Everybody has an opinion about President George Bush. Most liberals view him as rigid and intractable, incompetent, stupid, a poor communicator, dishonest, a cowboy, etc. I’ve also talked to many conservatives for whom he can do no wrong… a man of integrity, strength, confidence, unwilling to change course even in the face of public pressure, etc.
It’s all spin. Everybody sees and hears what they want to see and hear.
So, I’d like to voice my opinion on what’s really going on with President Bush, as I look back on the last 6 years … in light of the Democrats’ rise to power in the congress.
Is Bush incompetent or stupid?
No. Despite his poor speaking ability, which gives an impression of “simpleness” or “slowness”, George Bush is actually a fairly intelligent man. In a flat out race, I think Clinton’s IQ would top his. But if you listen to him when he’s no longer reading the teleprompter, it becomes obvious to me that he’s not the dunderhead some make him out to be. He’s also surrounded by very smart people … one of the most educated cabinets in a long time.
Is Bush dishonest?
No. Every intelligence agency in the world said there were WMD’s in Iraq. Clinton believed it too. Once and for all, he didn’t lie about that stuff. The wire taps, the secret prisons, the military tribunals, Guantanamo Bay … all legal, according to most legal experts. The Democrats love to say that Bush lied, deceived the nation, cheated, stole the election, broke the law six ways to Sunday, etc … and the media has latched onto these sensational notions. (I also believe they’re biased, but I’ll get to that at some point in the future.) But their accusations don’t necessarily make it true. I’m sure there’ll be hearings, and we can let the judges decide once-and-for-all whether or not wrongdoing was in play. In the meantime, I really don’t believe he broke the law. Certainly not intentionally. I think he was doing what he felt he needed to do to protect the nation.
Is Bush rigid and intractable?
No. It isn’t that Bush was unwilling to change the course in Iraq, it’s that he honestly doesn’t know what else to do. He’s got the “stay the course” face on, because he (and his advisers) believe that’s what’s best for the country, for our troops, for the Iraqi people, and for our enemies to hear. That doesn’t make him dumb or aloof or incompetent, it makes him lost in an excruciatingly difficult position. And you know what, it makes him like everyone else. VERY VERY VERY few people, almost NONE in the political arena, have voiced any kind of plan. I ask again, where is the genius democratic plan that gets us out of Iraq and fixes the woes of the Middle East? It’s not there – neither with them, nor with Bush.
And that brings us to what I believe his fatal flaw was…
Was he overconfident and naive?
Yes. Bush believed that if we coyboyed into Baghdad on a white horse (followed by tanks) that the Iraqi people would throw parades in our honor in the streets. They’d turn in their neighbors who had been working for Sadam. They’d erect statues in our honor. They’d gladly adopt our way of life. Uh … guess again. We should have known better. We should have realized that these peoples’ way of life is as deeply entrenched with them as ours is with us. Actually, probably deeper. A piece of paper (constitution) doesn’t make a people self-governing, moral, free, ruled by law, etc. It’s a foundational philosophy that makes that possible.
George Bush should have known that; shouldn’t have over-calculated, shouldn’t have reached beyond our ability to chew what we were biting off. That he didn’t know, that he did bite off more than he could chew (and took the rest of us with him), was his fatal flaw.
Lastly, a couple caveats…
He didn’t go it alone. Congress approved all kinds of things. Many conservatives and some liberals were with him. I too thought this would be a lot easier. I think almost everyone did. Why didn’t we listen to Colen Powell?
Secondly, now that we’re in this mess, almost nobody has been focused on fixing it. The democrats, the media, all kinds of people have hammered him for every little thinghe’s done. To watch CNN or MS NBC or read the NY Times, you’d think Bush was the devil – completely incapable of making the slightest correct decision. Democrats have apposed every single measure Bush has implemented to try to fight the war on terror. Name one they’ve supported! Basically, they haven’t helped much; just made sure to be there to call people names and remind us how screwed up the president is. The war in Iraq has sucked, no question. And there’s no question in my mind that Bush is responsible to a large degree. But we as a nation absolutely could have been more positive over the last few years along the way.
So I hope to God the Democrats, now that they’re in power, will stop blaming people and start having a plan. Let’s hope that doesn’t turn out to be their fatal flaw.
Technorati tags: bush
Anybody’s opinion of a political figure is obviously tainted by what they think of his positions and by the spin of the reports they get of the person. That being said, I’ll offer my opinions on Bush.
Stupid and/or incompetent?
The man truly is a terrible public speaker; that’s just not everyone’s gift. It does make him appear a bit slow, and that’s an easy stereotype to promote. Personally, I also think that he’s contributed to his portrayal as, not exactly stupid, but not particularly smart either. He has fostered a belief among the public that he’s just a regular guy, not one of them brilliant academic types that the average person might find intimidating (eg Clinton, Gore).
Yes, I believe he is. Perhaps he wasn’t deliberately lying about the WMD in Iraq. However, I believe there are several other issues on which he has hedged the truth and been dishonest if not outright lied. For example, he promised to fire whoever in his administration had leaked the identity of a CIA agent. Then when that individual’s identity was discovered, he didn’t have to follow through because the guy acted with his tacit permission, so it’s not really a leak. So, based on the semantics of what he said, it’s not actually a lie. But I do consider it dishonest. I believe most politicians engage in this sort of wordplay as part of the greater political game, so this isn’t a fault unique to Bush by any means.
Rigid and intracable?
