How Bush saved the country from…Bush

An interesting thesis from the New York Times’ resident conservative, Ross Douthat: George W. Bush may have made or contributed mightily to some big messes, but he did have the guts/guile/good sense to embrace solutions to those messes. Douthat writes:

America has had its share of disastrous chief executives. But few have gone as far as Bush did in trying to repair their worst mistakes. Those mistakes were the Iraq war — both the decision to invade and the conduct of the occupation — and the irrational exuberance that stoked the housing bubble. The repairs were the surge, undertaken at a time when the political class was ready to abandon Iraq to the furies, and last fall’s unprecedented economic bailout.

Both fixes remain controversial. But for the moment, both look like the sort of disaster-averting interventions for which presidents get canonized. It’s just that in Bush’s case, the disasters he averted were created on his watch.

There is no doubt that the surge salvaged a situation in Iraq that had been devolving into a Vietnam-like morass. And President Obama’s vacillation on strategy in Afghanistan is, if nothing else, a testament to just how difficult a decision the Iraq surge must have been to make.

The bank bailout is less recognizable as salvation at this point in time, but a few things are beyond dispute. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, a scholar of the Great Depression, believed that a lack of monetary-policy intervention is what turned the 1929 stock market crash into our nation’s worst economic free fall rather than “just” a recession — and he resolved to do anything but sit idly by. And, just over a year after Lehman Brothers failed and financial markets panicked world-wide, serious people are declaring that the recession may well be over, at least technically speaking.

George W. Bush was not a president renowned for his humility or, as Douthat notes, his willingness to listen to contrary opinions. But if we end up leaving Iraq with our honor and having birthed a relatively stable democratic government, and if our economy does break its tailspin without reaching the depths that many had feared, history will remember Dubya a bit more kindly than many people today could fathom.

46 comments Add your comment

jconservative

September 22nd, 2009
10:51 am

Nice column Kyle. I agree.

These are the telling comments by Douthat:

“Both fixes remain controversial. But for the moment, both look like the sort of disaster-averting interventions for which presidents get canonized. It’s just that in Bush’s case, the disasters he averted were created on his watch.”

And of course there are the IF”S, particularily on Iraq. The concern that part of Iraq will break off as a radical Islamic republic still exist.

Hillbilly Deluxe

September 22nd, 2009
11:00 am

I’m not convinced anything with the financial meltdown has been solved. The same people are still running the financial system and I haven’t seen any real changes in their thinking or how they do business.

ByteMe

September 22nd, 2009
11:02 am

I think the difference between Bush 2001-2006 and Bush 2007-2009 was one of competence winning out over ideology when it came to the people who had the President’s ear. In the early years, the ideologists had free reign. But starting with the 2006 elections when it was clear things weren’t going well with that direction, he chose competence over loyalty, and put more qualified people in position of power and authority and then gave them the go-ahead to do what they felt needed to be done.

I credit him with a deathbed conversion to reality-based governing. But you don’t get bonus points for cleaning up disasters that were avoidable had you paid attention in the first place.

David Axelfraud

September 22nd, 2009
12:54 pm

Nice Kyle.

Now, Huffingtonpost has a BIG FAT HEADLINE ABOUT CONDI RICE SAYING THAT IF WE ABANDON AFGHANISTAN WE WILL GET HIT BY TERRORISTS!!!!!!!!!!

Um, if we abandon that mission we WILL get bombed. What do these idiots on the left not understand?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/22/condoleezza-rice-if-you-w_n_294755.html

Cutty

September 22nd, 2009
1:03 pm

“But you don’t get bonus points for cleaning up disasters that were avoidable had you paid attention in the first place.”

That pretty much sums it up.

Ga Values

September 22nd, 2009
1:04 pm

Bush’s legacy is President Obama and a Democratically controled congress. At this point the Democratically controled congress is no worse than the DeLay controled congress, let’s hope that Obama turns out to be our greatest President.

