Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Is Everyone Tired of the President?

Byron York reminds us that Bush might have been aiming at subtle statesmanship or the very opposite of demagoguery on immigration and with his Libby commutation. But his real achievement in both cases was to alienate himself from everyone. And whatever the facts on the ground may be, he still appears to be relatively clueless on what to do about Iraq. Throwing around a few vetoes probably won’t help him much at this point. I really want to say something good about or at least offer some good advice to a president who has displayed some admirable intentions. Can’t do it, at least right now. I’ll leave it up to you.

Discussions - 14 Comments

True and devastating piece. I'm surprised Bush still polls as high as he does among Republicans. Much is coming to rest on Petraeus's shoulders as events unfold. It is really going to be his moment--more potential prominence than we've seen for a general in quite some time. If he exercises political as well as military savvy, and if he has good luck, he could emerge as a key figure. SC newspapers this morning featured Lindsey Graham's optimistic statements on his return from Baghdad. And does anyone have a comment on the Chalabi interview in the WSJ this morning? I was struck by a number of things he said. One I might mention would be another Bush mistake, establishing an occupation rather than an Iraqi government after the initial victory.

Don't wait for me to offer some silver lining in this dark, second term cloud.

It was Meirs for me.

Recall, BOTH in 2000 and 2004, George Walker Bush POUNDED the campaign trail on the issue of judges. He included it in every one of his stump speeches. When asked in the Presidential debates, AGAIN, in both the 2000 and 2004 races, he was asked point-blank: "What kind of justice are you looking to appoint." And his answer was always the same: "I like Scalia and Thomas."

And then he gets in there, and the first thing he does is test the waters about the feasibility of appointing Alberto Gonzales. When it was clear that Gonzales wouldn't do, he selected a brilliant originalist, Roberts. But, in retrospect, it's clear that he really didn't want to appoint that type of conservative stalwart to the high court. And then when that second opening appeared, and every Conservative across the fruited plain was excited about the possibility of getting "another Scalia and Thomas," he asked Reid who HE would appoint, and then went with Reid's recommendation. When he did that, I realized we were in the presence of a political mens rea. George W. Bush is no friend to the people that put him in office, and the people that reelected him.

When he hit the campaign trail on judges, he didn't say to the American people: "I'll ask the Democrat leader who he would appoint, and appoint whomever he selects." It wasn't anything like that. Bush repeatedly stressed how he did not want judges "legislating from the bench." He repeatedly mentioned Scalia and Thomas.

And then he tried to appoint Gonzales and Meirs. He never wanted a Court informed by the likes of a Roberts or an Alito. He wanted to appoint O'Connor clones, like Gonzales and Meirs.

I wonder if part of the reason he went for so sweeping and transformative an immigration policy was precisely because he didn't want Roberts and Alito defining his true domestic legacy. Could his support of that radical, RADICAL immigration bill be his attempt to offset the conservative impact that Roberts and Alito will likely have?

I wonder.

Remember, the father offset the appointment of Thomas with Souter. So offsetting isn't a strange and weird idea for a member of that family.

The task before him is very straightforward. He has two tasks. 1} Destroy the Iranian Manhattan Project; and 2} Pacify Baghdad.

If he succeeds in both of those two tasks, he'll be recalled in history as a great President.

But were he to allow himself to fail in either one of those two tasks, he'll be remembered as a disaster; he'll go down as the GOP's equivalent to Jimmy Carter.

The first thing he should do is tell our pilots and naval aviators to "saddle up." Once the dark shadow that is cast by the Iranian bomb, all across the Mideast, is swept away, diplomatic possibilities will immediately open up. His task in Iraq will become easier, for the Iranians will have lost a great deal of political juice on the Baghdad streets. But it all hinges on the President acting like the leader of the free West, and stop acting like lost some lost, pusillanimous Texan, who is badly out of his depth.

But there will be no real progress in Baghad, in Lebanon, with the Palestinians, until such time as that Manhattan Project has been turned into ruins.

This President has a bad habit of failing to prioritize. Think of all the effort poured forth into that hateful, transformative immigration bill. Now think how much better that effort would have been placed, had the President forced through a real oil proceeds distribution system in Iraq. And I mean to the Iraqi people on a pro rata basis, not to the tribal leaders, not to the Sunni, Kurdish and Shiite communities, but to the Iraqi people individually. Such a distribution would work wonders for the Iraqi economy and advance the process of pacifying Iraq.

He's lost.

Why did he bother running for reelection if he intended to mail it all in? Why did he bother trying to stay in The White House, if he all he intended was that the UN would dictate America's foreign policy. Why didn't he allow the GOP to select his replacement?

He ran for the job of leader of the free world. So why doesn't he start acting like it.

