Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Worst President Ever

I was once told that George W. Bush would one day be revered as our greatest president. It astounded me that somebody I thought to be intelligent would make such an outlandish statement, but it made me stop and think about things a little differently. After careful consideration I doubt history will be kind to Bush.
Maybe I can’t get past my liberal bias. Maybe my judgment is clouded. Nevertheless, I believe Bush is the worst president ever.

That’s a bold statement. We’ve had some real dirt bags hold the office of President. While it’s true that the harsh edges of a poorly run administration can be softened overtime, the volume of Bush’s ineptitude is staggering . His body of work is such a complete and total mess, that the sands of time won’t polish his presidency, but rather reveal more of its flaws. It’s possible Bush will go down as one of the worst world leaders ever. The fact that he acquired and retained power in two highly questionable elections ranks him just below dictators who made a name for themselves slaughtering millions of people.

Where has he gone wrong? It would be easier to list the few things he’d done right, which would be...I’ll have to get back to you on that. But for the sake of argument (and brevity) I’ve compiled a list of five key issues:

1. Taxes

Blame Bill Clinton all you like, but facts are facts. The economy was stagnant under the first Bush, it boomed under Clinton and then collapsed under the second Bush. The only explanation is tax policies.

George W. Bush had no reason to change the economic climate when he took office. By cutting taxes he sent a strong economy into a tailspin. The reason the economy boomed under Bill Clinton is because the lower and middle class were shouldering a smaller tax burden which prompted them to spend the money they were saving. This resulted in increased production levels, created more jobs and eventually increased wages. Classes of people who never purchased stock were suddenly investing and global markets surged. Most importantly the dreaded national debt, which had spiraled out of control under Reagan and Bush, was being paid off. Consumer confidence was high.

George W. Bush wasted billions of dollars issuing a tax rebate. It was a shameless ploy to curry favor with the voters and sneak a massive tax break to large corporations. As businesses recognized the fiscal irresponsibility of this, production slipped and jobs were lost. Large businesses and wealthy people weren’t as motivated to stimulate the economy, because Bush was giving them their money in the form of tax cuts and rebates. While the everyday tax payer got a check for $300, corporations were getting huge breaks on fees and taxes and also getting rebates to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Under Clinton the wealthiest entities had to make their money, under Bush they got to keep it. Money doesn’t really trickle down. It’s like salmon, it swims upstream to spawn.

2. Disaster Relief

Moving ahead to the 2005 hurricane season, Bush was accused of making many mistakes, but the harsh reality is that he was powerless to stop the storms and the evacuation efforts are responsibilities that fall on the shoulders of the local authorities. Still, after being briefed on the magnitude of Katrina and the potential disaster, Bush could have gone out on a limb and taken charge of the situation. Instead he deferred to local officials. He didn’t want to be the one crying wolf if the storm weakened or turned away at the last minute. That’s selfish, but not atypical. The Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana did the same thing. Nobody wants to be Chicken Little.

Where Bush made the mistake was in the economic impact of the storm. The country was just starting to realize a sustained improvement in economic conditions. Job growth was inching ahead and production was improving. As Katrina churned through the gulf, analysts feared that the storm would affect oil production and send prices skyrocketing, which would have negative economic implications.

The prudent thing to do was freeze prices. There was no way to know how the storm would affect the refineries and stabilizing the market until the damage could be assessed would prevent economic panic. Instead, oil companies increased prices as the storm approached and held them over three dollars a gallon for as long as they could. Even after it was revealed that the refineries weren’t damaged and most of the off shore rigs were intact, the oil companies justified high gas prices because the infrastructure in the gulf was so badly damaged. Infrastructure or beach houses? Record profits make you wonder.

3. War on Iraq

The initial reason for invading Iraq was that Iraq had WEAPONS of MASS DESTRUCTION and posed an immediate threat to the United States. In spite of numerous international reports to the contrary, the Bush team pushed forward with this theme, even sending Colin Powell to the UN to show them the “evidence” of Saddam’s “stockpiles.” The term “stockpile” might be subjective, but most people interpret a “stockpile” as an excessive amount of something. Any time you have to “pile” anything you tend to have a lot.

It didn’t take long to defeat Saddam’s troops. Apparently the massive army he had been outfitting was on leave when we invaded because the road to Baghdad was pretty short. Once Saddam’s forces were out of the picture the search for these illicit weapons began and after an exhaustive investigation we found nothing. Somehow we managed to catch Saddam Hussein, who should have been able to escape with billions of dollars, but the stockpiles of weapons were never found. Because they weren’t there.

Now, Bush and the gang concur that they were mistaken, which is political code for “we lied” and other premises for the war have been offered. Several others in fact, and each one is as implausible as the next:

Saddam was aiding al-Qaida:
Wrong.! Al-Qaida wanted Saddam dead. In fact reports have surfaced that al-Qaida sat back and waited for the U.S. to oust Saddam so they could sweep in and gain support among the fundamentalists Saddam spent so many years oppressing. Even if Saddam could check his ego long enough to consider such a partnership, Osama bin Laden wouldn’t dream of it.

