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Grading the President on Reagan’s Legacy

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 4:29 am - March 20, 2006.
Filed under: National Politics,Ronald Reagan

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.

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50 Comments

  1. I don’t see anything here on Border Control and Illegal Immigration… perhaps the biggest issue of our time, and an issue on which Bush’s performance is a solid F.

    Domestic spending… I would also rate Bush an F, mainly for foisting the largest entitlement on us … the prescription drug giveaway… since the LBJ years. Also, Bush lied to Congress about the cost of the program in order to get it passed.

    There might also be a category, or a sub-category, on defending constitutional values, and you would have to mark Bush down somewhat for signing the McCain-Feingold Free Speech Regulation and Incumbent Protection Act … which some call “Campaign Finance Reform.”

    I’m generally withing half a grade with you on the other issues, though. And I’m sure some of the house moonbats will bring up the Katrina response, so let’s get ahead of it. The response was actually quite good. Over 100,000 emergency personnel were mobilized within three days and the first helicopters were lifting out survivors within two hours of the storm clearing the city. It was the largest and fastest disaster response in US history, although the democrats and their media allies managed to paint it as a debacle. On the other hand, spending >$600,000 per New Orleans resident on post-Katrina rebuilding is wasteful, extravagant, and reckless.

    Comment by V the K — March 20, 2006 @ 5:21 am - March 20, 2006

  2. On the other hand, none of those issues really have anything to do with Reagan’s legacy, so never mind.

    Comment by V the K — March 20, 2006 @ 5:22 am - March 20, 2006

  3. B/B-minus? And I thought conservatives opposed grade inflation.

    Some of the issues on this report card are more important than others: I’d say that if Bush flunks domestic spending, he flunks overall — and never mind the curve. Certainly Bush’s refusal to veto anything ever doesn’t suggest a thoughtful use of executive power.

    We might also want to add that Reagan’s foreign policy produced results by this point in his second term — Bush’s foreign policy, however, has produced few results, and those very small in comparison to means expended. On military matters, he also should receive low marks — and not just for allowing torture (though this is a major concern, too).

    As for upholding the Constitution, I think the indefinite detention of American citizens without a trial deserves some consideration here. His misuse of signing statements seems worthy of censure though not impeachment, and the rapid expansion of classified information is deeply troublesome as well. (Perhaps we could include “federalism” with these other Constitutional matters.)

    I’d lower Bush’s marks on “resolution/fortitude” substantially for the way he’s handled Iran, and lower security for North Korea’s nuclear weapons. In fact, I’d be inclined to fail Bush on domestic security, period: He talks a good and fearful game, but as the border-security issue indicates, he doesn’t follow through. I’d also dock Bush on free trade and leadership for trying to sneak that Dubai deal through without proper examination, then letting the whole thing crash and burn once it was exposed.

    This has to be lower.

    2: By “none of those issues,” V, I assume you mean none of the issues in the final paragraph of #1 — since all the other issues you’ve mentioned have a great deal to do with the Reagan legacy. (I agree that the federal response to Katrina is underrated, though it will still weigh heavily on this year’s elections, even as it has brought the anti-war movement into the cultural mainstream. Even so, FEMA is a waste of taxpayer money: Wal-Mart and Home Depot are better at coordinating emergency relief, as anyone familiar with Hayek could have predicted.)

    Comment by Tim Hulsey — March 20, 2006 @ 7:19 am - March 20, 2006

  4. Good idea for a posting, honest analysis is always the best choice.

    Krugman in today’s NY Times (I know, I know) takes the spending issue to task and virtually absolves Mr. Bush of those charges.

    NPR (I know, I know) has a collage of administration voices from the lead up to the Iraqi invasion (taken out of context, I know, I know) which goes a long way to explain why 1) there was support for the invasion in early 2003 and 2) why there is today such disappointment in the administation and doubt in its veracity.

    Agape.

    Comment by Gene — March 20, 2006 @ 8:39 am - March 20, 2006

  5. A bif fat F.

    Comment by Hello Moto — March 20, 2006 @ 9:15 am - March 20, 2006

  6. Guys, I believe this entire exercise is sheer folly. No president, present or future, can adquately be compared to a former Commander-in-Chief. Each is a singular man living in a unique time. Hence, attempting to discern what The Gipper might have done in this day and age, and then holding GWB up in comparison of that assumption is pointless, and for me, only accentuates RWR’s absence, and the passing of a time in history that will never be repeated (more’s the pity, in some sense). In addition, it only gives GWB’s critics yet another avenue by which to screech dissent absent ANY alternative courses of action.

    Bush is certainly no Reagan, nor was Kennedy any FDR. And while we’re at it, Truman was no Jefferson.

    Just my opinion, for whatever it’s worth.

    Eric in Hollywood

    Comment by HollywoodNeoCon — March 20, 2006 @ 12:04 pm - March 20, 2006

  7. Eric – I appreciate your comments, but alas many President (past and future) can compare remarkably well to Jimmy F. Carter.

