With the end of the Bush Presidency come the end of term assessments, and who better to provide a critique of the Bush administration than the folks from the bias free zone at the Powerline? Let’s get right to it:
Bush took office just as a recession was beginning, a recession that could have been made much worse by the September 11 attacks and the subsequent stock market collapse and business contraction. Instead, Bush’s tax cuts gave needed relief to taxpayers and fueled an expansion that lasted almost throughout his terms in office. This is one of several instances where Bush, despite a number of small errors, got the biggest things right.
With his usual ill luck, Bush saw the Fannie/Freddy/house price bubble burst at the tail end of his administration, with the results that we have all seen over the last few months. But Bush deserves little if any blame for the collapse, just as Bill Clinton deserves little if any blame for the stock price bubble, and inevitable collapse, that scarred the last year of his administration. Bush tried to rein in Fannie and Freddy but was blocked by Congressional Democrats. One can argue that, notwithstanding those efforts, he failed to foresee the full impact of the financial tsunami that has now exploded. But so did pretty much everyone else. Except insofar as we view the President as a good luck charm, it makes no sense to blame Bush for those events.
So for the folks at the Powerline, it makes no sense to blame Bush for the addition to the national debt of trillions, trillion dollar deficits, the worst unemployment in decades, and a whole host of other things. It just happened. Mistakes were made. In fact, if you read what he has said again, it makes no sense to blame Bush for the bad things, but he deserves full credit for getting the “big things” right. You just know the foreign policy portion is going to be rich:
In foreign policy, the terrorist attacks dominated, perhaps too much. Few would have predicted on September 12, 2001, that there would be no more successful attacks on American soil or even against American interests abroad, yet that is what happened. As we noted here, President Bush’s strong anti-terrorist policies stopped a long string of successful terrorist attacks that stretched back to the late 1970s. His record in this respect is truly extraordinary, and he deserves an enormous amount of credit for it.
It is too soon to say that President Bush destroyed al Qaeda to the extent that it will not threaten us in the future, but that may well prove to be the case. If so, succeeding Presidents will garner the credit that was sadly denied Bush.
Got it? According to the Powerline, our foreign policy has been so successful under Bush that the main problem is that FUTURE Presidents may unfairly get credit. Delusional does not begin to describe these guys, and this is something to keep in mind the next couple of months when they are screaming that Al Franken is trying to steal an election.
Bush is not, however, without his failings, and even the Powerline concedes that he has some. His biggest flaw? Being too nice to Democrats:
Bush’s great failing was that his focus was almost exclusively on policy, and he was unwilling to pay adequate attention to politics. This failing manifested itself repeatedly throughout his term in office. With hindsight, the beginning of the end for Bush was his unwillingness to defend himself when he was attacked for the “sixteen words” in his State of the Union address–words that were indisputably true. The same thing happened after Hurricane Katrina, the event that got his second term off on the wrong foot. In truth, the federal response to Katrina was both the largest and the fastest response to any natural disaster in world history. Yet Bush was never willing to stand up to his critics and make the case in his own defense.
That tendency to turn the other cheek was, in the end, fatal. Bush never cared much about politics. He was almost contemptuous of political leadership, willing to engage in politics on a sustained basis only in his two successful election campaigns. But he was a politician, and the job of a politician, as President, is to use political skills to lead the American people. Bush’s unwillingness or inability to do what it would take to be an effective political leader, in the end undid his administration.
No one can seriously question President Bush’s character. He did, at all times, what he thought was right for his country. For that he deserves our undying respect. But his political failures, his myopia on some issues and the fact that he was not much of a conservative seriously marred his administration.
Everything considered, I give the Bush administration a B-.
A B minus? That’s lower than Hewitt’s "solid B+" he awarded Harriet Miers. I wonder what you have to do on the wingnut curve to get a C.
Doesn’t the last line say it all? If a Bush suck-up gives him a B-, where does that leave the rest of the planet?
How about D-. How about miserable failure!
John, Powerline used to drool over Bush’s every movement. For them it give Bush a B- is like me giving him failing grade.
