The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


In a way, it’s ironic—George Bush’s most significant legacy may very well be the election of Barack Obama. I honestly do believe that the country has embraced Obama not so much because of his experience, his accomplishments, or his ideology, but simply because he is the anti-Bush. Lets take a look:
  • Where Bush gives new meaning to the term “inarticulate,” Obama is a world-class orator. The senator’s comments are purposely vague, but he presents them so glibly that many cannot help but be impressed.

  • Where Bush was often ham-handed in his foreign policy, Obama’s smooth image allows people to believe (against all evidence to the contrary) that he will deal effectively with the growing forces that wish us ill.

  • Where Bush was an unabashed believer in American exceptionalism, Obama, along with millions of his supporters, thinks (wrongly in my opinion) that we are the exclusive cause of many of the world’s problems, and therefore, we must worry more about fixing ourselves rather than the harsh realities that await us on the outside.

  • Where Bush was a believer in free markets, low taxation, and the primacy of personal responsibility, Obama’s big government philosophy has resonated after the financial collapse of the last month. People “believe” that the Senator, along with substantial democratic majorities in both houses and the “leadership” of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can somehow tame the economy though a combination of class warfare, growing entitlements, and hyper-regulation. “Spreading the wealth around” (to paraphrase Obama) appears to have resonated well enough with the broad electorate, at least until the wealth he begins to spread around begins to be taken from the saving accounts of those who don’t own yachts, Bentley’s or million dollar houses. But by then, it’ll be too late to do much about it.

  • Where Bush was an open book—what you saw (like it or not) was what you got, Obama is a cipher, allowing people (foolishly in my opinion) to project their individual hopes and dreams onto his carefully constructed blank slate.

All of Bush’s mistakes and many of the circumstances that were beyond the 43rd President’s control have led the nation to Barack Obama. Obama has spent much time criticizing Bush’s presidency, so I hope he’ll learn from it, because (Obama supporters might gasp at this comment) George Bush and Barack Obama have a number of things in common.

Bush entered the Presidency at the conclusion of the dot-com implosion. Although it’s difficult to remember now, we recovered and experienced five years of solid economic growth. Unfortunately, during that growth period a festering infection lay under the surface, and over the past month, tens of millions of Americans became economically ill. Recovery will take years.

Obama enters the presidency with the most significant economic collapse since the great depression. The moves he makes might look good to his supporters in the short term, but if he reintroduces a different, festering infection, he will do this country great harm. He should think about that carefully before he acts based on ideology, rather than sound economic advice.

Within nine months of his inauguration, Bush was faced with the single most devastating attack on the homeland in US history. Although much of what he did in the aftermath can be roundly criticized, he recognized that nothing we did precipitated the hatred of the islamists. It’s what we believed (or did not believe) and what we represented that drives these psychopaths to behead reporters, murder school teachers who dare to educate Moslem girls, cut off the hands of children who see western doctors, and stone rape victims to death. These continuing atrocities cause the peace-at-any-price crowd to become deaf and mute or to quickly change the subject.

Obama must ask himself how he intends to deal with the Islamists. Does he truly believe that sitting down with their surrogates—the Iranian regime, Hezballah, and Hamas—will serve our county’s long-term interests? Whether appeasement will somehow cause them to hate us less or respect us more? I hope upon reflection, he’ll come to realize that Bush made many mistakes, but he did not mistake the murderous intent or the evil that Islamofascism represents.

George W. Bush has likely given the presidency to Barack Obama. Rather than a thank you note, Obama should spend a few moments between November 4th and January 20th thinking about what he can really learn from Bush’s presidency. If he thinks that his election is a mandate to swing as far left and Bush intended to swing far right, Obama’s presidency will fail in much the same way as Bush’s. Over time and with the mistakes of hubris and inexperience, the ardor of a media that adores Obama will cool, and the country may again become sullen. Lord knows, we’ve had enough of that. Obama should think hard—very hard—about what he wants his legacy to be, even before he takes the oath of office.

I have to believe that on January 20, 2000, George W. Bush never guessed that it would come to this. I suspect Barack Obama can’t conceive that the same fate might befall him in the days after January 20, 2008.

Too bad, because a bit of humility and a dollop of moderation would go a long way toward reassuring the tens of millions of citizens who continue to have questions about his ability to lead this country in a way that will bring hope and (meaningful) change.