Bush didn't alienate me with the Libby commutation. But he failed to begin to win back my belief in him, thanks to an accompanying statement that sided with Fitzgerald and the verdict.

A patrician like Bush simply wanted power - that's why he ran for office. He was raised to believe he deserved that power. Obviously he couldn't run as a Democrat, because he's no socialist, so he ran as a Republican. Small problem, though: he doesn't like Republicans - at least not the middle class, Wal-Mart shopping, bible thumping kind. So he put on a facade - not at all unlike his father.

What does Bush believe in? Well, what has he consistently fought for? Lower taxes on business, lower taxes on capital gains, elimination of the so-called "death tax," and uncontrolled immigration to please business. In other words, he's fought for his fellow members of the aristocracy. That's what he believes in, plain and simple.

My preferred term for him is "neofeudalist." Add to his economic policies his obsession with war and it all fits together.

The upside is that the Bush dynasty is finished. No one named Bush will ever be seriously considered for national office again.

Craig, Bush is a little more complex, a bit more enigmatic than that. You said he doesn't like the "bible thumping kind." But in a way, he's a prayer group kind of guy. He's difficult to capture. He clearly oozes disdain for the base of his party, which is God-fearing, America loving. But many of his groupies hail from that social strata. Look at Meirs for instance. She jumped on his coat tail, she even changed her denomination to be more in sync with the "bible thumpers" in the Lone Star State. And that move helped her career. After GW became Governor, she became a rain maker through the contacts she acquired riding his coat tails. And of course she never would have gotten to Washington without him.

I'm not sure about this, but isn't Karen Hughes another "bible thumper" type. David Frum writes that The White House staff is prompt for their prayer meetings. And once when he replied to a question by saying that he was "damn sure" of his answer, it raised eyebrows considerably.

I'm not sure that the President ever considered himself bred for power. As Al Gore and John Kerry clearly considered themselves. But I DO concur that he uses his power without regard for the feelings of ordinary Americans. And that's entirely consistent with the ethos of the establishment. The recent immigration battle demonstrated that beyond any doubt.

Is the foreign policy problem a situation of "double or nothing," I'm not sure that it is. It's an interesting descriptive though. For I'm not sure if you are aware, but when Nixon said that he would not permit the South Vietnamese government to fall, French newspapers described his actions in your exact words, "Nixon bets double or nothing." And Nixon won. He smashed all Northern offensives, killing scores of thousands of the enemy, and he unleashed American strategic assets, pulverizing the enemy to the bargaining table. Nixon won. Congress gave that victory away, in a fit of pique, mean spiritedness and self-loathing. And Ford lacked the nerve to call Congress on it, for he lacked the nerve to send in American air power regardless of Congressional action, thus defying Congress, forcing them either to back him up or impeach him. Ford was another that flinched in the clutch. As Bush is proving himself to be.

But I'm not sure that it's a case of "double or nothing." For I see the solution to Iraqi difficulties in Tehran. Tehran is behind sunni extremism, shiite extremism and even Al Qaeda. They're behind them all, for destabilizing Iraq is the most important foreign policy goal they have, other than completing their Manhattan Project. Our State Department insists on saying Iraqi pacification is in the long term interests of Iran, when it's no such thing.

But enough of Bush, Condi and their incompetence for one day.

Ah, y'all may have it nailed with your comments, but no matter how p*ssed off I might get at George, I always cool off by thinking of the alternatives - Al Gore and John Kerry.

No thank you!

I am dismayed by all the commentary.
Of course I have no idea about the background of those who have such little
regard for Mr. Bush.
I still support the President.
I read Michael Yon and Iraq the Model
and other reports from Iraq and believe
we are on the right track. The "surge"
has only been fully implemented for
a few weeks. I am confident Gen Petraeus
is going to be successful. The only thing which can upset his efforts will be chicken-livered Senators on both sides of the isle . Domenici and lugar and the guy from Ohio are a disgrace.
We are on the right path in N. Korea
and also Iran. Don't be so quick to sell GW short.
As for immigration--whatamazes me most
were conservatives damning amnesty.
Our greatest leader , Mr. Ronald Reagan
gave amnesty to millions. That in itself
did no produce a problem . It was the failure of the government to implement
the laws accompanying amnesty.
george Bush didn't cause the problems
we have with illegal immigration ,
Ronald Reagan and his poorly conceived
amnesty bill did.
George Bush is on the right track.

