March 27, 2005
In the balance pan...
The estimable Bill Quick has listed 10 reasons why he is feeling disgusted with the Republicans. I thought I'd put in my reactions to them. --This is not a Fisking. I'm with him on some things, not on others. (And, as I'm sure you know, he's a libertarian, and I'm a conservative.)
1. The massive entitlement bill pushed through congress by George W. Bush for prescription drugs.
2. The lard-laden education bill Bush and Ted Kennedy put together and pushed through congress.
In both 1 and 2 there is something Bill is missing (or not interested in). I don't like the lard either, but in both cases Bush traded (and this was at a time when we didn't control the Senate) spending increases for important components of the Ownership Society. The Medicare bill included HSA's, and NCLB included the parental-choice provisions.
What's the thinking behind the Ownership Society? First, that shrinking the government isn’t going to happen. Not now, not never. Every law, subsidy, tax-break or program creates a constituency that will fight to preserve that bit of big government. It’s a trap that liberals have created for us, and no number of grumbling fiscal conservatives will ever get us out of it.
BUT, there is a way out of the trap. Even though Social Security (to take just one example) is a big-government program, any diversion of dollars into Private Accounts is, effectively, shrinking government. And that creates a trap of the opposite sort, one that will make people want more and more privatization as they start to see their accounts grow. That’s why the Left is fighting private accounts so bitterly. Bill most likely doesn't agree with the strategy, but he ought to be aware of it. Bush has yielded on spending increases to gain long-term benefits of Choice and Ownership. (I think this is the right plan, but of course it's still an experiment.)
3. The deadly combination of establishing huge new permanent expenditures while at the same time cutting taxes, thereby guaranteeing massive new debt for future taxpayers. Anybody who has ever run up significant personal credit card bills, and then tried to pay them off out of current income, knows what I mean.
NOT deadly, I would opine. At least if the concurrent goal of economic growth is achieved. That's what Reagan did. He increased the National Debt by 1.3 trillion, and people screamed about how their grandchildren would be enslaved by debt. But the economy grew by 17 trillion at the same time--that's what I call a good investment. And more importantly, it kept on growing vigorously. And now it has grown so large that that 1.3 trillion is no great burden at all. Many of those grandchildren have now been born, but they are not being crushed..
My credit card debt is a burden, but suppose I had taken on debt to buy a business? Or buy a house? Bush's tax cuts are like that, I think, and not like credit-card debt. He left money in the hands of the American people in hopes that it would be used for growth. And I think that's what we are seeing now.
4. Bush's support of renewing the assault weapons bill.
5. Bush's administration has refused to move forward, in fact has impeded, one of the most effective steps he could take to protect American air traffic: Against the wishes of the pilots themselves, he has blocked any realistic effort to let those pilots bear arms in their cockpits.
6. Bush's idiotic refusal to profile suspect groups in airports and elsewhere has led to stupidities like strip-searching wheel-chair bound grannies, and does nothing to increase traveler safety. If anything, it puts all of us at greater risk.
I agree with Mr Quick. But, one point to think about... we are on the offensive, and taking the fight to the terrorists home ground, not here. That's the right way to do it. That outweighs, to me, the idiocies of Homeland Security.
7. For those who mentioned the horrors of the Clinton administration, to wit: the sale of pardons, they should also know that not only did the Bush administration cover up or prevent entirely an investigation of the vandalism and thefts committed by the Clintonistas on their departure from the White House, he within the past month also covered up the results of the investigation of Clinton's pardon fire sale.
Bush did the right thing! Don't fight the pig in his own mud puddle. Especially this pig. Bush is attacking Clintonism more effectively by trying to get us back to a climate where nobody even thinks of doing such slimy things. He's ignoring Clinton, and history will ignore him also.
8. Bush's apparent intentions to ram through congress immigration legislation that will, in effect, post facto legalize millions of illegal aliens, and permit the influx of millions more who will initally be "legal," but will morph into illegals as soon as their time limits are up: all apparently in search of votes and support from the huge businesses that depend on illegal immigrants, at the expense of jobs for legal immigrants and American citizens.
I agree with that.
9. Bush's gross mismanagement of Fallujah in Iraq, that needlessly cost dozens of American lives, and for a time threatened the entire future of the Iraqi experiment in democracy.
Mismanaged, probably yes. But Bill's focusing on the wrong thing. We can't give democracy to the Iraqis, they can only do it themselves. Our real job is to do as little for them as possible, and encourage them to do as much as possible, without having things fall apart. The metric to watch is not whether we are defeating terrorists, but whether Iraqis are, and are learning the art of governing themselves. The "insurgency" has, if you will forgive my cold-bloodedness, been an excellent learning experience for the people of Iraq. the way millions voted under threat of violent death will be, with a bit of luck, their Valley Forge, their story to pass down to their children.
(Also, ALL our wars have been mismanaged. We lost 800 men in a few minutes at Slapton Sands, for nothing. Iwo Jima and Pelelieu were unnecessary objectives, pure waste. Belleau Wood was thought to be "lightly held." By historical standards we are doing extremely well in managing the WOT, and Bush should get some of the credit.
10. The recently revealed first instincts of Bush's FEC to impose draconian measures per the CFR bill Bush signed after he said he did not support it. Bush's signing of that measure is, in my opinion, more than sufficient grounds for his impeachment.
CFR is BAD. EVIL. No question in my mind. Bush is wrong to have any doings with it.
11. Of course, the massive Republican hypocrisies of Schiavo.
Schaivo has become an out-of-control flash-point for many issues and bitter controversies. I don't think Republicans could, politically, have not intervened. I'd tend to give everybody a free-pass, and judge Republicans AND Democrats by how they act in less extreme circumstances.
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I'm a believer in Original Sin, and expect ALL human endeavors to be flawed. ALWAYS. So inevitably we have to weigh plusses and minuses, and chose the lesser of evils. I think Bush and his administration have some other plusses that ought to be placed in Bill's balance pan....
A few, in no particular order: Bush has brought dignity back to the White House--personnel don't wear jeans and strew pizza boxes around. He is constantly pushing for freer trade. Rumsfeld's relentless drive to restructure our forces for the 21st Century. Tort Reform. The ever-widening push for democracy. Refusal to deal with Arafat. The sheer genius of the Iraq campaign, which is now paying huge benefits in many ways. Dumped Kyoto, ICC, and ABM. Began serious work on missile defense. First White House in recent decades with almost no leaks. Bush can mingle easily with ordinary Americans, and has won the trust and affection of our troops. And his style and personality torment leftists, leading them to make foolish mistakes. Bush campaigns for the whole party, not just his own reelection.
The Bush Doctrine. Revising the "Treaty of Westphalia" and establishing the principle that national sovereignty is dependent on democratic legitimacy. PSI & Caspian Guard. Libya is out of the WMD game. India is befriended and France sidelined. Declared openly, for the first time, that we would defend Taiwan. Defeated two horrid Democrat candidates. Saved us from at least one truly ghastly First Lady. Saved us from having John McCain as Republican candidate!! [Thank you, God!] Gave us a smart bookish First Lady we can be proud of. Nominating many good judges. Appreciates Scalia and Thomas. Unlike Clinton, Bush picks strong capable subordinates (and according to witnesses I trust, is a superb manager and nobody's puppet.) Thrilling people: Condi. Paul Wolfowitz. Richard Armitage. Elliott Abrams! Dick and Lynne Cheney! (Bush is the first President EVER to have a strong VP doing useful work!!! Not to mention Dick's wife and two daughters, all doing real work in the administration.)