    In any case, we think this is a good exercise since many supporters of Bush 43 believed he was the new Reagan, especially after his 3 historic electoral successes (2000, 2002, 2004).

    Let me point out again that I was indeed tougher on Bush than Dan in our consensus. Personally, I think President Bush has done a pathetic job of communicating to the American public. Reagan used to look us in the eyes regularly as a nation and rally us. Bush has let us flounder on our own and hasn’t been the communicative leader a nation at war deserves.

    -Bruce

    Comment by GayPatriot — March 20, 2006 @ 12:32 pm - March 20, 2006

  8. It may be folly to compare Bush with Reagan as presidents. But Reagan is a useful point of reference for today’s conservatism, because he set a winning political agenda from which we deviate at our own peril. We should ask how — or perhaps whether — Bush has served this agenda.

    - Has Bush reduced federal spending? He has not.
    - Has he cut or eliminated major government programs and entitlements? He has not.
    - Has he created new entitlements? He has.
    - Has he lowered taxes? He has.
    - Has he enhanced domestic security? Debatable, but probably not.
    - Has his foreign policy been effective? With a few notable exceptions, no.
    - Has he promoted American values? Yes, but not well.
    - Has he protected Americans’ constitutional rights? He has not.
    - Are we better off than we were four years ago? I am, but more Americans than not would claim otherwise.

    I’m not sure I would go so far as to give Bush an F, but a gentleman’s C seems too generous under the circumstances.

    Comment by Tim Hulsey — March 20, 2006 @ 12:48 pm - March 20, 2006

  9. * interesting and well conceived post…

    However…

    President Reagan engaged in massive spending to defeat the Soviets, and even appeased liberal domestic spending (even with some veto action), to focus on larger priorities… (the Cold War)

    One could argue President Bush was doing the same after 9-11.

    It is worthy to note, President Reagan enabled the Social Security entitlements, but President Bush pushed to reform, and introduce private ownership into the system…

    One must consider this aspect in regards to spending and growth of government. In regards to the ‘biggest’ entitlement program, President Bush proved far more aggressive, and ‘conservative’…

    Some believe, the only way to reduce entrenched Government, is to reduce taxation… Both Reagan and Bush have acted in similar ways in this context.

    One last thing, President Reagan introduced an immigration amnesty…

    I feel, some Conservative pundits have lost perspective on the past, and are far too harsh when viewing the Bush Administration. Nothing is perfect, but the Bush Administration has served rather well.

    Comment by boy michael — March 20, 2006 @ 1:42 pm - March 20, 2006

  10. Has he cut or eliminated major government programs and entitlements? He has not.

    Tim, enjoyed your post, but you seem a little unfair…

    President Bush instilled competition and needed ‘testing’ in our public educational system, a dramatic positive change in a massive program…

    for once, an attempt to produce a desperately needed ‘gauge’ or check on the health of an investment in a socialist educational program.

    another example, is his attempt to go after Social Security…

    if Conservatives had focused as much energy supporting his admirable effort, to encourage private ownership-investment in biggest entitlement we have, as the Meirs nomination, we would have been incredibly well served.

    President Bush should be commended for the effort, working for an aggressive Conservative Reform, and cannot be blamed for wimpy Republcans in Congress… (and public apathy)

    Comment by boy michael — March 20, 2006 @ 1:57 pm - March 20, 2006

  11. I think we have to remember that Reagan accomplished all that he did despite a Tip O’Neill-led House. Bush had a much easier time with the Hammer leading House.

    Also, under Reagan, conservatism was a new idea that wasn’t readily accepted by the public. Today, under W, conservatism is America’s dominant political philosophy.

    Comment by jeff — March 20, 2006 @ 2:05 pm - March 20, 2006

  12. Bush does not compare favorably to Reagan in two areas, stature and intelligence. Bush isn’t stupid, but Reagan was smarter, both in native intelligence and street-smarts. In terms of public-speaking, Bush is good when he has a rehearsed speech, but in comparison to Reagan in off-the-cuff informal Q&A he is completely dismal.

    Reagan also seemed to have more control of his cabinet then the other way around, as it is with Bush. And I think Reagan actually listened to the advice people gave him before making a decision. Bush has always made the decision first and then cherry-picked his “advice” to confirm his pre-existing decision.

    And I don’t see how you can call his Foreign Policy successful. Even if you thought he was doing the correct thing, its too early to tell.

    He has NOT conducted the War on Terrorism effectively. There are now many more Terrorists organizations than there were before 9-11. In fact, Bush is the best thing that every happened to Al Quaeda and Osama Bin Laden.

