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    10 Things Bush Got Right

    Bush's Achievements
    Ten things the president got right.
    by Fred Barnes
    01/19/2009, Volume 014, Issue 17


    The postmortems on the presidency of George W. Bush are all wrong. The liberal line is that Bush dangerously weakened America's position in the world and rushed to the aid of the rich and powerful as income inequality worsened. That is twaddle. Conservatives--okay, not all of them--have only been a little bit kinder. They give Bush credit for the surge that saved Iraq, but not for much else.

    He deserves better. His presidency was far more successful than not. And there's an aspect of his decision-making that merits special recognition: his courage. Time and time again, Bush did what other presidents, even Ronald Reagan, would not have done and for which he was vilified and abused. That--defiantly doing the right thing--is what distinguished his presidency.

    Bush had ten great achievements (and maybe more) in his eight years in the White House, starting with his decision in 2001 to jettison the Kyoto global warming treaty so loved by Al Gore, the environmental lobby, elite opinion, and Europeans. The treaty was a disaster, with India and China exempted and economic decline the certain result. Everyone knew it. But only Bush said so and acted accordingly.

    He stood athwart mounting global warming hysteria and yelled, "Stop!" He slowed the movement toward a policy blunder of worldwide impact, providing time for facts to catch up with the dubious claims of alarmists. Thanks in part to Bush, the supposed consensus of scientists on global warming has now collapsed. The skeptics, who point to global cooling over the past decade, are now heard loud and clear. And a rational approach to the theory of manmade global warming is possible.
    Had he lifted the federal regulations limiting new nuclear reactors, and helped defend against lawsuits, we'd be a lot further along in getting off the Arab Oil Addiction. He also squandered the chance to implement off shore and domestic drilling. Why didn't he fight and help more refineries get built. Especially in areas not so prone to natural disasters like hurricanes? A lot could have been accomplished. I'd even give him credit for trying and failing. But he didn't even try. The lifting of executive prohibitions on off shore drilling at the end of last year was symbolic because those will all be in place again before one drop is recovered.

    Second, enhanced interrogation of terrorists. Along with use of secret prisons and wireless eavesdropping, this saved American lives. How many thousands of lives? We'll never know. But, as Charles Krauthammer said recently, "Those are precisely the elements which kept us safe and which have prevented a second attack."

    Crucial intelligence was obtained from captured al Qaeda leaders, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, with the help of waterboarding. Whether this tactic--it creates a drowning sensation--is torture is a matter of debate. John McCain and many Democrats say it is. Bush and Vice President Cheney insist it isn't. In any case, it was necessary. Lincoln once made a similar point in defending his suspension of habeas corpus in direct defiance of Chief Justice Roger Taney. "Are all the laws but one to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated?" Lincoln asked. Bush understood the answer in wartime had to be no.
    Again, agreed.

    Bush's third achievement was the rebuilding of presidential authority, badly degraded in the era of Vietnam, Watergate, and Bill Clinton. He didn't hesitate to conduct wireless surveillance of terrorists without getting a federal judge's okay. He decided on his own how to treat terrorists and where they should be imprisoned. Those were legitimate decisions for which the president, as commander in chief, should feel no need to apologize.

    Defending, all the way to the Supreme Court, Cheney's refusal to disclose to Congress the names of people he'd consulted on energy policy was also enormously important. Democratic congressman Henry Waxman demanded the names, but the Court upheld Cheney, 7-2. Last week, Cheney defended his refusal, waspishly noting that Waxman "doesn't call me up and tell me who he's meeting with."
    Still no argument from me.

    Achievement number four was Bush's unswerving support for Israel. Reagan was once deemed Israel's best friend in the White House. Now Bush can claim the title. He ostracized Yasser Arafat as an impediment to peace in the Middle East. This infuriated the anti-Israel forces in Europe, the Third World, and the United Nations, and was criticized by champions of the "peace process" here at home. Bush was right.

    He was clever in his support. Bush announced that Ariel Sharon should withdraw the tanks he'd sent into the West Bank in 2002, then exerted zero pressure on Sharon to do so. And he backed the wall along Israel's eastern border without endorsing it as an official boundary, while knowing full well that it might eventually become exactly that. He was a loyal friend.
    I wish he hadn't joined the rest of the world calling for Israel to withdraw from Lebanon. There was a big opportunity there to get rid of the Islamic terrorists who not only terrorized Israel but the Lebanese christians who are being persecuted as well.

    His fifth success was No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the education reform bill cosponsored by America's most prominent liberal Democratic senator Edward Kennedy. The teachers' unions, school boards, the education establishment, conservatives adamant about local control of schools--they all loathed the measure and still do. It requires two things they ardently oppose, mandatory testing and accountability.

