Sunday, May 28, 2006

How Will History View the G.W. Bush Presidency?

It's no surprise that Bush's speechwriters harkened to the Truman era for the historical backdrop to the president's commencement address yesterday. Not only was the reference to Truman's early leadership in that long twilight struggle most germaine to today's security challenges, President Truman, like Bush today, was also unpopular during the Korean War, though his historical legacy has been rising in the rankings of America's great presidents. Perhaps for President Bush what matters for his administrtion is not so much what happens with the midterms in November, but what history will have to say on his legacy. U.S. News wrote about this last week:

Even though he doesn't like to admit it, Bush is privately giving considerable thought to his legacy. He tells friends he defines himself as "an idealist about goals and a realist about means." He wants to be remembered, says a senior adviser, as "a champion of freedom abroad and ownership at home"--freedom particularly in Iraq and ownership by everyday Americans of their houses, small businesses, and personal accounts for education, healthcare, and retirement. Bush aims to leave behind a series of institutional changes, aides say, that cannot be easily "unraveled" by his successors or future Congresses, such as massive tax cuts, the new prescription-drug benefit under Medicare, and a commitment to stable democracy in Iraq. Last week, Bush entered the fray over immigration, another big issue, with a well-received address to the nation in which he called for strengthened border security, a large "temporary worker" program, and a system to give millions of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.
Long after Bush leaves office, as democracy continues its march across the Middle East and elsewhere, I believe that President Bush will be looked back on favorably. Whether he'll crack the top ten, like Truman, is anybody's guess?

3 comments:

Taylor said...

This has to be the most delusional blog in town. Seriously, how could anyone suspect that you might be a relative of the original Douglas? Do you say anything that's even remotely anchored in a tangible reality? I have yet to see any such signs. This is the Twilight zone of ultimate denial. Hell, this blog reads like a caricature of denial gone mad.

and I'm as staunch a conservative as they get.

Taylor said...

That you can reconcile the tenets of Burkeanism with the “transformationalist” agenda of this regime of incompetents is an anomoly in itself. That you seem hell-bent on being the last apologetjik for the Bush administration is just humorous.

Administration officials speak privately of a sense of fatigue over the worsening crisis in Iraq

Neo-conservative commentators at the American Enterprise Institute wrote last week what amounted to an obituary of the Bush freedom doctrine. “Bush killed his own doctrine,” they said, describing the final blow as the resumption of diplomatic relations with Libya. This betrayal of Libyan democracy activists, they said, came after the US watched Egypt abrogate elections, ignored the collapse of the “Cedar Revolution” in Lebanon, abandoned imprisoned Chinese dissidents and started considering a peace treaty with Stalinist North Korea.

Graham Fuller, former diplomat and intelligence officer says the US is suffering from “strategic fatigue” brought on by “imperial over-reach” and long-term economic indicators show it is not sustainable – massive domestic debt, growing trade imbalances, an extraordinary gap in wealth between rich and poor Americans, the growing outsourcing of jobs.

Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate’s foreign relations committee, suggested that “there are a good many who would feel that the possibilities for devastation of countries, including our own, may come much more from our myopia in terms of energy policy than our ability to track down the last of the al-Qaeda cells”.

Robert Jervis, professor of international politics at Columbia University, argues in the Washington Quarterly that the US system does not have the commitment to sustain the prolonged efforts required by Mr Bush’s “transformationalist” agenda.

Is it not scary being the last man on a train bound for an indictment by history?

Donald Douglas said...

Taylor:

Burke never said one should maintain the status quo in all cases, but that changing a regime is justified should that change bring about a greater good. That said, go back and read my comment thread from May 23, particularly my response to Gary. If you disagree with my posts fine, but don't leave ad hominem attacks -- that's just low, man. Have some class and stick to the issues. Boeing is across the street from my campus and people do ask me if I'm related. What's the big deal? Truman was at 31 percent in 1952 and now he's 5th in the presidential rankings. Perhaps you prefer looking into your crystal ball. I'd rather look to historical analogies. Like I said to Gary, come back and visit Burkean Reflections when you get some manners. If you're so bright, in any case, leave your blog link so readers here can see your high-powered (or not) stuff you're spouting elsewhere around the blogosphere.