David Axelfraud

September 22nd, 2009
1:06 pm

Ga Values, Delay was not worse than this congress. Uh, Obama is looking like another Jimmy Carter.

William

September 22nd, 2009
1:42 pm

I just do not know if anyone can be worse than Jimmy Carter. However, Obama has over 3yrs to achieve that title.

Take a look around! Many congressman and women are getting really old. It looks like they can not buy themselves into immortality.

Jimmy say your bedprayers.

The Snark

September 22nd, 2009
1:43 pm

President Obama does not have a “vacillating strategy” for Afghanistan. He is doing what any sensible Commander-in-Chief does in a difficult and rapidly changing situation. He is asking his military commanders to prepare detailed assessments and recommendations, and then acting on them.

Ga Values

September 22nd, 2009
1:43 pm

David Axelfraud
1:06 pm

If Obama ends up being another Carter, then that will be part of the W legacy but we should all hope Obama turns out to be a great president.

Road Scholar

September 22nd, 2009
2:01 pm

It is interesting that the conserves feel that Obama acted to quickly on the stimulus package (and some question whether he/Congress even read it!) but now are apalled that he hasn’t commited more American troops to Afganastan. I wonder if he is reading (and pondering) the general’s report and request for new troops. With all the variables (corruption in Afganastan government, size and topography of the country, the desire and ability of Afgans to defend themselves,…) I would be reflecting on the general’s reccomendations, and asking questions too! oh, I forgot; shoot now and aim later!

Will

September 22nd, 2009
2:03 pm

Although passing judgement on President Bush’s presidency so soon after it ended is about as silly as passing judgement on President Obama’s presidency after he has served only nine months of a four year term, I am afraid history will not be kind to President Bush for many reasons. Among these are:

1. Failure to address Social Security and Medicare costs. Although I am aware he attempted to do so (and democrats demonized his proposals much as republicans have done to President Obama), the “buck” will stop with the lack of presidential leadership in getting anything done.

2. Leaving the American economic system in the worst shape since the Depression.

3. Handed a budget surplus, President Bush proposed (and had approved) eight budgets with more than 40,000 earmarks that left the incoming president with a trillion dollar deficit.

4. Indifference to runaway federal spending as seen in the fact that he failed to veto A SINGLE SPENDING BILL while republicans controlled Congress.

5. The sad and somewhat bizarre decision to take the fight to Irag, first because of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and, when that rationale did not fly, then to occupy and build a democracy in Iraq. Noble in belief but wrong. I believe there were weapons of mass destruction and one time, that Saddam was a murderous despot and democracy would be good but if that is the standard to which we engage, where do we go next? North Korea? Iran? How do we choose? Where do we stop?

6. Failing to concentrate our resources and effort in going after those who murdered our citizens and who were trained and remained in countries other than Irag.

7. The tragic prosecution of the misguided effort in Iraq. “Mistakes were made” is about all you get from the Bush Administration. If the President had listened sooner to, among others, Senator McCain, thousands upon thousands of our beloved patriots may have been spared permanent injury or death to say nothing of the billions upon billions of dollars wasted.

8. Sponsoring (and having passed) the second most federally instrusive legislation in the history of public schools. Second only to the 1974 IDEA legislation.

Although I wish God Speed to our former president and continue to see him as an honorable person, I fear history will be unkind to his administration.

David Axelfraud

September 22nd, 2009
2:19 pm

Ga Values, we should all hope Obama is great? Um, did you hope the same for W in 2000?

Answer: crickets….chirp….chirp….

Democrats want everyone to want success for their president but when its a Republican. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

common sense

September 22nd, 2009
2:21 pm

Why is it that the right always seems to blast Jimmy Carter as the worst President ever… All he did was bring honor back to an office that was tainted be Nixon ( a Republican), Honor the original Panama Canal Treaty, Allow for healing in this country after a decade plus in Vietnam. ( I know It we over before his term started, but troops were still coming home and as a nation we had to dal with that).Why no credit for those things?

