Perhaps the fairest criticism our readers have made of this blog is that we do not criticize the president enough. And while we think that on the most fundamental issue of the day — leading our nation in the War on Terror — the president has done an outstanding job and while we generally think he’s done a good job, on a number of issues, notably domestic spending and the federalism, we believe his leadership has been lacking.
Perhaps, we spend so much time defending the president because his critics, particularly those on the gay left, make such outlandish (and very often inaccurate) accusations against him. Had they made more responsible critiques, they might find us less critical of them.
All that said, the release of Bruce Bartlett’s book has caused us to wonder how good a job the president is doing at fulfilling the great legacy of Ronald Wilson Reagan, a whom man both of us admire. While I disagree with Bartlett that the president has betrayed the Reagan legacy, I believe he has a point, at least on economic issues.
So, I decided to grade the president on several aspects of the Reagan legacy and came up with a preliminary grade of B/B-, not a great grade, but far from a failure. To see what other conservatives think, we’ve decided to ask readers (& other bloggers) to evaluate our preliminary report card (below the “jump”) and weigh in themselves. Have we been too lenient in our grades? Or too harsh? Or did we get them just right? Did we leave out any categories (on which to evaluate the job the president has done at fulfilling the Reagan legacy)?
Bruce (GayPatriot) looked over my grades and we reached a consensus for each subject (Bruce was a slightly harsher grader than I!). Now, it’s up to you. Please weigh in with your thoughts between now and Friday, March 27 at 4 PM Eastern Time. At which point, we will ask our panel of “Reagan scholars,” Polipundit‘s D.J. Drummond, Columnist Bridget Johnson (GOP Vixen) and Grande Conservative Blogress Diva Sondra K to read through the comments and adjust the grades. In order to better influence this panel, please make sound arguments on why you think the grade should be changed. From time to time, Bruce and I may jump into the comment thread to defend our grades. (In order to keep this post as short as possible, I have kept my evaluations to a minimum.)
We will announce a final grade next Monday, March 27, 2006.
So, please read below to get the complete report card (and feel free to recommend new “subjects” if you feel we have left something out):
The President’s Report Card on the Reagan Legacy
1. Vision/Optimism (A-) In a number of speeches, the president has put forward a positive vision for this nation, particularly its role in the world, just as Ronald Reagan did. And while he has not made him optimism as manifest as did the Gipper, he has made clear that we will win the War on Terror and that better days are ahead for all Americans.
2. Communicating that Vision (D+/C-) I favored a higher grade because some of the president’s speeches have been first-rate, lacking only the Gipper’s velveteen delivery, but the president’s press shop, particularly under Scott McClellan, has been lacking. The president needs a spokesman who is energetic and optimistic and needs more often to defend the war in Iraq as he did in a series of speeches last November. A good communicator W can be, but the Great Communicator he ain’t.
3. National Security (A-) Like Ronald Reagan, George W. recognizes the paramount importance of national security and has done an outstanding job of taking the war to the terrorists rather than having them bring it home to us.
4. Foreign Poicy (A-) Especially with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, the president has worked to build and strengthen alliances and promote democracy and freedom around the world.
5. Free Trade (B/B+) While the president signed the Central American Freed Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and has negotiated trade treaties with a number of nations, in his first term, he imposed tariffs on imported steel (which he repealed at the end of 2003).
6. Domestic Spending/Size of Federal Government (D+) While the president’s last three budgets have shown some fiscal discipline, cutting spending and eliminating federal programs (hence the plus in the grade), he has yet to veto a single bill, particularly those laden with congressional earmarks.
7. Federalism (D*) As the Cato Institute‘s David Boaz puts it, conservatives under President Bush “have forgotten their longstanding commitment to reduce federal power and intrusiveness and return many governmental functions to the states. Instead, they have taken to using their newfound power to impose their own ideas on the whole country.”
8. Judicial Appointments (A-) With Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., the president has elevated two outstanding jurists to the U.S. Supreme Court. And like, Ronald Reagan, he has distinguished himself by appointing smart lawyers to the federal bench. He would have gotten an A+ here but for his decision to tap Harriet Miers (thankfully withdrawn) to fill Sandra Day O’Connor’s seat and for naming a handful of duds (including William Pryor) to the federal bench.
8. Leadership/Tenacity (A-) Just like the Gipper, his successor has shown strong leadership skills, occasionally making unpopular decisions because he believes he is doing the right thing. And he has not yielded in his prosecution of the war in Iraq despite the constant carping from his opponents — and even some of his allies.
Overall Grade Preliminary (B/B-).
*Perhaps we should have failed him here, but we’re grading on somewhat of a curve. The Democrats are even worse.