George W. Bush’s book Decision Points is interesting because he lets you share the pros-and-cons of his decision-making but shows the glitch in thinking that ruined the GOP for a time—and may do so again. This is so-called “moderation” that is supposed to neutralize liberal and media criticism. More of that later.
The book is two-fold…gooey and Wilsonian… with one major exception.
The exception is “W’s” laudable support of pro-life his courageous handling of the embryonic stem cell issue—probably the best chapter where he goes into his laudable study to determine what to do. Not covered in the book which puzzles me is probably his finest hours in support of life—his appointments of John Roberts as chief justice and Sam Alito as associate justice. He refers briefly to the bad mistake of appointing Harriet Miers who after hell was raised by social conservatives pulled her back.
How he mysteriously didn’t understand that she was a lightweight with no informed views on jurisprudence even though her contributions to political liberals which would have given him a tip-off is never raised. In all, social conservatives can pinch themselves that through happenstance they got two brilliant conservative justices. Before he thought of Miers, Bush would surely have appointed his favorite, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales but he ran into trouble when he submitted a list of U.S. attorneys who reportedly were not sufficiently political in their prosecutions and resigned under fire.
Otherwise, running throughout the book there’s that gawd-awful concept of “compassionate conservatism.” Three examples.
One. . Supporting “No Child Left Behind” the hideously expensive education excursion designed to woo soccer moms where he was suckered by Ted Kennedy who was willing to give more concessions to Idealist George such as vouchers but wasn’t asked to because “W” was edified that he was working with the blowsy old stentorian phony. A “compassionate country club express” which got him nothing but criticism from the Left.
Two. The Ill-conceived multi-billion-dollar prescription drug benefit allowing him to demonstrate “Republicans-are-also-liberal” by which he tried to show media and the voters that the GOP could be just as profligate as the Dems. He derived no credit from liberals just criticism that he didn’t spend more.
Three. The nonsensical Immigration bill supported by McCain which charted amnesty for illegals. It didn’t make it and alienated millions of conservatives to-boot.
The book is not a chronological review of the administration—only certain “decision points.” This bypasses the need to refer to other mushy-moderate residues of the “compassionate” country-club…his signing the unconstitutional McCain-Feingold bill…signing the anti-business Sarbanes-Oxley bill that put the financial industry in irons…failing to veto any bills in his first term…adding 100,000 new federal employees…the return of expensive farm subsidies which had been gotten rid of by Reagan…and pork barrel spending in cooperation with the Republican congress which hit a record $29 billion, four times higher than the 1994 level. Each one could be identified as an attempt to buy favor with special interest groups via taxpayer dollars—probably as result of the importuning of Karl Rove on a willing country-club president.
In foreign affairs Bush wallowed in Wilsonianism. There he went all wobbly about the epidemic of AIDS in Africa where he had no business directing taxpayers largesse to the cause resemblant of High Church Episcopalian philanthropy. A president has to be guided by his head in fiscal prudence not allowing himself to use government monies whenever he gets weepy. Fighting AIDS should be the job of the churches, private sector foundations.
In fact weepy-ness, lumps in the throat, tears run in rivulets all through the soggy book. When a president commits troops to the battlefield, it should be to protect the peace and liberty of the United States. Period. That’s got to be the only justification to be used for Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet we read that getting rid of Saddam Hussein may have justified the war alone after no WMD were found because he was a tyrant to his people and a mass murderer. Wrong.
Saddam was a tyrant all right—but that’s not why you send our youths to war. God knows there are now and always have been in power tyrants abusive to their people. We have no business charging in as Sir Galahad…a Dudley Do-Right type of international police force. I once alienated a Jewish woman who was with me on public radio by challenging her statement that the Holocaust enough was justification for us to go to war with Hitler. “No ma’am,” I said, “atrocious as it was. We went to World War II because we were attacked by Japan after which Hitler declared war in solidarity--and it had nothing to do with the Jews. Nor should we have gone in for the Jews.”
How awful, she said.
“Not awful, ma’am,” I replied. “A president has no right to send troops to war to rectify injustice—else we would be engaged in wars perpetually. ”
Nor do we have the right to go to war to make other nations convert to “democratic principles.” None at all. Too much of Bush’s book…far too much….makes him look like a naïve Eagle Scout president. I hope but am not sure that Eagle Scout-ism didn’t propel us to Afghanistan and Iraq. If this could be proved I’d be with the paleos. But I don’t think it was.
What has convinced me is not Bush or Cheney but middle eastern scholar Bernard Lewis who says that even though WMD weren’t found, Bush saved us further terrorist attacks here at home since it was the first time we shoved back on Islamic terrorism. Because I believe Lewis is right, I applaud Bush’s decisiveness.
But aside from the WMD issue which fooled everybody, if we went in to dethrone Hussein because he mass murdered Kurds (no matter how repugnant) ….or because Hussein tried to assassinate Bush’s father who is an idol to “W”…it would have been unjustified and immoral for him to commit our troops…and I’d be on the street-corners passing out leaflets. So…
…the reason I’ve supported Iraq is that I agree with Lewis. Even so,, there’s so much gooey sentimentality in the book over the senior Bush…although intriguingly the assassination plan doesn’t get mentioned… that I suspect without proof it may have been one cause. But as I have no proof and do respect the fact that under his tenure the homeland was spared after 9/11 I shall give him a good mark for decisiveness in pushing back.
In brief, Bush, though gooey and sentimental, is a firm Christian and patriot. I have no confidence at all that under the Big Zero (Obama) we are being as adequately protected from our enemies as we were under Bush. It is clear from O’s many statements that he is neither Christian nor patriot…but a mysterious 3rd world alien and a cipher endowed with Sidney Poitier drawing room manners.
We can easily do better in 2012 but we must not return to “compassionate conservatism” ala country club moderation. To those who want to see Jeb Bush run saying he’s the best of the Bushes, I say he may be but I for one have had enough of Kennebunkport to last the rest of my lifetime.