Art at large

September 22nd, 2009
2:29 pm

George Bush does NOT deserve credit for saving us from himself.
He took a budget surplus and turned it into a record deficit (did the same thing as Gov. of Texas), started an illegal war of choice, was on watch when 9/11 happened, and his “getting out of the way of business” meant that the financial markets ran wild with no accountability. He divided the country, endorsed torture, lied about domestic wiretappings without warrants, was willing to jail people for years without charges or civil rights…and he did it all with a “F*CK YOU” smirk on his face. Arrogant, ignorant, intellectually shallow, and driven by hyperbole and dogma, he messed this country up but good.
His belated efforts to do the right thing gain him no credit. He ran this country as though he could do no wrong, when he could do almost no right, instead. And in the end, we saw clearly that the Emperor had no clothes.
And could you imagine where many seniors would be today had he succeeded in “reforming” Social Security?
Using the “saved us from himself” reasoning, does that mean that I am indeed a hero if I shoot someone in the chest and then apply first-aid?
No, history will be objective in painting Bush as a failure, or worse. We are mired in Iraq, on the edge in Afghanistan, and still reeling from the burst housing bubble, the collapse of Wall Street, and rampant unemployment. We are still a divided nation that pits the rabid Religious Right against everyone and everything else, where Republican partisan politics would rather see the country fail than President Obama succeed, and where health care has become, of all things, a battleground. The Religious Right may be kind to George Bush, but their memory is selective as far as budget deficits, the loss of civil rights, the power grabs that marked Bush’s tenure, the attacks of 9/11, and the illegal war in Iraq are concerned.
Using the “he saved us from himself” theory, does that mean that I am actually a hero if I shoot someone in the chest and then apply first-aid?

TBizzle

September 22nd, 2009
2:41 pm

President Bush did not create the housing bubble, it just happened to burst on his watch. The foundation for the bubble had been laid long before he became President. As a matter of fact, he pushed hard for more oversight on Freddie/Fannie but met a fierce resistance from many who are still in office today, mainly Barney Frank.

Let’s not discuss record deficits unless you are willing to mention that in his first 9 months Obama has spent more than any past president did over their entire term!

Ga Values

September 22nd, 2009
2:45 pm

David Axelfraud
2:19 pm

I actually voted for Both Bushes but neither were real Republicans, W was NOT a CONSERVATIVE his father was a nice man but W was way over his head and surrounded himself with yes men/girls.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

September 22nd, 2009
3:02 pm

Chairman Bernanke is partially correct on that which converted a minor stock market hiccough into a 15 year recession. The greatest economist living in Tennessee today has an essay in the WSJ noting the additional (and more substantial) elements of the Great Depression: (1) the trade war launched by protectionists, (2) the massive tax increases that discouraged businesses from expanding, and (3) the massive expansion in government regulation of private enterprise, which similarly discourage businesses from expanding. Had Dr. Laffer mentioned the foolish diversion of limited taxpayer funds into the “nonproductive” economy, he would have found all four significant elements I noted on Jim Wooten’s blog in January.

Chris Broe

September 22nd, 2009
3:16 pm

Revisionist scum! I suppose you think Cheney saved us from his gay daughter, too. The only thing that got saved by the Bush Administration was the born-again knucklehead himself.

Bush is probably a traitor, but Cheney classified the details for fifty years, which happens to be the half-life of anything nookyoolar, (or knuckleheaded).

I hope Lyle Kingfield feels better about himself for perpetrating the damnable lie that Bush wasn’t a total oaf in the oval office.

Dusty

September 22nd, 2009
3:43 pm

Sorry, Kyle, but I believe that Bush saved the country from terrorists. Not that they had progressed too far towards their goal (only 3,000 dead), but they had a goal and it was weaken or conquer the USA. Bush had to decide whether to fight back or sit still and wait for more. How can you blame that situation on Bush himself? He “made” that crisis? No, he did not.

