Saying Goodbye To President Bush

As I sit here tonight and think about this last post I will write about George Bush as President of the United States, I am reminded of the questions over the years from family and friends about my attitude towards the 43rd President.  Some have felt I was too harsh and personal in my opinions about Bush, and as such wondered what provoked me so much.

Was it just because of the Iraq War?  No.

Well, then was it about the way he disregarded the Constitution? No.

Well then it must be because of the 2000 election?  No.

Though clearly all these issues and policies are vitally important, and each frustrated me, they are not the reason that I found it almost impossible to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt over the years.   Rather my problem with President Bush started early in his campaign for the Oval Office.  In fact, what made him objectionable back when he was just a candidate also turned into the reason for his failure as a leader of this nation.

Let me put it in plain English.

He lacked curiosity, and that lifetime flaw insured he would not be an intelligent man.  Simply put, he was not smart enough to be my president.

Some will call that an elitist liberal ‘not as good as me’ attitude, but the facts over the past eight years prove my initial thoughts about George Bush were correct.  The lack of being curious about the world led to some dreadful results.

In January 2007 Senator Rockefeller was quoted at saying that foreign policy in the Middle East under President Bush was suffering due to this problem.

Mr. Rockefeller was biting in his criticism of how President Bush has dealt with the threat of Islamic radicalism since the Sept. 11 attacks, saying he believed that the campaign against international terrorism was “still a mystery” to the president.

“I don’t think he understands the world,” Mr. Rockefeller said. “I don’t think he’s particularly curious about the world. I don’t think he reads like he says he does.”

He added, “Every time he’s read something he tells you about it, I think.”

Over the past eight years I wanted my president to be smarter than the average citizen.  While Bush was rich, and brazen enough to win the national election, he was not curious enough to understand the nuances of policy-making to insure a better America.   Fact is he never once cared enough to learn the things he did not know.

A concrete example of this total lack of curiosity came during his visit to Vietnam, and not to put too fine a point on it for a man his age growing up during the war, but it was his first trip to that country.

While in Vietnam Bush missed any true local flavor as he darted and dashed, as is his custom, more intent on leaving than on learning.  As President of the United States he could have set a very much different schedule to accommodate a normal healthy curiosity.  Instead, Bush left his desire to broaden his understandings of another culture behind him.  As news accounts noted on one Saturday he had only one nonofficial event that lasted 15 minutes, with almost no Vietnamese to interact with.  How could anyone visit a country they had never seen before and not wish to visit the places that history books tell us so much about?

On Saturday, Mr. Bush emerged from his hotel for only one nonofficial event, a 15-minute visit to the Joint P.O.W./M.I.A. Accounting Command, which searches for the remains of the 1,800 Americans still listed as missing in the Vietnam War.

There were almost no Vietnamese present, just a series of tables displaying photographs of the group’s painstaking work, and helmets, shoes and replicas of bones recovered by the 425 members of the command. He asked a few questions and then sped off in his motorcade.

It has also been reported that while in Russia on a separate trip he spent under 20 minutes at the treasures of Red Square!!  That just makes my head spin!!  I think this type of behavior is a show of disdain for much of the world, and a serious lack of intellectual heft that I consider an essential part of what creates a real national leader.

Through the natural follow-up on what we find curious, we also discover an education.  Things might be much different today had there been an ability by President Bush, prior to the Iraq War, to be curious what the mindset of the Iraqi people might be if a foreign army occupied their country. History has lots to say on this topic.  

Had Bush been more curious about the consequences of global warming, and the impact on people around the globe, he might have treated the Kyoto treaty with more seriousness.  Had Bush been more curious to meet real people in the various nations he had traveled as President, and talked with them, hearing their voices and views, he might have had more ability to lead effectively as the leader of the free world.

I had candidate George Bush pegged correctly in 2000 as one who possessed little curiosity.  His inability to understand world conditions then was shocking, but I had hoped his subscription to The Economist was just being sent to the wrong address.  After watching him for eight years as President we now all know the sad facts.   

There just isn’t a lot of depth and intellect to George Bush.  Simply put, he was not smart enough to be our president.

Abe Lincoln To Attend Inauguation?

lincoln

Video: 44 US Presidents-Washington to Barack Obama

This is well done.

Recalling When I Agreed With President Bush

I have been thinking back on the past eight years as the hours slip by, and the Bush Administration prepares to depart formally from the White House.  I have written literally tens of thousands of words in various forums and blogs about the politics and policies of President Bush and his time in office.  While I have disagreed with the vast percentage of his policies, there have been times, such as with the Dubai Ports controversy, where I stood solid alongside the words and actions of President Bush.  When President Bush was wrong he was wrong, and I called him on it.  But when he was right he needed to be defended, and I was there to do that when the situation  presented itself.