    Kennedy later turned against NCLB, saying Bush is shortchanging the program. In truth, federal education spending is at record levels. Another complaint is that it forces teachers to "teach to the test." The tests are on math and reading. They are tests worth teaching to.
    First, teaming up with Ted Kennedy to write legislation is not going to do anything but increase government spending and federal intrusion into state's rights and individual liberty. Duh. Somehow saying federal education spending is at a record high as a defense against Kennedy's criticism that it's not enough just doesn't give me warm fuzzies. I have no problem requiring minimum standards and testing but that should be up to the states not the federal government. Teaming up with Kennedy was a naive effort at reaching across the aisle and forging relationships and coalitions. True to form Kennedy and the Dems turned around and not only stuck the daggers in Bush's back but twisted them. The whole thing was a boondogle from the get go. It was a naive lack of leadership on Bush's part.

    Although federal education spending is at a record high, dissatisfaction with education is also at a record high. Shock! People are fleeing to private schools and homeschooling. Duh.

    Sixth, Bush declared in his second inaugural address in 2005 that American foreign policy (at least his) would henceforth focus on promoting democracy around the world. This put him squarely in the Reagan camp, but he was lambasted as unrealistic, impractical, and a tool of wily neoconservatives. The new policy gave Bush credibility in pressing for democracy in the former Soviet republics and Middle East and in zinging various dictators and kleptocrats. It will do the same for President Obama, if he's wise enough to hang onto it.
    No problem from me on the face but I don't like the implementation and carry through have been lacking.

    The seventh achievement is the Medicare prescription drug benefit, enacted in 2003. It's not only wildly popular; it has cost less than expected by triggering competition among drug companies. Conservatives have deep reservations about the program. But they shouldn't have been surprised. Bush advocated the drug benefit in the 2000 campaign. And if he hadn't acted, Democrats would have, with a much less attractive result.
    One more step towards federal socialization of health care. Democrats are still going to act with less attractive results but that still doesn't mean we should have the federal government create more welfare benefits. This never should have happened.

    Then there were John Roberts and Sam Alito. In putting them on the Supreme Court and naming Roberts chief justice, Bush achieved what had eluded Richard Nixon, Reagan, and his own father. Roberts and Alito made the Court indisputably more conservative. And the good news is Roberts, 53, and Alito, 58, should be justices for decades to come.
    Agreed. Although left to his own devices Harriet Meyers, an unknown, would be in there now. That was a disaster in the making.

    Bush's ninth achievement has been widely ignored. He strengthened relations with east Asian democracies (Japan, South Korea, Australia) without causing a rift with China. On top of that, he forged strong ties with India. An important factor was their common enemy, Islamic jihadists. After 9/11, Bush made the most of this, and Indian leaders were receptive. His state dinner for Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2006 was a lovefest.
    No problem with me.

    Finally, a no-brainer: the surge. Bush prompted nearly unanimous disapproval in January 2007 when he announced he was sending more troops to Iraq and adopting a new counterinsurgency strategy. His opponents initially included the State Department, the Pentagon, most of Congress, the media, the foreign policy establishment, indeed the whole world. This makes his decision a profile in courage. Best of all, the surge worked. Iraq is now a fragile but functioning democracy.
    Had the entire affair been properly handled from the get-go the surge wouldn't have been needed in the first place.

    How does Bush rank as a president? We won't know until he's judged from the perspective of two or three decades. Hindsight forced a sharp upgrading of the presidencies of Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Given his achievements, it may have the same effect for Bush.

    --Fred Barnes, for the Editors
    I'll add that his tax cuts delayed the recession. I am however very disappointed that he squandered the chance to implement serious tax reform.

    For all his security consciousness he failed to lock down the borders. How many sleeper cells are here planning the next 9-11? But cow-towing to illegal immigrants is a good thing since all those illegal Hispanics are voting Republican now. Wait...

    He squandered the opportunity to implement tort reform and insurance reform to help the healthcare industry. Now it's so far in the shitter we'll get Obama federal health care reform. Thanks.

    He also never stepped in and stopped the government from forcing mortgage lenders to make loans to anyone regardless of their ability to pay. Look where that got us.

    Bush is certainly not the idiotic boob and total failure the left make him out to be. But he's a huge disappointment considering how much time he had with Republicans in charge of congress. He didn't even try in many instances. His naive attempts to reach across the aisle resulted in massive government spending and knives in his back.

    Certainly we'd be better off with him than Gore, Kerry, or Obama. But with so many roadblocks lifted for so long he really squandered some great opportunities for meaningful federal government and economic reform.

    In my mind the Bush presidency will be known for many good things but mostly for the lost opportunity to make some meaningful and needed reforms.
    Pleasing nobody, one person at a time.

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    Who do you think would have been a better President than Bush?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenna View Post
    Who do you think would have been a better President than Bush?
    I don't think the Republican Party has any good conservatives who could have done any better.

