A Word of Explanation

Welcome to my political commentary blog. I figured I’d use this introduction to explain how I arrived at writing this blog. I grew up as a Conservative Republican and went through college and law school essentially holding to those beliefs. Being an Evangelical Christian as well, I would have been considered a member of the Religious Right. However, over the last few years, I became increasingly disillusioned by the Republican party. For instance, I believe in conservative fiscal policy, so I could not agree with continuing massive tax cuts aimed at the wealthiest Americans while the country had a serious budget deficit which was only increasing due to fighting two wars. I am also a firm believer in the rule of law, so I took issue with the Bush administration using the cloak of national security to deny habeas corpus rights. Finally, the politics of fear & division used by the Bush political team, turned me off. Especially, their use of the War in Iraq, which I now believe was a major mistake.

In 2008, this caused me to do what 5 years before, I would have thought to be the unthinkable – I voted for a Democrat for President. In supporting Barack Obama and since I am an advocate by trade, I decided to write a political essay setting forth my rationale. I enjoyed the process so much, I was looking for an outlet to continue my political thoughts. When my cousin started a personal blog, it gave me the idea to start a political commentary blog.

Like the name suggests, I still consider my self a conservative as many of my political stands are conservative, but I definitely have a more progressive line of thinking. You should see both sides come out as I post. Some of the posts will be more analysis while others will be more editorial and take a position. I look forward to any feedback. Let me know if there is a topic you would like me to discuss (see my contact info at the bottom of this page).


Monday, January 19, 2009

George W. Bush’s Legacy

I watched President Bush last Thursday night give his “Farewell Address,” and given the fact that we are on the eve of the Obama Inauguration, I figured it was fitting to look back on the last eight years. After the Farewell address, I watched and read over the next few days some of the media discussions about what his legacy will be. The reactions were mostly harsh critiques or suggestions on what he could do to try and rebuild his image. The only somewhat positive review of his tenure that I read, on Fox News, focused on the lack of attacks on US soil post-9/11. Needless to say, the short term look at his eight years is not good by most people.

I do believe that history will treat him better as we get further from the current economic crisis and the War in Iraq. In fact, in some ways I feel he may be treated much like Harry Truman has been by the historians. Truman left the presidency with some of the lowest approval ratings of all time. In fact, his approval ratings are similar to George W. Bush’s ratings now. However, history has been kind to Truman. Bush and Truman were both known to make decisions that were not very popular at the time. Remember that President Bush was elected very much as the anti-Clinton, i.e. someone who seemed to poll on everything and went the way of public opinion. While all presidents wish that they could enjoy the public’s support all the time, President Bush was going to make what he thought was the best decision for the good of the country, regardless of the public opinion.

Bush and Truman also had something else in common – they were both thrust into a foreign policy crisis near the beginning of their presidency for which there was no precedent. For Bush, it was the 9/11 attacks and the resulting War on Terror. While Truman is known for bringing an end to World War II, the real crisis he faced was the growing threat from the Soviet Union and the emergence of the Cold War. In many ways, Bush’s Iraq War is similar to Truman’s Korean War. Both wars were early battles in a broader conflict and both were viewed very unfavorably by the end of their terms. As was the case with the Cold War, it will take a longer view of the War on Terror to see what role the Iraq War really will play and how George W. Bush’s handling of the broader War on Terror will be judged. However, given the folk hero status Truman now has, Bush can take some comfort in knowing that all is not lost.

Since it will take some time before we really know what George W. Bush’s historical legacy will be, for now, all I can do is give my thoughts on his presidency. As someone who voted for him twice, I can sum up my opinion on him in one word: disappointment. For those of you who read my position paper on the 2008 election, you know that I believe that there were a lot of missed opportunities by the Bush Administration to accomplish something, especially having a Republican majority in Congress for the first six years. However, nothing was done on Social Security reform or energy independence. As I have said, I believe the way he was elected played a large role in this. The controversial way he won in 2000 insured that he was going to have an up hill climb to win over any Democratic support. However, the way he ran the White House after 9/11 and the Republican electoral strategy in 2002 and 2004 of an us v. them mentality destroyed any remaining good will with Democrats. While they were willing to work with him on foreign policy issues, it eliminated any possible cooperation on domestic issues. So missed opportunities are my short term legacy for President Bush.

This is not to say that I do not feel he accomplished anything worth while during his terms as President. If I were to list his accomplishments, they would have to include his initial response to the 9/11 terror attacks and bringing the intelligence communities together more. It has been well documented that prior to 9/11 the various American intelligence agencies did not like one another and were resistant toward working together. The fact that President Bush was able to make these agencies better work together was a great accomplishment that goes overlooked and is probably one of the main reasons that we have not had another terror attack on US soil since 9/11.

One more note about President Bush’s legacy and that was one of the main reasons I voted for him in the first place – judges. His appointment of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito will probably insure a conservative leaning Supreme Court for the next several years. He also appointed many lower court judges and while it goes unreported, all Presidents continue to wield tremendous influence in this country long after they leave the White House because of the judges they appoint. I just read the other day a stat showing who appointed the current judges sitting on all the federal benches. According to the Federal Judicial Center, there are 807 sitting judges on the Federal Bench and of them 75 were appointed by Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Reagan. That is almost 10% of the Federal judiciary being controlled by presidents who are no longer alive! That is a long lasting legacy and for that reason, I am still glad I voted for President Bush.

Just another thing to consider, regardless of who you voted for: as you watch the inauguration (or the highlights), remember how rare it is that we live in a country that the transfer of power has always been peaceful. Join me as I pray for President Obama to have the wisdom he will need to guide our country and that he will seek guidance from the Lord to do so.

1 comment:

  1. It is amazing how peaceful the transitions are in America. Even with all the controversy surrounding the hanging chads and the Florida vote in 2000, it was still peaceful. There is plenty to critique about our country, but there is much to be grateful for and admire as well. You are more gracious to Bush than many others are. I think disappointment is probably a word that describes most people's feelings toward him. Good post.