If you think I post too much political stuff here (for what it’s worth, I think I do), you should see my email correspondence. I’m on a mailing list with some old college friends, nearly all of whom are conservatives. Anyway, here’s a message I sent to the list today about President Bush that I wanted to archive for future use. (Maybe I’ll inflict it on my family members later, they’ll love that.) The topic is how Bush has done based on the results of those policies rather than the process by which those policies are arrived at. Quoting:
Afghanistan: we successfully dislodged the Taliban, but then hurried off to Iraq without catching or killing the principals from the Taliban or al-Qaeda. They’re still festering somewhere out there, and most of Afghanistan outside the capital is either run by warlords who are nearly as bad as the Taliban, or the resurgent Taliban. To me, Bush gets a low grade on Afghanistan.
Iraq: we spent a ton of credibility and a ton of money to invade Iraq, and although we successfully dislodged Saddam, the rest has been an unmitigated disaster. Yes, I know that some things are better in Iraq, but the country doesn’t seem to me to be on a path toward successful self governance, has a huge security problem, and is not being rebuilt at an incredibly rapid pace. I’m with anyone who says that rebuilding is hard and slow, but we’ve thrown $300 billion into this hole and I really fear that we’re not going to come away with much to show for it in the end. Invading Iraq and turning it into an example of democracy that all the Middle East could follow was a low percentage play. Lots of people did pre-war planning but if their analysis didn’t come to, “They’re going to love us,” they were ignored. I won’t bore you with citations, but believe me, there are plenty that support this. And the proof is in the results. From the fact that the citizens of Iraq immediately started looting and destroying everything they could get their hands on as soon as we entered Baghdad to the fact that we have a huge insurgency problem that doesn’t seem to be going away, we’ve done a bad job. And that’s to say nothing of the load of crap we were told to get us to support the war. President Bush said in October 2002 that Iraq was a threat of “unique urgency.” Can anyone honestly say at this point that that was true? (I’m certain he believed it when he said it, but that doesn’t speak well for him.) Anyway, even if you’re happy we invaded Iraq, it seems pretty strange to be happy with the results so far.
Tax cuts/economic stimulus: If the purpose of the tax cuts was to give people (especially rich people) more of their money back, then yes, they were an unqualified success. If the purpose was to stimulate the economy, then they were not, were they? The stock market is doing pretty well, but we’re still down 2.3 million jobs since Bush took office. Anyone who blames Bush for that job loss is an idiot or is dishonest, but the tax cuts were pitched as a way to reverse the downward jobs trend. I have to say that the results there have been a failure thusfar. Last month, the economy created zero private sector jobs. That’s horrific, especially considering 150,000 jobs created per month is the break even point to keep up with the growth of the labor force. Given that the tax cuts have played a huge part in giving us a massive structural deficit that kind of freaks me out, it seems like the cost of the tax cuts was not worth the benefits, if the benefit was supposed to be economic stimulus and job growth.
Immigration and faith based initiatives: Both of these were just proposals that never went anywhere. I thought Bush’s immigration proposal was a decent but flawed idea, better than most of the stuff he comes up with. Unfortunately, when it was proposed it was known to be a non-starter with Republicans in Congress, and was widely percieved as a sop aimed at the Hispanic vote.
To me, when you look at the costs of the things Bush has done, the results ought to have been a heck of a lot better. Again, I know half the country doesn’t see it the same way as I do. So when I look at the way the methods are reported and the results they’ve led to, I’m not impressed. It strikes me that the only thing one might be really pleased with is Bush’s intentions, but we know about intentions.