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Post-Inaugural Thoughts
Posted by: Dale Franks on Thursday, January 22, 2009

Now that the Inaugural hubbub has died down, we can take a brief look ahead...and behind.

George W. Bush is an odd guy. Not odd in a mental sense, but an odd person for a president. He was publicly inarticulate. No matter how good the material of which his speeches might have been composed, he didn't have the skill to deliver them properly. the best he could must was a workmanlike recitation. We expect presidents to be moderately good public speakers, and W never really rose to meet that expectation.

In fact, he always seemed uncomfortable in publicly articulating what he believed, or in explaining what he was trying to do, and that is mainly what gives the impression, in the immediate time frame, of having been a failure as president.

Being inarticulate isn't necessarily a crippling fault, unless the awareness of it prevents the president from making the arguments he needs to make. Perhaps that is why he so often simplyleft the field when it became necessary to muster the appropriate arguments for his policies. Twice, he tried to call Congress' attention to the sub-prime mortgage situation. He tried to embark on a reform of Social Security. In both instances—and despite the obvious necessity for action—he retreated almost as soon as opposition arose. He did not use the bully pulpit of the presidency, as Bill Clinton did, to go directly to the American people. He simply left the field. Once has to wonder if a more articulate and confident president might have made these things an issue Congress couldn't ignore, through public pressure.

But he abandoned those two domestic issues, leaving us now in a situation where our obligations to the national debt, social security, and medicare, are now larger than the household worth of the entire country.

His other major fault was his inability to recognize who could, and who could not, be trusted to execute the tasks they were given. Once he had decided on a point man for an issue—such as Paul Bremer as the American viceroy in Iraq—he stuck by that decision even amid mounting evidence of failure.

He simply wasn't that good of a judge of people. He famously looked into Vladimir Putin's heart, and inexplicably failed to see the totalitarian darkness there that seemed so obvious to most other observers.

That flaw nearly led to disaster in Iraq.

On the plus side, he never wavered in his determination to see the Iraq mess through to something approaching victory. He never wavered. And, in the end—far later than he should have, of course—changed the course to a strategy that turned the fiasco around.

Whatever we may think of him now, I suspect that in 20 years or so, we will see a reversal of opinion on his presidency similar to what happened with Harry Truman. In 1952 Truman was widely regarded as an inept bumbler. Very few think of him that way today.

Truman got one big thing right: the containment of Communism. It may be that in two decades or so, we will remember George W. Bush for getting one big thing right in the aftermath of 9/11, which was to take the War on Terror to the Mideast, instead of trying to fight it here, or fighting it as some sort of large-scale law enforcement operation.

Now, we look ahead to a" new era of hope and change". let us not downplay the historical significance of this election. In the lifetimes of many now living, we have gone from seeing water cannon and German Shepherds turned on black people for peacefully demanding their rights as Americans, to a African-American man being elected President of the United States. I know of no other nation in the world that would embrace that sort of fundamental cultural change in a lifetime. How long, one wonders, will it be before a Franco-African man is elected president of France? Or a Turko-German being elected as Budeskanzler?

I suspect that Mr. Obama will, as have most presidents before him, come to realize that there are limits to the power of the presidency. How he will react to those limits will be most instructive. I suspect he will learn that Congress, not the President, wields the real power in domestic policy, and it remains to be seen if he will act as a rubber stamp for his party's Congressional majority, or if he will, as the nation's sole nationally elected official of any note, will moderate their tendencies.

Where the president's power is most unrestrained is in foreign policy and military affairs. And he seems to have moderated many of the views he expressed during the campaign, now that he has begun receiving the daily national security briefings that the president receives.

I suspect he will do much—or will at least try—with which I will disagree. I will oppose those things.

But in the main, in terms of providing for the security of the country, and in overseeing our nation's relationships with others, I hope he is successful. He is my president now, and his successes are the nation's successes, and, by extension, mine.

My overriding feeling for the man now is sympathy. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to be president at this particular point in history. I wish him good luck, even as I reserve the right to oppose him on a number of policies.
 
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I looking forward to seeing just how long it takes for Obama to realize that all those "wise" folks in other parts of the worlds, that we are, for some odd reason, supposed to get to love us, never will love us.
Obama will come to understand what so many other POTUSs before him learned (usually before they became POTUS) .. it’s better that they respect you than love you.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
This morning it is reported President Obama will sign new executive orders that will, among other tasks shut down the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay by January 22, 2010; shut down the CIA detention centers around the world; and require all US interrogators to adhere to rules in the Army Field Manual. We are now reestablishing criminal law methods to our war against terrorism.

