April 23, 2002


The emperor is still nekkid : Bush Two has all the gravitas of, say, John Belushi. (Jack Lessenberry 4/17/2002, Metro Times)
The truth is that George Bush is a chucklehead. Was then; is now. If I visited Fort Knox and a huge gold ingot fell on my head, it would not make me a mining engineer. Son Of Bush had the extreme good fortune to have wandered onstage for the most convenient war in history, one in which his officials, if we let them, can justify for years any atrocity by claiming there are shadowy "terrorists" under the bed.

Bush Minor, meanwhile, really wants to please his moneyed friends, by doing things like opening national wildlife refuges for oil drilling and then photo-oping on TV.

Ronald Reagan was much the same. However, we mostly deserved him. We really elected him.

It seems like George W. Bush is destined to benefit from the same consistent underestimation on the Left and obtuse sense of disappointment on the Right that followed Ronald Reagan throughout his public career. If you read the current crop of stories--with folks like Maureen Dowd saying Bush is in over his head and William Kristol saying he's making the mistake of listening to a cabal of leftist advisors--you get a wicked sense of deja vu. Reagan was attacked on the Right for not cutting government enough, compromising on taxes, not being sufficiently anti-abortion, nation-building in Lebanon, not pursuing the Cold War vigorously enough, etc.. W is being attacked for a lack of purity on CFR, trade, and Israel, for nation-building in Afghanistan, and for not pursuing the war on terrorism vigorously enough.

There's something to those criticisms in both cases, but taken together you can see the extent to which they represent conservatives shrieking : "I'm holier than thou!" They are the easy complaints of people without power demanding that those in power wield it absolutely, without compromise. But the world, or at least America, doesn't work that way. So President Bush, like President Reagan before him, is forced to cut and trim, while the true believers howl in protest. But at the end of the day, the achievements keep piling up--in Reagan's case the main achievements were tax cuts and victory in the Cold War; in W's case the tax cuts and victories in the war on terrorism.

Meanwhile, the Left can not reconcile itself to the successes of such men and so portrays them as blessed fools, stumbling along a high wire, protected from disaster only by the merciful gods. To acknowledge that Ronald Reagan played the leading role in toppling the Soviet Union would require admissions they can not make, so instead they assume he was just lucky, was in the right place at the right time. Ditto the revival of the U.S. economy after over a decade of decline. Similarly, George W. Bush was just lucky to be in office when 9-11 occurred, giving him the chance to win an easy and popular war and deflecting attention from his poor management of the economy. One notes that the other conservative presidents of the 20th Century, William Howard Taft and Calvin Coolidge, were likewise lucky enough to just happen to be in office during times of peace and plenty, not to mention the Republican Congress of 1994-2001. On the other hand, it was pure bad luck that big government liberals like Wilson, Hoover, FDR, Truman, and Johnson (and the Democratic Congress of 1932-1994) just happened to be in office during times of difficult war and economic want. It's strange how that "luck" deal works, huh?

Here's your platitude (I think it's from Branch Rickey) : Luck is the residue of design.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 23, 2002 9:32 AM
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