Friday, February 22, 2008

Journey's end

The NYT reports on President George W. Bush's trip through Liberia, at the end of a surprisingly triumphant progress through Africa. With GWB's successor already in view -- it will probably be one of three people too well known to mention here -- mental comparisons are already possible. How will history regard George W. Bush?

I think it will treat him better than Bill Clinton because history assigns values based on effects -- and I'm guessing many of these will be surprisingly good. The soundbite, which reigns supreme in the 24-hour news cycle has less effect upon the real course of events than decisions which affect demography, geopolitics and basic culture. When time clears soundbite noise away the underlying signal emerges more clearly.

And George Bush has certainly made his mark on history; whether for good or ill we still don't know for sure. His decisions are still playing out and the events engendered won't finish running their course for decades. Some, like Ronald Reagan's decision to support the muj to fight the Soviets may have unexpectedly bad consequences we can only guess at. Others, like many of Reagan's, will seem inspired in retrospect. How the ledger will look in two decades is still uncertain. But one thing is sure, there'll be numbers at the bottom of the page.

What of Bill Clinton? He was by many measures a far more talented and articulate politician than GWB. Yet there was a curious nothingness about the man, a deficiency he was adept at concealing by a superabundance of words; chumminess; a seeming to be in motion. But when the buzz died down you found yourself alone in the theater, wondering at what you had just seen.

a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

I think the central problem that Bill Clinton's biographers must grapple with is how so much talent could become (in my mind at least) so inconsequential. The corresponding problem for GWB biographers will be almost the reverse. If the challenge with Clinton is to find the deeds beyond the man the problem with GWB is to discover the man behind the deeds. Bill Clinton is almost the friend you don't want to have; a man about who you know more than you care to. Before Bill Clinton even begins to speak everyone knows it will be about himself.

But who was GWB? And why is he remembered so well in Africa? He said so little really. Or maybe I just haven't been listening.


Blogger davis,br said...

the reverse: how so little talent could become so consequential

Maybe there was simply more talent in this case? And less in the other?

Although hucksterism as talent always seemed overrated to me.

2/22/2008 12:56:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wretchard - How will history regard George W. Bush?

As a failed President who had some decent qualities.

Depending on how history judges his fiscal recklessness, inarticulate defense of his policies, Iraq decision disasters. His complicity in the destruction of the currency, wiping out of US industry for "consumerist economy", Republican corruption, failure to secure the Borders.

Maybe better than Warren Harding, but below Carter, Nixon, Hoover, and Franklin Pierce.

2/22/2008 01:38:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

For me, the parallels between W and LBJ are uncanny. Both involved the US in what they believed were necessary wars. Both were tarred when the public lost faith in that war. Both fought the war with a "guns-and-butter" philosophy where nobody was asked to sacrifice in order to pay for the war effort. Both overspent the economy, causing problems that would last far after they left office. Both initiated massively expensive social programs and vastly grew the government.

2/22/2008 03:13:00 AM  
Blogger mouse said...

I'm unaware that Clinton had great political talents, if political talent means getting something done. He did have two talents --or recognitions-- that were extraordinary. The first was that the lie was not an attempt to deceive but was a position statement; the second was that Democrats (Liberals) define themselves not by what they aspire to but by what they hate. The second enables the first.

To illustrate: The bombing of the Murrah building was the most horrifying act on American soil that any of us at that time had yet experienced. I remember myself being stunned. It was the first time I'd ever looked to a president to say some words that would makes some sense and be "healing". The entirety of America felt that way. All Clinton had to do to be effective was too stand there in a suit and mumble, something, about shared grief, sorrow, the hideous, the inexplicable, the need for courage. Anything. It would have worked. To some degree it would have brought some sense of America as one.

Instead he attacked talk radio. He said it happened because people like Rush Limbaugh had created a climate of hate.

This didn't incline conservatives toward considering him a unifying leader, but it did give him what he wanted, an enemy within America.

Of course he had always played that card but it was an intensification, and the media, recognizing it's enemy, fawned over its hero, the man of the extraordinary political talents.

How much political talent has he demonstrated during this primary season? Do you think it's because he's "off his game", that he's "rusty", or might it be that the press, ever mindful of political advantage, now has a new hero they can bring to power, and so no longer finds it necessary to define Bill as brilliant?

I do think that what Bill has bequeathed as his legacy to the Democrat party is what he practiced the most, his the-lie-as-policy-statement. The Democrats practice this well. This is why we've been losing the war in Iraq since the first day we entered, why Abu Ghraib, for six months, was torture; why Americans have lost their civil liberties due to the Patriot Act, and why the surge still isn't working. --It's also probably why everybody in Africa hates us... I admit I haven't heard that one yet, but if it becomes important, somebody will say it.

