Saul Landau received this report from a janitor at The Heritage Foundation:
“I’m absolutely positive history will be kind to this president, who made the right decisions in a difficult time for this nation.” -Karl Rove, 5/7/08
George W. Bush received warnings before 9/11 from foreign intelligence sources and his hyperactive national security official Richard Clarke even wrote a memo to National Security Adviser Condi Rice about bad Muslims planning to stage a terrorist attack. Like Harry Truman from Missouri, Bush’s motto was also “show me.” That’s truly American.
After Bin Laden’s gang struck, Bush made two wise decisions. On October 4, 2001, he told the public to go shopping and take their families to Disneyworld instead of discussing the terrible event. Bush would “counter the shockwave of the evildoer” by offering more tax cuts and rebates. Bush followed his gut not the supposed “intelligence.” Like all great Presidents, he went to war with Afghanistan and then Iraq.
5,000 plus dead GIs and tens of thousands wounded and hundreds of thousands with post traumatic stress disorders: that’s nothing compared to the potential damage of terrorist attacks on major US cities. The dead, wounded and displaced Iraqis all paid the price for freedom. US taxpayers have shelled out $1 trillion or more for Bush’s wars, peanuts if you think how it afforded us possible security.
Bush leveled with the public. He thought Iraq possessed large quantities of anthrax and other poisons along with missiles to deliver the chemical and biological weapons. He believed Saddam Hussein had connections to Al-Qaeda and was planning to buy uranium from Niger to make nuclear weapons program. Later, when he discovered the exaggeration of his claims, Bush had the aplomb to joke at a press correspondents’ dinner about not finding the weapons of mass destruction.
This kind of self-confidence helps Presidents set difficult spending priorities. For example, Bush took $70 plus billion out of the Army Corps of Engineers budget for repair and maintenance of levee systems in Louisiana and invested it in Iraq. That meant putting national security before the needs of a few thousand insignificant people (no racial intentions) in New Orleans. Some bleeding hearts still berate Bush for sitting around his ranch and playing video golf while Hurricane Katrina destroyed lives and property in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast centers; or they fault him for his absence of leadership in the rebuilding effort there. What good would Bush’s presence have done in New Orleans? Why expect a president to stand up to the mighty force of Nature’s hurricanes and then assume responsibility for people losing their lives? That’s what’s wrong with liberals: they don’t understand that the Katrina victims have to assume responsibility for their own lives and future, the ones who survived anyhow. And President’s need time for relaxation!
Another typical assault on the good President relates to his apparent penchant for helping the rich. Why did Ronald Reagan get praised for his trickle-down economics and poor W get blamed? What’s wrong with helping the rich get richer?
Sentimentalists complain that “the middle class” (a euphemism for all who aren’t rich) must confront rising prices, get tossed out of their houses and suffer daily fear about impending job loss and the parade of horrors that follows the notorious pink slip. As if the President could do anything about this!
The Democrats fault Bush for favoring the insurance companies and giant pharmaceutical corporations rather than forcing socialism down the throats of the public. He explained on several occasions that hospital emergency rooms continue to take people in need of care. My God, the pinkos act as if we’re a nation of wusses instead of a strong, proud people capable of bearing a little pain from time to time.
One of the most pitiful complaints relates to the breakthrough G.W.B made in reforming our broken educational system. He made “No Child Left Behind” into a national slogan. And Congress didn’t adequately fund it and the partisans blamed the White House. W deserves credit. “Rarely is the question asked,” he told a Florence, South Carolina audience, “Is our children learning?” (January 11, 2000). Four years later, he followed up on that insight. On January 23, 2004 he said, “The illiteracy level of our children are appalling.”
He was right, as he was on the environment. On June 8, 2005, he informed the heads of the G8 countries: “See, there’s a lot of things we’re doing in America, and I believe that not only can we solve a greenhouse gas, I believe we will… I look forward to sharing that which we know here in America with not only the G8 members, but equally importantly, with developing countries.”
Almost a year later, on May 22, 2006, he addressed “the environmental debate.” He said: “My answer to the energy question also is an answer to how you deal with, you know, the greenhouse gas issue. And that is new technologies will change how we live and how we drive our cars, which all will have the beneficial effect of improving the environment.” It’s not the syntax, but the sentiment that counts. He continued: “And in my judgment, we need to set aside whether or not greenhouse gases have been caused by mankind or because of natural effects, and focus on the technologies that will enable us to live better lives and, at the same time, protect the environment.”
Could anyone have said it with greater clarity? Yet his detractors accuse him of ignoring science and impeding the protection of the air, water and soil. Socialistically inclined elements even imply that Bush obstructed environmental protection to allow his oil company buddies to make more money. When W found out that Ken Lay, CEO of ENRON, might have overstepped the windy side of the law, he refused to call him Kenny Boy any more, just to show he had lost affection.
Most important, Bush left a democracy legacy in the Middle East. Iraqis may suffer the suicide bombings, epidemics, corruption, and religious and ethnic squabbles, but they have freedom. Iraqis may not have adequate drinking water, or proper sewage systems – shock and awe did their job –but freedom doesn’t come cheap. Sure, Iraqis experience high levels of unemployment and several million have fled the country. During our revolution 100,000 Tory supporters fled to Canada. And we only had some 3 million people at the time.
Loyalty is the Bush family’s key virtue. Loyal supporters got rewarded with high offices in the Justice Department, for example. Bush didn’t care if they were competent. Loyalty for Bush trumped even the sacred cause of democracy. To reward our loyal ally, Israel, Bush pushed free and fair elections in Gaza in 2006. He didn’t think the terrorists, Hamas, would win against the well-behaved, albeit corrupt and thuggish Fatah. W logically blamed Hamas for the 600 plus deaths they’ve thus far suffered from our brave Israeli allies’ rocket and missile attacks. Indeed, these terrorists have the nerve to actually live in the same places as their wives and children.
Bush, a typical and rightfully stubborn American, defied world opinion by invading Iraq. He didn’t flinch when the costs rose over a trillion dollars by asking if we could really afford to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq while simultaneously offering the best of our citizens – after all, God allowed them to accumulate wealth — a substantial tax break.
ACLU types derided Bush for letting NSA spy on citizens and condoning torture at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Should he have coddled terrorists and ignored security threats? Not George W. Bush!
Some have already compared W with great Presidents like Millard Fillmore and James Buchanan. Time will tell whether W equaled or surpassed their performances. Fillmore presided over the Compromise of 1850, which included the Fugitive Slave Act, requiring the federal government to help return runaway slaves. Support for the Compromise cost him the Whig Party nomination for the presidency, but in 1856 he courageously ran again on the Know-Nothing Party platform, featuring mainly anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant planks.
James Buchanan, a northern Democrat who sympathized with the South, beat him. Southern states began declaring secession in those pre Civil War years. Buchanan, also a decider, declared secession illegal. He also opposed using force to stop it. He won great praise from the national association of handwringers.
George W. Bush will get no such award. He declared “Mission Accomplished” soon after his war mission had begun. His verbally premature ejaculation will win him eternal kudos for chutzpah. Mexicans in Texas refer to people with that trait as “huevones.” Sounds like a compliment!
SAUL LANDAU received the Bernardo O’Higgins award from the Republic of Chile for his work on human rights. His latest book is A Bush and Botox World (AK/CounterPunch Press).