Friday, January 16, 2009

Postscript to "Mr. Bush"

I hoped this topic could be set to rest, but after hearing hearing President Bush's farewell address last night I realize three more brief comments are in order.

1. The President argued that his policies prevented further terror attacks in the U.S. after 9/11/2001. This assertion is oft repeated by his die-hard supporters, but it is wrong. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

I've not been able to quickly locate it, but a year or two back (2006-7 I believe) Foreign Affairs carried an interesting article that rather persuasively argued that the size and effectiveness of al Qaeda had been greatly overestimated. Siimilarly, the claims by John Ashcroft and other Bush officials that al Qaeda had thousands of sleeper agents seem entirely wrong - a pure fabrication, I think, since no evidence has ever been given. Whether this originated in prudence, in paranoia, or in a willful attempt to instill fear in the citizenry to convince them to accept the suspension of habeus corpus and imposition of police state measures is unclear: it's likely a combination of all three. But the absence of further attacks is not proof of the success of Bush's policies. On the other hand, the growing instability in the Middle East and Central Asia is directly attributable to Bush's misbegotten policies.

2. My anger at Bush isn't simply a disagreement over policy. It's over the hubris, dishonesty, willful violation of the Constitution and of law, corruption, viciousness, irresponsibilty, lack of personal integrity, and most of all the disrespect of individual rights that characterizes George W. Bush and his administration. The examples of this are legion. And unfortunately, it goes beyond simply Bush and his crew, and has infected much of the Republican Party and conservative movement.

An unpleasant example is the Scholzman Scandal, just one of the DoJ politicized hiring scandals. The Bush administration, starting with George W. Bush, explicitly promoted the idea that anyone who disagreed with them is a an unpatriotic traitor - a vicious lie that is too often found in today's "conservative" "discourse."

3. But I fear I have gone overboard in my criticism by ignoring the constructive achievements of the Bush in his tenure in office, so credit where it is due. No one has done more to discredit neoconservative foreign policy and crony capitalism, and to weaken the Republican Party than George W. Bush. And for that, we here at UC thank him.

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Note: the inset chart illustrates Bush's legacy in terms of the federal budget. Taken from the recent "Deficits, Debts, and Looming Disaster" in the St. Louis Fed's "Regional Economist." Click on the chart for a clearer view.

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