Notes on the Atrocities
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Wednesday, May 07, 2003  

Presidential Candidates, Part 2 (the competition)

Is it too early to fall into a pit of despair? Until fairly recently, I was hopeful that the gross mismanagement of affairs domestic and foreign would surely condemn our President to his rightful place as a one-term washout. Bloggers have pondered: is he the worst President in US history? (The answer is generally "yes.") That might be a premature assessment, but any reasonable report card would look something like this:

Foreign Policy: F. In his first two years in office, the President has invaded two countries, offended the world, fomented hatred and fundamentalism throughout the Middle East, neglected the Israel situation, created a nuclear situation in North Korea, avoided participation on several world treaties and initiatives, isolated himself in the UN and NATO, alienated both North American partners, and lied to the country about the justification for toppling a sovereign nation. In two years!

Environment: F. This was expected, as most of the Bush appointees have strong ties to big oil. Bush’s policies regarding the environment have, without exception, reduced protection and regulation. Where policy is needed to protect the environment, Bush was absent.

Economy: D-. He came into office at the beginning of a recession and worsened it.
He has presided over two bull markets, the collapse of the tech sector, and scandals involving under-regulated corporations (including his buddies in the oal bidnez). More jobs have been lost than any time since the start of the depression. He’s cut taxes to the benefit of the wealthy, who have returned the favor by not investing, and now the country’s looking at record deficits (which will get worse as the war effort thunders on—though at least it will benefit his buddies at Halliburton!). I guess he did appoint Greenspan again, though.

Crime: D. Although the President really rocks at the punishment side of things (John Ashcroft continues to impress as being just slightly right of Joe McCarthy in his approach to civil liberties), he’s been pretty mediocre on the crime side. By bankrupting the states, he’s ensured local police’s continued erosion. But hey, as long as the crime rate stays low….

Education: C-. This might have been the President’s greatest domestic success. The “No Child Left Behind” initiative, though mildly controversial, was an impressive piece of policy. Too bad the President’s greatest weakness—his distractibility—intervened. After it became law, he failed to fund it at the state level, where in now withers on the vine. Oh yeah, and there was that business of taking the lunches out of kiddies mouths.

Social Services: F. The only folks getting money from this administration arrive to lobby the President in limos. If you’re poor, female, a parent, or unmarried, you’re out of luck with Bush. If you wanted his help, you should have been in the Skull and Crossbones.

Leadership: F. Bush strikes quite a pose. He fancies himself a conquering hero, complete with flyboy jumpsuit (macho for the camera, not so macho when he was hiding out in the 60s). But there has never been a more secretive, dishonest president than George W. It may take decades to sort out the deception he’s foisted on an unsuspecting electorate.

Ecumenicalism: F. I think my documentation here is well-established.

Terrorism: D. Although he’s released the hounds to go after Muslim- and Arab-Americans, implemented a handy color-coded alarm system, tried to get TIPS up and running, and invaded Iraq, there’s no real evidence that we’re any safer now than two years ago. (There’s ample evidence that we have fewer rights, though!)

Of course, this report card, though I think historically accurate, is not the one given by the majority of Americans, nor the press. It doesn’t seem to matter what the President does—the coverage is generally positive, no hard questions are asked, and the public gives a toothy smile and a big thumbs up.

The reason is because this president understands at least one part of history very well: Americans are a deeply fearful people, and under threat, they will willingly support whomever looks the most likely to keep them safe, at whatever cost. And for those who can remember back to the post-Carter rhetoric of the Republicans, there’s only one party who can do that. Barring some unforeseen catastrophe, George W. Bush will ride the fear of terrorism back into office, no matter what his policies are.

posted by Jeff | 10:30 AM |
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