Incidentally, Bill Clinton spoke in complete sentences, not one of which was meaningfully connected to any other. George Bush speaks in complete paragraphs.

2/22/2008 05:03:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"How will history regard George W. Bush?"

As terrible in math.
(Btw, I'll take C4 over Ash any day).

2/22/2008 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger Harrywr2 said...

"Some, like Ronald Reagan's decision to support the muj to fight the Soviets may have unexpectedly bad consequences we can only guess at."

If was Carters decision or more accurately, Brezinski who made the decision for Carter. I seriously doubt whether Carter trusted his own judgement by the last year of his presidency. He had trusted the Soviets on Afghanistan and the Mullahs on Iran. Brezinski, who I don't particularly like, surely had a file cabinent full of "I told you so" which he no doubt used to get approval of the Afghan operations.

2/22/2008 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger OldSarg said...

GWB will be remembered, one day, as one of the greatest Presidents this nation has had. Simply having great Oratory skills does not a great leader make. GWB comes across to most Americans as an honest straight forward man who does what he says he'll do. He is berated by the Media and those on the left as a fool but the same voices accuse him of being an evil genius behind 9/11 and altering intel in order to end his father's war. The military members who serve under his leadership serve him proudly and without question. He has demonstrated to those in uniform that he believes in them while others focus on little incidents like GITMO. People wish to blame him for FEMA's response to Katrina but never even look or, if they knew, to see that wasn't FEMA's mission in the first place. I think in the long run George Bush will be remembered as someone who does not want to see the ordinary people hurt by bully's whether they be Dictators, Communist, Fascist, MSM or even Leftist and yes I do group them together, as will history.

2/22/2008 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

Harry Truman did the heavy lifting to finish off WWII and handled Korea. Eisenhower enjoyed the rest from war.

Bush has done the heavy lifting. It needed to be done. America is walking tall again. Neither Clinton or Obama are capable of continuing the task, so America will be OK for 4years while the Loons run their course.

I hear the incessant chatter of the "hate all things Bush" crowd, but they never make any sense. Blinded by their hatred, they can't seem to articulate anything that stands up under critical examination. Nothing but mindless sound bites that they heard from their hippie parents. Or Berkeley profs.....sad.

Failings? Sucked at enforcing fiscal responsibility. Sucked at getting his message out about Iraq.

Bush is a HUGE improvement over his predecessor. He's not a Reagan, but he's up there.

2/22/2008 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger MossyMo said...

Since you changed things technically, Google Reader only displays the headline not the "above the fold" portion of the artcile.
Which makes things kind of useless.
Would you fix this, or give me the proper Google Reader feed I should be using?

2/22/2008 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

The rest of the world (with the evident exception of AFrica) has been panting for years to be rid of Bush, to have an American President more amenable to their concerns (i.e., give them free money, our militar to play with, and our toys to kill each other with) - someone whom they assured us dumb Americans would restore our status in their eyes.

Obama, of course, is exactly what they've been pining for. I don't think, however, that the UN, Europe, Russia, the Arabs and/or China are going to be thrilled if McCain gets elected since he may be tough enough to make Dubya look like a choir boy.

Except for Mexico. McCain loves Mexico and has never met an illegal alien that he wasn't willing to provide free everything for.

2/22/2008 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/22/2008 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger always right said...

I wouldn't know how the future will rate GWB.

But, imo, the man is DOOMed since the beginning of his presidency, when he tried bent over backwards to reach across the gulf separating the right vs. left.

To be the 'uniter not the divider' when the other side will have none of it. It is either their way or esle....

That is not a LEADER, and no way to "govern' a nation.

2/22/2008 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew X said...

My conviction that history will be kind to Mr. Bush, certainly much kinder than the present, is absolute. Worth noting is an interview he recently did with Chris Wallace, when I was struck by his absolute serenity (he categorically does not give two s#@ts what his enemies think of him), and his repeated use of the word 'history'.

DLA up there is correct that Harry Truman is the closest presidential parrallel. Truman presided over the end of one era (WWII), the beginning of another (Cold War), the building of new alliances (NATO), the creation of new Cold War agencies (CIA, Air Force), the launching of an "optional" in Korea (we had no obligation to respond militarily there), etc etc.

And he left office with a 22% approval rating.

Didn't Evan Thomas of Newsweek just write a whole cover story about "how lame our politicians are, and where are the leaders with the character of Harry Truman, etc etc"?

