The Bush Presidency: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

There’s roughly one year remaining in the Bush presidency.

Given his (severely) lame-duck status, I’ll assume no major and new accomplishments from now until Jan. 2009. I’ll also assume no further calamities in the political sense of the word.

You’ll have to click the below link if you’re interested in reading the full text of this entry.

As a teaser, I’ve listed 11 items under “good,” 10 items under “bad,” and four items under “ugly.”

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The Good

i. The Bush Doctrine

Trying to stop people from killing you is a good thing. If somehow you don’t get that, well, never mind, life’s too short (literally).

ii. Justices Roberts and Alito


iii. Tax Cuts — Lots of Tax Cuts


iv. Free Trade

Free trade is a fundamental and foundational principle of conservative economic theory.

With a few notable (and unfortunate) exceptions, mostly during Term I, Bush has been a solid and successful advocate for free trade. More free trade statutes and free trade pacts have been enacted and signed, respectively, during this administration than during the three prior administrations — combined.

v. The Lower Federal Courts

Bush is responsible for several dozen originalist/constructionist federal appeals court judges, many of whom are young enough to serve for decades to come.

vi. ICE, REAL ID, Secure Freight, eVerify, CBP, Fugitive Alien Taskforce, Passport Reforms

Believe it or not the Bush administration has done more in the way of overall border control than any previous administration. Do some independent research. Review all the facts, not merely the agenda-driven hyperbole.

Various conservatives reflexively will complain about most if not all of the above items. That rings as hollow as bamboo. Do you want more border control or do you not want more border control? Do you want strict immigration law enforcement or do you not want strict immigration law enforcement?

If you want more border control and strict immigration law enforcement then you *also* have to accept more federal laws, more federal agents to enforce those laws and more federal money to pay those agents for their services. You can’t have it both ways.

vii. Lawsuit/Tort/Business Reforms and Appointees

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act. The Class Action Reform Act. The Healthy Forests Restoration Act. The Bankruptcy Reform Act. Pro-business federal judges. Pro-business appointees to the SEC, the EEOC, the FCC, and to the NLRB. The past seven years have seen the most sweeping anti-lawsuit and pro-business national reforms in any of our lifetimes.

viii. The Energy Policy Act

This landmark law directly is responsible for many if not most of the landmark activities ongoing in nuclear, renewable and alternative energies. Literally decades from now there still will be positive, pro-business effects traceable to that statute.

ix. No Federal Public Money for Stem Cells

I’m not a pro-lifer. Far from it. But this is a fiscal conservative issue in addition to being a social conservative/libertarian issue.

We don’t need federally-taxpayer-funded stem cell research. If stem cells — embryonic or otherwise — truly are a panacea, then individual states, private donors, corporate donors and venture capitalists, are more than capable of providing all the money necessary to conduct the appropriate research.

x. Social Security

His reforms never got off the ground — it would have taken GOP super-majorities in Congress to overcome the media/Democrats — but the bottom line is that Bush became the first national political leader to stand up and to start calling for serious changes to that ghastly Ponzi scheme.

Keep in mind the great Ronald Reagan not only did nothing to contain Social Security he actually raised taxes for it and expanded the program too. Whereas decades from now, when serious and positive changes do get implemented (for the simple reason there’ll be no other choice), Bush’s idea of private and self-directed accounts will be on the table.

xi. Iraq — 2007 Surge – Present


* * *

The Bad

i. Steel Tariffs

Pandering is bad enough but this was pandering on a core economic principle of conservatism.

ii. Non-Military (Profilgate) Spending from 2001-2006

Spending lots of money to defeat genocidal terrorists is a very good thing. You must do what has to be done. But spending lots of public money on rank and pork projects is a very bad thing.

It would have been quite easy to reign in discretionary federal spending. But the Prez didn’t take steps towards that end until after conservatives threw away Congress. Too little, too late. Plus even if the GOP had retained Congress it would not have excused the profilgate ways of Term I.

iii. Harriet Miers

We don’t know what she would of been like on the High Court. It’s also a moot point. But this nomination never should been made.

