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Is There Anything?

May 11th, 2007

Firedoglake has an excellent question. It’s easy to list all of the things Bush has done wrong (I made a long list, which can by now have quite a bit more stuff added to it), but how about turning the question the other way? What, exactly, has Bush done right? Firedoglake adds the qualifying question, “by whose standards?” That qualifying question is important, because a lot of wingnuts will claim that Iraq was a success, by their standards; that it was necessary to get Saddam out, and that the war could still turn around and be successful. But looking at the polls, that is clearly now a minority view, at best, not to mention that it depends on a potential success in the Iraq situation to make Hussein’s ouster worth it, as opposed to something that has been already achieved.

Then there is the question of partisan goals. Surely, if one is a conservative, there are many successes to list, such as putting a large number of conservatives in high court benches, chipping away at abortion rights, stuff like that. But I would personally only count non-partisan goals–strict government management, and achievements for the country as a whole.

One of FDL’s commenters provides this list of areas where a president can do well or not well, as a way of considering where Bush may have done well (the list seems to have been copied from the White House web site):

Budget Management
Defense
Economy
Education
Energy
Environment
Gulf Coast
Health Care
Homeland Security
Immigration
Iraq
Medicare
National Security
Pandemic Flu
Patriot Act
Veterans

I would add:

Civil Rights
Crime/Justice
Elections
Employment
Infrastructure
Intelligence (e.g., CIA)
Internet/Telecommunications
Regulatory Reform
Small Businesses
Science
Space

There is a little overlap in there, and there are probably more good categories, but that’ll do for now.

Now, one of the problems in FDL asking the question is that few of the commenters seemed to really take a serious stab at the question, and maybe none really were positively disposed towards the president. I can’t claim much better, though reader Cc valiantly hangs on as an opposition voice in my own blog’s comments (I don’t know if I would have that much patience!). Cc, want to take a stab at it? Or, if there are any other conservative voices lurking?

As for my own views, I don’t see much at all that Bush has actually succeeded with. I partly agree with his Immigration policies, but when Bush had six years with a virtual free hand to pass almost anything he wanted, he didn’t do a thing–he talked about it to bring in Hispanic voters, but he took no action. He’s talking about it now only so he can say he’s being cooperative and conciliatory and all that with the Democrats. But he still isn’t pushing it very hard at all. Certainly he hasn’t achieved anything there.

He has brought the deficit down a bit recently, but the only reason it was up in the first place was because of his massive tax cuts for people who were already flush with money, not to mention the completely unnecessary Iraq War. Out-of-control Republican pork-barrel spending helped finish off the rest, and Bush gets at least partial blame for that because he never used to veto, or even the threat of one, to stem it. Did nothing at all on that front. So he gets no credit for partially erasing a deficit of his own manufacture.

I like his space initiative. Too bad it’s virtually unfunded and cuts the legs out from under all sorts of other space programs. Like Immigration, it’s a feel-good PR piece, and little more–so that when eventually someone gets serious about it, Bush gets the Kennedy-esque video clip in the History archives. But he has achieved nothing in that area.

So, help me out here.

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  1. Tim Kane
    May 12th, 2007 at 00:00 | #1

    Pat Buchanon is a far right wing conservative, but he is not a Neocon. Neocon’s don’t believe in God, they believe you should believe in God. While both are authoritarians, Buchanon believes in God, a Catholic Christian God, and he is communitarian in that extent – he’s against exporting the industrial base and like a good catholic he was against the invasion of Iraq and quickly saw it as a fiasco.

    The only reason Pat Buchanon advocated for conservatives to vote for what even he acknowledged was the massive incompetant Bush was the supreme court. And here, by conservative minds Bush did right.

    From the anti-abortionist perspective Bush did the right thing. I know quite a few catholics that would look the other way if Bush completely destroyed the constitution, allowed a few more cities to be destroyed and fall into disarray and so mismanage the economy that America slipped into the fourth world, and in their mind, Bush would still be a great president purely on the record of his two supreme court nominations, that tipped the court in their favor.

    The neocons are an ideological movement. Ideologicalism does not fit into a common law nations fabric, that is ideologies can’t get traction, because ideological battles are fought in the courts – were they get a fairly decent hearing, where they are applied in patchwork fashion – as narrowly applied answers to narrowly defined questions; thus no ideology is ever totally vanquished nor achieves total hegomony, instead each ideology gets applies where it is best applied. As a result ideological movements only gained traction in civil code countries.

    The reason is that in civil (napoleonic) code countries, law making powers were traditionally denied to the judiciary (this was a result of pre-french revolution french judiciary being the biggest obsticle to progressivism in France [even more so than the french crows] thus ideological battles were pushed into legislatures, which meant politics, which also meant that if an ideology gained hegemony there they could vanquish the others, which lead to desperate existential battles in the politics of civil code countries.

    For the Neocons to succeed as an ideological movement in this country they have to find to retro-engineer our society from behaviing like a common law nation and instead, behave like a civil code country. And thats exactly what they are attempting to do. Which has lead to an intresting irony.

    Bush and the neocons have campaigned against what they call “judicial activism” which is our 500+ year old tradition (yes it is older than the nation itself). Think of the irony, especially in regard to the constitution: Bush a strict destructionist, insisting on a judiciary that is strict constructionist.

    So, I think if you are either a Buchanon conservative, or a neocon conservative, you are happy with Bush’s work on undermining our constitutional and legal system . And anything else, the destruction of the country, is, well, just collateral damage.

    Remember, this dictum encapsolates the conservative phenomina: “we had to destroy the village in order to save it”. Same is true with the entire country of America: utterly destroyed, but utterly saved.

  2. Me
    May 12th, 2007 at 07:50 | #2

    Bush gets credit in my book for shifting daylight savings time earlier.

    That’s about the only positive I can think of, but it’s one thing I’m loving right now.

  3. Luis
    May 12th, 2007 at 07:53 | #3

    Me: really? That’s it? Wow.

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