Meta-Blog

SEARCH QandO

Email:
Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock
MichaelW

BLOGROLL QandO

 
 
Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
 
 
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News
Politics
Business
Science
Technology
Health
Entertainment
Sports
Opinion/Editorial

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict

Blogging

Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links

Regional

Regional News

Publications

News Publications

 
What to do About George?
Posted by: Dale Franks on Wednesday, April 12, 2006

If I was asked what President George W. Bush reminds me most of, I would have to say, even though I know many of you won't like it, "Ronald Reagan".

See? Now you're getting all upset. But it's true. Bear with me. What I mean is that Mr. Bush's leadership and governance style is startlingly like Ronald Reagan's.

Ronald Reagan didn't really give a fig about the government he ran. I mean, he simply wasn't interested in learning about the US Government, and the details about how it worked. As Dinesh D'Souza points out in his excellent book, Ronald Reagan, Mr. Reagan knew that to become enmeshed in the wonky details of governance was to risk becoming a captive of it, much in the same way his detail-oriented predecessor had been. He saw his job as providing a moral vision and articulating it, and leaving it to his subordinates to carry out the task. And he also remained aloof from the way those subordinates carried out their duties, as long as they stayed within his vision. Those that did not, even those who, like Alexander Haig, thought they were indispensable, found out suddenly that they were quite dispensable, indeed.

I don't think that George W. Bush would be an interesting, or particularly likeable, person to spend an evening with.Mr. Reagan was also prone to misstatements. So much so, that Lou Cannon made a regular "Reaganisms" feature a staple of his writing. He would blithely drop a comment about Cadillac-driving "welfare queens" that would leave his aides wailing and gnashing their teeth, then walk off with a cheery smile.

Additionally, Mr. Reagan felt no compunctions whatever about ignoring the advice and opinions of the "experts" that conflicted with his own vision or the direction in which he desired to move the country.

Can you honestly say that you don't see these precise qualities in George W. Bush?

It is, of course, the differences between the two men that tell the tale in the end, however. First, Ronald Reagan was, on the two primary issues of his presidency, resoundingly right. The American economy was being held hostage to an increasingly impenetrable and onerous tax code, and excessive taxation, and the USSR was an evil empire that, as he told the British House of Commons in 1982, was headed for the ash heap of history. Second, Ronald Reagan was likeable. As a result, the American people were willing to forgive his misstatements, and give him their trust, because they liked him, and they had a sense that he was speaking to them honestly.

Ronald Reagan was, on the two primary issues of his presidency, resoundingly right. We have no idea whether George W. Bush is right on a number of things, and on others, he is clearly wrong.As to the former, we have no idea whether George W. Bush is right on a number of things, and on others, he is clearly wrong. This whole, "When people is hurting, government must help" stuff is, at best, questionable, in that government help is, in it's own way, usually more harm than good. There are a limited number of things that government does well. Its sphere of competence is quite small.

The increase in spending under his watch has been troubling as well. Under his leadership, the Republican Party has become a mirror image of the free-spending, corrupt, deal-making that we drove the Democrats out of Town in 1994 for being.

The reconstruction of Iraq has been mishandled from the start. Reconstruction work proceed far too slowly, de-Baathification was completely inadequate. The off-again, on-again struggle against the militias in places like Fallujah in 2004 emboldened the terrorist insurgents. Iraq may ultimately be a success, but if so, it will in large part be in spite of, as because of, the Bush Administration's handling of the war's aftermath. (Please note, by the way, that this is not a criticism of the decision to invade Iraq, and overthrow the Saddamite regime. That was an action that was slightly more than a decade overdue in my estimation.)

Despite his free-trade rhetoric, Mr. Bush has been quick to place tariffs on Canadian softwoods, steel, and even at the risk of angering Pakistan, a key ally in the War on Terror, textiles, when it appeared to bring some political gain.

The administration has been far too lax in winking at, if not condoning torture. Oh, the president has mouthed the right words at the appropriate occasions, but there seems to have been little substantive attempt to prevent abuse, although appropriate, after the fact investigations and prosecutions have occurred. The point being that there should've been such prosecutions, because such incidents should've been prevented.