Saddam was a brutal dictator:
Yes, he was. And it suited us just fine for 25 years. In fact, we gave him money, weapons and training to help him perfect those brutal methods in hopes that he would destroy fundamentalists inside and outside of Iraq. When Iraq was fighting Iran, he was a key ally, a secular Arab leader with a powerful military presence. The problem with Saddam was that his loyalties went to the highest bidder. We couldn’t trust him to always look out for our best interests.

Saddam was trying to buy uranium:
Maybe. What self-respecting world leader wouldn’t want to acquire the clout a strong nuclear program provides? A nuclear missile is like a back stage pass to the UN. However, it’s unlikely that the evidence the U.S. provided is valid. Our sources are unreliable and the documentation provided has been confirmed as forgeries. Even if he was advancing a nuclear program, it didn’t pose an immediate threat and the timing of this invasion distracted the US from more important tasks. Namely the next mistake on the list:

4. War on Terror

Go ahead. Remind me of the Americans who died on September 11th. Rant and rave about national security, immigration and people who hate America. Done? Good. Let’s be rational.

9-11 could have been averted. Clinton’s intelligence officials were aggressively following leads to identify the location and activities of terrorist cells located in the US. They were also tracking the movements and activities of Osama bin Laden. When Bush took office he was briefed on al-Qaida and on August 6th was provided with a memo that expressed specific concern that al-Qaida was planning to hijack commercial aircraft in the United States.

The Bush camp claims that the memo contained old intelligence and was not specific enough to follow up on and Bush proved how insignificant it was by remaining on his vacation until those buildings came crumbling down. But let’s assume that it couldn’t have been prevented. Let’s assume that Bush did work tirelessly trying to avert the impending attacks. The War on Terror is still a mistake.

Retaliation was necessary. I’m not suggesting that we should have simply ignored the attack, but the world was sympathetic to our plight. There was an outpouring of support from all corners of the globe which lasted until George Bush opened his mouth and started talking like some b-movie cowboy.

When we first approached Afghanistan about Osama bin Laden, the Taliban leaders requested we provide evidence as to Osama’s guilt. Bush scoffed. The Taliban leaders requested assurances that Osama bin Laden would be tried in an international court. Again we scoffed. Perhaps the Taliban was posturing for no other reason than to evoke international sympathy, maybe they were stalling so Osama could plan his escape. Whatever the reason, the self-righteous posture Bush took, disturbed the rest of the world and Bush drew some criticism.

As the siege ensued, the scope of our military’s deployment concerned the UN who feared that civilian casualties were too high. They felt that the Taliban and Al-Qaida forces were too small and dispersed through the civilian population to warrant heavy bombing and the use of artillery. As concern grew to outrage Bush threatened the rest of the world by reminding them that they were either with us or against us. Very diplomatic.

After 9-11 the United States needed a voice of reason. Somebody wise enough to realize that there was a difference between justice and vengeance. What we got was Rudy Giuliani. When Bush finally came out of hiding we got a lot of though talk. That is the underlying flaw in the war on terror. Bush embarked on a crusade for vengeance when this country should have engaged in a quest for justice. The President is supposed to have more sense than the angry mob, not less.

5. The Patriot Act.

If you believe that the 9-11 attack on this country was really about our love of freedom and not a retaliation for years of social and economic oppression perpetrated by our country on the people of the Middle East then the patriot Act should frighten you more than it does those who are opposed to the two wars this country is engaged in.

The reason our criminal justice system is supposed to operate in clear view of the public is so the public can scrutinize the criminal justice system. The Patriot Act actually serves to expand the power of various law enforcement entities while concealing their activity from public view. This gives everybody reason to question the legitimacy of everything they do.

Jefferson once said he would rather be exposed to the inconveniences of attending too much liberty than to those attending a small degree of it. Liberty isn’t easy. There is no question that the civil rights that protect our very freedom also make us susceptible to an enemy’s attack. But limiting freedom and eliminating government accountability for playing by the rules does more damage to this country than anything a terrorist could do.

Sadly, under Bush we have seen this country step off of the high road and resort to tactics and strategies this country has always stood against. We have suspended the civility of the international community and engaged in acts of torture and humiliation that violate the standards we have always tried to hold the rest of the world too.

There was a time when the United States was the benevolent global constable who was always willing to lend a hand, now we’re the dirty back alley cop pistol-whipping anybody who questions our motives or authority. We used to be right, now we’re self-righteous. I can't think a of a President who has corrupted our freedom and destroyed our international credibility more than Bush has. Foreign and Domestic. The cycle of failure is complete.


My Truth said...

I'm enjoying reading your blog. Everything I've been thinking, you're writing. Keep it up!

claw71 said...

Thanks. I appreciate the feedback...