Monday, December 01, 2008

W Too Nice to be President?

A brief post mortem on the Bush presidency, and on the man himself: I urge you to read the full article, linked below. I won't post it all, because although I agree in principle, I do not agree with the authors points en toto. One thing is clear however: Bush fought back hard, and reaped the ensuing political benefits, through election day 2004. He ceased doing so afterwards, in dramatic fashion, and with devastating consequences, both for himself and his party.

We now have lost the historic chance to remake the Supreme Court in it's intended originalist function. This is just one of many tragedies that has befallen our nation, in large part because Mr. Bush chose to remain above the fray the last 4 years.

President Bush will be remembered in history for many great achievements ( keeping us safe for 8 years, winning 2 wars; liberating millions, and bringing freedom to the oppressed Arabic world; saving our economy in the aftermath of 9/11 - a vastly underestimated achievement - ). Unfortunately, his legacy also includes abandoning his party's intellectual underpinnings, thereby handing us over to the socialists' tender mercies...T

Conservatism needs a fresh start. It is losing arguments ... and it is losing elections. One person, more than any other (even more than John McCain), has caused this: President George W. Bush...

George W. Bush is undoubtedly a sincere man. He is, in all probability, a good man. His dramatic conversion to Christianity indicates that he, at least at this point in his life, is a man of high moral principles. He is compassionate. And therein lies the problem: President Bush was too compassionate to be a good president...

A few conservatives saw this coming. I remember cringing at Bush's promise for "compassionate conservatism" and at these lines from his first Inaugural Address:

"Today, we affirm a new commitment to live out our nation's promise through civility, courage, compassion and character.America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle with a concern for civility. A civil society demands from each of us good will and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness."

President Bush really believed this -- and probably still does. His opposition on the left, however, never has believed it and never will. President Bush "misunderestimated" the ruthlessness of his political opposition. And the Democrats spent eight years running circles around him. As a result, conservatism will probably spend the next eight years paying for Bush's naïveté.

The reason we will pay is because partisan politics, in spite of what President Bush and Senator McCain believe or would have us believe, is not a quest for civility, or respect, or fair dealing, or forgiveness. Partisan politics is the pursuit, acquisition, and the use of power.

Our Founding Fathers were well aware of this cold hard political fact. They were not congenial in their descriptions of the process:

"The inference to which we are brought is that the causes of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects."
[Federalist Papers, Number 10, Madison. Emphasis in original.]

Our Constitution was not written to ensure forgiveness. It was written to prevent any one political faction from obtaining too much power.

The founders did not demand or expect cooperation and compromise between competing political ideologies -- they wanted and expected wide-eyed and vocal competition:

"To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectiveness." [Federalist Papers, Number 1, Hamilton.]

Any politician who claims that politics is or can become a cooperative and civil process is either gullible (Bush) or is deliberately trying to deceive his constituency (Obama).
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