    Comment by Patrick (gryph) — March 20, 2006 @ 2:49 pm - March 20, 2006

  13. - Has Bush reduced federal spending? LARGEST DEFICIT IN HISTORY Has he cut or eliminated major government programs and entitlements? YES – BUT ONLY FOR THE NEEDIEST/POOREST OF AMERICANS
    - Has he created new entitlements? YES – FOR HIS CRONIES/BUDDIES
    - Has he lowered taxes? YES FOR THE 2% RICHEST OF AMERICANS/CRONIES/FRIENDS
    - Has he enhanced domestic security? NO – WE ARE NOT SAFER – MORE PEOPLE HATE US NOW THEN EVER BEFORE!
    - Has his foreign policy been effective? NOT AT ALL – VERY INCONSISTANT
    - Has he promoted American values? DEPENDS ON WHAT YOUR MEANING OF AMERICAN VALUES IS….HYPOCRACY YES.
    - Has he protected Americans’ constitutional rights? NSA WIRETAPPING, GITMO…ETC…NO NO NO
    - Are we better off than we were four years ago? THE 2% OF THE WEALTHIEST OF AMERICANS ARE…OTHERWISE KNOWN AS HIS BASE – THE HAVES AND HAVE MORES.
    -Has he United America? NO NO NO NO NO NO NO –

    Comment by JRC — March 20, 2006 @ 2:53 pm - March 20, 2006

  14. An early indicator here of strength for George W. Bush: As with Reagan, Liberals feel a desperate need to lie about him. Often in all-capital letters and in emotional, fact-devoid rants.

    Comment by DJ Drummond — March 20, 2006 @ 2:57 pm - March 20, 2006

  15. In fact, Bush is the best thing that every happened to Al Quaeda and Osama Bin Laden.

    I hope you are joking in typing these comments.

    Anyway, here is what AQ, who’s opinion is certainly more valued than yours, said on that point:

    STOP RUSHING INTO ACTION AND TAKE TIME OUT TO CONSIDER ALL THE FATAL AND SUCCESSIVE DISASTERS THAT HAVE AFFLICTED US DURING A PERIOD OF NO MORE THAN SIX MONTHS. THOSE OBSERVING OUR AFFAIRS WONDER WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO US.

    TODAY WE ARE EXPERIENCING ONE SETBACK AFTER ANOTHER AND HAVE GONE FROM MISFORTUNE TO DISASTER. DURING (TN: THE PAST) SIX MONTHS, IT HAS BECOME APPARENT TO THE OBSERVER THAT THERE IS A NEW HAND THAT IS MANAGING AFFAIRS AND THAT IS DRIVING FORCEFULLY; EVERY TIME IT FALTERS, IT GETS UP AND RUSHES AGAIN, WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING OR AWARENESS.

    Otherwise, if you think going from planning & executing the 9/11 attacks and making treaty offers on audio tape indicates a position of strenght, well, there isn’t much one could say in reply.

    Finally, someone may want to point out to the hysterical Marxist in post #13 that domestic spending under President Bush has increased over 7% per year and spending for “the poor” etc has exploded during his time in office (see this for example. It’s also worth noting this is function of Congress and has little to do with the President.
    Oh, and every single person who pays federal income taxes got a tax cut.

    Comment by The Ace — March 20, 2006 @ 3:22 pm - March 20, 2006

  16. “In fact, Bush is the best thing that every happened to Al Quaeda (sic)and Osama Bin Laden.” God, who let the idiots out of school?

    Actually, the BEST thing that every happened for al Qaeda was allowing America’s political liberal insurgency a get-out-of-jail-card for dissent–which undermines American resolve, undercuts our troops, and provides indirect aid to the terrorists we are fighting in the WOT.

    During the 2004 campaign, the ring leaders of that political insurgency were AlGore, JimminyCricketCarter, John al Kerry, HowieDean and TeddyK –and the MSM who played their own glory-4-story cards.

    It’s a shame there aren’t courageous patriots on the national stage willing to call these people out for what they are: cowards and partisans. And I mean that in a good way.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 20, 2006 @ 4:12 pm - March 20, 2006

  17. JRC? Please provide a list of the Americans held hostage in Gitmo and are subject to unconstitutional treatment. I want to make certain their constitutional rights are protected, preserved, secure.

    What a ranting loon.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 20, 2006 @ 4:18 pm - March 20, 2006

  18. - Has he protected Americans’ constitutional rights?

    The only Constitutional Right Bush has violated is the right to voice an opinion about an elected official within 60 days of a federal election… and he disposed of that right at the behest of liberal senators and to the cheers of the liberal media.

    Comment by V the K — March 20, 2006 @ 5:17 pm - March 20, 2006

  19. Gryph said…

    “There are now many more Terrorists organizations than there were before 9-11. In fact, Bush is the best thing that every happened to Al Quaeda and Osama Bin Laden.”

    So Patrick, can I assume your alternative would have been to allow those terrorist cells to continue unabated? Typical of the left’s position, you not only wouldn’t have retaliated, but now offer no viable alternative.

    May I also inquire as to why the hell you felt the need to capitalize the “t” in terrorist?

    Seems like a freudian slip, perhaps.