    I think Newt Gingrich has the academic power and conservative credentials but I'm not sure he could win a campaign with his personal life.

    Palin and Jindal seem to be the rising stars but I'm not sure how they'd do. I've been very disappointed the GOP has strayed from conservatism for quite some time.
    Pleasing nobody, one person at a time.

    That which does not kill me, better start fucking running.

    If I lived every day like it was my last, the body count would be staggering.

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    How's this for stirring the pudding:

    Now, was any of these worth the suspension (however brief it was) of Habeas Corpus?

    I guess the old addage is true: You can't make an omlet without breaking a few eggs.

    Before I get flamed too hard, for the record I'm not completely against Bush. He arguably had one of the toughest terms as President and he had to make decisions that would undoubtedly make the mightiest of men weep like a little girl. So it's natural he's not going to make decisions that please everyone. Although I may not agree with him, I certainly respect him. During time of war he was a President that did what he thought was right, versus what he thought everyone wanted to hear.

    I think history will shine favorably on Dubya, especially in 4-8 years.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking." -Gen. George S. Patton

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xiphos View Post
    I don't think the Republican Party has any good conservatives who could have done any better.

    I think Newt Gingrich has the academic power and conservative credentials but I'm not sure he could win a campaign with his personal life.

    Palin and Jindal seem to be the rising stars but I'm not sure how they'd do. I've been very disappointed the GOP has strayed from conservatism for quite some time.
    I think it would be great if the hardcore conservatives break off from the Republican Party and start a third party.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenna View Post
    I think it would be great if the hardcore conservatives break off from the Republican Party and start a third party.
    I'd just like the Democrats to leave the party.
    Pleasing nobody, one person at a time.

    That which does not kill me, better start fucking running.

    If I lived every day like it was my last, the body count would be staggering.

    I intend to go in harm's way. -John Paul Jones

    Hunt the wolf, and bring light to the dark places that others fear to go. LT COL Dave Grossman

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhino View Post
    How's this for stirring the pudding:

    Now, was any of these worth the suspension (however brief it was) of Habeas Corpus?

    I guess the old addage is true: You can't make an omlet without breaking a few eggs.

    Before I get flamed too hard, for the record I'm not completely against Bush. He arguably had one of the toughest terms as President and he had to make decisions that would undoubtedly make the mightiest of men weep like a little girl. So it's natural he's not going to make decisions that please everyone. Although I may not agree with him, I certainly respect him. During time of war he was a President that did what he thought was right, versus what he thought everyone wanted to hear.

    I think history will shine favorably on Dubya, especially in 4-8 years.
    I agree with your assessment of his difficult presidency. I also think he was the best man for the job of fighting terrorism. My only wish is he fought it harder --let the warriors make the military decisions and have at it.
    Pleasing nobody, one person at a time.

    That which does not kill me, better start fucking running.

    If I lived every day like it was my last, the body count would be staggering.

    I intend to go in harm's way. -John Paul Jones

    Hunt the wolf, and bring light to the dark places that others fear to go. LT COL Dave Grossman

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    I agree with all of the items listed, except that No Child Left Behind is a good thing. Teaching to the test is not what the original author made it sound like. It is not teaching math and science because that is what the test will cover, it is teaching the very specific items (although not the exact questions) in order to make students pass tests.

    It has also completely taken away the ability of a teacher to fail and subsequently hold back a student based on academic performance. This might sound great in theory, but what it actually means is that, for example, a second grader whom the teacher determines can not read at a second grade level must still progress on to the third grade; essentially passing the buck and starting the child on a path to failure.

    The increased spending is not felt at the individual teacher level I can guarantee you. In order for my mother to teach at the level she is comfortable with, she still spends on average $300 per month out of pocket on classroom supplies.

    All in all, the NCLB program is smoke and mirrors and actually dumbs down the educational system overall. It shows kids that even though they didn't do well enough, that they will stil progress as usual. The effects, IMNSHO, are far reaching and will only lead to more lazy adults who expect everything to just happen rather than having to work for and earn what they want
    "The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of its blessings; the inherent vice of Socialism is the equal sharing of its miseries." -Winston Churchill

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    It can earnestly be said of many American Presidents in the past, that; "He was a good President, but..."

    Even our most beloved President, (of my time), Ronald Reagan, had moments where his opinions were recieved incredulously, and yes, even by his conservative constituency. Reagan is reflected on as perhaps one of the greatest American Presidents, however if you properly remember, he faced much of the same villification and scorn as we see Bush subjected to, especially in the waning days and those immediately following his last term in office. Truly, with the election of "Work for CHANGE" Bill Clinton, there was as much of the doomsaying and (at least, ceremonial) "abandonment" of the Republican Party. It was truly only when we looked back in retrospect that we veritably cannonized Ronald Reagan, (and rightly so).

