Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Just Asking . . .

If Bush can't carry the offices of National Review, how do we think Republicans are going to do in the midterm elections?

I'm only half-serious, of course.

But Bush has largely had a Mr. Magoo presidency--every time he was about to step off the ledge, a crane lifting an I-beam appeared to catch him and lift him even higher. One would think that luck has to run out eventually, no?

It may be apostasy, but recall that pre-9/11 Bush looked like an odd-on one-termer. Remember the downed plane in China fiasco? The punting on affirmative action? The cutting of the military budget to the point of scrapping the two-war maxim? Remember how lost he looked at times?

It could be that Bush is just now regressing to the mean--settling in where he would have been had Osama bin Laden not massacred 3,000 Americans.

Or alternatively, it could be that Bush's anti-intellectualism (a Frum reader puts this more delicately: "Rather than press his subordinates to make up for his shortcomings, the president seems inclined to think that because he's right and/or winning elections and wars that rhetoric is empty or unimportant, when it's often of primary importance.") is finally exacting a price.

There's a reason some of us went ga-ga listening to Tony Blair talk about the war on terror. Go back and read this speech. If only Bush could talk this way:
11 September was not an isolated event, but a tragic prologue, Iraq another act, and many further struggles will be set upon this stage before it's over.

There never has been a time when the power of America was so necessary or so misunderstood, or when, except in the most general sense, a study of history provides so little instruction for our present day. . . .

The risk is that terrorism and states developing weapons of mass destruction come together.

And when people say, "That risk is fanciful," I say we know the Taleban supported al-Qaeda.

We know Iraq under Saddam gave haven to and supported terrorists.

We know there are states in the Middle East now actively funding and helping people, who regard it as God's will in the act of suicide to take as many innocent lives with them on their way to God's judgment.

Some of these states are desperately trying to acquire nuclear weapons.

We know that companies and individuals with expertise sell it to the highest bidder, and we know that at least one state, North Korea, lets its people starve while spending billions of dollars on developing nuclear weapons and exporting the technology abroad.

This isn't fantasy, it is 21st-Century reality, and it confronts us now.

Can we be sure that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will join together?

Let us say one thing: If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that at its least is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering.

That is something I am confident history will forgive.

But if our critics are wrong, if we are right, as I believe with every fibre of instinct and conviction I have that we are, and we do not act, then we will have hesitated in the face of this menace when we should have given leadership.

That is something history will not forgive.

Over the last three years I've had a number of Bush supporters chastise me for my Blairophilia and their complaint is always the same: Wouldn't you rather have a leader, like Bush, who takes the right actions but can't speak, instead of a Blair, who can speechify, but doesn't always go the right way?

And my answer is always the same: This is America. It's a big country. Is it really too much to ask for a president who can do both?


Anonymous said...

He just doesn't give a sh*t about these kinds of things until a couple of months before the election. Only then does he start to turn it on. So we're in for another year of blah, until September 2006.

Anonymous said...

Rhetoric isn't the problem. In fact, the banality of Bush's extemp remarks has increased every year since 2000. He used to speak like an Ivy League educated businessman; now he mostly sounds like a department supervisor at Wal-Mart. Which is to say, he either suffers from a massively degenerative brain disease, or he's practicing a deliberately "down home" speaking style just like he turns his Texas accent on and off to suit his audience. And, for whatever reason, lots of voters respond positively when Bush condescends to them by talking dumb.

The problem is that Bush's actions don't even live up to his own dumbed-down talk. Bush says he wants to control spending, but he signs into law every pork-laden appropriations bill the borrow-and-spend Republicans in Congress send his way. He promised to bring Bin Laden to justice, or justice to Bin Laden, but the mastermind of al-Qaeda remains a free man. He said we had to invade Iraq to secure WMD, but his war plans left the suspected WMD sites unsecured for weeks after the fall of Baghdad. He promised a new mission for NASA to lay the foundation of permanent human settlement of space, but then hasn't provided any of the funding NASA needs to change directions. He says he's for family values, but the abortion rate, which was at a modern low in Clinton's last year, keeps rising under Bush. He promised to save small business and family farms from the estate tax, but his bankruptcy reform will cost more merchants and farmers their livelihoods than the estate tax will save. He says Social Security is nearing crisis, but his only proposal would worsen the program's finances.

The military is close to broken and it will be several years before we're able to fight any new wars. (We'd better hope that the force of prayer alone is enough to deter China from attacking Taiwan in the meantime.) The government's finances are so deeply in debt that the question is no longer whether federal taxes will have to go way up, it's when and how much. The pace of global Islamist terrorist attacks is increasing. Bush isn't even promising victory in Iraq any more; instead he says we'll give up the fight against terrorists there just as soon as Iraqis can take over for us. ("Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.")

On issue after issue, Bush gets the marketing aspects of policy right, but when it comes time to deliver, there's nothing there. He's an executive who cannot execute. He's just not up to the job of being president. He's that guy, and every office has one, who's really friendly and who has good ideas but who just can't get the work done.

In an eight-year presidency, you can't hide from your record forever. Fail enough times and you're just not going to be popular anymore -- a lesson Bush should have learned in his first months in office, before the Sept. 11 attacks gave him a do-over on his first term.

That Dude said...

COnsider me a conservative who, while not going off the reservation is realizing that Dubya, hasnt been on the reservation with us for awhile.

That Dude said...

that's the best you could do? You go from calling me a pussy and threatening to "administer a beating" to calling me illterate. At this rate you'll be moving onto contructive criticism and then editing my posts for grammar f' ups.

Thanks spanky

That Dude said...

Actually, I will probably be wearing my Jaworski throwback jersey and I'll either be at one of the 2 big sports bars in Chucktown. So if you want to administer a beating look for the guy in the Jaws jersey who is 6'5 275.

Layta spanky