On February 22, 2006, in another forum than this blog, I wrote the following.

President Bush is not often defended on this blog. But when he deserves support, he should have it. The issue of port security, as it relates to Dubai Ports World, is one where Bush and his Administration are correct in their assessment for this company’s future involvement in six of our nation’s ports.

When I first heard this national uproar I thought back on what I felt most people already should know about our ports. (That was my first mistake.) The Coast Guard and our customs officials are in charge of inspecting incoming cargo. While one can correctly argue that there is not enough funding to adequately inspect the volumes of material that come to our shores, that is not the issue at this time. (I have argued for more such funds but none seems to be in the pipeline.) But to state that just because a company is located in the Middle East makes them hostile to our interests, or means they are a terrorist ridden enterprise, is the most illogical thinking that has poured simultaneously out of the mouths of some Republicans and Democrats. In addition, it should be noted that planning and maintaining for port security is not done by the holding company since that too is a function of the Coast Guard and Customs officials.

Perhaps I should let Bush sum it up for both of us as he (for once) can speak for me as my President.

He said he would veto any legislation to hold up a deal and warned the United States was sending ‘mixed signals’ by going after a company from the Middle East when nothing was said when a British company was in charge… Lawmakers, he said, must ‘step up and explain why a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard.’ Bush was very forceful when he delivered the statement… ‘I don’t view it as a political fight.’

The next day, February 23, 2006, I added more support for the Bush White House in relation to this matter.

But now the Republicans who so often eat their own in bad times, (Remember Harriot?) are swarming over the White House demanding that Bush bend to their will on the port management issue. The misinformed hordes (which also include some addled Democrats seeking a muscular caricature for themselves on the national security issue) are using the fear factor as their primary weapon. These hyper-politicians have whipped up mass hysteria in the country in a way that I have not seen for many years. Do keep in mind that this public outcry comes from an electorate that until a few days ago did not even realize that over 30% of our ports are already operated by foreign companies. And I am still absolutely perplexed how misinformed the public is on how ports operate. Did the whole nation miss the articles about the New York Port Authority following 9/11? While other countries were managing port operations in various locations around the nation why was there not a national outcry? Could it be there is no rational reason for it??!!

I take no joy in the pummeling that the White House is now experiencing because this issue is too vital for our long term interests in the Middle East. The Commission that oversees these contracts did the job as specified by law, and the outcome is just. This management company from UAE is no more a threat to national security than the Singapore subsidiary is that currently runs part of the LA port.

The fact that experts who know about these issues and deal with them daily do not see a threat to national security while the politicians with a finger in the air see hell on high coming over the horizon should tell us all a great deal about this whole affair!!!!

This is the worst example of  racism aimed at the international community that I have ever witnessed in my life.  History tells me the Japanese experience in World War II would perhaps rival the injustice that Arabs and Muslims face today. But I had hoped that our nation might have learned something from that sad episode.

America Has Realistic Faith About Barack Obama

The faith that voters have in Barack Obama is is tempered with a dose of reality given the weighty issues confronting the nation.  I think Obama has been masterful at laying out his plans, and also making sure voters understand that everything may not work, just as FDR did when he also inherited a horrible mess from the outgoing Republican administration in 1933.

While hopes for the new president are extraordinarily high, the poll found, expectations for what Mr. Obama will actually be able to accomplish appear to have been tempered by the scale of the nation’s problems at home and abroad.

The findings suggest that Mr. Obamahas achieved some success withhis effort, which began with his victory speech in Chicago in November, to gird Americans for a slow economic recovery and difficult years ahead after a campaign that generated striking enthusiasm and high hopes for change.

Most Americans said they did not expect real progress in improving the economy, reforming the health care system or ending the war in Iraq — three of the central promises of Mr. Obama’s campaign — for at least two years. The poll found that two-thirds of respondents think the recession will last two years or longer.

As the nation prepares for a transfer of power and the inauguration of its 44th president, Mr. Obama’s stature with the American public stands in sharp contrast to that of President Bush.

Mr. Bush is leaving office withjust 22 percent of Americans offering a favorable view of how he handled the eight years of his presidency, a record low, and firmly identified with the economic crisis Mr. Obama is inheriting. More than 80 percent of respondents said the nation was in worse shape today than it was five years ago.

By contrast, 79 percent were optimistic about the next four years under Mr. Obama, a level of good will for a new chief executive that exceeds that measured for any of the past five incoming presidents. And it cuts across party lines: 58 percent of the respondents who said they voted for Mr. Obama’s opponent in the general election, Senator John McCain of Arizona, said they were optimistic about the country in an Obama administration.

“Obama is not a miracle worker, but I am very optimistic, I really am,” Phyllis Harden, 63, an independent from Easley, S.C., who voted for Mr. Obama, said in an interview after participating in the poll.