Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Kristol on Bush

Bill writes the most moving tribute to the president that I’ve read. And I completely agree that the record will show that Bush was, among politicians, uncharacteristically ready to do what he thought was right with a genuine willingness to suffer the consequences. Bill also reminds us that every president--including Obama--these days is stuck with being a war president, and that the president-elect probably knows that well enough.

Discussions - 14 Comments

Praising someone for doing what 'he thought was right' has no moral standing whatsoever. Basically you could praise almost anyone for anything using that reasoning. Kristol's next article will praise Harry Reid for doing what he thought was right, or Pelosi for doing what she thought was right, or the people in Hamas for doing what they thought was right. What Bush believed with contemptuous certainty turned out to be wrong. The 'keeping us safe' theme has also run its course. Now most people think it is like praising Bush for only allowing terrorists to kill 3000 americans ONCE during his administration. The game is up, folks, although who knows, Bush still has a few more hours left to do damage, and a few hours left for praise on this site.

Yes, I found Kristol's piece "moving" too, although just in the stomach-churning sense. Bill Kristol.....seriously? Bill Kristol? The one pundit who has probably been more consistently wrong - with both predictions and simple facts - than anyone else over the last, yes, 8 years. Reminded me of one of the Powerline bloggers who was heaping praise upon Bush just a few years back by lamenting how hard it must be to be him, making nearly every decision with something close to perfection. (Of course, after the laughter in response became just too deafening to ignore, he pulled a stunt that I've seen employed here a time or two, and claimed that he wrote all that tongue-in-cheek.

As ren noted, someone doesn't necessarily deserve any praise for being "ready to do what he thought was right with a genuine willingness to suffer the consequences." The same could be said of many tyrants and dictators. As of yet, though, Bush has not had to suffer any consequences for anything he's executed, other than rock-bottom approval ratings (which, I recall, someone here at NLT had assured the gentle readers here that those numbers would recover). Perhaps he wouldn't be so willing to suffer the consequences if he actually experienced some to suffer (have you sent your daily thank you note to Pelosi for keeping impeachment "off the table"?). And, as he and Cheney have both expressed to varying degrees, they don't see low poll numbers as anything like a significant consequence. See here for a further smackdown of that defense that he made tough decisions.

For better Bush presidency wrap-ups (better than Kristol's and the WashPost piece you posted before), start here (and even it goes a good bit too easy on Bush) and move on from there.

Craig, what planet are you living on to think Bush "hasn't had to suffer any consequences?" Did you watch that last press conference of his?

Bill Kristol is Bill Kristol, and his brand of neocon triumphalism shares some of the blame for what went wrong, but can anyone at this late date deny that these words of his are true? "His [Bush's]ordering the surge of troops to Iraq in January 2007 was an act of personal courage and of presidential leadership. The results have benefited both Iraq and the United States." Yes, the result of not having genocide in your land is a result indeed.

But the proper object for the moment is not Bush, admittedly a man unequal to the demands of the office, even if a decent man, and a much wiser man than most. No. The proper object for reflection is the depths of hatred so many Americans, with the official blessing of the declaredly peace-loving Democratic party, have felt and continue to feel for this man. While the pages of our history do contain earlier episodes of great polarization and hateful/conspiratorial rhetoric, none is as low, as cheap, and as meaningless as this one.

United we stand?


And for what, for what, were we so systematically divided? The Obama administration admits that emptying Guantanomo is a "very complicated" task. Holder admits that the Geneva convention does not apply to terrorists. A whole slew of federal judge admits that the president had the authority to do the wiretaps against terrorist-suspect calls. Obama, to Olberman and company's howls, WILL NOT TAKE BUSH ADMINISTRATION FIGURES TO COURT. Why? Because, uh, er, while what they were doing, was Controversial and Not-the-America-I-Know and intensely disliked by a certain preponderant type of European (read: "world community"), it was not (cough, cough) Unconstitutional. Not (cough, cough) Illegal. Or at least, we have to (cough, cough) look ahead, get past the partisan division of the past.