Why don’t you compare Bush to Truman? Truman had to make decisions such as deciding whether to bomb civilian cities with nuclear bombs or letting American troops invade and die by the thousands. You can’t blame Bush for his situation anymore than you can blame Truman for his time of decision.

As to economics, Bush started relief which now seems a very small amount compared to that proposed by Obama. But Bush started the “relief” and whether it was conservative or liberal, it was a start, a start now said to have helped.

We know we are still fighting for freedom, ours and Afghanistans and possibly Iraq. We also know that every wartime president has had to try one effort and then another. Obama now seems to follow in the freedom footsteps of Bush as he finds that to be the most sensible direction.

The pundits are wise but they are not “there”. Bush did not save the country from Bush. He saved the USA from terrorists and gave millions more a chance at freedom. .

Base

September 22nd, 2009
3:43 pm

Liying Lyle is an another AJC fraud who can’t write.

David Axelfraud

September 22nd, 2009
3:50 pm

Chris Broe, Jay Bookman will wipe your tears away. Poor poor Broe. LOL

The Anti-Wooten

September 22nd, 2009
3:53 pm

Dusty says:

Why don’t you compare Bush to Truman? Truman had to make decisions such as deciding whether to bomb civilian cities with nuclear bombs or letting American troops invade and die by the thousands.
************************************

Wow, that’s some of the most blatant stupidity that I’ve seen in quite some time. Comparing decisions that ended the war in the Pacific theatre with starting a war for oil and profit just makes you sound like trailer dwelling trash Dustbin. You’ve no honesty at all.

The Anti-Wooten

September 22nd, 2009
3:59 pm

Kyle has now sounded his very own salvo in the FauxChristianConservative drive to canonize Incurious George, nicely done Kyle.

Bush broke so much of this country for the personal gain of a few rich and or powerful, that’s the simple truth. Whether he was guided poorly by Cheney et al or made these decisions of his own volition matters not. He instated tax cuts during a time of war, caused many American soldiers to be harmed and generally fiddled while America burned.

Save your sympathetic drivel for the GOPPiggy convention as they’re the only ones buying.

Irishmafia

September 22nd, 2009
4:04 pm

Reading these comments it’s a shame so many liberals never received an education. Hey you can always go back and earn a GED

DollarBill

September 22nd, 2009
4:06 pm

When former President Bush tried to correct the mess that would eventually become the housing crisis, the bill never made it out of the congressional finance committee control by democrats. How about barney frank and his contribution to the financial meltdown along with the congressional black caucus stating freddie mac and fannie mae were soverign when they had to redo their financial books?

Bush was a mess however congress is worst in my opinion.

The Anti-Wooten

September 22nd, 2009
4:08 pm

I’m sure that mick criminals have outstanding educations gained from the pedofathers.

The Anti-Wooten

September 22nd, 2009
4:11 pm

DollarBill,

Had Bush used the brains not to involve us in another Vietnamesque episode for no reason other then “Dog told me to” it’s unlikely that we’d have blown through the national treasury and the current economic mess would have been much less severe.

Reverie

September 22nd, 2009
4:28 pm

Why is Bush being blamed for the Housing Mess? Alan Greenspan identified it as a house of cards on December 5th, 1996 when he identified the housing market as caught up in “irrational exuberance”. I’ll concede that Bush didn’t do anything to stop the nonsense but to claim it was “Bush’s Mess” is to completely ignore the eight year history before Bush. Both sides screwed this up but WE let them.

ByteMe

September 22nd, 2009
4:58 pm

Reverie: that’s some revisionist history you got going there.

Hint: Greenspan was referring to stocks, not housing, which started its climb about 7 years later.