    Eric in Hollywood

    Comment by HollywoodNeoCon — March 20, 2006 @ 6:12 pm - March 20, 2006

  20. By the way, JRC?

    Since others here have taken the high road, please allow me to respond to your hysterical post in kind…

    Take your ALL CAPS anti-war protest talking points and kindly go fuck yourself. If I wanted to hear shrill Cindy Shehag-like rants, I’d go hang out at Sarandon’s latest movie shoot.

    Eric in Hollywood

    Comment by HollywoodNeoCon — March 20, 2006 @ 6:15 pm - March 20, 2006

  21. Reagan was the first president ever to allocate federal monies for AIDs research. I always think this is because his close friend, the reportedly gay Rock Hudson, died of HIV.

    Comment by steve — March 20, 2006 @ 6:34 pm - March 20, 2006

  22. #19 — Maybe you’re onto something. Maybe instead of fighting terrorism, we should have started a Department of Terrorism, and let the same people who made public education what it is today take on terrorism.

    Within a few years, terrorists would be lazy, illiterate, socalist tit-suckers and unable to locate America on a map, and with insufficient mastery of chemistry to make bombs, and with insufficient knowledge of history to know what they were fighting for. Instead of blowing stuff up, they would constantly be hitting up taxpayers for every larger amounts of money to fund their incompetence.

    On the other hand, fighting a war in Iraq is probably cheaper.

    Comment by V the K — March 20, 2006 @ 6:38 pm - March 20, 2006

  23. But seriously, the left does have a plan for dealing with terrorism.

    1. We won’t try to establish freedom and democracy in the Middle East. Democracy is for smart white people, not dumb brown people.

    2. We won’t go after terrorists in foreign countries because killing terrorists only makes other terrorists mad.

    3. We won’t wiretap terrorist phone calls, we won’t interrogate any terror suspects we happen to capture, and we won’t detain any suspected terrorists either.

    4. We will, however, apologize profusely after the next terrorist attack for whatever we might have done to offend and provoke them.

    Comment by V the K — March 20, 2006 @ 7:13 pm - March 20, 2006

  24. Hey V, it’s sad to admit, but a long, long time ago, I might have thought you were just being overly sarcastic. However, after listening to the last five years of leftist bullshit, I’m sorry to see that each and every one of your comments have been fully manifested.

    Eric in Hollywood

    Comment by HollywoodNeoCon — March 20, 2006 @ 7:23 pm - March 20, 2006

  25. Having just visited the Reagan Library yesterday, I can tell you that the differences between the two men were really made obvious to me.

    It’s true, Bush is no Reagan. However I had to wonder just how well The Gipper’s legacy would’ve stood up to the realities of a post-9/11 world not to mention all the pressures of being a wartime president.

    With the exception of FDR, no wartime president since has been able overcome the near constant second-guessing of their decisions and subsequent low approval ratings. It’s becoming apparent to me that Americans are losing their nerve…preferring socialism-style appeasement to peace through strength.

    I personally feel that American commitment to Iraq and Afghanistan would be much more optimistic had we not turned tail and run from Vietnam. Even with Bush Sr.’s total victory in Desert Storm, Americans still to this day will second-guess the ability of the greatest fighting force on earth.

    Oh well…I’m just a cavewoman…what do I know. Sometimes the honking horns of LA’s traffic makes me want to get out of my Hyundai and run off into the hills or…wherever.

    Aaanywho…here’s my Bush Report Card:

    Vision/Optimism: A

    Communicating that Vision: B-

    National Security: C

    Foreign Policy: B

    Free Trade: B

    Domestic Spending/Size of Federal Government: F

    Federalism: F

    Judicial Appointments: B+

    Leadership/Tenacity: A

    Overall: C+

    Comments: Gets along well with others though at times can be easily distracted from his work. Overall a fair student but still much more room for improvement.

    Comment by The Ugly American — March 20, 2006 @ 7:51 pm - March 20, 2006

  26. How about a report card on the mainstream media on Iraq while we’re at it?

    Comment by Laurie — March 20, 2006 @ 8:49 pm - March 20, 2006

  27. Laurie: I think a dunce cap would suffice.

    Comment by The Ugly American — March 20, 2006 @ 10:25 pm - March 20, 2006

  28. 9: President Reagan engaged in massive spending to defeat the Soviets, and even appeased liberal domestic spending (even with some veto action), to focus on larger priorities… (the Cold War) / One could argue President Bush was doing the same after 9-11.

    Your comparison strongly suggests that Congressional Republicans are closet liberals, which I certainly would not dispute. In his First inaugural, Reagan said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” If a politician were to say this today, it would serve as a stinging critique of Bush’s spendthrift domestic policy.

    10: President Bush instilled competition and needed ‘testing’ in our public educational system, a dramatic positive change in a massive program … for once, an attempt to produce a desperately needed ‘gauge’ or check on the health of an investment in a socialist educational program.