At some point, it turns out, a man needs the power of speech in addition to action. If a man cannot defend his choices forcefully and convincingly--particularly when that man is President--it will start to show in his actions. Even when he has the right instincts and acts on them, he will begin to hedge his bets (as David notes in #2) when he is so uniformly criticized. Bush is seeming more and more like the Nells Olsen (from Little House on the Prairie) of American politics. He is the husband of an unrelentingly critical wife (not Laura, but the American people) and--though he wants to do right--he cannot do it in a way that convinces her of anything. It is painful to watch.

I'm an American.

I'm livid with Bush channeling the foreign policy of the "last, best hope of mankind," the leader of the free world, the champion in arms of the free West, the world's sole superpower through the that nauseating organization, the United Nations. I'm livid with his serial appointments of incompetent cronies. I'm livid with the manner in which he blew up the brand name of the Grand Old Party. I'm livid with how he's allowed over 35% of our fellow citizens to come to the conclusion that his administration was somehow "behind" 9/11. And I could go on, and on and on.

I want to win the war. And I'm not much interested in the declarations of a politically correct President who constantly tells me that the war is going to take "decades." His war is allowing muslims to get the idea that they can hang with the United States. The removal of Saddam was intended to send a signal throughout islam that you had better not mess with the United States. His war effort subsequent to the taking of Baghdad has eviscerated that message. Nor am I much interested in his opinions of islam, nor in the opinions of his clueless crony, Karen Hughes, who should be back in the Bible Belt somewhere. And another thing that bothers the hell out of me is the manner in which he delivers a speech. He can't even read the damn things right. He stops in odd, jarring and awkward places. And he's apt to toss in an ingratiating smile in the oddest of places too. He's had more than enough time to develop an ear for the English language. And the manner in which he delivers speeches is pure butchery. Absolute butchery.

He's got a job to do. He wanted that job, he asked for it, he promised the American people he was up to it. And he's ratting out on his obligations. I'm livid, and I've damn well good reason to be livid.

What does his commutation of Libby's sentence, which satisfied nobody, remind you of? I'll tell you exactly what it reminded me of. Recall that speech before Congress where the President mentioned his tax cuts. He went on to say that "some thought it too small," {and he smiled over at his Republicans who were cheering that sentiment}, and then he followed that up by saying "some thought it too large," {and then he glanced over at the Democrats who were cheering}, and then he concluded by saying that "most thought it just right." NOW THAT'S as rank an example of a KAREN HUGHEISM as one is apt to find. AND THAT'S EXACTLY what we see going on in this Libby commutation. And that type of political calibration I NEVER liked.

When you hear the President mention with dopey tone, "moms and dads," with that look on his face, doesn't it grate? Be honest with yourself, have you EVER liked hearing the President morph "parents" into his Karen Hugheism, "moms and dads." Remember after 9/11, when the President appeared before townhall gatherings, and some guy would stand up and ask what he could do for the war effort. Do you remember how the President would get that dopey look on his face, and he would reply, "love your neighbors," or "volunteer at your local senior center." Now American men wanted to hear the Commander in Chief say: "Get in touch with your local Marine recruiter." But instead they were offered the sickening spectacle of hearing their President urge them to "love your children," {Americans don't need to be urged to love their kids, and those that do are so far gone that they wouldn't listen to him anyway, but that type of robust commonsense was lost on the crafter of that line, which was again, the hopelessly out of her depth Karen Hughes}. American men didn't want to hear their President tell them that volunteering to clean up bedpans in some geezer center was actually advancing the war effort. And it was insulting for him to say it. Just the other day he praised some guy who was going out on his 8th tour. But when American men wanted to volunteer, and were simply waiting for the word from their President, what did they hear, but some garbage devised by Karen Hughes. Instead of having an Army several million strong, we have an Army where men are being sent out on 4th and 5th tours. And who do I blame for that, I blame him. Instead of using federal dollars to beef up America's Army, America's Navy, America's Air Force, America's Marines, instead of that, he was content to sign appropriation packages for bridges to nowhere. Talk about misplaced priorities!

When I think of the opportunities this administration wasted, ...................... I could just be sick.

Julie, the American people are not "unrelentingly critical," rather, we're begrudgingly critical. We didn't desire to see his flaws. After 9/11, the nation rallied to him, and told him to go solve the problem. Instead he devised this concept of a "decades long war," and then followed that up by placing upon us the hard burden of winning muslim "hearts and minds."

Roosevelt and Churchill didn't set out to win the hearts and minds of Germans, of Italians, of Japanese. They set out to utterly destroy their enemies.