The blame Freddy/Fannie crap for our recession just shows their ignorance.
here’s all you need to know about PowerLine: 3%. they can’t even get conservatives to listen to them.
It’s like rating video games: 7.5!
>>No one can seriously question President Bush’s character.
That’s true. I don’t question the fact he’s a sociopath.
I saw somewhere the other day where the break down on Bush’s approval numbers go something like this
To me that shows a fundamental break from reality. And the truth is I don’t think all of those Republicans polled really approve of Bush, but they have been conditioned to say they love any and every Republican when asked. Unfortunately what they don’t see is that criticizing a President when called for actually makes you look stronger, not weaker. But saying you approve of a man that most objective observers would assess as an abject failure on almost every serious subject pretty much puts you in tin foil territory.
But its really the middle number that will continue to be problematic for the GOP. When the difference between their view of Bush and people in the middle’s view of Bush is almost a 50 point difference that should tell them that something is wrong. But the GOP is now the party of no self awareness.
By continuing to deny his faults and failures and repeatedly attempting to sell the American people a shit sandwhich and call it a reuben where it comes to Bush, the wingers are further delegitimizing their own cause. I say more power to them. Keep trying to polish a turd and see what that gets ya 4 years from now.
One wonders how people can be so detached from, and dismissive of, reality and still function in the world.
Gah. Too early for bad fiction. All that’s missing is an image of W mounting his white charger and riding into the sunset.
That’s the part that really gets me. It’s the exact opposite of the truth. Anyone remember the Mayberry Machiavellis comment?
It seems like these hagiographies from greater wingnuttia have three main parts.
First is that things happened, but they weren’t Bush’s fault.
Second, Bush tried really hard, but nobody appreciates this.
Third, Bush has a extraordinarily super duper character.
In the last 36 hours I have had the blind luck to read 3 separate things I would recommend everyone read in light of how the right is acting now. The first is The Paranoid Style in American Politics by historian Richard J. Hofstadter which although it is from 1964 is amazing in how it describes what you are seeing from the right in 2009, the second is something The Nation has reprinted, which is its editorial from when FDR became president. Its description of the Republicans could be easily mistaken for todays Republicans. The last is The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule by Thomas Frank, particularly the 2nd, 3rd and 4th chapters (that is all the farther I am) which discusses conservatism and Republicanism in the time of FDR and now, and it is breathtaking to realize that at its core it is an almost nihilist movement made up of crazies and has been for a very long time.
it’s never Bush’s fault
it’s never Bush’s fault
no matter what happens
it’s never Bush’s fault
been singing that one for 7 years, at least
Gee, the attacks on American soldiers who were callously put into harm’s way by this war criminal don’t count?
The stupidity, it burns!
Anthrax, anthrax, anthrax!
I give Powerline an F for once again, getting the simplest facts wrong.
When Bill Clinton took office, the DJIA was at about $3500. When he left office, it was about $10K. Bush is leaving office with the Dow at $8200. Now THAT is what I call a success story.
The buck stops. . . over there, I suppose. Certainly not here!
You know what really pisses me off to no end? Go back and watch the Bush/Gore debates – go on – and look for the moment when Gore crosses the stage to Bush and directly challenges him on some bill that’s in Congress. Gore looked like an asshole doing it. I really like Gore and I have to admit that he came off looking smug there. But watch the video and listen carefully to the name of the bill Gore is asking about. It’s the fucking Gramm Leach act that deregulated the financial system and opened the loophole for the completely unregulated credit default swaps.
But oh, he looked so smug when he asked about it, like he was saying that what was really important about being president was knowing what legislation was being passed and what its implications were and he was just showing up Bush for not knowing anything about any of it. Well the American people sure saw through that, didn’t they!
K, I’m going to go brush my teeth now, try to get rid of the taste of the bile that rises every time I think about that…
"Everything considered, I give the Bush administration a B-."
Grade inflation for C+ Augustus.
Fourth, Bush just has such rotten luck! He always has, he’s never had a lucky break go his way!
@Comrade javafascist: Thanks, I was going to post that. Anthrax has gone down the memory hole in some quarters.