I think Mr. Bush does believe the things he says, just as Mr. Reagan did. But we don't like him enough to forgive him for it.I could go on, but regular readers of this blog have heard the three of us here make these and other criticism repeatedly over the last few years.

As to the latter difference, George W. Bush simply isn't a likeable guy. There's something about that sneering grin of his that makes you want to wipe it off his face with a rabbit punch to the jaw (Note to the Secret Service: Although I would, of course, never actually assault the President of the United States.) Watching him stammer through speeches and press conferences can be physically painful. I would enjoy, I think, spending an evening talking with Bill Clinton, despite the fact there is much about which we disagree. But, apart from the cachet of having met a president of the United States, I don't think that George W. Bush would be an interesting, or particularly likeable person to spend an evening with.

And, I think most people would agree with me. So, when Mr. Reagan made misstatements about welfare queens, the general response was, "That Ron! He says the craziest stuff! But, you know, there are a lot of people who are cheating the welfare system..." Conversely, when Mr. Bush misstates something, the response is, "He doesn't really believe that, the liar."

Actually, I think Mr. Bush does believe the things he says, just as Mr. Reagan did. But we don't like him enough to forgive him for it. Indeed, we distrust him enough to question his honesty.

The current political state of things leaves people like me in a pretty pickle. Of the two major parties, the Republicans have become a party of pelf and excessive spending. And the Democrats, while they have some different ideas about governance, they are mostly the failed ideas of the past, and consist of little more than "progressive" hogwash, which is, obviously, a redundant term.

Divider

The truly tragic thing in all of this is that after 9/11, we were pretty much destined to arrive at this precise place. Let's not kid ourselves; what happened in Iraq was inevitable. It might not have happened at that precise time and manner under a different president, but it would've happened.

I will give as great a sigh of relief at George W. Bush's departure from the White House as I did when his re-election prevented John Kerry from taking possession of it.The Oil-for-Food program had turned into a huge sham. The pressure in the UN from France and Russia was for eliminating the remaining sanctions against Saddam Hussein. When that happened, an emboldened Saddam Hussein would have moved down a path that made war with the US inevitable. We may, in fact, have faced an even more difficult challenge in that case, if Mr. Hussein had been given a chance to re-arm in any substantial fashion. The golden opportunity for eliminating him was lost in 1991, and resulting fiasco of the Shia uprising—made at the behest of the first George Bush—left a long-simmering distrust of the US, and is part of the reason why the reconstruction has been so difficult.

Under a different president, one with more political skill, likeability, and competence, the political fallout would probably have been more manageable, and political consequences more easily avoided.

So, Iraq is the 800-pound gorilla of politics. The bright spot there, insofar as there is one, is that most of the indicators are—slowly, ever so slowly—pointing towards progress in creating a relatively free and democratic country there. If those trends continue, then something truly important will have occurred, and history will vindicate Mr. Bush. But, even so, it should note that the birthing process of a stable, democratic Iraq was far more difficult than it had to be.

It's odd though. I will give as great a sigh of relief at George W. Bush's departure from the White House as I did when his re-election prevented John Kerry from taking possession of it.

Not that I have any great hopes about my choice in the next presidential election. Indeed, every time I think about it, the following diagram comes to mind:

SCYLLA ME CHARYBDIS

Heh. Maybe I'll just vote for Hillary, sit back, and watch the action unfold. After all, I voted for her husband once. That didn't turn out too bad.

Did it?
 
TrackBacks
Return to Main Blog Page
 
 

Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
The truly tragic thing in all of this is that after 9/11, we were pretty much destined to arrive at this precise place. Let’s not kid ourselves; what happened in Iraq was inevitable.
Any inevitability wrt Iraq, had nothing to do with 9/11. 9/11 created urgency and added with all the legitimate reasons for taking out Saddam - made an urgency to do something into an urgency to do something about Iraq. Another leader may have chosen another target, Sudan perhaps or Iran or whatever.

9/11, Usama, Sunni extremism is a whole other thing, it will remain unresolved until after Bush is gone.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
The difference in Reagan is that Reagan knew he had to give his position to the public and even defend himself at times (although not appearing defensive) as well.