    I assume you’re talking about the Ted Kennedy-sponsored “No Child Left Behind” Act — a massive federal intrusion into state-run public school systems. (It’s one reason Bush earned that “F” for Federalism.) In 1980, Reagan campaigned to eliminate the Department of Education, which he called “President Carter’s new bureaucratic boondoggle.” He couldn’t follow through on that promise, but at least he kept the department’s growth to a minimum. Contrast with our current president: During Bush’s first three years in office, DoE funding increased by a whopping fifty-eight percent. Meanwhile, federal mandates under NCLB are stretching state education budgets to the breaking point, even as they stifle innovative educational initiatives at the local level, and school vouchers seem as remote a possibility as ever.

    Comment by Tim Hulsey — March 21, 2006 @ 5:42 am - March 21, 2006

  29. MM:

    Actually, the BEST thing that every happened for al Qaeda was allowing America’s political liberal insurgency a get-out-of-jail-card for dissent

    Are you advocating a retroactive repeal of the First Amendment? Since much of what we’re doing here qualifies as “dissent,” would you have us thrown in jail? If so, which of us would you incarcerate? and for which comments?

    The only Constitutional Right Bush has violated is the right to voice an opinion about an elected official within 60 days of a federal election…

    That’s a very important one, and would earn a failing grade in itself. MM, do you think support for McCain-Feingold could have overridden a presidential veto (especially given Bush’s standing in the Republican party)? We also have to discuss the issues of indefinite detention without trial, and Bush’s assertion that he can unilaterally detain citizens without due process. And then there’s the question of torture.

    Please provide a list of the Americans held hostage in Gitmo and are subject to unconstitutional treatment.

    If you had asked this question a few weeks ago, no one could have told you much: The closest we had to a real source of information was a master’s thesis from an American University journalism student. But thanks to a FOIA lawsuit (damn the media!), the Pentagon has finally released the names of hundreds of Guantanamo Bay detainees. I only know of three American citizens who were there: Two were captured in Afghanistan, but one, Jose Padilla, was arrested on American soil. He was imprisoned at Gitmo for more than three years, before being formally charged.

    Comment by Tim Hulsey — March 21, 2006 @ 6:19 am - March 21, 2006

  30. Tim, when you write “Jose Padilla” did you mean to write Abdullah al-Mujahir –who renounced his US citizenship on his first trip abroad to train with al Qaeda in Afghanistan? The same Abdullah al-Mujahir who, by his own admission, was trained to assemble, build, and detonate a radioactive bomb in an urban American center? The same Abdullah al-Mujahir who used false US documents to gain entry into the US and was picked up at O’Hare carrying crude plans for a dirty bomb?

    Just wanted to be clear about who you were speaking about as “that American citizen who had his constitutional rights violated while at Gitmo”… sorry Tim, you’ll need to try again.

    Or is this one of those cases like your misreading of Buckley’s comments that –no matter what proof is offered to rebut your hip shots– it won’t be good enuff to assuage your inclination and long reach to indict?

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 21, 2006 @ 8:30 am - March 21, 2006

  31. Oh, and Tim… don’t let facts get in your way in that rush to indict… but Abdullah al-Mujahir was held in a South Carolina military prison –not Gitmo.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 21, 2006 @ 8:33 am - March 21, 2006

  32. VdaK at #23: “Democracy is for smart white people, not dumb brown people.” Are you wearing Patrick’s tin foil hat now? That line sounds as bigoted as some of Patrick’s prior rants.

    Oh, it was a parody. Sorry, nevermind.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 21, 2006 @ 8:37 am - March 21, 2006

  33. Are you advocating a retroactive repeal of the First Amendment?

    The First Amendment does not include sedition or treason.

    Comment by rightwingprof — March 21, 2006 @ 9:12 am - March 21, 2006

  34. 33: Are you suggesting, rightwingprof, that mere dissent now constitutes sedition or treason?

    Please explain this remarkable position further, lest I be compelled to conclude that the only thing distinguishing you from your fellow academics is that they would have those who disagree with them fired, while you would have those who disagree with you shot.

    31: You’re right — Padilla was (and is) held in a South Carolina facility. Even though Padilla is a bad man, he possesses Constitutional rights, among them the right to a fair and speedy trial. And he was held for over three years in a South Carolina military prison without being charged of any crime. It’s going to be very difficult to argue that this wasn’t a violation of the Sixth Amendment.

    Comment by Tim Hulsey — March 21, 2006 @ 11:04 am - March 21, 2006

  35. 22: I like this idea, V. It’s up there with the old joke that the government should nationalize crime … to make sure it doesn’t pay.

    Comment by Tim Hulsey — March 21, 2006 @ 11:06 am - March 21, 2006

  36. Tim, you aren’t reading and comprehending once again. It’s now a pattern. First with Buckley; now here.

    His name is Abdullah al-Mujahir; his choice. He renounced his US citizenship in Afghanistan before traveling to Iraq. He is not entitled to U S Constitutional protections. He is an enemy combatant. Only liberals seeking to humanize his crimes against humanity will call him Padilla –in contravention of what he wants.

