Sunday, May 28, 2006

Bush: I'm Harry Truman and The War on Terror Is Like The Cold War

It seems our preznit is not only "increasingly sensitive" (as Mike Lupica pus it today), but also increasingly delusional. And that's an accomplishment, since he started out pretty delusional to begin with:

WEST POINT, N.Y. - President Bush compared himself with President Harry Truman and his fight against communism yesterday during a commencement speech to the West Point graduates.

Comparing the war against terrorism with the post-World War II battle with communism, Bush recounted the challenges and setbacks facing the U.S. as the Cold War took root.

Bush commended Truman for laying the groundwork of success against communism and said he was doing the same today against global terrorists.

"Like Americans in Truman's day, we are laying the foundations of victory," the President said.

Bush comparing himself to Truman is pretty delusional. Truman left office in 1953 with very low popularity, but he has gained in both popularity and critical acclaim as the decades have progressed to the point where now many presidential historians call Truman one of our greatest presidents. Bush would love to follow in Truman's footsteps, obviously, and have his presidential legacy increase in esteem as the years go by.

But let's face it, George W. Bush is no Harry Truman. Here's how measures Truman's legacy:

Truman’s legacy has become clearer and more impressive in the years since he left office. Most scholars admit that the President faced enormous challenges domestically, internationally, and politically. While he occasionally failed to measure accurately the nation’s political tenor and committed some significant policy blunders, Truman achieved notable successes. Domestically, he took important first steps in civil rights, protected many of the New Deal’s gains, and presided over an economy that would enjoy nearly two decades of unprecedented growth. In foreign affairs, the President and his advisers established many of the basic foundations of America foreign policy, especially in American-Soviet relations, that would guide the nation in the decades ahead. On the whole, Truman is currently celebrated by the public, politicians, and scholars alike.

Here's how I measure George W. Bush's legacy:

a) Preznit Bush pursued a pre-emptive war in Iraq that by any sane measurement has failed. Sure Saddam is gone from power, but Bush replaced him with chaos. Sectarian violence continues to increase in the country, Iranian influence in both the southern part of Iraq and the region has increased greatly, and the Sunni-Shiite conflict within the borders of Iraq threatens to spill over as Saudi Arabia and other Sunni powers look to counter Iran's influence and support of Shiite militias in Iraq.

b) Preznit Bush has allowed Afghanistan to destabilize since the Iraq war as the administration has been forced to pull funds, troops and attention away from the unfinished building of democracy in Afghanistan to the more urgent insurgency in Iraq. According to an article in the NY Times Week in Review section today, "Afghanistan is the sleeper crisis of the summer" as "a resurgent Taliban has surprised the Americans with the ferocity of its annual spring offensive and set some officials here to worrying that the United States might become tied down in a prolonged battle as control slips away from the central government — in favor of the movement that harbored Al Qaeda before 2001." The Taliban have joined forces with the drug smugglers in Afghanistan and using suicide attacks, roadside bombs, and assaults by large units to further destabilize an already wobbly Afghan regime that has little control of the country beyond the capital.

c) Preznit Bush has shown a blatant disregard for the rule of law by sanctioning the use of torture, kidnapping, and extraordinary rendition of "torture suspects" who have not been charged with any crimes. The administration insists it has the right to hold "terror suspects" indefinitely in secret prisons around the world in violation of any constitutional principles I can think of and claims these extraordinary measures must be taken to protect the U.S. and American citizens in the war on terror. These policies have directly led to the torture/prsioner abuse at Abu Ghraib and alleged war crimes by marines at Haditha on November 19, 2005 and in Hamandiya on April 26, 2006. Worse, the administration has done its best to cover up these horrific incidents rather than deal with the fall-out from them head on.

d) Preznit Bush has been a horrible steward of the nation's financial present and future. By simultaneously cutting taxes for the wealthiest among us while fighting two foreign wars, Bush has squandered the budget surplus he was given by Clinton in 2001 and has increased both the budget deficit and the national debt to fearsome amounts. We are now a nation of debtors at both the government and individual levels as the administration has encouraged Americans to pursue borrow and spend policies as their "patriotic duty" after 9/11. In addition, the current state of the economy is fair to good if you're one of the wealthiest among us, but working class and middle class Americans are struggling under the weight of years of stagnant wages, higher health care costs, higher energy costs, outsourced jobs, and bankrupt pension plans. While Truman presided over an economy that would enjoy nearly two decades of unprecedented growth, Preznit Bush is presiding over an economy that is built like a house of cards on a foundation of cheap money, bullshit real estate values, and smoke and mirrors.

