Sunday, February 04, 2007

Presidential Report Card: Why Wait

I know George W. Bush has nearly 2 years left in his presidential run but his impact on history has already been ordained - in part. I truly believe that his true importance will not be fully appreciated for decades to come. Similar to Harry S. Truman, also an unpopular wartime president, Bush has much of the country demanding an answer to the Iraq end game. Truman had many, including his immediate successor, Dwight Eisenhower, demanding that the U.S. get out of Korea. Our ultimate success in the cold war hinged on the early years of the Truman Doctrine just as the War Against the Terror Masters now calls for the resolve of what is left of the tattered and bruised Bush Doctrine.

Unlike his predecessor Bill Clinton, George W. Bush governed during truly remarkable historical events. This presidency was consequential, albeit far less consequential than it could have been. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 will overshadow it all. The Bush presidency, still in its infancy was transformed that day. It would be interesting to explore this man's tenure in an alternate time line, without 9/11 - but alas, we have only this one reality to reckon with.

The war on terror (a stupid name to call this global battle) and Iraq will dominate the history books, but it's the economy that dominates the lives of ordinary Americans. By and large The President has done a very good job with the economy. Many mocked Bush when he urged Americans to shop and spend, to live the American dream. The economy, fueled by consumer spending, increasing real estate values and corporate investment has kept our society from coming apart at the seams. Amazingly, even with the main stream media doing all it could to talk down our economic might and resiliency, America again leads the world down the path to global prosperity.

Economic considerations, however, are only one measure of a leader. We all know that statistics can be used to paint any picture you want. There are people out there who can take today's statistics and show you we are living in a time that rivals the Great Depression. This is poppycock, of course, but it will sway a small subset of opinion. When this subset of our society happens to work for the newspapers and TV networks the megaphone principle is in full effect.

If there's one thing I have learned it is that the American people, despite what you may have been led to believe, are not stupid when given good information. The average man (or woman) can tell when they are being played for fools. Americans are also fair to their leaders even when they don't deserve it. Unfortunately the Bush Administration did not trust the American people enough to tell the truth about Iraq, Afghanistan and the Global War on Terror. The fact that the Iraq gambit was merely a part of the geo-political chess match that has the containment of Iran as the it's central focus. Now the administration, hampered by the set backs in Iraq, will never be able to refocus the public on the threat Iran poses because they never came clean on what Iraq really meant.

So the report card on President Bush must focus on the economy and the foreign policy this administration had chosen to follow:

Tax policy: A-
(Could be A+ if cuts are made permanent)

Economic incentives: B
(Capital Gains cuts and Corporate Accountability helped to stabilize the financial markets)

Education Policy: C
(At least they tried to require accountability for all that federal money)

Supreme Court: B
(Would have been an A but for Harriet Meyers)

Federal Judges: B
(Tough going - but many good judges approved)

Environmental policy: C
(Held the line on junk science influencing policy)

Fighting Socialism: C
(Medicare Part D - really should have been means tested)

Handling the Media: F-
(Can there even be an F- ? simply terrible)

The Bully Pulpit: F
(Terrible delivery of the message)

Immigration/Border: F
(This head fake was too little too late)

Relations w/China D
(Bend over America)

Relations w/India: A
(A job well done with this strategic partner)

Relations w/Australia: A
(A job well done with this true friend)

Relations w/North Korea: C
(multilateral negotiations producing results???)

Waging Preemptive War: F
(Iraq, say no more)

Waging War on al Qaeda: B
(Afghanistan et al)

International Diplomacy: D
(Most internationally hated President in history)

Handling Congress: F
(Both Houses in his pocket... This was not supposed to be an adversarial Congress)

Handling the UN: A
(Unanimous Security Council vote on Iraq, Bolton, Oil for Food Scandal exposed, egg on Koffi's face!!!)

Foreign Aid: B
(A real willingness to give (AIDS) aid to Africa, not just lip service like BC, Tsunami relief, Pakistan and Iran earthquake relief)