Like Mr. Bush, I am serene about him. I have categorically given up defending him because ref: 'teaching pigs to sing'. Millions simply cannot think coherently or clearly about Mr. Bush while he is in office, and I could not care less what such people think of him because I know what the deal will be ten years from now.

So too does George W. Bush.

2/22/2008 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

When "W" unveiled his proposed education legislation called No Child Left Behind, I was impressed with the thorough approach to the process of education in K through 12. The complexity of that original draft bill underlie the simple solution it sought, to put the control of the nations educational process back into the hands of the local schools and parents.

I believe the final draft of the bill and subsequent renewal, bear little in common with the original version of NCLB. As matter of compromise, the way of getting things done in Washington as things were done in Texas has proven to be a costly fiscal lesson. The President going into a closed door session, toe to toe with Ted Kennedy, to negotiate the passage of his legislative initiative instead of allowing the then GOP majority to shepherd it through to a floor vote, set a poor precedent. That precedent, a matter of legislative impotence, has not been overcome in either legislative body since and it was the message sent by the people in the 2006 election.

The price are our representatives are willing to have us pay, to enact legislation, is the biggest negative of President Bush's terms in office.

What is illuminating, is that despite all the negative press and in spite of the loud and vicious calls for a change of policy, plans, personnel and even the president, is the apparent vindication of the thinking of Nathan Shcharansky, and others who believe the natural condition of man is Free, and that given the opportunity free individuals will choose to associate with other free individuals and further choose to work out their differences within the framework of a representative democracy.

That the GWOT is making a difference in the enlightened thinking of people in Africa and in Asia as well as in the Middle east is the slow turning of the worm for Islamist thinking, and can rightfully be directly credited to the policy of President George W. Bush.

If only the "loyal opposition" could be similarly enlightened.

2/22/2008 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

In our paper today, an article about an illegal alien, Mexican of course, who killed his wife, or girl friend, it is hard to figure out which, and a couple of others, and slipped back into Mexico, after having lived in Idaho here, making his living by selling meth.

2/22/2008 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

The weapon of his choice was a knife.

2/22/2008 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"the natural condition of man is Free,.."

Hmm,.. I would argue that freedom comes as a close second to greed. Close, but still second. The trick is to make the two complementary.

2/22/2008 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I cannot get beyond the thought that I just want anybody and everybody named Bush or Clinton gone from public life.

2/22/2008 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

I agree with previous comments that George W. Bush is in the same league as Harry S. Truman (one of our greatest presidents). History will vindicate President George W. Bush just as it did Harry S. Truman.

2/22/2008 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

Ahem, you are free to be greedy, so long as you are willing to pay up for the consequence of your greed, be that reward or punishment..., And that doesn't have to extend to any spiritual consideration.

2/22/2008 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/22/2008 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

And that doesn't have to extend to any spiritual consideration."

What do you think was the driving force behind the success of the Soviets or the Nazis or Jihad or any other kind of tyranny?

2/22/2008 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

"What do you think was driving force behind the success of the Soviets or the Nazis or Jihad or any kind of Tyranny?

How do you determine that soviets, nazis or Jihadi's are or ever were successful? Short term gain is success of a sort I suppose, prodding free people till they determine to overthrow the results of such thuggery. That could be driven by a kind of greed too. And I suppose the urge to procreate could be considered a form of greed as well.

But it is the ability to think and act on urges of greed that defines freedom, not greed itself.

2/22/2008 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Perhaps I should add that GWB's recognition of Kosovo has the potential to blow up whatever positive legacy he may have built.

This is a terrible decision with enormously bad implications.

2/22/2008 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"How do you determine that soviets, nazis or Jihadi's are or ever were successful?"

They were and are successful in that they held and still hold political power over vast swaths of territory and populations. Tyranny ruled and still rules over the majority of the globe and has done so over the majority of time.

2/22/2008 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Two years from now, mark my words, Americans and most of the rest of the world will wish Mr. Bush was still at the helm. His quiet, steady hand will be sorely missed.

2/22/2008 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

Man is free, thoughts and acts determined, sometimes coerced, yet always decided by the individual.

A form of government designed to allow for individual rights to reasonable self determination in economic and family and spiritual matters while maintaining relative harmony with the community is a boon to all who participate.

Tyranny in being repressive and limiting, is destructive of individual and community development as well. In a battle for ideas, hearts, minds or lives, it is difficult to get an individual to fight for the tyrant, while free men will volunteer to oppose the same. Tyranny is a losing as well as a limiting proposition. Democracy is vastly unexplored by much of the population of the planet, granted.