    While there are points made by Xiphos that I agree with, it seems to me that the entirety of his argument is basically that George W. Bush has been a good President, however he did not go 'far enough'. Given the political climate of the past eight years, I would only counter with my argument that Bush's priorities, (ie: the war on terror and safety for the American homeland), were certainly in order.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenna View Post
    I think it would be great if the hardcore conservatives break off from the Republican Party and start a third party.
    Nothing like divide and conquer, eh Jenna?

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    Quote Originally Posted by countybear View Post
    Nothing like divide and conquer, eh Jenna?

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    Sort of like herding sheep.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain America View Post
    Sort of like herding sheep.
    Actually sheep are safer in herds. They're more likely to get in trouble when they split up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenna View Post
    Actually sheep are safer in herds. They're more likely to get in trouble when they split up.
    I contend that it would be 'great' if the Democratic Party were to shed its radical socialist-liberal feminista enviro-nazi entitlement-pandering anti-family pro-babykilling power-brokering gunhating fat government elitist federalist Lenin-ist victim-mongering leadership, and return to its roots (pre-1936).

    But I digress... (and they are way too far gone).

    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
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    Quote Originally Posted by countybear View Post
    I contend that it would be 'great' if the Democratic Party were to shed its radical socialist-liberal feminista enviro-nazi entitlement-pandering anti-family pro-babykilling gunhating fat government elitist federalist Lenin-ist victim-mongering leadership, and return to its roots (pre-1936).
    But then it would have to change its name to the "Republican Party"!

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    To prove I'm able to be middle-of-the-spectrum, I think Bush did an excellent job with AIDS relief in Africa. I think it was Bono (one of those left-wing elitist music and entertainment types) who said Bush had done more for the AIDS epidemic than any other politician in the world.

    Just wish he hadn't traded Sammy Sosa for Harold Baines............
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhino View Post
    How's this for stirring the pudding:

    Now, was any of these worth the suspension (however brief it was) of Habeas Corpus
    No flame here, but read your linked article.

    Habeas Corpus was not "suspended" by any Presidential Military Order - you can also go read the order - but it was merely contended by some that it was.

    President Bush never actively sought to suspend Habeas Corpus - he executed a military order allowing the detention of enemy combatants - OUTSIDE of the United States.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenna View Post
    I think it would be great if the hardcore conservatives break off from the Republican Party and start a third party.
    I would say the hardcore republicans (the ones that believe in the rule of the Constitution in that the Government shouldn't mingled with faith) did break off and form a thrid party: Libertarians.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking." -Gen. George S. Patton

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhino View Post
    I would say the hardcore republicans (the ones that believe in the rule of the Constitution in that the Government shouldn't mingled with faith) did break off and form a thrid party: Libertarians.
    Well it would also be great if even more people left the Republican Party to join the Libertarian Party!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenna View Post
    Well it would also be great if even more people left the Republican Party to join the Libertarian Party!
    Why is that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenna View Post
    Who do you think would have been a better President than Bush?
    Clinton? Rosie O'Donnel? My 16 year old sister? I'm not sure too many could have done worse.

    Remember your biases. As the economy goes down, your job gets better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhino View Post
    and he had to make decisions that would undoubtedly make the mightiest of men weep like a little girl. So it's natural he's not going to make decisions that please everyone. Although I may not agree with him, I certainly respect him. During time of war he was a President that did what he thought was right, versus what he thought everyone wanted to hear.
    That's what he's paid to do. He's just consistently made the wrong ones. I'd be willing to bet most of the people here make harder decisions on a daily basis. Can he please anyone with these decisions? A time of war that we shouldn't have been in, mind you. It's no different than Vietnam. We're certainly no more successful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenna View Post
    I think it would be great if the hardcore conservatives break off from the Republican Party and start a third party.
    He's called Ron Paul. But conservatives still have this idea that Bush helped us.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xiphos View Post
    I agree with your assessment of his difficult presidency. I also think he was the best man for the job of fighting terrorism. My only wish is he fought it harder --let the warriors make the military decisions and have at it.
    Fighting terrorism in Iraq, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Loblaw View Post
    To prove I'm able to be middle-of-the-spectrum, I think Bush did an excellent job with AIDS relief in Africa. I think it was Bono (one of those left-wing elitist music and entertainment types) who said Bush had done more for the AIDS epidemic than any other politician in the world.
    Maybe if he had concern for the better of the people who chose him and pay him, he may be known as a good person, to the people that he is supposed to protect, serve, blah blah blah. It's no different than a San Diego police officer driving to LA to serve the citizens of Los Angeles. That's all happy and good, but the people that chose that person, the people paying his salary, are being fed to the wolves.

 

 
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