    I wrote nothing about his being a good or bad man. That’s immaterial to your assertion that he deserves protection under the US Constitution.

    Go back and try again, Tim. This time be intellectually honest.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 21, 2006 @ 2:26 pm - March 21, 2006

  37. So Patrick, can I assume your alternative would have been to allow those terrorist cells to continue unabated? Typical of the left’s position, you not only wouldn’t have retaliated, but now offer no viable alternative.

    May I also inquire as to why the hell you felt the need to capitalize the “t” in terrorist?

    Seems like a freudian slip, perhaps.

    Eric in Hollywood

    Actually a lot of the War on Terror is taking place out of the sight of the American public, conducted by special forces in the Philippines, and other places in Asia. That is a good thing Bush did do. However there is no denying that Iraq is Bush’s war and that it has provided Osama with justification in the eyes of many in the Middle East. Not to mention its has provided a place to obtain weapons, munitions and to conduct terrorist Training as well. Which is why we are starting to see more IED’s in Afghanistan, the technology and personnel are being imported from Iraq. If we had not invaded Iraq we would be able to devout more resources to the actual War on Terror rather than on Iraq.

    Saddam was a snake and had to go. We were going to have to take him out sooner or later, but if we had done it later, it would have been better for the WoT.

    Comment by Patrick (gryph) — March 21, 2006 @ 3:29 pm - March 21, 2006

  38. Are you suggesting, rightwingprof, that mere dissent now constitutes sedition or treason?

    The law on both is clear. It’s not I, but liberals who believe, however, that the First Amendment covers sedition and treason.

    Comment by rightwingprof — March 21, 2006 @ 3:33 pm - March 21, 2006

  39. So sorry, MM, but your knee-jerk response of “intellectual dishonesty” doesn’t work. Do you always call people that when they disagree with you, or is that your last defense when you’ve been pinned to the mat — sort of like calling someone a liar when you’ve nothing left to say?

    Even though you may not deserve a reasoned rebuttal with evidence, you’ll get one anyway. (How generous of me. :^P ) According to US District Court judge Michael Mukasey, who supported the Bush administration’s power to declare Padilla an enemy combatant and hold him without benefit of trial, “it matters not that Padilla is a United States citizen captured on United States soil.” Note: He’s stating that Padilla was a US citizen at the time of his arrest. And he’s on your side, MM.

    A federal District Court judge in South Carolina, Henry F. Floyd, ruled more than a year ago that the Bush administration acted illegally in subjecting Padilla to indefinite detention. (Floyd is a Bush appointee, by the way, and he’s no liberal — his written opinion even accused the Bush administration of “judicial activism.”)

    It’s difficult to argue that the Bush administration served the national interest by holding Padilla for more than three years without benefit of a trial. The idea that the president can unilaterally declare someone an “enemy combatant” shouldn’t sit well with us conservatives — even (or perhaps especially) if we believe that the Bush administration is acting from the best, purest and noblest of motives.

    Comment by Tim Hulsey — March 21, 2006 @ 3:42 pm - March 21, 2006

  40. Tim, “So sorry, MM, but your knee-jerk response of “intellectual dishonesty” doesn’t work.” No knee jerk –that’s for the other side of aisle as in knee-jerk liberal, limousine liberal, effete liberal.

    Tim, the point was that you tried to spin the discussion away from the key facts — whether Abdullah al-Mujahir is a good or bad is immaterial to his incarceration in the brig and transfer to a federal jail. I-M-M-A-T-E-R-I-A-L and you knew that, Tim. That’s intellectually dishonest.

    But it’s consistent with your comments about judges Mukasey and Floyd on the central question of whether Abdullah al-Mujahir was a US citizen or an enemy combatant of indeterminate citizenship. If you’re as familiar with J Mukasey’s decision as you project, you’d also know that the judge did NOT –that’s N-O-T– find it necessary to determine whether or not Abdullah al-Mujahir is a US citizen. He wasn’t making a statement of fact as to Abdullah al-Mujahir’s citizenship. That’ll be an issue that SCOTUS, the lower federal courts as trier of facts, or others will determine later.

    The quote you employ to deceive actually makes the point that POTUS has the power –unequivocally– to detain unlawful combatants whether a US citizen or captured on American soil. Judge Mukasey’s point was in response to the defense’s inadequate assertion that Abdullah al-Mujahir was: 1) a US citizen and 2) captured on US soil and 3) held on US soil. That’s about as intellectually dishonest as they come, Tim. Hence my characterization –both truthful and correct.

    If you take issue with it, make your case but don’t try to weasel out of your losing argument by suggesting that it’s just name calling. First it was “he’s in Gitmo”… then he’s a US citizen per J Mukasey’s own words”… then what, Tim? What prevarication is next?

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 21, 2006 @ 7:55 pm - March 21, 2006

  41. oh, and by the way, Tim… you offered that “Padilla was (and is) held in a South Carolina facility” –wrong.