As for the Clinton voting. The Clinton perspective to terrorism was that as murder was to assault, terrorism was to vandalism. The pathetic response to WTC & the attack on the Cole and reinforcing the Paper Tiger image in Somalia set the stage for terrorism in the new century. Also the weak enforcement of the Gulf War I terms in the early-mid 90s, where we could have mustered better international support since the war was fresh and kickbacks where less, set the stage for the current Iraqi War.

In hind sight, I hope your comment was sarcasm.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
We are all experiencing what is commonly know as,"Bush Fatigue Syndrome."
Bush is being attacked from every corner, the MSM/Democratic party machine, liberal and conservative comentators and his own base. This is happening because
he has become completly unengaged and has not offered any vision for what he hoped
to achieve in his second term. He just sits back and let’s his critics attack him
without any serious response and it has become tiring. I know the main reason for this is because his oratory skills are abominable. On the rare occasions he has
given speeches he resorts to platitudes and empty slogans instead of offering a concrete vision for what he would like to accomplish. If the Democrats take back
the House, and god forbid the Senate, then Bush is in for a hellish end to his Presidency.
 
Written By: Radical Centrist
URL: http://
unaha, with Saddam in place you could not happen attacked anywhere in the environs of Iraq without Saddam acting in some major proably covert role. Saddam viewed himself as the heir to Saladin and would probably have gotten immense support from this action.

As well, Iran not not considered a major boogie man at that time (now yes, then not so much). If you think getting agreement on attacking Iraq was hard, imagine getting it for Iran and for what justification.

Sudan yes, Iran, no.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Dale,

I think you’re remembering President Reagan through rose-colored glasses. I was in elementary school/middle school for the Reagan years and I remember quite vividly people freaking out about almost anything President Reagan did.

I remember real-Politikers laughing about President Reagan calling the Soviet Union "an evil empire" and demanding that Gorbachev "tear down this wall." I remember jokes on late-night TV about the President napping through Cabinet meetings. I remember a number of teachers who would have an immediate, visceral reaction just at his name.

I also think that comparing President Bush to President Reagan’s legacy is unfair precisely because the current President’s legacy is far from settled. President Reagan’s initiatives and beliefs were correct in hindsight, but a number of them were far from popular and far from settled when he undertook them and even when he left office.
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
PS - I hope you’re joking about the voting for Bill Clinton thing...
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
I think you’re remembering President Reagan through rose-colored glasses. I was in elementary school/middle school for the Reagan years and I remember quite vividly people freaking out about almost anything President Reagan did.
I was in college and on active duty during the Reagan years. I remember the criticism as well. I also remember his electoral savaging of Fritz Mondale, and his high popularity ratings.

Perhaps I as an adult, moved in different circles than you did as an elementary school and junior high school student. I suspect we had a differences in the level of interest we took in politics at the time, too.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Speak for yourself. I think President Bush is very likeable. I agree with A fine scotch; we live in an irrational "attack Bush for everything and anything" culture. I agree that President Bush has been too big government over the past few years, but his legacy is far from determined.
 
Written By: CR UVa
URL: http://TheRedStater.blogspot.com/
Heh. Maybe I’ll just vote for Hillary, sit back, and watch the action unfold. After all, I voted for her husband once. That didn’t turn out too bad.

Did it?



Heh....guess it depends on who you ask!
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
This is happening because he has become completly unengaged and has not offered any vision for what he hoped to achieve in his second term.

I daresay he did engage and offer his vision: it was privatizing Social Security and winning in Iraq. It just happens that the first was unpopular and the second (so far) unworkable.
 
Written By: Mithras
URL: http://mithrastheprophet.blogspot.com
unaha -

"Another leader may have chosen another target, Sudan perhaps or Iran or whatever."

Thinking that there was any other target in that part of the world besides Iraq displays a breathtaking ignorance of history and American foreign policy. The decision to invade Iraq was never political, it was strategic. Just look at a any map of the region.

That said, you’re probably right about "9/11, Usama, Sunni extremism...will remain unresolved until after Bush is gone." The Bushes are way too cozy with the House of Saud.

BTW Dale, the Secret Service won’t come after you for "a rabbit punch to the jaw". They know that a rabbit punch is to the back of the neck.
 