Still, freedom is self evident to sentient populations.

Tyranny is not.

2/22/2008 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

Like Winston Churchill, George W. Bush will be remembered for fiscal incompetence, military blunders and dogged persistence in the pursuit of victory. His leadership was not on a par with Churchill's, but it was not insubstantial. He focused the country after 9/11, and insisted that the necessary anti-terror actions be taken. Most importantly, he insisted on victory.

Unlike Churchill, he blundered by not asking the country for sacrifice. Due to his background and Republican orthodoxy, he blundered logistically by not addressing our dependence on oil. He should have instituted a substantial petroleum tax on 9/12/01 to pay for the military upgrades necessary to fight the war. Also unlike Churchill, he was a very poor communicator.

Right now his important initiatives on AIDS and malaria in Africa are already beginning show results. These efforts will indirectly benefit the US much more than most people realize today. However, in the long run I believe he will be admired most for his relatively unheralded efforts to deal simultaneously with global nuclear risks and climate change. In spite of the stifling political atmosphere at home, he pushed forward an extremely important nuclear technology agreement with India, the Hyde Act, which will have lasting beneficial effects.

2/22/2008 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Tyranny in being repressive and limiting, is destructive of individual and community development as well.. Tyranny is a losing as well as a limiting proposition.. freedom is self evident to sentient populations."

Glad you say so.

Now, how about if we replace the word "Tyranny" with "Empire". And how about if we explore the freedom of an individual State and its Peoples to secede from tyranny of imperial governments? And as example, let's explore a scenario involving the US Federal government and the government and people of State of New Mexico wanting to secede.

2/22/2008 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

"how about if we explore the freedom of an individual State and its Peoples to secede from tyranny of imperial governments?"

As a nation, we settled that question in 1865. Perhaps imperfectly, but still, it is in the reflection of individual liberties as played out in fabric of society, not in the state itself. We also have the power to overthrow the government, and exercise that right every two years, whether or not we choose to exorcise our representatives. If it should get worse we have the right to rebel, but that always begs the question of why?

As a free citizen, I have determined to uphold and defend the laws and especially the constitution of my country. Should my country wrongly trample upon my rights I am assured of the ability to get satisfaction within the system of justice. As a citizen of a state within the Union of states there are mutual benefits that are accrued to Federal, State and individual interests, at the expense of agreed upon terms. If I chose to not agree with the terms I would and could move elsewhere.

Empirically speaking, (pun intended) my last statements are not merely empiricisms. There is solid research to support the proposition. Look at levels of productivity, but that, too, is obvious.

As for a substitution of the word Empire for Tyranny, it is a meaningless exchange. The Mongol Empire was at heart, tyranny. So too much of the Roman Empire. Yet under both great leaps of understanding were made, which lead to the formation of democratic societies and thought.

2/22/2008 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger Gene Felder said...

History will judge George W. Bush quite well and Bill Clinton quite poorly.

The US is not using military force and spending money in and Afghanistan and Iraq just to be nice guys. Rather, it is in the national security interest of the United States to have functioning democracies in the Middle East. President Bush’s strategy is that to weaken terrorism and radicalism, the people of the Middle East need a better alternative. How’s the Bush Doctrine working? Is Bush creating terrorists?

Heck, how about democracy is Pakistan. See Wall Street Journal February 21, 2008 Op/Ed piece “Islam at the Ballot Box” by Amir Taheri. It begins “Pakistan's election has been portrayed by the Western media as a defeat for President Pervez Musharraf. The real losers were the Islamist parties.
The parties linked, or at least sympathetic, to the Taliban and al Qaeda saw their share of the votes slashed to about 3% from almost 11% in the last general election a few years ago.”

Bush’s taking the fight to the enemy has significantly reduced al Qaeda terrorist attacks elsewhere. Most al Qaeda terrorists attacks have been in Muslim countries and Madrid was March 2004 and London July 2005. Outside of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, there were no al Qaeda terrorist attacks in 2006,and only Algeria was hit in 2007.

During Clinton’s administration, there were five terrorists attacks on direct US interests: World Trade Tower bombing in New York February, 1993, US military barracks Khobar Towers Towers in Saudi Arabia June, 1996, bombing of US Embassy in Kenya August, 1998, and also bombing of US Embassy in Tanzania August, 1998, attack of USS Cole in Yeman October, 2000.

President Bill Clinton was feckless on terrorism, even though he had the following to say about Iraq:
- “the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future.”
- “And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. … and he will use them.”

