Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Bush’s Second-Term Agenda

Free-market George Mason University economist (okay, that’s redundant) Tyler Cowen offers his prescription for what the president should do if he’s elected to a second term. Here are some of my favorites:

2. Tell Western Europe it is paying for its own defense from now on.

5. Strengthen America’s commitment to science. This will have implications for educational policy, immigration policy, and regulatory policy. Don’t restrict stem cell research. Hope that science comes up with affordable and politically sustainable solutions for global warming and clean energy independence. You might have libertarian objections to science subsidies, but the realistic alternative today is more government intervention.

12. Get on TV and tell the nation that a free economy is a critical source of our strength. Tell them you mean it, and then mean it. Economic growth is the greatest long-run gift we can give to the world.

By the way, for those unfamiliar with Cowen’s work, he is author of a couple of brilliant books: Creative Destruction : How Globalization Is Changing the World’s Cultures and In Praise of Commercial Culture (not to slight his other books, which I haven’t read). He has also assembled an extremely useful Ethnic Dining Guide for the Washington, DC, area.

Discussions - 8 Comments

The larger point of Mr. Cowen’s post is that we’re getting precious little in the way of vision for what an America under either a second Bush Administration or a Kerry Administration would look like.

This is what Bill Maher say’s about Bush the morning of 9/11: This is an issue about the ultimate presidential duty, acting in an emergency. If nothing else in Washington is nonpartisan, this should be.

But it is not. Republicans are tying themselves in knots trying to defend Bush’s actions the morning of 9/11. The excuses they put forward are absurd:

He was "gathering his thoughts." This was a moment a President should have imagined a thousand times. There is no time in the nuclear age for a President to sit like Forrest Gump "gathering thoughts" after an attack has begun. Gathering information is what he should have been doing.
From the White House press secretary: "The President felt he should project strength and calm until he could better understand what was happening." I agree that gaining a better understanding of what was happening should have been his goal. What I don’t get is how that goal was reached by just sitting there instead of getting up and talking to people. Is he a psychic? Was he receiving the information telepathically?
"He didn’t want to scare the children." Vice President Cheney has said of Kerry, "The senator from Massachusetts has given us ample reason to doubt the judgment he brings to vital issues of national security." So Kerry’s judgment is suspect, but at a moment of national crisis, Bush’s judgment was: Better not to scare 20 children momentarily than to react immediately to an attack on the country!
If he had just said, "Hey, kids, gotta go do some President business - be good to your moms and dads, bye!" my guess is the kids would have survived.

I cannot see how someone who considers himself a conservative can defend George Bush’s inaction. Conservatives pride themselves on being clear-eyed and decisive. They don’t do nuance, and they respect toughness.

But Bush choked at the most important moment a President could have. We’re lucky Al Qaeda had done its worst by the time he pulled himself away from the photo op. Next time, it might not be that way.

Comment 2 attacks Bush’s lack of action the moment after the attacks on Sept. 11. I, personally, was not dissapointed by bush’s lack of action immediatley after the attacks, but rather by the administrations lack of action to prevent the attacks.

Of course, "Daily News," it would be far better to elect a man like Kerry who, by his own admission, was frozen and "couldn’t think" at all for 40 minutes. That would solve all our problems. And what if Bush had responded by rushing out of the room, rather than thinking things through? You would be criticizing him for being rash and impetuous, and for not taking the time to think. Neither you nor John Kerry can have it both ways.

I guess he could have responded the way Bill Maher did, and referred to Americans as a bunch of cowards. Then Michael Moore would have a clip for his movie that he and Maher would actually like.

Moe, I would be very interested to know where you read about John Kerry’s actions during 9/11. You will forgive my skepticism, but it seems people with your point of view tend to make up there facts and then preach them as truths. So please share your source for your information so I can give it careful consideration.

This is what Kerry himself said on July 8 on CNN’s Larry King Live:

"I was in the Capitol. We’d just had a meeting . . . And as I came in, Barbara Boxer and Harry Reid were standing there, and we watched the second plane come in to the building. And we shortly thereafter sat down at the table and then we just realized nobody could think, and then boom, right behind us, we saw the cloud of explosion at the Pentagon."

The time span here is from 9:03 AM to 9:43 AM. He sat at the table and "couldn’t think." Not the actions I would have expected from a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, particularly not if he is going to criticize others.

John Moser is talking about the Kerry 9/11 thing on another thread; see How Kerry Would’ve Reacted on 9/11 if you want to continue.

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