I would argue that he is. I feel that he has opinions and sticks firmly to them, often ignoring conflicting viewpoints and even facts. I’m not saying I expect a president to change his position based on every piece of information presented to him. However, a president should be open to changing an opinion based on new or conflicting information. I feel that Bush has been remarkably resistant to doing this, particularly on economic and scientific issues where he can instead find someone who will tweak the numbers or data to support his desired position.
Overconfident and naive?
When it comes to Iraq, I’ll agree with you that these were probably his biggest faults. However, my problems with Bush (unlike many people who voted for democrats this week) aren’t all about Iraq. I think he’s made a lot of other poor decisions as a result of some of the other flaws discussed above.
I will say that I was opposed to the Iraq war from the beginning. As a pacifist, I hate to see any war start. Listening to the first reports from Afghanistan was heart-wrenching, but I believed that we did have a valid reason to need to do what we were doing. I just don’t see that motivation for going into Iraq, especially not when we did.
However, you’re right that it doesn’t really help anything now to dissect the mistakes of the past (other than to avoid repeating them, of course). I also fervently hope that the democrats will start putting their money where their mouths have been now that they have the chance to do so.
As a semantic point, I’d like to question what I perceive as an inconsistancy in your arguments. You point out that some democrats supported Bush’s plans for Iraq. Then you claim that democrats have not supported any of his policies with regards to the “war on terror”. Personally, I don’t agree that invading Iraq was necessary to fight terrorism, but I’m assuming that you (like most conservatives I’ve heard discuss it) are including Iraq as part of the “war on terror”. Anyway, I assume this is just hyperbole on your part to make your argument, but I wanted to point that out.
Re: an inconsistancy in my arguments…
You make an excellent point. Yes, I feel many democrats were supportive of the president immediately following 9/11 – in part because we were all on the same page being angry at those who attacked us and wanting to retaliate, but also in part because it would have been political suicide not to support him at that time.
As soon as the intense public anger over 9/11 had subsided and the political climate permitted it, the democrats got all over Bush’s approach to the war – again, in part because they genuinely felt he was wrong, and in part because they wanted to discredit him and the republican side of the aisle.
As you point out, both sides do this sort of thing. But I perceive an anger toward Bush that I’ve never seen before. The way Republicans reacted to Clinton was nowhere close, and I thought that was out of control – spent many hours arguing with fellow conservatives on taht topic back then.
The thing I find fault with the most with liberals re: the war on terror is that they have almost constantly said that Bush’s plan sucks, but have yet to produce a plan of their own as an alternative. But we’ve talked about that already.
I’ve very much looking forward to their alternative approach. I truly hope it gets us out of this mess in a way that doesn’t make things worse in the long run.
It looks like this conversation is pretty much over, but one thing about Iraq that I think infuriates many people. Looking at previous wars we have been in..WWII, regardless of the reason we entered, we know that Germany invaded France…so we were justified. Veitnam, we know the north were communists and were invading the south, which is why we entered. Bosnia, we know that the Serbs were trying to eradicate the other ethnic minorities..so we entered with NATO. The first Iraq war, Iraq invaded Kuwait, so we entered. But this war is one of the first wars in recent memory that we entered unilaterally with no obvious and provable reason. If we had entered because Saddam invaded another country or was trying to commit genocide on the Kurds(which we know he was) there probably would have been more democratic and global support for the war. But the reason the President gave was WMD and implied connections to Al Queda. So we entered on two reasons that were incorrect and not on the reasons that we could prove and most people would have supported. Again, I beleive if we gave these reasons we would have had more of a coalition and possibly UN/NATO support that would have helped us try to stabilize and rebuild the country.
I can’t disagree, but I will say that ALL the intelligence agencies in the west agreed with the President about the threat of WMD, so it wasn’t *that* unilateral. And of course we know that votes against a coalition from the UN came from Russia, France and Germany because they were on the take from Saddam. Lastly, Saddam had murdered hundreds of thousands of his own poeple – far worse than what’s going on in Darfur today – and people are screaming that we should “take the lead” there. What’s the difference?
I just think that the President should have said ‘We think there are WMD’, not ‘They have WMD’ and ‘This could be a long term commitment of several years and several hundred thousand troops, we hope that it will only be a year and have low casualties’. Also, I beleive that we should have gotten more NATO and UN involvement. I believe the way many Americans who are against the war (not against the military…I beleive very few are against the military and simply prostesting the war does not mean you are anti-military…I do completely disagree with Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy’s attempts to hobble the military), are against the war because we were told or it was implied by the President that, they HAD weapons of mass destruction, we had a strong coalition, they were directly involved in 9/11 and it would be a cake walk short commitment with minimal loss. Basically, none of this was true. We knew North Korea had WMD and better intellegence that Iran was persuing WMD. If that was the main issue, why not invade either of those countries. If 9/11 was the reason, why not focus on Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Then he and the Repulicans tried to stifle debate with the whole stay the course or you are a ‘cut and run liberal that doens’t support the military’. All I beleive this did was push the debate until after the Nov. election, during which time, hundreds or thousands of US troops and thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens died. If it was a case where he said, tax cuts will help the lower and middle class (trickle down economics) and ended up being wrong, I feel that is more easily forigivable than the loss of life. Granted, given the imformation at the time, it may have been justifiable to go to war, but the reasons he gave to really push the war were wrong and I believe he knew it. He took advantage of the outrage after 9/11 and directed it to his own agenda. And I do not think we should be in Darfur, there is a civil war going on, I think we should try to help mediate and offer aid.