Yesterday, I was browsing the Christan Science Monitor's website, and found this little article that was lauding Bush's four years of accomplishments in "uncertain times". I agree with the author in this regard - one has to look at the whole picture. From start to finish, of Bush's tenure in the White House.
What has he done for the country?
In the first 9 months of his Presidency, Bush turned inward. He tried to ignore the world, was rude, bordering on directly insulting to the leader of America's largest trading partner. Ignored the situation boiling over in Israel, and started invoking tax cuts that benefit the very wealthy. (Not an auspicious start)
After 9/11, things became much easier for Bush. 9/11 gave him the adversary that he needed in order to seem a credible leader. He could paint the faceless entity 'terrorism' as the smouldering evil that must be conquered. Not being a particularly subtle character, he launched a war in Afghanistan, followed a year or so later with invading Iraq.
In the meantime, he has presided over a period of history where the American economy has been sluggish at best (outside of domains related to defense spending).
The Republicans seem to trying to link 9/11 back to Iraq again, somehow thinking that this absolves Bush and his people of the taint left by the unsubstantiated allegations used to publicly justify invading Iraq. More recently, Bush has begun pounding the war drums over Iran. In Giulani's speech to the RNC, there's a subtle, oblique reference to intentions towards Iran:
Yikes! In a very subtle, oblique way, the process of justifying further wars in the Middle East has begun.
But blaming these scapegoats does not improve the life of a single person in the Arab world.
It does not relieve the plight of even one woman in Iran.
It does not give a decent living to a single soul in Syria.
It doesn't stop the slaughter of African Christians in the Sudan.
The president understands that the changes necessary in the Middle East involve encouraging accountable, lawful, decent governments that can be role models and solve the problems of their own people.
War is ugly, nasty and brutal. People die - those people are cousins, brothers, sisters, spouses. Someone, somewhere is left behind to deal with the ugly aftermath of those situations. In the 20th century, we went through two major wars, and a handful of smaller ones. Surely there are better ways to do things than engaging in what has euphemistically been called "regime change"?
Ask yourself - is the United States any safer for having invaded Afghanistan? Or Iraq? The shadowy world that organizations like al Qaeda work in relies on the kind of disruption that a major war creates in a region. Shadows need to be fought with shadows. Where conventional warfare creates shadows in its wake, order is needed to remove those shadows. For all of the bluster from Bush's administration, little or no apparent progress has been made towards dismantling the leadership of al Qaeda - which is what really needs to be done.
Of course, wars fought in the shadows are no where near as flashy as having the troops roll over top of a country.
At home, Bush has been no friend of any sort of real progress. The economy is still in the doldrums, in spite of the "stimulus" that tax cuts were supposed to provide. On social matters, he has hardly been a "compassionate conservative" as he claimed to be in the 2000 election. Instead, he has taken rigidly conservative stands on everything from equality rights to biological research. It's not a promising thing, especially when Bush has failed to act as a moderating influence on things like the Patriot Act and its descendents.
Looking beyond possible conspiracy theories, Bush's record in the White House is spectacularly uninspiring.
The article I referenced at the beginning tried to blame Clinton for the conditions that created Enron, and the 'Dot-Com Bubble'. On the other side of that coin, Clinton presided over economic growth, peaceful times, and generally improved the standing of the US in the world. He may have had the personal judgement of gnat, but he tried to do well by the US and the world. To blame Clinton for the crooked accounting that took place in Enron seems shallow and slightly ridiculous. Within the information known and available at the time, I fail to see how Clinton could have been aware of that malfeasance, much less taken steps to correct it.
To his overall credit, Clinton didn't invest the US in a major war of aggression - much less one that appears to have been predicated on falsehoods. Bush has, and it looks like it will be a very long time before the US will be able to extract itself from Iraq. (Much less go after Iran or anyone else)
A friend of mine sent me the following link: http://www.g2mil.com/Jul2004.htm