Clinton the great politician? Getting elected President twice is certainly impressive. But how did he do as leader of the Democratic Party?
Democratics Elected to US Congress
Year Senators House
1993 57 258
1995 48 204
2005 44 201

How about the economy stupid? From the Los Angeles Times article on China and Japan patching up diplomacy a chart showed the Gross Domestic Product of China as $2.6 trillion in 2006. The World Bank 2005 data lists the US GDP as $12.4 trillion. The US GDP in 2000 was $9.8 trillion so has increased $2.6 trillion from 2000. So during a portion of the presidency of George W. Bush, in five years, the United States economy has grown as much as the entire Chinese economy.

2/22/2008 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"As a nation, we settled that question in 1865."

Was Carter supervising that that free and fair election?

2/22/2008 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"We also have the power to overthrow the government,.."

LOL! Good one.

2/22/2008 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

I realize that in Canada, you have not the implements with which to challenge a reckless government, so to reign it in without the threat of force.

LOL, good one.

2/22/2008 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Your government will feed you whatever shit it wishes. And you will swallow their shit whether you like it or not.

2/22/2008 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"I realize that in Canada, you have not the implements with which to challenge a reckless government,.."

I'll vote with my feet.

2/22/2008 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Both Clinton and Bush will be judged poorly. For the same reason -- failing to see the obvious, a clash of civilizations, in the post-Cold War era, and taking steps to minimize the pain.

Clinton after 1993 (Yusef planned to kill 50,000 people by toppling one WTC tower into another -- to "topple America") understood that Jihad was not going away. Khobar Towers, Buenos Aires, the Embassy Bombings proved that also. He did nothing because he feared that his feminized Welfare State backers would scream (as they do now) for any military action that would halt/deter mass killings of Westerners and Americans.

Bush after 9/11 did the bare minimum, mouthed PC platitudes "Religion of Peace(tm)" and did not install deterrence based on fear of US consequences, and fight back against feminized Welfare State enemies at home politically. He was weak and lazy.

After Clinton's terms, who feared attacking the US? No one.

After Bush's terms, who will fear attacking the US? No one. Heck Obama proposes a "World Apology for America Tour" and groveling/surrender as a strategy. For nothing else Bush can be blamed for this, as it's part and parcel of his massive political failure.

Now it is dead certain that Western cities will die, and die by double digits (before the West in desperation simply erases Muslims). Iran by year's end will have enough nuclear material for the Uranium "Little Boy" bomb which need not be tested (Oppenheimer didn't). Someone somewhere will draw a cartoon, make a film, make a speech, or do something else to enrage Muslims, Hezbollah and nukes will be dispatched, and a city will die. Followed by surrender to Islam by the beaten/cowed populace. And the process repeated.

This is the legacy of both men. It could have been avoided.

2/22/2008 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Whiskey_199 said:

"Bush after 9/11 did the bare minimum, mouthed PC platitudes "Religion of Peace(tm)" and did not install deterrence based on fear of US consequences, and fight back against feminized Welfare State enemies at home politically. He was weak and lazy."

I have to strongly disagree with this opinion. We all saw how the MSM and the moonbats went completely nuts after George W. Bush launched the global war against terrorism. If the Democrats had a few more votes in the US House and Senate, they would have attempted impeachment proceedings against the President. The war against the terrorists has always been a balancing act for the President, i.e. Fighting the Islamic fascists in front of him while the moonbats and the MSM were stabbing him in the back. The MSM has done an amazing job of poisoning public opinion against the President. Because of this, the President's political coin was entirely spent almost two years ago.

2/22/2008 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger newscaper said...

Englishman John Locke said you always had the right to leave if you didn't like things in a democracy.

19th century American northern abolitionist Lysander Spooner said [more or less] "Bull shit, why should *I* have to move?"

Check out his "No Treason", sometimes subtitled "The Constitution of No Authority" written in 1867 while the question of secession was still painfully fresh although of course decided by events, for about as radical a take as you'd ever get from a non-leftist, non-KKK'er.

Spooner and the earlier anti-Federalists of the 1780s would make your typical left-wingers' heads explode.

2/22/2008 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

I think Bush's role in history will be framed by his presentation of things as being "the decider". As he shrugged off criticism of his Darfur decisions with 'welp, that was the decision I made' so too will the rest of his decisions be viewed. It won't be a favorable review because he has truly made some really really bad decisions. He will also be remembered for his signing statements vacating that which he just signed into law.

