The legacy of George W. Bush
Most American Presidents are identified with landmark events that occurred or policies that were adopted during their administrations. For example, Franklin D. Roosevelt is historically linked to the New Deal and World War II, Harry S. Truman to the Marshall Plan and the start of the cold war, and Lyndon Johnson to the war on poverty, civil rights, and Vietnam.
George W. Bush will be remembered for sheer incompetency in office. It is inconceivable, for instance, that he cut taxes (benefiting only the very wealthy) while Federal expenditures are soaring because of an unnecessary war. Generations to come will be burdened by the need to pay the costs.
I believe that Bush's Presidency has been the worst of this or any other era. My argument is not based on ideological differences (which I do have with Mr. Bush), but primarily on the issue of competent performance. Who would have expected this from the first White House occupant to boast a Harvard MBA degree in management?
When you consider that Bill Clinton was impeached simply for lying under oath about an adultrous episode (and what man would not have lied about such matters?), it would be far more reasonable that Bush be impeached for seriously damaging both the state of the union and America's world reputation.
He is responsible for wasting an inherited budget surplus, creating the nation's record debt, loading the leadership of regulatory agencies with political hacks, hurting working-class interests, disregarding environmental concerns, showing a contempt for intellect, foolishly trying to impose democracy on medieval societies, alienating foreign allies, and--worst of all--going unnecessarily into war in Iraq after manipulating CIA intelligence. Meanwhile, ironically, he was largely re-elected for alleged leadership in the war on terrorism.
The fact is that the invasion of Iraq has critically set us back in the fight against terrorism. The invasion of Afghanistan, however, was fully justified. That country's Taliban regime had provided a home for the Al-Qaeda terrorists that attacked the U.S. on 9/11. Unfortunately, after having been soundly defeated, the Taliban is now regaining strength and is once more a serious threat.
The Taliban has been able to come back because U.S. forces have been distracted from Afghanistan by the unnecessary invasion of Iraq, where our presence there has created new centers of terrorism and brought sheer chaos to the local society. The reasons for the Iraq invasion--the allegations that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction presented an imminent threat and that there was an Iraqi link to Al Qaeda and 9/11--have proven to be false.
In the face of the crisis facing the nation, Bush and his Congressional supporters seem more concerned with such marginal issues as a ban on gay marriage and flag-burning than with far more formidable social and economic problems.
Where is Al Gore--or even John Kerry--when we need them? As David Remnick, editor-in-chief of The New Yorker, recently wrote: "... it is close to inconceivable that the country and the world would not be in far better shape had Gore been allowed to assume the office that a plurality of voters wished him to have. One could imagine him as an intelligent and decent President, capable of making serious decisions and explaining them in the language of a confident adult. Imagining that alternative history is hard to bear..."