Written By: coolpapa
URL: http://
Bill Clinton - A Dem - was and is much more like Ronnie than the liberal Bush - a Republican - is. Can you imagine Ronnie pushing a bill to extend federal goverment interference in our lives to the tune of over $5 billion a year? Can you say "No Child Left Behind"? Do you think that the man who vetoed almost 100 big government bills passed by a *DEMOCRAT controlled Congress* would let a *REPUBLICAN controlled Congress* grow the government over 50% in 5 years? And not a single big government bill gets vetoed. Not one!
 
Written By: Rodney A Stanton
URL: http://
unaha -

"Another leader may have chosen another target, Sudan perhaps or Iran or whatever."

Thinking that there was any other target in that part of the world besides Iraq displays a breathtaking ignorance of history and American foreign policy. The decision to invade Iraq was never political, it was strategic. Just look at a any map of the region.

That said, you’re probably right about "9/11, Usama, Sunni extremism...will remain unresolved until after Bush is gone." The Bushes are way too cozy with the House of Saud.

BTW Dale, the Secret Service won’t come after you for "a rabbit punch to the jaw". They know that a rabbit punch is to the back of the neck.
 
Written By: coolpapa
URL: http://
I too think your ’unlikeable’ comment is more you than anything. I have heard of a few people who have said that they disagree with most of what he does, but they found him personally charmed by him.
I would speculate that you see Bush as something akin to an enemy, at least within the confines of the US political system, and that is coloring your perceptions of his ticks.
And there may be some rough resemblance between the management styles of the two men, but I don’t think it is that relevant. If anything, I think that Bush’s reputed loyalty keeps him from punishing those who don’t stay within his vision, so that is a major difference even within that similarity.
 
Written By: anomdebus
URL: http://
Compare and contrast: Reagan vs Bush –
Compare: Both Ronnie and Bush were and are hated by the MSM/DNC. Both had fabricated “news” stories in the MSM smearing them on a daily basis. Both were Republicans. Someone above said that Bil Clinton was much more comparable to Ronnie that the liberal Bush is, and he is right.

Contrast: Ronnie was a conservative. He believed in individual responsibility and initiative. Bush is a liberal who believes in the socialist approach to big government of “cradle to grave” government regulation and control.
Ronnie believed in small government and cut taxes. Bush believes in big government and has pushed through many “tariffs”. “user fees” , “levies”, “duties” etc. To quote John Marshall in the Case of McCulloch v. Maryland “ If it looks like a tax, and smells like a tax, …. It is a tax” The liberal Bush can call his new taxes and tax hikes anything he wats but the truth is they are taxes. My liberal President has raised the taxes Americans pay and raised them materially.
Ronnie and George are opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of freedom for individuals. Or as the engineers say Bush is 180 degrees out of phase with Ronnie relating to government interference in our lives.
 
Written By: JommacDougal
URL: http://
Jomma I’m afraid you’re reading Reagan’s PRESS RELEASES not his history, or did you miss the Tax Reform debacle that led to the S&L crisis and the HUGE Social Security Tax increases on his watch? Taxation is FUNDAMENTALLY how the govenment interferes in our lives. You confuse Reagan’s REPUTATION with his reality.

And this from a man that proudly pulled the lever in 1980 and 1984 for Ronaldus Magnus. Like Bush his foreign policy was better or more consistent than his DOMESTIC policy. I would point out that Reagan oversaw a HUGE increse in the overall size of the Federal Government and that on his watch Congress appropriated $1.25 in expenditure for every $1 in new revenue generated by his tax cuts. And I don’t remember him vetoing or stopping too much spending.

Does THAT sound familiar? Just trying to point out that the 1980’s were not some pristine era of individual freedom betrayed by Dubya.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"We are all experiencing what is commonly know as,"Bush Fatigue Syndrome.""
Not me. I didn’t much care for him to start with. The only reason he won is because his opponents were worse. Does anyone remember the Bush-Gore "debates"? dumb and dumber.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I think you’re right to compare Bush and Reagan. I’ve also got to agree that Reagan was far from univerally loved when he was President. Most 80’s pop-culture was practically dripping with hostility toward his administration and the news was constantly harping on his "reckless" cowboy diplomacy. Even in 2004, many years after the fact and with Reagan long since lost in the mists of Alzheimers, there were people who still carried grudges against the man. History has shown Reagan was right, despite his contemporary critics, and in thirty years it’ll show Bush was also right.
 