    He’s now in a federal prison in Miami, Tim. And he’s changed his name again –probably on instructions from his lawyers so that it sounds more American. Kind of what you were doing, eh?

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 21, 2006 @ 8:05 pm - March 21, 2006

  42. Should we deal with J Floyd’s ruling? Or can you submit that as the entry judge in the matter, he needed to find for Padilla because of the high likelihood of a series of appeals in the federal system?

    Probably not, eh?

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 21, 2006 @ 8:08 pm - March 21, 2006

  43. MM in #40: whether Abdullah al-Mujahir is a good or bad is immaterial to his incarceration in the brig and transfer to a federal jail.

    Well, yes, my point was that Padilla’s indefinite detention without trial would be unconstitutional either way. It’s a violation of the Sixth Amendment, which applies to the good and the bad alike (and for that matter to citizens and non-citizens on US soil).

    That said, Padilla is a US citizen, a basic fact which you’ve striven in vain to deny. As to the Miami jail, you’re correct — I had forgotten that. But this factoid has no effect on your own case, or for that matter on mine. Even Padilla’s citizenship doesn’t affect my case, except that it makes the actions of the Bush administration that much more egregious.

    Floyd’s ruling is about as strongly worded as judicial rulings get. The judge claimed that a verdict against bringing Padilla to trial would “totally eviscerate the limits placed on Presidential authority to protect the citizenry’s individual liberties.” Again, the citizenry — Floyd, too, is aware that Padilla is a US citizen. Your speculation in #42 about the ruling’s provisional quality seems at radical variance with the available evidence, as is almost everything you’ve written in the past three posts (the one factoid about the Miami jail excepted).

    To get back to the original thread: Representatives of the Bush administration have argued, before federal district courts, that the administration has the power to detain anyone, indefinitely, without benefit of trial, simply because they suspect this person of terroristic or treasonous activity. (Can you imagine what Clinton would have done with this power?)

    The facts establish that the Bush administration has imperiled the constitutional rights of individual citizens. That’s why Bush flunks.

    Comment by Tim Hulsey — March 22, 2006 @ 6:13 am - March 22, 2006

  44. Tim, Tim, Tim. No, the govt has argued that in a very limited, discreet manner they have the power, after a finding by the CIC, to detain known terrorists who are enemy combatants in the WOT. Even your venerable judges Floyd and Mukasey acknowledge that point. More over, they know that this is a critical issue which will be decided by the SCOTUS –not a federal district judge, not an appeals judge, but the big bank of blackrobed jurists sitting in the midst of all that Vermont marble.

    I see you’ve again sidestepped the issue: that of the self-confessed, self-renounced citizenship of Abdullah al-Mujahir before he left for Pakistan and his meetings with al Qaeda operatives. Instead, you’d like to read into each statement on the matter made by federal judges without the benefit of context. Context, Tim –like with Buckley’s comments you read to be “cut & run” or “get out now” or “give peace a chance”– depending on which reduction of yours one uses. Abdullah al-Mujahir is not a US citizen; but SCOTUS could decide that isn’t material.

    My point about getting the facts right, Tim, is that blogs on the Left have taken snippets of this story and played fast and loose with reality –helping to spawn an inaccurate take of the story, allowing many on the Left and some nutjobs on the far Right to see this case as central to the health, safety, welfare and constitutional rights of ALL Americans… and it’s anything but that. The issue is whether, in a very limited and discreet fashion, an enemy combatant can be detained by US military forces and farmed for intelligence or denied access to other terrorists for a prolonged period of time. You are safe in your home. I am safe in my home. The govt isn’t going to haul us in and detain us on a gay concentration camp… it’s ok.

    I do give you credit tho, at least you didn’t try hoisting that last urban myth of the Left that Abdullah al-Mujahir is actually the 2nd or 3rd unaccounted for terrorist in the Oklahoma City bombing and a rouge CIA operative. That’s refreshing because it sure is part of the concerted effort of the Left to spread disinformation on this case.

    And your final assertion “The facts establish that the Bush administration has imperiled the constitutional rights of individual citizens” is really more a political statement intended to take this issue, as with others well documented here and in other blogs, and massage it into an anti-Bush indictment. John Conyers hasn’t been able to get that dog to hunt with all his powers of persuasion and stack of tin foils hats… it’s a political statement you make Tim. For partisan gain.

    The “facts” you rest your argument upon are collected for that purpose: partisan gain. And, for me, it’s a sickening attribute of the Left and Democrats these days.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 22, 2006 @ 8:56 am - March 22, 2006

  45. #20 (Eric)…
    Thank you! I was literally blocking my ears with my hands.

    Great food for thought here in comments.
    Especially by so many of “us” that are considered Bush apologists and zombies when most Bush supporters I know have a few of the same peeves and state so.

    And why not compare to Reagan? He’s the example of the highest standard to aspire to.

