victories, and instead put them right back on the man of the previous hour. Suddenly we're back to discussing his personal life, and getting an uneasy glimpse at how much he allowed liberal criticism to manipulate his administration, from the Cheney Puppet Master meme to Kayne West. And once again many conservatives are gasping in admiration at his plainspoken language, while overlooking just how liberal many of his policies were.

The attacks of 9/11 insured that we would never really know what the Bush Administration would have been like had fate not intervened. Yet we did get glimpses at the beginning and toward the end. And from the vast expansion of foreign aid to amnesty for illegal aliens, there was every sign that Bush really was committed to his "Compassionate Conservatism" motto. Which may be why, unlike Cheney, he seems to have no problem with Obama, and even writes admiringly of him. He has also refused to condemn the Ground Zero Mosque. While some conservatives are eager to use him as a prop in criticizing Obama, Bush himself actually seems to like Obama.

Bush's conservative credentials rest on two legs, his general pro-business attitude and the War on Terror. And he does deserve plenty of credit for both of them, but while he had the right attitude, both were implemented without considering the long term effects. Which is what helped the Democrats finally bring down the Republican congress and take the White House in 2008. Like far too many of his Republican predecessors, Bush was pro-business and strong on national defense, but hard to distinguish from liberals in most other areas. And unwilling to seriously roll back what the left had done to America.

Because he was unwilling to roll back the relationship between the government and the taxpayer to what it had been, or to stem the growth of government, his pro-business policies were band aids applied to a volcano. When the volcano burst, his policies went out the window. And because he endorsed a War on Terror, without ever quantifying what the source of that terror was, the left could attack the policies, without ever addressing their own complicity in promoting and defending Islamic terrorism. Bush's policies looked good in the short term, but they had no long term future. They were not the solution. In retrospect, they were part of the problem.

So no, I don't miss Bush. To miss Bush because of Obama, is as wrong as missing Nixon, because of Carter. It's a flattering comparison, but only by contrast. What we need is more. Much more than that. And at a time when we should be looking toward leadership that will reduce the size of government and its involvement in our lives, stand up to Islam and secure the border-- Bush's reemergence is an unhelpful distraction. As much a reminder of what we shouldn't be doing, as what we should. But it is also a warning.

Two or six years from now we could very well end up with another Bush, and another ride on the same merry-go-round that has been going around for a long time now. And with the likes of Romney and Huckabee crowding around for a shot at the wheel, it's all too likely that our next Republican President will have more in common with Bush, than with the qualities it will take to stand up and save this country. After four to eight years of Obama, it will be all too easy to put our faith in someone who looks the part, and talks the part, rather than acts the part. Who wears cowboy boots, but gives up the ranch. And that won't be enough. Because as there is more than one Bush out there. There's also more than one Obama waiting in the wings. Waiting till another Republican president screws up all over again.


Juanita said...

lol. How depressing. I do agree it is hard to think of who might be the right Republican for the job at this point. Do you have any thoughts on this? I'd love to see Bolton run but of course he won't and I liked Rumsfeld as well. We demonized both men. I would love to see Rumsfeld again once in awhile. But he is too old.....Sarah Palin needs voice lessons. Rush Limbaugh? lol. Help!

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

It's a difficult problem. I like what I'm seeing of Mike Pence so far, but that's still premature. And not in depth.

Gingrich is good overall, but probably unelectable. Palin is still a wild card. Rumsfeld has no plans for public office. Cheney would also probably be unelectable.

Rachel said...

It's a difficult problem, but perhaps not as devastating as one might think. Reagan was a somewhat 'out of the blue' candidate for President. So, not having a clear leader is a worry--but not a fatal blow for the Repubs. Instead, we should worry about getting behind the right leader, instead of lining up behind whomever is most electable.

Ho Hum...I liked Giulani, but he didn't have a chance at the nomination. At least he told those insufferably arrogant Sauds where they could stick their petrodollars when they tried to dictate US foreign policy after 9-11.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Reagan was already well regarded, his speech at the 64 convention was a classic and he was governor of California.

Giuliani is not an impossibility, but he would need to be run an effective campaign this time, and so far he hasn't done much to show he's even running.

Anonymous said...

You gotta be joking about Gingrich, one of the biggest hypocrites, ever.

America needs a successful business man as Head of State, not another worn out and shameless politician.

Neal Boortz is the only man I'd vote for, for President. Unfortunately, he does not care to take a cut in pay.

Moriah said...

I had the same idea about Mike Pence, especially after I read his speech in Imprimus. Outstanding! By-the-way, I don't like Huckabee or Romney. I think they fall into the check-pants Rebublican category. I don't think Palin or Gingrich are "electable" either. He's got too much personal baggage.

Was Bush the first Pres to call for a Palestinian state?

Ainbthen said...

One big problem with Giuliani is his stance on abortion. There isn't a pro-lifer out there who'd vote for him. And, let's face it, abortion is a big issue.

On another note, having seen all that's happened in this country since 9/11, I don't think the American public, although they seem to be catching on, will really stand up and demand the RIGHT republican candidate. In my opinion, I think the terrorists will have to take a few more shots at us before the general public will wise up.

Anonymous said...

Reagan WAS a known quantity and after losing the nomination to Ford, went on his "Wilderness Tour," much like his protege, Sarah Palin.