This war began as one of "phases." How many of you even recall the phrase? We were going to take down terror sponsors one by one, forming coalitions of the willing when we could, going it alone when we had to. That was what we were told. Instead, George Walker Bush allowed the French to play games with him at the UNSC, along with the Chinese. Instead of simply dismissing the United Nations, he tried, he FOOLISHLY tried to "reform" the damn thing. Again, another idea obnoxious to Conservatives. We aren't interested in "reforming" the UN, but in getting rid of that hateful thing. He told us REPEATEDLY that he would not allow "the world's worst regimes to get the world's worst weapons." And instead of making good on that, he's been content to beg El Baradei to lean on the Iranians. Any normal American President would have told his Chief of Naval Operations and his Air Force Commander to obliterate every single terror target, every single intelligence target, every single Manhattan Project target, and every single Revolutionary Guard target throughout the length and breath of Iran. But not this guy.

For the greatest act of muslim terror in world history, the world's foremost sponsor of muslim terror should have been hammered. But instead, we went into the arid wastelands of the pathan, the afridi, the waziri, the khybeery, we went into the land of the Afghan. We should have taken care of them on the short hop. But Iran, the foremost sponsor of mayhem on the planet, they should have been dealt with first.

Bush chose a path that seemed moderate and measured, go after the Taliban first. That policy had the support of men like Powell, Baker, Scowcroft.

He should have chosen the path of the bold, the audacious. I had hopes that events in Iraq would FORCE this administration to remove the regime in Tehran. I was confident that the Iranians would come after us in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and that the Pentagon would demand the right to go after their Iranian tormentors. I was confident that once the dogs of war were unleashed, the old status quo, the old "realists," the friends of the Arab narrative, the CIA and State would not be able to stem the cataract of war that would follow. I did not take into account the determination, THE UTTER DETERMINATION of the establishment to conceal what the Iranians have been up to. That, I must confess, surprised me. And I'm stunned too how little leaking is going on in the Pentagon. Iranians are killing Americans, yet the brass refuses to make that known to the American people. That's a shocker to me. It just tells you how pervasive the corporate mentality is at the Pentagon.

The problem is that Bush knows almost nothing of war. And I don't mean firsthand, that has nothing to do with it. I mean what he's read, or rather, what hasn't he read on the subject. Whatever it was, it wasn't about grand strategy, wasn't about the Western way of war, about the American way of war.

I've read about war ever since I was a boy. When I wasn't playing some sport, I spent my time at the local college library, which happened to be that of the old Pennsylvania Military College. I read the Great Commander series before I was 12; I knew what Schwarzkopf was intending by his force location, and said as much before several hundred people. I predicted the strong movement of allied armour driving deep into the Iraqi flank before it went down. I knew the Iranians were going to start killing us in Iraq, and knew it before we went to Baghdad. I haven't been shocked by the recent revelations about their involvement. I've been validated.

And I've been right about this President. I saw what was coming over three years ago. Had suspicions previous to that, but only shared them with friends and family. And every single one of those suspicions has been borne out.

Bryon York's piece was far too gentle on the President, and he didn't come remotely close to capturing the raw anger of the base of the GOP.

At some point, it turns out, a man needs the power of speech in addition to action. If a man cannot defend his choices forcefully and convincingly--particularly when that man is President--it will start to show in his actions.

Undeniably so.


Bush is seeming more and more like the Nells Olsen (from Little House on the Prairie) of American politics. He is the husband of an unrelentingly critical wife (not Laura, but the American people) and--though he wants to do right--he cannot do it in a way that convinces her of anything. It is painful to watch.

But here you are wrong. Anyone who watched the immigration putsch knows very well who was the Nells Oleson and who was the Harriet.

Bush surrendered his authority from the get-go. Like Dan said, barely 9 months into his administration he was saying, post-9/11, that the best thing you could do for your country was 'go out and spend money.'

9 months.

He hadn't even had time to be badgered to death! The man has few if any principles that he'll stick with, and the ones he does are mostly risible.

Now I'm sure he was hearing from people like Karl Rove, and Karl Rove, and Karl Rove, that he needed - just needed - to sign that porkbarrel bill, and that campaign finance deform bill, and everything else. His job was to say "No." Yes, great men have advisors like Karl Rove. But great men know when not to listen to them.

Whether we came begrudgingly or not to the point of criticism, we're unrelenting now. I don't dispute most of what you say above.

The President has walked out on a plank. But my hand is extended towards him, if he wants to come back aboard.

Of course I'll watch him like a hawk, for I don't trust him, and never will again. But President Bush and the GOP could yet accomplish a great deal. If only he gave up his foolish liberalism, which he mendaciously camouflaged by terming it "compassionate conservatism."

I think you all are missing out on the Zeitgeist of America... Namely: No Limit Texas Holdem'. Bush has alienated gamblers/investors by attacking online poker and has weakened the WTO. Despite the crack down on online sites who provide many entries into the Main Event of the WSOP...this year has seen the formation of another record. Are Poker Players a stranded voting block?

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