So if Bush didn't Lie so that people could Die for his oil pipeline, (and there has been NO evidence to date that he did pressure intelligence agents to cook their estimates), if he did not put "the Constitution through a shredder" but rather was careful enough to stay within the lines so that Obama would have no cause to prosecute, and if he now peacefully yields power thus proving the basic low-minded insanity of all lofty-sounding worries about Bush-as-a-potential-tyrant, then just WHAT THE HELL were so many Americans raving on about at the top of their voices for a good portion of the last eight years? Will anyone dare to suggest that practically speaking, there is no political discourse that lies on the spectrum between Damnation and Adulation?

Tomorrow we will step into the America of no-Bush. It will, by and large, prove to be the same old America. Humans will once again dissappoint us, even those of our own country or ideological prediliction. Oceans will still rise, if they are. Wars will still break out. Economies will still not be magical. A city might even be toppled by a natural disaster combined with a poor relief effort. And so on and so on...But I do invite those Democrats, who unlike ren and Craig, know in their guts that the partisan ire of the last 8 years really was more the fault of liberals and really was a new kind of low for political discourse in the United States, to think seriously about apologizing. Yes, an apology is owed. Obama in the very best case scenario can only do so much himself to heal our polluted souls, our poisoned waters of's up to us. And, the first move of reconciliation on this properly belongs to the Dems. I know why, Collectively, that is impossible. What It Is to Be a Democrat right now is a bit too tied up with Being Against Bush. I look forward to Obama's program changing that, as I'm sure all Dems do. But individually, it would do our nation great good if a number of you would admit that some of your words were poorly chosen, and that evil words really do hurt nations.

Carl, please remind me of the real, palpable consequences that Bush met at his final presser. The deep and troubling humiliation of having Cheney doze off?

Bush took his orders from the same people that Obama will. Nothing that liberals hated about Bush will change under Obama I fear, I just hope that liberals have the courage to not support it or justify it. We are about to find out if either side has any courage left.

At the no evidence he lied so people died thing. I agree, its a way too simplified way of looking at the world. Bush may not have lied because he, nor any president, has ever really controlled the CIA. The only president to try ended up being shot by a "drifter/communist sympathizer." One would assume though that the people who are keeping us safe post 911 must be getting decent information since we have had no further attacks. It just makes more sense for them to have done it to get a permanent base in the the region. Some Americans now must unerstand that its not totally about oil either. Destabalization did not get gas to four dollars, hedge fund trading did.

As for healing, i doubt it. My prediction is that after the afterglow wares off, conservatives will get down to brass tax and start being outraged with bush's policies now being carried out by obama. I wonder how soon Limbaugh will not just bring up the contradiction, but just critique the policy as if the previous eight years had been discretely thrown in a memory hole?

Here's my poem about George Bush.

I'd like to kick him in the tush

or send him to the Hindu Kush.

That's how much I'll miss George Bush.

Here's my poem about Obama. Roses are red, violets are blue. Obama is a secret Arab and he's pro-terrorist.

Why do I bother...although Brutus, you do make an interesting point about conservatives attacking, or attacking more vigorously, Obama policies that pretty much could have been Bush's.

Hal has often reminded me of former President G.W. Bush. Perhaps he's not quite as well-read or well-spoken as Bush, but he operates in a similar, "no-nonsense" style (that is not to say it isn't full of nonsense, it's just the style).

Welcome back, Fung!

Thank you, Paul!

And now a word about Osama:

Taller than Louie DePalma

and wiser than the Dalai Lama.

I hope he helps us get Osama.

Oh good grief. Of course, the first line should end with "Obama." You should hear me with punch lines: "No, wait! It wasn't a Priest, a Minister and a Rabbit -- it was a Rabbi, a Priest and -- no -- let me start over."

Don't feel bad. A lot of us have a hard time telling the difference.

Thank you, Hal. You can imagine how much better I feel!

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