When political conversations erupt between liberals and conservatives, it is almost inevitable that when a conservative makes some point or other about Obama, Clinton or any other Democrat, the “well, it was all Bush’s fault” argument rears its ugly head. So, let’s dispense with that forever more.
For all of the liberals who have taken time to read this, let me say for once and for all – conservatives didn’t like Bush much, either. He was definitely respected as a man, and he was sincere in his desire to protect and serve the country. But he also did more damage to the conservative brand than any liberal over the past few years.
Bush’s approval ratings dipped below or hovered around 30% for much of his last year (if not earlier than that). Think about the math involved there. That wasn’t because 70% of this country is liberal.
There’s only one way it could have gotten that low – conservatives must have had some serious issues with him, too.
For the sake of argument, let’s say the country is 50% conservative and 50% liberal. (Most research shows it is more lopsided in favor of conservatism, but let’s give benefit of the doubt.) That means more than 40% of conservatives were not happy with Bush’s performance.
Conservatives will tell you it was because he was too liberal. Yes, that’s right. To many conservatives, if liberals would have stopped ripping on him long enough to look at what he was actually doing, some of it was taken directly from the progressive or socialist playbook; bailouts, taking global warming seriously, not taking a harder line on Iran, the Ted Kennedy-authored education bill he signed into law, friendly to Chinese trade, illegal immigrant amnesty, the increase in spending, to name a few.
Liberal politicians like to use Bush’s policies as proof that conservatism doesn’t work. The irony is that it was his most liberal policies that are cited as the proof – the very policies that riled conservatives enough to throw out their own in the 2006 congressional election.
Another source of irritation for conservatives was that even when he did make the right decision, it didn’t seem like he had any idea why. Much like his father before him, he never had any interest in explaining his policies or decisions. He never took the time to defend himself or take on the relentless criticism he faced. The most egregious example? Weapons of mass destruction.
Saddam Hussein used WMDs against the Kurds in his own country in the late 90s. He used them to kill over 300,000 people. The weapons existed and everyone from Bill Clinton to Tom Daschle (former Senate Majority Leader, and Democrat) knew it. When we finally got serious about doing something about it, we gave Hussein over a year’s warning that we were coming.
If you had a year to plan for a military attack, wouldn’t you sort out what you were going to do with your WMDs? And lo, in his most recent book, Karl Rove tells of the evidence that Hussein moved them to Syria. And he regrets not making that public knowledge.
I have no idea what thought process would lead you to the conclusion that it was best not to point this out to country while your loudest critics are hammering you on the fact that you justified the attack based on WMDs and none were found. But if they knew where they went, why wouldn’t they tell? By not revealing this, they left the Bush apologists and defenders on the conservative side high and dry. And they, in turn, left the GOP high and dry.
Critics of President Bush believe he was evil, a terrorist, the second coming of Hitler and a few other not-so-nice descriptions. To this I refer to the Eleanor Roosevelt quote – “Small minds discuss people.”
The fact is very few of us have ever met President Bush. We don’t know him or what kind of person he is. We don’t know if he was just trying to enrich his oil buddies or if he was dedicated entirely to doing right by the American people. The same goes for every other President in our lifetime and beyond. We can only read accounts from people close to them, watch them in interviews and during speeches, and judge for ourselves.
I believe Bush was trying to do his best just like I believe Carter was. But both men are irrelevant. It is ideas that are going to save or doom this country. Let’s put the Bush blaming to rest once and for all.