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Broad Outline of Where W Went Wrong

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 7:18 pm - January 15, 2009.
Filed under: Post 9-11 America,Where W went wrong

As President Bush prepares to deliver his farewell address, I thought I’d offer my broad overview of why, I believe, he lost the support of the American people and how he failed conservatives.

Later, either today, tomorrow or this weekend, I may use the text of that address to focus on his accomplishments. Despite his many blunders, he did accomplish a good deal, notably in keeping us safe since 9/11 and in appointing two responsible, intelligent and eminently qualified jurists to the Supreme Court.

While Bush has been anything but a conservative on fiscal issues, I don’t regret my vote for him in 2000 and 2004. Given the alternatives, I know we’d be in worse shape had Al Gore or John Kerry won. Gore’s behavior since his loss has shown he lacks the temperament to lead. And Kerry was too beholden to liberal opinion to develop a coherent strategy to face the threats abroad.

Since I’m going to focus on Bush’s failings, let me alert you to Fred Barnes’s piece listing ten things, he believes, the president got right. I agree with him on most of those.

While we can find many little mistakes over the course of the president’s eight-year tenure, I believe that many (if not most) of them stem from two things, taking his popularity for granted in the wake of 9/11 and misreading the 2004 election returns.

After 9/11, just by (by and large) doing the right thing, his popularity skyrocketed and remained high through the summer of 2003, the same time he tapped a overly deferential man lacking in public relations skills as his Press Secretary. Simply put, Scott McClellan was the wrong man to handle a press corps eager to under George W. Bush.

Even as the press became increasingly combative in 2002 and 2003, the public continued to rally around the president. He didn’t think he needed do anything to remain in the good graces of the American people. So, he didn’t work hard enough to burnish his image and defend his policies in the wake of unrelenting attacks on his character and motives.

At the same time as he requested larger federal outlays to meet the terrorist threat, he didn’t do anything to restrain domestic spending. It would seem that a responsible steward of the public treasury would say, if we need more to pay for this program, we’re going to have to take less to pay for that.

Indeed, he would have risked the wrath of various interest groups had he called for drastic cuts in domestic spending, but given the public perception of the terrorist threat, he would have found a public more readily disposed to fiscal restraint. It might have cost him some of his short-term popularity, but it would have prevented him from losing support, later in his term, from fiscal conservatives.

As his popularity plunged in the last year of his first term, it seemed, at least to the left and the MSM, that he would lose his bid for his second term. But, when, to their surprise he won, he seemed to see his victory not so much as one for his party–and those who rallied around him–but for himself. He appointed many cronies to federal office, decent men all, but Bush loyalists first and foremost, many of whom, including the former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who were out of their league in positions of executive authority.

One wonders why, despite the strong support Bush received from conservative legal luminaries in his reelection campaign, he did not tap such jurists for positions in his Justice Department.

So, the basic outline of Bush’s failures:

  1. Taking his popularity in the wake of 9/11 for granted and not doing enough to defend his character and promote his programs.  (And as per Jack Goldsmith, this applies to the way he dealt with Congress.)
  2. Not realizing that the increased security expenditures in the wake of 9/11 should mean cuts from other areas of the budget.
  3. Seeing his reelection a a personal vindication and appointing cronies instead of competent conservatives to posts of power and influence.
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12 Comments

  1. [...] Broad Outline of Where W Went Wrong [...]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Broad Outline of Where W Went Wrong — Bullet Points — January 15, 2009 @ 7:25 pm - January 15, 2009

  2. [...] Broad Outline of Where W Went Wrong [...]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Bush’s Farewell Address & His Legacy — January 15, 2009 @ 9:45 pm - January 15, 2009

  3. I’ve said it before. When Bush 43 stood on the rubble after 9/11 it changed him. It defined his presidency. Keeping 3000-30,000 Americans from dying in another terror attack was his only focus I think. Terror attack fatalities rose from dozens to thousands. He went on the offensive instead of absorbing more attacks. His judgement will become crystal clear if and when America is attacked again. Hopefully not for decades…but if it happens, people will approach Bush to ask how he would handle a response.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — January 15, 2009 @ 10:54 pm - January 15, 2009

  4. With no mention of Iraq or Katrina on this list, you’re not being honest with yourself.

    Iraq created the pressure and Katrina was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    Katrina may yet be a touchstone moment in America’s political psyche. It will take more time to see if it has that kind of enduring legacy. But for the time being, Katrina has crystallized that, above all else, we need a government that works.

    It is because Katrina that limited government is OUT. A government that works is IN. Perhaps as conservatives you’ll say the later is elusive, but it is what America is looking for now.

    That dichotomy, between limited government and a working government, was really the 2008 election in a nutshell.

    Comment by Erik — January 16, 2009 @ 1:11 am - January 16, 2009

  5. Erik, when the history of Katrina is made known, it would be seen that while Bush bumbled, he did not drop the ball. It was more a PR disaster than anything else. And the local response pales in comparison to the federal.

    As to Iraq, where have you been for the past year (and then some) and things on the ground have been constantly improving? Yeah, he made a mistake in not shifting strategy soon enough, he did shift strategy and succeeded when he did.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — January 16, 2009 @ 2:09 am - January 16, 2009

  6. Erik,

    Too bad that dichotomy is a lie. The Bush administrations response to Katrina was the biggest, fastest, most comprehensive disaster response in world history.

