Tuesday, July 29, 2008


The days dwindle down to a precious few, and we look back with bittersweet melancholy on the heptad past, crowding its octave. George W Bush. What are we to make of him. As is well known to the many admirers of this blog, I have been a bushman. But now that the hurlyburly's done, and the battle's lost and won, we can step back from our involvement and make a preliminary assessment.

The war? Iraq? Was it even necessary? The easy answer is that, regardless, it happened and needed to be won. Took a while for Bush to find his Grant, but if we knew the future there wouldn't have been a Twelve Seven, let alone a Nine Eleven. Let's not settle for an easy answer, though. We could have left Saddam in his very very leaky and meaningless box.

We could have let him thumb his plum-colored nose at us and the world and the UN, such as it is, with its meaningless resolutions. We could have ignored his daily violation of the cease-fire agreement he ever-so-gladly signed, that paused the Gulf War -- never actually ended. Daily violations in the form of firing on our planes, violations of the no-fly zones, resistance and recalcitrance and outright defiance of UN "inspectors". We could have ignored all that. What does principle and the rule of law mean, after all, in the real world, outside of poli-sci classes and churches and the Constitution? Not much, as real politik endlessly informs us.

We'd be ever so much more popular in the world, if we didn't have principles. That's not a small thing. What is honor? Does it put gas in your tank? Blood for oil, food for oil, blood for food -- all mere slogans. It's so much easier to be cynical.

So the easy answer is, we should have left Saddam in power, and sucked it up, the defiance and emboldened terrorists. How many Twin Towers are there, after all, to knock down? Hardly any. Fewer and fewer. And I'm sure we'd be loved so much more if we remained the victim.

So, as for Iraq, it must have been a mistake. Mistake, that is, to us lefties and feminists and one-worlders and eco-warriors and gay lobbyists. You know, the ones who will win the next election.

What else, about Bush. Immigration. What a word. I usually like words to have some actual meaning. Immigration means a legal process by which non-citizens apply for and are granted the privilege of residing in a nation. But let's forget that, like we'll forget about the rule of law and issues of principle. Such a bother. We'll pretend that immigration just means anyone who enters this country by any means they choose. How was Bush on this issue?

A disaster. The president is chief executive, which means head sheriff. Eisenhower faced this same problem, and fixed it. Bush has betrayed his trust, in his failure to secure the borders and enforce the most fundamental tenets of the rule of law. Mercy is wonderful. Can it be applied to citizens, as well as to illegals?

The economy? Not my thing, but this is a disaster. I don't believe that presidents control the economy, and if they could, Bush would have done better. But policies influence the economy, and the falling dollar seems to be a major cause of high oil prices. Yes, demand from China and India, but there are signals and monetary polices that influence things. I'm vague, but I know it's true. Oil, foreclosures -- there's only so much government can do. But it is the role of government to promote the general welfare, and we do know where the buck stops. Tide of history? Tough. Anyone who steps up for the job had better be competent, and seen to be competent.

Regardless of his sterling character, Bush has been a disaster as a communicator. TR understood, and coined the phrase -- bully pulpit. Appearance matters. Too bad.

Upshot is, Bush never really was a conservative. I liked him, personally. And I liked the fact that we took the war to the enemy. But without the war, I'd have to think that Bush was a second or third rate president. Pains me to say it, because I loath the scum who loath Bush. Depending on how this housing and oil crisis is met, Bush may even be a terrible president. Being right on one thing only, even a really important thing like the winning of a war -- it's not enough. The Oval Office is not a circus, where a one-trick pony can go through its paces. We don't need any more clowns, there.

Worrisome thing is that it really does look like Obama will win. And this isn't a time for a dilettante. The reason McCain is in peril is the incompetence Bush has shown, in communicating his case. So very bad things can happen, in the near future, the buck of which we know where to send. It's not too late. Prices could fall. Housing could rebound, somehow. But character is destiny, and tragedy is inherent in character, and round it goes, like ponies in a circus.

It's not about blame. It's about clarity. We can't let loyalty blind us to a need for honesty. And as we know, those who put themselves forward to lead, are held to a higher standard. It's almost biblical. In fact, it is.


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