There are dozens of proven conservatives occupying the state and federal appeals courts. Many of them, ironically enough, had been nominated by Bush himself. It’s therefore mind-numbing that he would have picked someone with no real track record and with such an obvious aura of cryonism.

iv. Terry Schiavo

The federal government has no business sticking its nose into a local state court family law dispute. The administration’s attention to and involvement in this train wreck accomplished nothing, set a bad precedent, and derailed what should and would have been massive momentum from those ringing GOP victories in 2004.

v. The Loyalty Thing

There’s Miers. There’s also Norm Mineta. Kevin Martin. John Snow. Paul O’Neill. Jim Nicholson. Alberto Gonzales. Colin Powell. Robert Mueller. Karl Rove.

Ineffective at best and in some cases totally incompetent officials who (a) were given power based upon their personal loyalty to Bush, or (b) retained in power based upon Bush’s personal loyalty to them. You can’t run a government that way.

vi. Mortgage Miasma

It set a very bad precedent for the administration to lean on private lenders to re-write their loan portfolios. Furthermore we don’t need additional public-money loan insurance or loan purchase programs. We certainly don’t need taxpayer-subsidized loan counseling programs. All in all this was a train wreck.

vii. Do Not Call Registry

This was and is government paternalism at its worst.

viii. NCLB Education Law

The accountability aspects are good. But, still, we need to be spending less federal money on education, not more of it.

Major tax credits for real-world job training programs would have been a better idea and one that could have made it thru Congress. Major tax credits for adult education in the hard sciences also would have been welcome and doable.

ix. Iraq — 2004 up to the 2007 Surge

I’m not a military expert. But, still, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.

By late-2003 it had become painfully and blatently obvious the coalition needed another few brigades of front-line combat infantrymen. It’s a fiasco it took over three more *years* before the administration got those boots (and their support troops) on the ground.

If something obviously isn’t working you don’t continue doing it. You do what needs to be done — even if that’s not entirely consistent with the so-called party line.

x. Signing McCain-Feingold

Signing a bogus law on the theory the Supreme Court would have the opportunity to strike it down is absurdly naive and negligent. All Bush had to do was to break out the veto pen. That law has accomplished nothing and it’s set a bad precedent too.

* * *

The Ugly

i. Medicare Rx Coverage

An outright abomination and one that will have negative fiscal effects for decades.

ii. The Media Spin Machine

It’s astonishing how inept this administration is regarding the national liberal Democrat MSM. It’s almost as if they’re in a perpetual state of naivete and denial.

Republican presidents need to treat the media for what it actually is: a hostile and relentless adversary. The Prez or his agents or spokespersons should have been on local TV networks and local radio networks, each week, week after week, month after month, year after year, getting the facts out to the general public, without having those facts filtered by the Republican-hating media. That the administration fails to realize this — even today — boggles the mind.

iii. The “Occupation” of Israel by Israel

It was bad enough when Bush — arguably the lamest duck in modern history — decided to ram up against the brick wall of Israeli-Arab peace talks. (What could he possibly have hoped to accomplish?) But then he went ahead and opened up his mouth.

By using the term “occupation,” to refer to lands west of the Jordan River, Bush in one stroke validated and ratified a canard that’s been perpetuated for decades by the leftist media and leftist academia. He’s also saddled future GOP presidents with the starting point of the fatally-flawed (literally) “two-state” solution. Last but not least, ironically enough, by signing onto the idea of a so-called Palestinian state he’s undermined his own core doctrine of not appeasing terrorists. Utterly senseless.

iv. Cheney Still as Veep – Contested GOP Primary

I like Cheney. But, come on, at some point somebody in the White House had to realize the last thing we need is a contested GOP primary contest.

Cheney could have stepped down at any point during 2005 or early to mid-2006. We could have had a young vice president who quickly would have swept aside all primary challengers, formed a consensus with Republicans and voting conservatives, and the general public, and moved forward towards an easy victory in the ’08 general election — perhaps even with lower-ticket coattails. Instead we’ve been saddled with a fractious and divisive cabal of challengers and the very real prospect of a fractious, divisive and self-defeating nominating convention. That’s senseless with a capital S.

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