Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

The material I post on this blog represents my views and mine alone. The material you post on this blog represents your views and yours alone.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

CROSSROADS COMMENT -- BUSH AT 60 AND AFTER 6


Why is it when evaluating Bush, supporters, to a much greater degree than Bush bashers, are superficially personal? Bush is a fine Christian man. Bush has a sense of humor(!?!). Bush is a role model for my son. Bush has a square jaw. Bush looks good on a mountain bike. And on and on.

I would venture that most Bush supporters know the record shows that their leader’s policies are shot through with miscalculations in planning and missteps in execution--foreign and domestic. But to remain supporters, to cover their own guilt and misreading of the man they had such high hopes for, the man they personally invested into with big money and deep emotions, they have nowhere to go but to hide behind what they see as the human qualities of the man. They fool themselves into thinking this is representative of some kind of exalted “loyalty” and steadfast “patriotism.”

The lack of substance in these “defenses” of the man drives many moderates and left leaning Democrats over the edge into mindless (though often very amusing) bashing. But there is plenty of room left on blogs and in print to carefully examine the evidence from Bush’s six years in office. Now the old Reagan question can fairly be asked about the work of Bush and his gang: Are you and the country better off now than you were six years ago?

Answer that one candidly, recognizing that the party in power deserves more than half the blame for the bleak picture that confronts this nation, and you are on your way to an important close inspection of how we got where we are and who is responsible.

Bush’s human qualities are not worth debating or bashing at this point in his presidency. His record and what this has meant for the country is where the debate should go.

Finally, here is the distinguished political scientist Alan Wolfe on W’s damage to the honorable and necessary political philosophy of conservatism. Clearly some conservatives are willing to look beyond the caterwauling cosmetics of this administration.

“. . . on the right as vehemently as on the left, the verdict has been rolling in: This administration, if not the worst in American history, will soon find itself in the final four. Even those who appeal to history's ultimate judgment halfheartedly acknowledge as much. One seeks tomorrow's vindication only in the context of today's dismal performance. . . .

“Eager to salvage conservatism from the wreckage of conservative rule, right-wing pundits are furiously blaming right-wing politicians for failing to adhere to right-wing convictions. Libertarians such as Bruce Bartlett fret that under Republican control, government has not shrunk, as conservatives prescribe, but has grown. Insiders like Peggy Noonan complain that Republicans have become--well, insiders; they are too focused on retaining power and too disconnected from the base whose anger pushed them into power. Idealistic younger conservatives bewail the care and feeding of the K Street beast. Paleocons Pat Buchanan and Robert Novak blame neocons William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer for the debacle that is Iraq. Through all these laments there pulsates a sense of desperation: A conservative president and an even more conservative Congress must be repudiated to enable genuine conservatism to survive.”

This is all starting to sound like the Democrats scratching at each other in 1972.

Let’s face it, W looks good on a road bike, but his intellectual, administrative and diplomatic short comings have run this country into a ditch--a deep one, one that to all of our sad regrets this particular 60 year old is not going to be able to climb out of.

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