The army field manual rules are little beyond police methods seen on Law and Order; well maybe less so since you can’t push around terrorists per the field manual. According to the manual, interrogators are encouraged to develop a rapport with a prisoner and the manual allows the interrogator to exploit the fears of a prisoner, but stop short of threatening him or her. Other acceptable techniques include taking advantage of a prisoner’s strong feelings about an issue, showing false solidarity or attacking a prisoner’s pride. Yea, that will work, I’m sure. Such fools. What will the Obama Administration’s excuse be if we are attacked; Bush caused it?

Keeping the harsh methods in the CIA and authorization of harsh treatment - waterboarding which was revolved in 2006 - under the control of the President or Director of National Intelligence, who reports directly to the President, would keep some control over overzealous operatives but give us intelligence we may need to prevent another homeland attack. Hey, I believe in equal rights and opportunity, so if waterboarding is proper for training US forces, it should be good enough for terrorists.
 
Written By: amr
URL: http://americanconservativeparty.org
Not even week 1, and he’s already playing Russian roulette with our security.

Good luck to him indeed.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I suspect that Mr. Obama will, as have most presidents before him, come to realize that there are limits to the power of the presidency.
Even more so. As Radley Balko explains...
Credit where it’s due: Well done, Mr. Obama. I’m sure we’ll have our differences, but afer your first 40+ hours on the job, this libertarian couldn’t be happier.
...
Yes, there’s going to be many policy areas, foreign and domestic, where one describing oneself as a libertarian will disagree. Bus so far, there seems to be a silver lining forming.

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
His other major fault was his inability to recognize who could, and who could not, be trusted to execute the tasks they were given. Once he had decided on a point man for an issue—such as Paul Bremer as the American viceroy in Iraq—he stuck by that decision even amid mounting evidence of failure.
I pretty much agree with your assesment of Bush. However, there is a degree of judgment in when you decide to loose faith in a subordiante, and I think the general default tends too much towards too soon—to loose faith in someone for things out of his control.

Bush tended towards retaining faith too long, for example with Gen. Sanchez in Iraq. But I’m inclined to view this as a minor fault, although one with potential for bad results.
He simply wasn’t that good of a judge of people. He famously looked into Vladimir Putin’s heart, and inexplicably failed to see the totalitarian darkness there that seemed so obvious to most other observers.
Perhaps. But to come out and say "I looked into his heart and saw Vlad the Impaler" wouldn’t exactly have been a smooth move for the President.

One could view the Putin thing as a Bush failure, but perhaps he was trying to push Putin in the right direction. Positive reinforcment. Well, I doubt that this is the case, but we really don’t know.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Yes, there’s going to be many policy areas, foreign and domestic, where one describing oneself as a libertarian will disagree. Bus so far, there seems to be a silver lining forming.
Silver lining indeed, but a very, very thin one . . .

And a serious potential for huge, longterm socialist experiments.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Once has to wonder if a more articulate and confident president might have made these things an issue Congress couldn’t ignore, through public pressure.
Gotta disagree on two points. Bush is not inarticulate. I’ve never once questioned his meaning. His style and elocution, yeah, not Obama-esque. But unlike with, say, Biden or Bill Clinton, I’ve never had to wonder what in the hell Bush’s point was.**

And as for the quote above, you’re not including that Bush also spent a lot of energy successfully pushing through tax cuts, the Surge and unfortunately a bunch of stuff (like Medicare drug bill, Bailout) I disagree with. To point out a few failures and then link it directly to inarticulateness, without mentioning media distortion, is kind of stretching it.

**Not accusing D. Franks of this, but I’ve always got a kick out of Bush haters who simultaneously denounce Bush for being inarticulate, while at the same time accuse his of using ’harsh, unequivocal’ language (Mission Accomplished, With Us or Against Us etc.)
 
Written By: Come on, Please
URL: http://
**Not accusing D. Franks of this, but I’ve always got a kick out of Bush haters who simultaneously denounce Bush for being inarticulate, while at the same time accuse his of using ’harsh, unequivocal’ language (Mission Accomplished, With Us or Against Us etc.)
I always liked how to the far-left loonies he was simultaneously an ignoramus and the evil genius behind 9/11.
 
Written By: Ronnie Gipper
URL: http://socalconservative.blogspot.com
Gotta disagree on two points. Bush is not inarticulate. I’ve never once questioned his meaning. His style and elocution, yeah, not Obama-esque. But unlike with, say, Biden or Bill Clinton, I’ve never had to wonder what in the hell Bush’s point was.**
Well, his style sure doesn’t help. It isn’t that he isn’t clear. But he sure doesn’t have the hip personality of Obama or Clinton, who often are not as clear as Bush, but what they say they say so well . . .

And you need to add in the media. For example, no one in the media poked at Obama’s most difficult non-decision decision: his decision to not support the Iraq War, back when he was in the state senate (and no doubt making decisions of great consequence about the war). A Republican would have been torn apart for such a stupid claim . . .
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://

 
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