Do you have any doubt that she would actually follow through on her positions -- pro-drilling, pro-Israel, pro-business? I don't. She's an outsider who has shown she won't play the game the two parties have been at since the full-scale looting of the treasury began. That's why the establishment wants her GONE. They've selected Mitt as their man with Jeb Bush as his veep. (Why do you think George and Bar were so snarky about Palin?)

Palin treated every Alaskan taxpayer dime as if it were her own and reduced her personal expenses as governor because it was the right thing to do. This woman has integrity. And as a famous man once said, "I can't spare this (wo)man, (s)he fights!"

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

I think she would, more so than many others. But you still never know with a pol till they're in power.

Moriah, officially yes

Ainbthen, Bush and McCain weren't exactly all stars on abortion either

West to the West Wing 2012 said...

You folks are missing the most important person out there: Allen West. So what if he just got elected to Congress? Dwight Eisenhower never served a single day in Congress. West has 22 years of executive experience in the same place Dwight Eisenhower got HIS executive experience: the U.S. Army.

West is a once-in-a-lifetime leader, the Winston Churchill to Obama's Neville Chamberlain. Not only do I believe West is the best hope for our country in 2012, I honestly think he's the ONLY hope for our country in 2012. Nobody -- NOBODY -- besides Allen West -- not even Sarah Palin -- has the insight and the courage to speak the name of our enemy: ISLAM. West has shown time and again that he does not back down in the face of ANYTHING. It's simply not in his nature.

He's got two master's degrees and is extremely knowledgeable and articulate about Islam. Like Churchill, who for so long was the only public figure in England who saw the Nazis for what they were and spoke out against them, West is way, way ahead of everybody else when it comes to Islam. He knows Muslims up close and personal, both as enemies in combat, and as allies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He's a whole different kind of creature from anyone else I know of. Very few academics are battle-proven warriors, and very few warriors are such deeply educated scholars.

As for leadership, just talk to any of the thousands of men and women who have served under him. He is wise, loyal, supremely competent, and unflappable.

I encourage you to find out more about him. Here's a good starting point:

West to the West Wing 2012 said...

Well, we all got kind of side-tracked here in this thread, didn't we, mulling president prospects. Mea culpa!

Re: the article itself, another fabulous job, Daniel.

One minor correction: It was Samuel Alito who replaced Harriet Myers in the nomination process.

Keli Ata said...

I still think Colin Powell would be a good president. Pity he doesn't want to run.

Anonymous said...

Colin Powell??????????????? He was a soldier--look what Barak and Rabin were doing to Israel, then he was a diplomat (G-d save us from them who walk between the drops), then he was pretty bad for Israel.

Anonymous said...

Colin Powell is a RINO and an "Establishment" figure. So is Rice. Let's see what West does. And Palin is pro-markets, not pro-business. The difference is huge. She's a radical in that sense, and a very welcome (to me) one. I hope she can keep her religiosity private. What do you think of Gary Johnson - former Governor of New Mexico? He seems to be a good limited government guy, though not so much on national defense - almost isolationist.
Jim M

lemon said...

Powell is like Condoleeza Rice. Powell supported Obama for president and is though to be anti-Israel.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Gary Johnson is a liberal in every sense but one

jcscuba said...

I think you blew it on this piece Daniel. Suggest you read decision points before you blame him for things he should not be held accountable. Who knew about so called moderate Islam before 9-11, who were his advisers? How many blogs like yours were pumping out the truth?

Today the partially Saudi owned Fox News still brings on the liars from CAIR. He was a great role model for his time he lived then not today in that capacity. Yes his second term he spent money, I was turned off.

Do you know how many quarters of increasing GDP he preside? How about the unemployment. Yes he investigated FM and FM but when you have liars under oath covering for their favorite scams it's kinda tough to be fighting wars, dealing with Katrina, coming in to office after the dot com crash into a recession. He cut taxes. You would rather have the current fool? All presidents held the hands of Saudi Kings you of all people would know that. Nothing he ever did was for any way shape or for about CO2. Do you have a clue why Harriet Meyers was not confirmed and was Bush's choice? I agree the current choices for potential president are rather week. Hold your breath I prefer Palin. Hope you caught what she wrote today to Obama on his daralection of duty with the Wiki leaks. Situation. She has more character, and understanding of what it would be to be a principled President than many. She's the real deal.

It's easy to sit back and take pot shots at Bush for not being Muslim man etc. Were you major Muslim blogger before 2001? Suggest you read his book, you might miss the man. Decisions are made with facts not known to Monday morning quarterbacks, he explains his screws, makes no excuses etc. Enjoy your stuff, J.C.

jcscuba said...

An unbeatable ticket 2020 Palin and
Allen West. Run them in 2012 the U.S. needs to establish credibility in the world, get the economy going and take it to the Jihadists. J.C.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Bush looks good only in comparison to Obama. However Bush defintely did love America and wanted the best for the country. Please do not even think of nominating Jeb Bush (the alleged "real conservative" in the family)in 2012 or 2016. As for George H.W. Bush - the less said the better. W. would have fit in well in the LBJ administration.

1389 said...

Spot on.

I don't miss Bush. What I miss is the US Constitution.

112 said...

As usual, the voice of sanity. In a normal world, your rare ability in these days to think clearly without the fear to articulate that clarity would get more views than the phonies everywhere else. G-d bless Daniel Greenfield!

Post a Comment