The wingnuts like Hewitt, Hinderaker, Powerline and the 22% to 27% who approve of Bush are so utterly delusional that they should seek psychiatric help immediately.
There must be some sort of psychotropic medication to help them escape the fantasy world in which they live.
Few would have predicted on September 12, 2001, that there would be no more successful attacks on American soil or even against American interests abroad, yet that is what happened.
Even fewer would have predicted that under President Bush the State Department would stop publishing statistics on serious terrorist incidents in 2004, on seeing that the number had tripled since 2003. Yet that is what happened. In hindsight, both of these observations should have been entirely foreseeable.
What did we expect them to say? "Worst president evah?"
Dog bites man.
Has the whole "Fanny/Freddy caused it" really been internalized by conservatives? I mean, really? Do they actually believe that crap? I really wish the media didn’t suck so bad so they could have put an end to that line of thought.
follow-up to Comrede Java,
London, Madrid, Mumbai.
We can go on and on. The wingnuts only see what happens in their own little world. the rest is populated by nonentities. Bush was asleep-at-the-wheel on 9-11 and the Iraq invasion was a recruitment poster for Muslem radicals.
It’s two hours and nine minutes until this fool leaves the stage. A stage he had to steal.
Golden Oldie from Billmon
Goodbye and good riddance Sonny.
As far as Powerline and their ilk, the blatant lies and rank stupidity used to annoy me until I realized they are the driving forces turning modern so-called conservatism into the joke we see today. Digby is absolutely right; upsetting the left is all they have left.
All political commentary boils down to whose ox is being gored. That’s it. Of course, if a person maintains a consistent position on things regardless of who is in power, criticizing with equal vehemence the same things he criticizes in political enemies, he gets to hear: "Consistency is the hobgoblin…"
The people at Powerline were sycophants to a naked emperor. They’ll be replaced by other courtiers as soon as the new one starts losing his clothes.
There’s no substitute for conscience.
Mike in NC
This is no day to mince words: Dubya was a fucking Jonah. America finally got to cast him over the side. Nothing good happened on his watch. Everything he got his greasy fingers into ended badly. Future historians will write his "accomplishments" on the head of a pin.
Ha. Some knob on CBS is saying that India loves George Bush. I’ll bet they do, for all the American jobs he helped ship over there.
Sorry, Jeff Gannon has other priorities.
But seriously, John. You’re getting all irritated with the Democrats and feeling kinda weird and all — but just re-read this post whenever you get pissed off at something happening on the Left. Those people still hanging out on the Right are completely bonkers. Amoral (at best) little shits, too.
joe from Lowell
How can he give Bush credit for the economic growth in the post-2001-recession period, and then complain about the housing bubble?
Oh, right: he’s a partisan hack who lives in a cloud of delusion to avoid having to admit that he’s an idiot. I forgot.
joe from Lowell
Has the whole "Fanny/Freddy caused it" really been internalized by conservatives? I mean, really? Do they actually believe that crap?
Yes, libertarians, too. I’ve seem people write "The claim that this was caused by deregulation is so obviously false that the people who make it must be lying."
These people aren’t like you and me.
Bush never replaced the 1800 FBI agents transferred out of the white collar crime division, he cut the staff at ASC, which oversees real estate appraisers. But the fact that he could not catch any of the mortgage fraud crooks that Mueller warned him about in effing 2004. Not his fault.
If you still think the mortgage bubble had anything to do with Fannie and Freddie, then someone how missed this little gem from an appraiser at indymac.
Yes. Forcing banks to lend to minorities caused the recession is now the official conventional wisdom of the GOP.
Yes, libertarians, too.
Only the hard core, borderline anarchist ones.
Most of my more reasonable friends recognize that allowing private companies to grade investments from other companies from which they derive their income is a bit of a conflict of interest.
As to the entire piece, it’s not much of a surprise, and to be honest, it’s really hard for me to maintain my outrage at the sheer stupidity, strawman arguments, and outright fallacies of the wingnuts.
Suffice to say, saying that Bush kept America safe is an example of short-sighted delirium.
