Sunday, March 26

To put the Bush presidency in perspective

By Jack Cashill

To put the Bush presidency in perspective, one need only reflect back on the state of the world in the year 2000.

On Easter Saturday of that year, the Clinton Justice Department displayed its zeal for civil liberties by seizing Elian Gonzalez at gunpoint and shipping the boy back to Castro.

Beginning in May 2000, Nasdaq tanked harder than any major American market ever – yes, including the stock market crash of 1929.

In June 2000, Mohamed Atta casually entered the United States and began plotting his evil mischief.

In June 2000, California endured the first of its rolling blackouts. That same June the World Bank paid off Enron for still another Clinton-Enron deal gone sour, this one in Java.

In September of 2000, Palestinians turned thumbs down on Pax Clintonia and launched an intifada. In October 2000, al-Qaida blew up the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen, once again with impunity.

In January 2001, President Clinton put the cherry on his eight-year sundae of corruption by pardoning fugitive Marc Rich and a host of other scalawags. So outrageous were the pardons that they moved even Sen. Chuck Schumer to denounce them as a "mockery" of justice. Six weeks later, the United States lapsed into recession.

This was the Washington that George Bush inherited – minus, of course, the "Ws" on White House keypads, spitefully snatched by the outgoing administration. Needless to say, the events of September 11 almost unraveled an economy already under siege.

What turned the economy around were two factors above all others. The first, economists describe as "a stimulative fiscal policy." In English, this translates into "the Bush tax cuts." These semantics allow the media to deny credit where credit is due, but there is no denying 16 consecutive quarters of solid growth, an average unemployment rate lower than that of Clinton's first five years and a current Economic Freedom Index better than any year in the Clinton era.

The second and perhaps even more important factor is security. Four and a half years after September 11, the United States has not suffered a terrorist attack of consequence anywhere in the world save for the battlegrounds of Iraq and Afghanistan. There has been no Mogadishu, no Oklahoma City, no Riyadh, no Khobar Towers, no TWA Flight 800, no Olympic Park, no Embassy bombings and no U.S.S. Cole. In the fall of 2001, who would have thought this possible? Not I.

I know this could all end tomorrow, but in the meantime, does not someone somewhere in the government deserve at least some credit? The Bush administration could not have even entertained the Dubai deal had not the United States become more secure. Nor would the Democrats have bothered with Dubai if they had had a handy terrorist attack they could blame on the Bush administration.

The claim that such success was accomplished at the expense of our civil rights flirts with self-parody. When people who turned a blind eye at Waco and cheered the use of RICO statutes to silence abortion dissent can only complain that their library books might be monitored, one understands just how free this country is. Indeed, in any less civil time or place, treasonous frauds like Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky would be hanging from a lamp pole.

Lacking a blameworthy attack on America or its liberties, the Democrats and their media allies have had to scrounge for anything they could find: a port deal, a hurricane, a rogue lobbyist, an impolitic leak, a common-sense surveillance strategy, all of which would have passed unnoticed in the deeply troubled years of 1993-2001 when rogue lobbyists came not from K Street but from Bejing.

Still, for all this felicitous transformation, I did not initially support Bush in the 2000 primaries. I have always been suspicious of "compassion" in the hands of the state. The more compassionate the government, the more likely it is to mete out its largesse in five-year plans and measure its impact in body counts.

Still, the choice in the general election was not between George Bush and Ron Paul. It was between George Bush and Al Gore, and later John Kerry. Given the choices, I posted yard signs both times. The president has never gotten credit for holding all of us in the fractious Republican coalition together. No other Republican could have beaten Al Gore in 2000.

So, despite Medicaid drug plans and No Child Left Behind, an undisciplined budget and a wobbly border policy, I do not feel "betrayed" by the president. I wasn't promised Reaganomics and didn't expect it. The Bush policy, for all its flaws, is part of his sincerely Christian character. That character has also helped him to endure the most relentless slander any president has faced since Lincoln, and to his credit, he has done so with surprising grace.


As history will duly record, the Democrats haven't behaved this badly since the Civil War. The steady document drip from Iraq may be undercutting the "Bush lied" libel, but it is only aggravating their frustrations. Indeed, if Iraq turned into Iowa tomorrow, and al-Qaida converted en masse to Unitarianism, they would not abandon their rage. They have too much emotional equity invested to let it go.

In the absence of power or a worthwhile cause, spite and paranoia are just about all that our progressive friends have to amuse themselves. As is evident – "V for Vendetta," anyone? – they have the means to communicate both. If their propaganda goes unanswered, as Lenin reminds us, it becomes the truth.

We know that it's not, and we should say so. Loudly. George W. Bush may not be Ronald Reagan, but Washington is such that not even Ronald Reagan could always be Ronald Reagan.

The president's truly impressive resolve in the war on jihadism, his steady defense of traditional values, his tax cuts, his appointment of Judges like Alito and Roberts, and his restoration of decency to the White House deserve something better than what we've been giving.

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