In short I have become very aware of the power of the POTUS. Unfortunately it has been demonstrated by the fallout from some truly bad decisions. There really is little success one can point to here at the end of Bush's reign. The best one can come up with is No Child Left Behind and even that is suspect. Iraq, Afghanistan...c'mon? Success ha!!

2/22/2008 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger newscaper said...

oops, here's the link

No Treason

Interesting reading, it's pretty short. He made an interesting case even if you aren't an anarchocapitalist.

2/22/2008 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I, too, think WHiskey's assessment is too pessimistic. It's taken how many billion Muslims in the Middle East how many years to even get close to ONE nuclear weapon, let alone multiples that will actually explode upon command.

I can see one bunch of the ragheaded lunatics managing to get another shot off at the US - maybe - although I still don't see how they'll manage to actually lug it this far, but I do NOT see any "repeat repeat repeat, surrender" scenario. They simply do not have the money, the technology, the capability, the expertise, the education or anything else to pull it off more than once.

And I hope even the Berkeley mutants will be shocked into silence when it happens, and shut the hell up at least for long enough for us to do what should have been done about seven years ago, when it first became obvious that the problem wasn't 16 individual terrorists -- it's Islam.

Of course, you know that if Obama is President when it happens, he'll get a free ride because everyone will be screaming it's all Bush's fault for making them mad at us in the first place. That instinct to blame everything on Bush will not go away once he leaves office so that we can look forward to at least another four years of BDS.

* * *

Because of this, the President's political coin was entirely spent almost two years ago.

And yet he's managed to stymie the Democrats at every juncture, has veto'd some very bad stuff, and has rammed through what he thought was important. What would we consider to be a President whose political capital is not entirely spent?

2/22/2008 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Gene, the numbers are more impressive than you think. According to the CIA the Chinese economy in 2007 stood at $2.8 trillion. At the end of 2007 the US GDP stood at $14.0 trillion according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The US GDP at the start of 2001 was $9.95 trillion. An increased of over $4 trillion in GDP since the start of 2001. The United States economy's growth was 140% of the entire Chinese economy during the first seven years of George W. Bush's presidency. I guess just another one of his many “failures”, huh?

Oh yes, in nominal terms the US economy has grown 41% since George Walker Bush swore his oath. To be fair, the economy grew 47% during the same time frame during Bill Clinton’s presidency. But to be doubly fair, GW had to deal with the recession (remember recession equals negative GDP growth) that started in third quarter of 2000, further deepened by the attacks on 9/11 and which didn’t end until the first quarter of 2002, whereas Bill Clinton inherited an economy that had recovered from a previous recession and was growing at 4+% annual rate when he took over.

2/22/2008 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

now, add to your analysis the economic grief we are now facing. Bush gets full credit for it - accomplished with a pliant Senate and Congress.

2/22/2008 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

BTW tarnsman, have you taken a look at those numbers when denominated in another currency, or basket of currencies? The fall in the US dollar has been large.

2/22/2008 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger Craigicus said...

I really hate to find myself in this place of defending the Clinton presidency, but here goes:

1. HIPAA is still adding great value though you don't see it until you look for it.

2. Welfare reform was a massively great achievement -- even more so for a Democrat.

3. NAFTA was a spectacular achievement.

5. Trimming government was done in a most excellent and open way. I witnessed it from the inside and both Clinton and Gore deserve kudos - that was thankless work.

6. Not fearing nor tinkering with the Internet (however much claiming to have invented it) was a superb achievement.

7. On Clinton's watch the harvest of Reganomics might have occurred, yet financial indicators of stability were resoundingly restored to high levels. The deficit counter on Times Square was removed because the deficit was quickly disappearing.

8. Involvement in the Balkans was controlled, highly limited, and served the achievement of USA's image in the world. The current Islamic sensitivities would have been far worse under Bush had Clinton not gone to their aid here.

9. The Clinton effort in Somalia started out right, and however badly it turned out for our Rangers, the world got the message that the USA would risk it's young men to save starving people.

10. If W is now playing nice with North Korea, then he's doing the same thing that Clinton was doing at the end of his term. If both presidents pandered to the North Koreans as a part of the back and forth, then Clinton's approach can't be condemned as easily.

Clinton was weak in many areas. His relationship with the military was horrendous. I'm not a prude but once the stories about him and MoLew became credible, I no longer wanted to see him in office.

But he did do some good stuff.

2/22/2008 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"..the numbers are more impressive than you think. According to the CIA the Chinese economy in 2007 stood at $2.8 trillion. At the end of 2007 the US GDP stood at $14.0 trillion according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The US GDP at the start of 2001 was $9.95 trillion. An increased of over $4 trillion in GDP since the start of 2001. The United States economy's growth was 140%.."