For one, keeping people from killing us is the lowest bar for any government. "I stopped people from killing Americans, except for those overseas or in the military, after they killed over three thousand people" isn’t exactly a ringing success story.
Two, they have no idea what the latest round of blowback will be from America’s adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq and our continued unconditional blind support for Israel will be. It was years before OBL and his ilk struck after their initial perceived cause took place. I wonder how many more teens and young men have been radicalized to hate America thanks to our war president’s actions and will be willing to die to share a little of their pain with America in the next decade or two.
Third, by undermining our economy and running up unfettered government debt, Bush has tied the hands of future presidents and the military to act when other threats arise.
Of course, when the shit hits the fan, if a Democrat is in office, it’ll all be his fault. If a Republican is our current monarch, it’ll be Obama’s fault somehow.
Fuck ‘em. If on the Wingnuttian Curve of Excellence a retarded asswipe not worth the air he uses up and his admin get a B-, I’d really hate to see what would get a D. Nuking Iceland as a show of strength to Iran? Releasing bugs from the CDC as a way to stimulate the economy through pharmaceutical company growth?
Of course on the Wingnuttian Curve no R-prez could ever get an F. That grade is reserved for every Democratic president. They see the big picture.
"I wonder what you have to do on the wingnut curve to get a C"
But seriously, I can’t believe they gave a B- for being too Jesus-like. Had he flown the Hindenburg they would have said he showed TOO MUCH concern with helium.
Shawn in ShowMe
Now for an honest farewell to the Bush Administration:
With bold-faced lies like this, I think that is their intention. Shock everyone into silence so they can rewrite history. Those who aligned themselves with GWB and Cheney are now engaged in trying to explain why they followed them. They have no choice about this; defend Bush and in doing so they are defending their support of him, or call him a failure and in doing so admit that they were abject failures in following him. He was a ripping success, and that means they were too! Convenient!
What would you do if your income and reputation depends on your being right all of the time and you have no scruples or morals? Lie your ass off, just like they are. Well, as long as I am alive I am going to remind these asshats that while Bush was an epic failure, they were even more so in that they willingly tongue-bathed Bush’s sphincter for eight years without coming up for air.
I will gleefully point that out for the rest of my life, every single damn chance I get to do so.
Quaker in a Basement
Quick & precipitous descent in Godwin territory here: I pretty sure that Adolph Hitler (not to mention a whole host of other morally reprehensible leaders) did "what he thought was right for his country." As if any national leader wouldn’t?
Unfortunately, this ignorant wellmeaningness does not translate into "undying respect", at least for this cowboy. I suppose the mileage of others may vary…
Time for the Stormtroopers to round up Powerline.
Comrade Baron Elmo
Conservatives control makes for incompetent, corrupt and utterly useless government. That’s not an inherent flaw of conservatism, though… it’s a feature. Thomas Frank’s case against right-wing philosophy is so airtight that it will bring tears (of rage) to your eyes.
Everyone in America needs to read this book, whether they hail from the right or left. It’s dynamite, rendered into printed text.
Future Presidents will get the Credit for… Cleaning up Bush’s Foreign Policy F$%KUPS!!! So in a way they are right
‘Scuse me. That last was supposed to be headed off with:
NoScript with Firefox may head off some threats, but it can also keep you from seeing all your options. I’m not sure it’s worth it.
When Katrina happened I was so shocked at the response of FEMA that I ended up doing a ton of research. I came across am official U.S. DOT report on the Northridge Earthquake. It turns out that FEMA started responding 15 minutes after the earthquake hit. The earthquake hit at 4:30 and the FEMA center was activated at 4:45.
Steve, I didn’t see your posts before I posted. FEMA was on the job in Northridge long before the governor ever called a state of emergency. I think we can all remember how they blasted the LA governor for not calling a state of emergency, which of course was just another lie, she did. But the old FEMA didn’t wait, they just got to work. It infuriates me to see the Katrina history being rewritten.
BTW I saw and article the other day that said they had asked James Lee Witt to come back to FEMA and he turned them down. I guess he’s making too much money as a consultant. It’s really too bad, he was good.