Linda

September 22nd, 2009
5:00 pm

Liberals have been trying to socialize the US for decades & are succeeding. First came affordable housing, the pretense that homeownership was a right, not a privilege. Fannie & Freddie were required by law to make these toxic loans long before Bush came into office. This triggered the global economic collapse during his watch. Now the liberals are using the pretense that health insurance is a right, not a privilege. Health care/insurance reform has NOTHING to do with health, care or insurance. In just these few months, this liberal congress & administration have nationalized our financial system, 2 of our 3 domestic auto makers & the largest insurance company in the world (AIG). They want to nationalize the best health insurance coverage in the world. The economic stimulus bill had nothing to do with stimulating the economy & didn’t. The cap & trade tax will be the final blow to our freedom. Americans are beginning to wake up. Unfortunately, there will always be more gimmes than givers, more havenots than haves, more uneducated & freeloaders than those who apply themselves. That’s what the liberals are relying on.
What stuns me the most is how many gullible people actually believe that politicians can control the climate!

mike

September 22nd, 2009
5:32 pm

“and the irrational exuberance that stoked the housing bubble.”

It is always fun to blame this on Bush, but Bush actually called out the problems with Fannie Mae in 2005 and 2006 and he was shouted down by Barney Frank.

smoochie

September 22nd, 2009
5:44 pm

‘Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is asking President Barack Obama for an emergency federal disaster declaration to help homeowners struggling with flooded property after this week’s epic deluge.

The governor said he hopes for a decision by the end of Tuesday and is expecting “some level of federal reimbursement” as the cash-strapped state grapples with the emergency. He said the state “will do everything in its power, both physically and fiscally” to help flood victims.’

24 Hours and Obozo has done absolutely nothing for metro Atlanta citizens in this disaster.

http://wcbstv.com/breakingnewsalerts/floods.rain.georgia.2.1200596.html

Michael H. Smith

September 22nd, 2009
6:12 pm

Many think history is now proving kindly towards Jimmy Cater. What so many overlook is the one fatal flaw no leader, be they political or military, ever dares to make and be remembered favorably by history. Carter’s inability to act decisively on Iran has sealed his legacy with a bad stamp.

A President or General can make a mistake and recover, as many have. Very few if any ever recover if they fail to make a decision right or wrong. Indecisiveness from a leader is the mark of failure.

So far agree or disagree with Obama, as I do philosophically and politically, he has yet to be indecisive but he is venturing dangerously close at the moment.

Bush was wrong on many things. To his credit he was never indecisive. Perhaps his image will improve over time. For many conservatives little hope of that seems possible.

Dennis G. Berdanis

September 22nd, 2009
6:40 pm

Bush destroyed the US economy for decades to come due to spending on his private war (in addition to the more costly lives of our fighting men and women). He most probably will be remembered as the chief executive that ended the US reign as a superpower and relagated us to second world status. We won’t be able to afford to intervene worldwide much longer as the economy continues to reel from his punches.

catlady

September 22nd, 2009
6:44 pm

This has to be the funniest (stuff) I have ever read!

DebbieDoRight

September 22nd, 2009
7:24 pm

Dusty’s post!!! OMG!! THAT was the funniest thing EVER!!! Can’t……..stop……….laughing!!!…..Can’t………..stop…………..laughing!!! :lol:

Kyle: You go too far with the comedy man!! You want people to laugh, not fall out from lack of oxygen from too much laughter!!!

Sam

September 22nd, 2009
7:35 pm

While both Republicans & Democrats will do or say anything to get a vote, Dems seem to be more willing to keep people enslaved to the system. The Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac dibacle, Medicaid, and now the National Health Care proposal. These are detrimental programs that do not advocate for the betterment of society, but rather to keep people oppressed and reliable on the govt. Obama is an epic failure just 8 months into his term. He wants to transform our country into something we cannot not even fathom. Is that really a good thing? Why do people all over the world want to become an American citizen? If our country was as flawed and dishonorable as Obama eludes to, then why do people die just to cross our borders? Obama has consistently promised things to only go back on his word. In addition, do you know how much it costs the taxpayer for Obama & family to take his many non-business travel escapades on Air Force One? Answer: $56,518 per hour. Perhaps he should concentrate on the issues facing our country rather than trying to get face time on Leno, Letterman & all other networks (aside from Fox) in order to boost his falling ratings. I fully expect him being hired as Billy Mays replacement. A 24/7 Obama infomercial, what could be better?!