What was the US dollar worth in 2001 and what is it worth today?

When the US dollar isn't worth the paper it's printed on, then what will the calculated US GDP in US dollars be? Perhaps then the current 9 trillion USD national debt wont be much to worry about.

2/22/2008 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

30 year bond in the mid 4s, 10 yr bond in the mid 3s -- long bond rates are the bottom line of the world's long term confidence in the USA's promises. We may suck, but most everywhere else sucks even more.

2/22/2008 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

On the 180th anniversary of Bastille Day, president Nixon's Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, was working with Zhou Enlai, Mao Tse-tung’s long time right hand man. Kissinger asked Zhou if he thought the 1789 French Revolution had been a success. After mulling over the question for a few minutes, Zhou replied,

"It is too soon to tell".

"One word more about giving instruction as to what the world ought to be. Philosophy in any case always comes on the scene too late to give it. ... The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk." -- Hegel

2/22/2008 09:34:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Craig - good effort, but ultimately futile. Just like Bubba.

1. HIPPAA is a joke. It's a stupid law, doesn't do what it's meant to do, adds bureaucratic paperwork both for the patient and the doctor, and is an excellent example of Big Brother Nanny Government inserting itself where it's neither wanted nor needed.

2. Sarbanes-Oxley is also a Clinton achievement. Between HIPAA and S-Ox how on earth can you say that Bubba and Al cut back on paperwork with a sraight face.

3. I'm not too interested in telling the world anything or sending messages. I am REALLY not interested in caring what the world thinks of us, which always seemed to me to be a preoccupation of Bubba and Mrs. Bubba. To say that sending soldiers into Somalia to be killed and dragged through their streets sends a message to the world that "we care" is simply too rose-colored-glasses for belief.

Indeed, we cared so very much that we left Somalia severely alone after that to descend unchecked into their own version of anarchy, mayhem and hell which was and is just fine with the great majority of Americans, which I'm pretty sure includes Bill Clinton, too.

Just as we've left Kosovo and the Serbs alone to fight it out under Yurp and UN supervision. I'm not saying that's a wrong decision, but I am saying that it's another example of Bill Clinton caring.

2/22/2008 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Ash and Mətušélaḥ,

Numbers are based on US dollars. Of course, those numbers are inflated due to inflation and US currency devaluation. In terms of real dollars (2000 basis) the Chinese economy in 2007 was 2.3 trillion and the US economy was 11.7 trillion. Growth from 2001 was 1.8 trillion in 2000 dollars. So in real terms just the growth alone of the US economy during Bush’s term was just a mere 80% of the entire output of the Chinese economy in 2007. In 2000 dollars the US economy has grown 18%, which I will remind you again includes a year of recession that Bush inherited from previous administration.

2/22/2008 11:13:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

To be fair to all the Presidents I did this little exercise working from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis' numbers and based on the premise that a new President's policies really don't start affecting the economy until the 3rd quarter of their first year and likewise the old President's policies endure during that same time frame. Numbers are based on 'real growth' (2000 based dollars).

Total Growth during term (billions)
Truman ------> 515
Eisenhower --> 494
Kennedy -----> 446
Johnston ----> 759
Nixon -------> 484
Ford --------> 547
Carter ------> 514
Reagan -----> 1684
Bush '41 ----> 523
Clinton ----> 2335
Bush '43 ---> 1806

Easy to see why Reagan and Clinton have their faithful. But no love for GW??

Total Growth % during term
Truman -----> 33%
Eisenhower -> 24%
Kennedy ----> 17%
Johnston ---> 25%
Nixon ------> 13%
Ford -------> 13%
Carter -----> 11%
Reagan -----> 32%
Bush '41 ---> 7%
Clinton ----> 31%
Bush '43* --> 18%
* 7 quarters remaining

Now here's where it gets interesting:

Annualized Real Growth %
Truman -----> 4.9%
Eisenhower -> 3.0%
Kennedy ----> 5.8%
Johnston ---> 5.0%
Nixon ------> 2.2%
Ford -------> 5.7%
Carter -----> 2.7%
Reagan -----> 4.0%
Bush '41 ---> 1.9%
Clinton ---> 3.9%
Bush '43* ---> 2.9%
* 7 quarters remaining

Looks like Ford got the bum rap, Kennedy was Midas himself, and no wonder Bush '41 was sent out to pasture.

2/23/2008 12:14:00 AM  
Blogger Huan said...