e) Preznit Bush has not only ignored the problem of global warming, he has worsened the effects greatly by allowing the energy industry to write environmental policy, by dismissing the existence of global warming at the exact same time his own EPA was releasing a report saying global warming was real and caused by human activity, by pulling completely out of the flawed Kyoto Treaty rather than seek to amend it, and by gutting environmental protection standards across the board.

Add in the fiasco that was the administration's reaction to Katrina, the corruption that is rife in Congress, the administration, the Iraq reconstruction, etc. and the overall partisan atmosphere Bush has flamed with his "Fuck you!" attitude toward anybody who doesn't sign a loyalty oath to him and you have a president who is not even remotely like Harry Truman. No, add all those things in and you have one of the worst presidents in our nation's history who will be listed along with James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, Ulysses S. Grant, and Warren Harding as part of the "Top Five Worst Presidents."

I referred to the cold war comparison the other day. One thing for me to see it in the behaviour of the admin, another, more frightening, thing to see that Bush believes it.
RBE, I am noting a rising level of anger around the blogs. Funny thing, to me at least, is that each blogger has a different and valid set of issues to be angry about.
Bush and his buddies have been a busy bunch...
I think you can move him to the top of the list.

The comparison with the cold war, though, is apt in that it gives the government a perpetual threat, enemy, and mainly a scapegoat.

The problem for this president is that the public is no longer buying it. Furthermore, I fail to see how this advances its sale.
You've described the Bush legacy perfectly. But what worries me is, will his administration be considered an aberration or a beginning?

If the next admin, republican or democrat, doesn't immediately repudiate the renditions, the signing statements, the eroded liberties, the spread of 'freedom' by force, etc, and instead is pressured into continuing these policies, this country is going to be in very deep trouble.
The next president will most certainly get elected on an opposition platform, which is why I think it will be a democrat unless they nominate Hillary, or unless a real maverick Republican gets the nod (read: not McCain).

The one good thing about a bad president is it makes everyone take at look at what it is they really want.
cartledge, there is a lot of anger around the blogs - anger at the administration, anger at the Congress, anger at the GOP, anger at the Democratic establishment, anger at the press.

I am particularly angry at the self-serving, self-aggrandizing press these days. I am watching CSPAN this morning and I just listened to two talking heads say the NY Times/Clintons story was great journalism(i.e., how many nights do they spend together? who's he schtupping?) It made me want to ask how may nights these two ladies spend w/ their significant others. Chcuk Todd from Hotline said he thought the story was ridiculous, noted that if you reported on how many nights other Senators spend w/ their wives/husbands, you'd find that the Clintons spend MORE time together than others, not less. But the point he made was this: the story was bullshit, but the Times was serving notice that this will be the type of journalism we are going to see if Hillary runs.

nyc, Good point about the perpetual threat. Ahh, Big Brother lives. Death to Eurasia!

abi, you're right that the next administration has to renounce the power extensions and/or Constitutional degradations pursued by this administration or we're heading down the road to 1984. Maybe if the administration continues to implode scandalwise, we'll get the Congress clipping the administration's wings a la Nixon.

praguetwin, with 29%-33% approval ratings, a discredited war, an economy that works only for the top 1%-5%, etc., there is no doubt that an anti-Bush candidate is going to win. If McCain runs on the Bush platform (I'm going to govern like Bush, only in a competent way) and embraces the Bush operation like he seems to be doing (i.e., hiring the Bush people, using the Bush money people), his opponent can defineitely tie him to the "Bush legacy" by pointing out how he used to be his own man until he sold out to Bush.
Bush should be ashamed for comparing himself to a liberal like Truman.
I agree with the hit-and-run Anonymous for once. I don't see what right Bush has to usurp the character of a great president.
Thanks for sharing, anonymous.
yeah....that one backfired on me (drat)!! Mutley, where are you when I need you the most???
anonymous, I have to say that was one of the funniest recoveries I have heard in a while. Nice Mutley reference.
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