Written By: Bryan Costin
URL: http://bcostin.typepad.com
Dale,

You’re probably right; I would hope for both of our sakes that we traveled in different circles in the early to late-1980’s.

However, I do have a degree in American History, with theses on the Cuban Missle Crisis and post-Vietnam political changes. I am reasonably aware of both the social and political history of the time in which I grew up.

I still think it’s unfair that you’re conflating President Reagan’s legacy with President Bush’s on-going Presidency. A more fair comparison would be to President Reagan’s second term.
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
I remember 1985 to 1988 as being the most unpleasant years of the Reagan Reign. He signed the 1986 tax reform, which did in fact knock the props out from under the frothy real estate lending market, can you say S&L debacle? Yes, brought on by Congresses’ shabby de-regulation but still began on his watch. And 1986 tax reform was full of "revenue enhancements". Then Iran-Contra, another debacle. Remembering the unpleasantness of those years reminds me a lot of today’s Bush Administration. Maybe there is just something that generally effects sencond terms in modern (post Truman times) Eisenhower had no significant achievements from 56 to 60. Johnson and Nixon, well you know the rest.

Objectively, what’s odd is how the stellar performance of the economy remains the most undertold story since 9/11. Every month we post job and GDP gains and yet according to the press, people don’t believe the economy is doing well. And Bush has tried on many occassions to highlight the good news. But it gets lost in the war news.

I don’t think folks are suffering from Bush fatigure so much as war fatigue. It makes me tend to agree with some of those folks who opined before the war that democracies really don’t have the staying power to take on big and lengthy projects to re-construct dysfunctional foreign countries. Or maybe what it requires is "peace" as in the cold peace between 1945 and 1955 when we re-built and re-organized Germandy and Japan. Or where we were able to stand up South Korean behind a relatively peaceful shield at the 39th parrallel.

In one respect I think Bush’s administration has poorly served his vision of the long war. Publically he has always stated it will be long, difficult, expensive etc. But some in his administration implied or stated on background that it would be easier than the boss said. In that respect, Bush let his minions set expectations too high. In essence Bush stands convicted of over-promising and under-delivering. And I can’t really say I don’t blame the average American for believing that.

With the press on the hunt, every failing in Iraq is amplified into a "crisis". And it’s not so much about Bush as Republican President. They’d do it to any President because their deal is governments and politicians lie and paint rainbows where there are storm clouds. That’s what sells papers. In this case, being a Republican is just a 5X bonus for the media.

On a final note, most people don’t worry about the big stuff, even the war. Bush’s approval numbers would be in the 50s if gasoline was sellling for $1.75 a gallon.

 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
What to do About George?
Posted by: Dale Franks
I guess the best answer to this is wait until 20 January 2009 and then you can begin to bitch about THAT President and his/her profligate spending habits or antipathy to Freedom or failure to secure America’s Moral High Ground... or a host of other issues that seem to excise the folks at QandO.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Right on, Joe. Q&O’s gripes without giving solutions, accentuates the bad without looking at the good.

I’m in the best financial shape of my life, and that is after doing very, very well during the end of the Cliton dot.bomb years. Companies can’t find workers fast enough, tax rates are low, but the government is taking in record revenues. Major events that were forecasted to stall the economy, like Katrina, had little to no effect at the U.S. as a whole (obviously it effected the people directly hit).

I’m not sure what fantasy president Q&O wants in office. Say Bush didn’t run and the dems couldn’t find anyone decent. Who would have done a better job in reigning in government spending or reconstructing Iraq? I think Dale’s answer is himself since he holds himself out as the expert in these things. The problem is no one else agrees as will be shown by the number will vote for him in the next election after he tells us how he’s going to fix everything and bring us Libertarian nirvana.
 
Written By: whatever
URL: http://

 
Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
Name:
Email:
URL:
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Comment:
   
 
Vicious Capitalism

Divider

Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks

Divider

Divider