July 15, 2007

A Successful Presidency

William Kristol "invites ridicule" on the pages of the WaPo today with a guest editorial titled "Why Bush Will be a Winner." Wow. Give the man contrarian points.

Let's step back from the unnecessary mistakes and the self-inflicted wounds that have characterized the Bush administration. Let's look at the broad forest rather than the often unlovely trees. What do we see? First, no second terrorist attack on U.S. soil -- not something we could have taken for granted. Second, a strong economy -- also something that wasn't inevitable.

And third, and most important, a war in Iraq that has been very difficult, but where -- despite some confusion engendered by an almost meaningless "benchmark" report last week -- we now seem to be on course to a successful outcome.

I'll surprise no one around here by agreeing. He lists accomplishments quite a bit like I did. SCOTUS picks, Tax Cuts, Medicare Part D. On his most visible legislative failures, Kristol asserts "And with respect to the two second-term proposals that failed -- private Social Security accounts and immigration -- I suspect that something similar to what Bush proposed will end up as law over the next several years."

Plucked from the wide ranging philosophical discussion around here of late, I still see it as a win. We were spared four years of President Gore (I just watched "An Inconvenient Truth." Score that as a bullet dodged!), and four years of President Kerry (how would the Court look with two of his picks replacing Rehnquist and O'Connor?)

Even with President Bush's abysmal poll numbers, he does not seem to be dragging down the likely GOP nominees. I'll happily debate whether this administration has been good for the cause of liberty (and I'll happily take the affirmative) but I cannot believe anybody 'round these parts would have been happier if he had lost either election.

President Bush Posted by John Kranz at July 15, 2007 4:25 PM

Bush isn't dragging down the GOP nominee because none of them was his VP, Cabinet member, etc. Such an affiliation would doom a candidate before he even got started. The nominees, in their own individual ways, are distancing themselves from Bush and his policies. It should be enough, because Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Romney carry the Republican label but are very different from Bush.

Has the administration been bad for freedom? Absolutely. Economic freedom is my first choice, but it isn't everything. That Bush cut taxes, even significantly, does not excuse everything else. The Patriot Act and NSA wiretapping are outright rape of the Fourth Amendment. Just like FDR's New Deal was only an extention and amplification of Hoover's public works projects, Bush took Clinton's surveillance a step further. Remember, Bush thinks the Constitution is just "a goddamn piece of paper."

And the truly sad part is, the Bush Administration wouldn't have been as bad as Gore's or Kerry's. We deserve better.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 17, 2007 1:00 PM

I haven't wanted to rile the FredHeads around here, but I worry that Democrats would most easily tie Senator Thompson to President Bush. Both are Southern Conservatives and have a jocular style. Fair or not, this has been one of my concerns about Thompson. Mayor Giuliani can credibly run as the anti-Bush.

I have not seen the GOP Presidential candidates running away from the President as Congress has. Senator McCain attacked the President on global warming and I think it hurt him. All but Paul are onboard for Iraq. Giuliani praised his SCOTUS picks. I can't remember a lot of anti-Bush rhetoric in the primaries.

Posted by: jk at July 17, 2007 6:12 PM

Fred will deflect every opportunity to paint him as a Bush clone simply by firing a standard issue one-liner. It'll be hard to make the bumbling simpleton label stick to him because, unlike Bush, he's r-TIK-yew-lat.

Posted by: johngalt at July 18, 2007 11:50 PM

Giuliani has been the one GOP candidate all along who can beat Hillary, or even a Hillary-Obama ticket. With Hillary looking stronger and stronger, a lot of conservatives and liberals are thinking like you, jk, that it's more important to defeat Hillary than get the best GOP candidate. He'd win NY's crucial electoral votes, and he's centrist enough with his pro-choice, lukewarm RKBA stand.

Meanwhile, he's trying to win over the GOP core. He's supporting the conservatives on the SCOTUS, and he's talking very well on real fiscal conservatism, which is about cutting taxes AND spending. The Democrats' notion of "fiscal conservatism" is about hiking taxes anytime they want more programs, like a spend-happy wife who tells her husband to work more overtime so she can go shopping. Giuliani's actually talking a bit like Reagan on taxes, not like Bush 41.

Doesn't mean I like him, but those are his strengths. He's appearing conservative on what matters most to conservatives, with a reputation as "America's Mayor" that evokes 9/11 without linking him to Bush. He's running a good campaign so far.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 20, 2007 11:34 AM | What do you think? [4]