Sunday, July 15, 2007

bill kristol thinks he's backing a winner

Conservative pundit Bill Kristol today writes in the Post (in a column subheaded "On the Bright Side") "why Bush will be a winner." Let's analyze his thesis, shall we?|

First, Kristol starts off with a statement that I will agree with and that shows he has not completely lost his marbles. He says, "I suppose I'll merely expose myself to harmless ridicule if I make the following assertion: George W. Bush's presidency will probably be a successful one."

From here, things go downhill. How much of this is due to delusions, wishful thinking, or outright dishonesty depends on the reader.

First, Kristol starts by dismissing from the equation anything that isn't related to terrorism, the economy, Iraq, or the 2008 presidential elections. I'll get back to that.

On the economy, Kristol says that de facto President Bush's push for tax cuts for the rich (Kristol calls this "supply-side") are the reason for the strong economy. Never mind that the economy was even stronger under Clinton without those tax cuts, that the growth in jobs has been marked by greater growth in low-paying jobs, and that economic security for America's families (as in, how likely is a family to lose significant income, their house, etc, due to layoffs, etc) has diminished drastically even as the top 1% of Americans grow far richer far faster than the rest of us, under their handpicked chief. Kristol also gives Bush credit for reducing the budget deficit. That's fair, since Bush and the GOP Congress are also about 99% RESPONSIBLE for turning the Clintonian surpluses into the biggest deficits in US history.

Kristol also manages to praise Bush for the appointments of Robers and Alito to the Supreme Court (hey, I thought you were focusing on just 3 topics, Bill?). That is "successful" if you are a radical authoritarian conservative.

Kristol defines success in terrorism as not having suffered a second terrorist attack in the United States. Talk about a low bar. Gosh, just think how successful they could have been if they had actually paid attention to their counterterrorism experts and had even tried to stop the FIRST one they had on September 11, 2001.

But at least Bush remembers his pledge to get Osama Bin Laden "dead or alive." Oh, wait, we haven't actually DONE that. And the Administration recently said Al Qaeda is getting stronger again, and Homeland Insecurity Secretary Chertoff fears another attack in the US soon. If that's what Kristol calls successful, he must be very pleased by the New Orleans' Saints record of success over the past 40 years.

Kristol then turns to Iraq. He's right that the biggest reason for the poor public perception of Bush is over Iraq. Which is fair. After all, if you are going to lie and cheat and deceive us to start a war of choice (remember WMD?) you should at least WIN THE GOD-DAMN WAR (pardon the shouting). But where Kristol differs from most sentient human beings is in thinking we have a 50-50 chance of a "messy" victory there. And General Petraeus (whom Kristol compares to US Grant - talk about putting the pressure on!) is just the guy to snatch Bush's chestnuts out of the Iraqi fire, Kristol thinks.

And Kristol finishes by writing, after asserting that getting a sympathetic successor elected is necessary for Bush to be a success, that "What it comes down to is this: If Petraeus succeeds in Iraq, and a Republican wins in 2008, Bush will be viewed as a successful president. I like the odds."

Touching faith.

Meanwhile, what does Kristol leave out of the equation? Climate change for one, where eight years of Republican delay and obstruction will ultimately damage our economy far more than taking action would have - either because we will need to make drastic changes quicker to mitigate the effects of climate change, or because climate change will become worse than it needed to be and the effects of drought, flooding, and extinction will cost us (humans) dearly. 'Course, a Republican like Kristol would see this as a success since they largely deny climate change is caused by people.

This leaves out the shredding of the Constitution, a concern shared by many conservatives as well as moderates. It leaves out our vastly reduced moral standing in the world (Kristol celebrates the fact that our relations with Mexico and Brazil aren't as bad as he had feared, another damn with faint praise). It leaves out the compounding effect that incompetence has had, for example in the feeble response to Hurricane Katrina, making the damage from Bush's "screw the poor, support the rich and big business" that much greater.

Kristol may judge the Bush administration, aided and abetted by six years of Republican Congressional meek obeisance, as a success. A large majority of Americans will not agree.


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