    Comment by SondraK — March 23, 2006 @ 2:37 am - March 23, 2006

  46. Former Republican strategist, Kevin Phillips, has a new book entitled, AMERICAN THEOCRACY, and he pinpoints why he does not like either George Bush, and sees the current George Bush as leading the Republican Party in an unacceptable right wing religious rule direction that is rapidly furthering the decline of the American empire. This book is useful in rating the mere footnote place in history that the current George Bush will likely fill.

    Philips noted that both father and son Bush have seen their approval ratings fall by 50 points. And both have allowed either MidEast or economic problems to make a wreckage of their administrations.

    By issues, George W. Bush, started out with a misguided vision that he was alone somehow wise enough to reshape the entire MidEast, but instead has created serious enough of instability in the region that Iran is now far stronger than ever in the region, and may eventually lead the area into the start of WWIII in future years with a future nuclear weapons showdown, and this nuclear weapns and increased military clout of Iran also further threatens the national security of Israel in the shorter run.

    The Bush Doctrine failed goal of MidEast democracy has also given Islamic religious extremists new clout in Iran, the terrorist organization, Hamas, a victory in the Palestinian Authority region, and removed many moderates in Iraq in favor of increased clout by the Badr Brigade militia, Shiite religious elements with close ties to Iran.

    There was no wisdom to look into the failed efforts of Britain that formed Iraq in 1922 from defeated portions of the Ottoman Empire after the Turkish defeat in WWI. Britain tried unsuccessfully from 1922 to 1958 to stop insugent violence and ethnic struggle between Sunni and Shiite ethnic groups. In 1958, British soldiers finally withdrew after a bloody revolt. What little vision of history for the U.S. to enter into a brewing ethnic conflict that Britain could not even contain years after the end of WWII. Eventual U.S. success is highly unlikely in Iraq because there has been no ethnic peace since the 1922 British creation of this artificial state. And Mr. Bush even notes that it will be up to the next president to determine how the U.S. will exit Iraq.

    And while Bill Clinton balanced the federal budget, Mr. Bush has engaged in reckless spending principles with the U.S. national debt climbing from $5.7 to $8.2 trillion dollars during his rule. Nations such as Japan, China, South Korea, and even banks in Caribbean where money from big gambling interests own hundreds of billions of U.S. bonds, and now even dictate some of our trade policies because of this clout. More and more debt to foreign bondholders is the only glue that holds the American government together, preventing our collapse as a society. And just like individual credit card or other debt, when another owns your debt, they own your freedom to choose for yourself. The U.S. increasingly must compromise their own economic goals for the goals of their debtor nations.

    Outsourcing of jobs has hit critical levels in the U.S. Imports or foreign ownership are now such a major portion of the U.S. economy that as much as 97% of some major U.S. industry segments are foreign controlled now. The U.S. is now down to just two U.S. owned automobile producers, both with serious economic problems that threaten their future survival.

    No world nation has ever degenerated from a major producer economy economy down to mere “vender economy” of service related jobs that merely act as salespersons for foreign products and survived for very long. The decline and fall of major world empires of the past has always folllowed nations that stopped producing their own goods and instead simply offered the goods of other nations for sale in their marketplaces. Even social sciences such as anthropology note that even the most primitive of past world societies at least produced their own “pottery” type items. Today the U.S. merely sells the “pottery” in mass quantities of China, Taiwan, South Korea in big box stores such as Wal-Mart that do not pay a living wage to most workers.

    The U.S. also faces an immigration crisis because “free trade” policies such as NAFTA have miserably failed, and reduced many of the wages in Mexico, where large corporate U.S. agriculture industries dumped low priced corn and wheat on Mexican markets, reducing local wages by at least one third, creating a huge wave of economic refugees to the United States who compete for the lower wage American jobs. And these workers earn little in job benefits such as health care, so state governments are hard pressed to offer health care and other services to many of these immigrants, both legal or not. This has created major state budget problems in some states such as California, making the state nearly unrulable for any governor. Neither a Democratic or Republican governor can rule successfully in a state like California where a U.S. economy problem such as misguided “free trade” policies create a wave of economic refugees with a high dollar demand for state social services. The problem is beyond the control of the state itself. You cannot grow a state economy fast enough in the short term to pay for such a serious large scale economic refugee crisis such as this.

    The current George Bush is unlikely to have a role much outside of a mere footnote role in future history books. The closest comparison I can think of is Nero’s role in the decline of the Roman Empire.

    Comment by Paul Hooson — March 26, 2006 @ 7:03 am - March 26, 2006

  47. I am puzzled by the saintly regard many seem to have for the National Defense success’ of Mr. Reagan. His nickname should be ‘Cut and Run Ronnie’ for his cowardly and ignominious retreat in the face of the most deadly terroist attack on American Military Hero’s in the 20th Century. I speak of the unanswered massacre of American Marines in Beirut. If Mogadishu was Mr. Clinton’s shame what was Mr. Reagan’s weasly retreat with 10 times the unanswered death.

    Comment by Robert McGillen — May 9, 2006 @ 3:42 pm - May 9, 2006

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