David Axelfraud

September 22nd, 2009
7:49 pm

Dennis G. Berdanis, so why doesnt Obamalamadingdong bring the troops home?

David Axelfraud

September 22nd, 2009
7:50 pm

DebbieDoRight did Dallas, I’m sure you’re used to people laughing at you. How are the hemorrhoids?

Linda

September 22nd, 2009
8:02 pm

Hey, Dennis G. Berdanis, I hate to argue with liberals, but you need to research the actual expenditures on the war in Iraq since 2003 compared to what this administration & congress spent on the economic stimulus bill. This was the single most expensive legislation ever passed in the history of our country, which had nothing to do with stimulating the economy & didn’t & everything to do with adding to our deficit & stimulating the Dem party, more than what was spent in Iraq in 6 years. Maybe you don’t understand how the federal government works. No president can have his own war. The Iraq war was approved by congress by a huge majority. Get your facts straight.

Jason Davis

September 22nd, 2009
10:19 pm

George Bush was an unmitigated disaster for our country in every way. He screwed the middle class at every opportunity and gave us a war to distract us from the truth. Bush and Chaney helped their super rich buddies like Haliburton get rich and screw us morons. He was not a conservative at all. He ran up the national debt more than any other president. Only a completely stupid Republican would continue to worship the jackass.

Dusty

September 22nd, 2009
11:43 pm

Anti-Wooten, why don’t you and Debbie do a little partying for fun? Debbie can do all the laughs and you can tell all the dumb jokes. Have fun!!

Jason Davis, now dust off that Obama T-shirt and bow down to your Democratic jackass. You Democrats are the ones going for the jackass donkey doings and you can’t blame anybody but yourselves

Enjoy yourself with the CHANGE because all that is left in the treasury is small change.and play money. Wonder if we have enough paper to print out all the trillions needed? .

Dusty

September 22nd, 2009
11:51 pm

Ragnar Danneskjold,

Heyyy, glad to see you here. It’s been awhile. I was rushing around today and sudeenly it dawned on me HE’S BACK! I hope we see a lot of your comments here. Have you heard from Glenn lately?

David Axelfraud

September 23rd, 2009
8:57 am

Jason Davis, are you really that stupid? Seriously, are you?

Michael Honohan

October 1st, 2009
2:52 pm

I have been no fan of George W Bush. I certainly do not think he rose the level of qualification for president. Ahd the standard I hold him to is not based on JFK or Bill Clinton, it is his own father George H W Bush. By his resume – WWII Fighter pilot, accelertated graduate at Yale, US Representative, RNC Chairman, UN Ambassador, Envoy to China, CIA Director, Vice President – he was the single most qualified person for the job in history.

However, I blame much of the problems of his administration on Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, who had their own agenda and thwarted much of Bush’s. Cheney himself said that Bush stopped listening to him in the second term and that was when we saw Bush make some better decisions. I do not think the history will look up on Bush any more favorably for his war and homeland security policies, his foreign policy, or any of his domestic policy.

However, if you want to look for greatness in the work of George W Bush, you will have to look toward Africa. For one, W may well the the first Republican president without a racist bone in his body. His indifference to Katrina victims was based on class and not race. Second, Bush poured 25 billion dollars into African aid. I believe that is more than all previous presidents combined. Bush is a hero to many African people. In that realm, he did practice the compassion he campaigned on.

Interesting footnote. The man Bush brought from Texas to head up the “compassionate conservatism” office (Faith Based Initiative” claims the Rove, et al, minimalized and marginialize the effort to the point where the man had to quit. Bush would have been a better president if he had more control over his people.