Bush will be remembered quite well by history. Especially if things continue to go well in Iraq, he would have transformed the Middle East.

2/23/2008 05:45:00 AM  
Blogger Sweating Through fog said...

Bush will be seen more favorably than he is now. His bad rating is primarily because of the war, but he gets some unfair criticism on that issue. I compare him to Roosevelt here, and he doesn't come off all that badly.

2/23/2008 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Bush will be remembered quite well by history. Especially if things continue to go well in Iraq, he would have transformed the Middle East.

What will be the definition of "things going well", though?

If the Iraqi's manage to keep having elections but also choose to keep massacreing each other, will that be Bush's fault?

If the Saudi oil ticks keep on tracking down and killing internal terrorists but also raise the price of oil to $200 a barrel, will *that* be Bush's fault?

If the mad Mullah's get rid of Ahmadinnerjacket but develop a bomb two years down the road, will that be Bush's fault?

I think Bush went into the Middle East with the best of good intentions to try to give them better lives and to lift the shackles of tyranny off them, but if they *choose* to remain bloodthirsty, ignorant mysogynists because it's part of their glorious culture and past history, then there's not a lot either one President nor one country can do about it, other than to make a stern decision to become equally bloodthirsty in defending ourselves.

2/23/2008 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger watimebeing said...


Don't you think it is too soon to tell?

I believe the beginning made by the Iraqi's if allowed to take hold, contains the potential to transform the whole relationship of Islamic people with their government and their religion. Given the sound rejection of Al Qaeda and the growing disillusion with Hezbollah, and the dawning realization that the Mad Mullahs are wearing no robes at all, not even Burkas, the
transformation may occur sooner than I imagined.

Still it is a long time coming before the next step, dismissing Radical Islamic prescriptions as uncivilized and behavior unworthy of Muslums generally and replacing such notions with something better, is taken.

2/23/2008 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"We may suck, but most everywhere else sucks even more."

Why youz being so difficult? :)

2/23/2008 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

President Bush, in defusing the time bomb in Liberia, and through the initiatives on AIDS and about those pesky mosquitoes and expanding the micro economic initiative has given real hope for a real change that is more than rhetorical or inflection.

Same too for the quiet work being done south of the border in the Western Hemisphere. I have no doubt of the sincerity of gratitude from President Johnson of Liberia, or others in Central and South America. I could suggest some tweaks, to the programs, but generally they are a great success.
Just how big of a deal and how much longevity they have, will take at least a generation to determine, IMO, perhaps longer.
I don't think the president at this point cares who get credit for it, some of it was RR, some his father's, some was Clinton's doing, but most of what is working is President Bush's doing. History will determine who gets credit for any of it.

2/23/2008 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Pickens: U.S. Faces Disaster over Oil Wealth Exodus


Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008

One of America's most influential businessmen, legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens, says the nation's wealth is being plundered by oil exporters and the U.S. faces a potential financial disaster if our energy policy is not reformed.

Pickens, who correctly predicted that oil would top $100 a barrel, also says he expects oil prices to drop sharply in the near term.

Appearing on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Thursday morning, Pickens pointed out that the U.S. is currently sending half a trillion dollars out of the country each year to buy oil, in some cases from people who "are our enemies."

Said Pickens, "You take 10 years and you've got $5 trillion ... That's more than $1 billion a day.

"We can't stand that. Wealth is moving out of the country.

h/t: The Elephant Bar

2/23/2008 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Wade, I think it's absolutely too soon to tell. But as you note, it will take at least a generation for the current crop of brainless Arabs to die off, and the next crop to come into power, hopefully with a more enlightened and educated point of view.

In the meantime, that's 25 years of bloodshed, explosions, mysogyny and genocide that the American left and the rest of the world can heap the blame on Bush for.

Also, given the current levels of evil crazyness evident in that part of he world, I think there's an excellent chance that the current parental units may be totally vaporized before the next generation is even conceived.

2/23/2008 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger j willie said...

From the thread above regarding Kissinger's comments in Der Spiegel:

SPIEGEL: In 50 years, historians will treat his [GWB's] legacy more kindly?

Kissinger: That will happen much earlier.

2/23/2008 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Exguru said...

The crew writing and teaching history today doesn't even recognize Ronald Reagan yet as a great president, so will take forever to discover Bush was good.
In the long run he will be seen as the Simon Bolivar of the Middle East, and the election of 2000 will be seen as a very lucky result, not least because Al Gore would have imposed the opposite of fiscal and tax policies after 9/11, and grass would still be growing on airport runways.

2/25/2008 12:47:00 AM  

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