Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bush and Beyond

I don't like President George W. Bush's politics, but I try to stay away from the kind of emotional Bush-bashing that delights many leftists, Greens, and Democrats. I don't think W. is the worst president ever. Bad in a mediocre way, sure. I can't think of one single ex U.S. President I would put in the "good" category. Certainly not President-for-Life Franklin D. Roosevelt, the closest thing the U.S. has had to a dictator. War crimes? Sure, George W. Bush committed them by bombing and then invading Afghanistan and Iraq, but I doubt even a half dozen U.S. Presidents who had a full term of office failed to commit some sort of war crime or crime against humanity. General Jackson, founder of the Democratic Party, was a model war criminal and destroyer of humanity. President Truman, a Democrat, is the only world leader who has ever used an atomic weapon against people, thus managing to commit both a war crime and a crime against humanity.

Harry Truman also split up Korea with Stalin the same way Hitler and Stalin partitioned Poland. Koreans had been fighting the Japanese and expected to be allowed to form a free and independent nation.

But just because George W. Bush is a model of mediocrity doesn't mean we should not strive for better, or at least try to avoid worse. Mediocrity has its merits at times. You might hate the fact that the President promoted fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity, but it could have been worse. Look at the record. Women can still get abortions and birth control pills and own property. You don't get shot for not going to church on Sunday, or for going to the wrong Church. We still don't force children to say prayers in public schools.

If anyone failed to benefit from the George W. Bush presidency, it was the Christian Right. These guys asked for religion and got tax cuts for the rich. A few of Bush's cronies made out like kidnappers in Baghdad, but very little tax payer money went straight to religious nutcases below the assistant-to-the-secretary-of-the-department level.

On the environment Bush was also a study in mediocrity. The air is still mostly what would pass for breathable, especially if you compare it to what passed for air in 1965. Cleanups of waterways and toxic waste sites continued at the same generally slow pace we saw under Clinton, Carter and Reagan. Anti-environmentalist victories, while occasionally real, tended towards the symbolic. They were more a tool for raising funds for the Republican Party than any real attack on the environment (beyond the general, background attack from industrial civilization). Just like the greenish reforms passed by Democrats tended to give environmental groups symbolic wins that allowed the Democrats to raise money for their partying.

Probably the most important achievement of the Bush administration was the revival of Islam. In Iraq and most Islamic nations people were moving towards a secular society where most people were peace-loving atheists or nominally Islamic. The various sects were more concerned with slowing this secular erosion than they were with fighting each other. Has that ever changed in a big way. Now it is dangerous to not at least to pretend you believe in Islam and Mohammed in Iraq. Fanaticism is rampant. And this rallying around the black flag of the Prophet has spread to almost the entire formerly nominally Muslim population of a world. Osama Bin Laden and Muktar whatever converted a net of about 87 people to Islam (subtracting out the back sliders) before Bush came along. Bush converted about 600 million people to Islam.

Now that is outstanding. So maybe that Yale education and all the helping hands from Dad's friends were not wasted after all.

[find more of William P. Meyers's thoughts at]

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