    You undoubtedly watched Anderson Cooper’s and others’ similar inaccurate histrionics, and swallowed whole the Democrats “disaster preparedness is the federal govts” responsibility lie (an unconstitutional one at that)

    Yes, Katrina marked a turning point — the point at which the media abandoned all remaining precepts of impartiality, and accuracy in reporting, and the point at which the American people willingly decided that they simply dont give a shit about facts.

    If you want 2008 in a nutshell, it has absolutely nothing to do with limited government. It has to do with a period of nasty venomous rancor unprecedented in modern times — that the American people simply want to stop. A rancor deliberately brought about by Democrats for partisan gain, which because Bush refused to defend himself from it, Democrats were also able to blame on Bush.

    A “government that works” will work just as well as it did under Carter, and the first two years of Clinton, when Democrats also controlled everything and had no one to blame — in other words, liberal “government that works” will be as big a disaster as it has always been (as it currently is!) and Americans will kick Democrats sorry asses out of office again as quickly as they did then, as soon as they see what they’ve gotten themselves into.

    Your BEST hope, is that like Clinton, the landslide will be so dramatic as to return power to Republicans in 2010, so something will go right for which Obama can then take credit in 2012. If Republicans dont gain enough seats to take congress back in 2010 — a tall order –then look for Obama to be a one termer just like Jimmah — the real worst president in American history (at least so far.)

    Comment by American Elephant — January 16, 2009 @ 2:18 am - January 16, 2009

  7. Katrina may yet be a touchstone moment in America’s political psyche.

    Look what it did for the governorship of Louisiana. The Louisianans I know were disgusted with Gov. “Blankbrain” flopping down in the mud crying for Uncle Sugar while Governors Barbour and Bush rolled up their sleeves to get to work putting their states back together.

    It will take more time to see if it has that kind of enduring legacy. But for the time being, Katrina has crystallized that, above all else, we need a government that works.

    Which is why Louisiana has been ditching the liberals. The truth of the matter is that Katrina exposed the colossal failure that is liberalism. One would have to wonder that if liberalism works, why were there so many poor in the state? If people actually knew the truth, instead of the “truth” the liberals and their bitch lap dogs in the media tell people, there’s no way in hell Chairman Obama would have been elected.

    Katrina was a turning point and the election of Chairman O crystalizes the fact that the liberal media should not be trusted. Throw in the truths of the liberal media undermining our national security and smearing our own soldiers and they should be done.

    It is because Katrina that limited government is OUT. A government that works is IN.

    You mean a government with total disdain for the people and disregard for personal responsibility. What you mean is a government with absolute and total control over the populace.

    That dichotomy, between limited government and a working government, was really the 2008 election in a nutshell.

    I still don’t see how the 2008 election was anything more than White Guilt on parade. Help me out here.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — January 16, 2009 @ 5:22 am - January 16, 2009

  8. It hurts me to have to say this but after reading the accounts of the National Guard folks running the response I don’t think the governor was at fault either. From see what the folks in the trenches have said there really wasn’t a problem other than it was nature delivering a colosal kick in the but and it taking time to dig out. the Guard was Johnny on the spot the Coast Guard and Navy were right on the heels of the storm front and FEMA had unprecedented amounts of stuff staged just outside the area that the storm could have damaged it. The governor didn’t turn control over to the feds because her own people had everything as under control as possible. As someone earlier said Katrina was a failure of media more than anything else.

    Comment by RC — January 16, 2009 @ 3:00 pm - January 16, 2009

  9. And notice something, Erik; the only place that had trouble responding during Katrina was New Orleans. Democrat controlled, Democrat operated, with ZERO emergency preparation, ZERO planning, ZERO forethought — but with every hand out demanding for welfare and bailouts.

    Republican-controlled Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Texas? No problems. Quick response, immediate help, fast rebuilding.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 16, 2009 @ 4:05 pm - January 16, 2009

  10. As an Emergency Management professional, who has dealt with MCIs (Mass Casualty Incidents), I still hope that Erik, or anybody else, will explain to me what should have been done and how, exactly, the response to Katrina was “botched”.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — January 17, 2009 @ 5:15 am - January 17, 2009

  11. “As an Emergency Management professional, who has dealt with MCIs (Mass Casualty Incidents), I still hope that Erik, or anybody else, will explain to me what should have been done and how, exactly, the response to Katrina was “botched”.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative ”

    Like you don’t already know what his answer will be! :D

    Oh, it’ll be wrong on every single count, but surely you’ve heard the conventional wisdom on what was “botched.”

    I only recently read where Bush was criticized for doing a fly-over of some of the devastation. That there was something wrong with that was assumed as they presented no reason for the criticism. I seem to recall politicians observing disaster areas as part-and-parcel of their jobs so … that’s the kind of groundless criticism, perceived as conventional wisdom, that Bush has endured, and ignored, for eight years.

    Comment by DoorHold — January 19, 2009 @ 5:35 pm - January 19, 2009

  12. [...] week, I wrote that “taking his popularity for granted in the wake of 9/11 . . . , , [Bush] didn’t work hard enough to …“  In comparing Bush’s popularity in the wake of 9/11 to Obama’s cult of [...]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » The cult “was the campaign” to bring Obama “into power” — January 22, 2009 @ 12:44 pm - January 22, 2009

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