December 3, 2006

Transformative...

Orrin, on comparisons of the accomplisments of George W Bush and Ronald Reagan...

....We of a certain age can recall when even the Right had turned on the Gipper for meeting with Gorbachev, raising taxes and losing the Senate, while the Left had Iran-Contra to brandish about. But, as with Reagan then, W has already accomplished so much that irrespective of the final two years of his presidency he'll eventually rank with the great or near great, not the failures. Even setting aside foreign affairs -- where both the emerging special relationship with India and the liberalization of the Middle East will rank as historic achievements -- Mr. Bush has on the credit side of the ledger: multiple tax cuts; HSAs; the vouchers and anti-Darwinist measures in NCLB; the Faith-Based Initiative; abortion and bio-engineering limitations; civil service reforms and competitive-sourcing of federal jobs; retirement reforms; commencing the deconstruction of the 20th Century military; economic growth in every year of his presidency (though he, like Bill Clinton and George Bush Senior owes that mostly to RWR); two major appointments that could positively influence the country for years (Chief Justice Roberts, who has the potential to be a conservative Earl Warren, and the deflation hawk Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke); and more I'm likely forgetting off the top of my head.

The Left and far Right don't hate guys like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush because they're ineffective, but precisely because they are so successful in enacting measures that their opponents (and putative allies) abhor. W, thanks mostly to a Republican House and Senate, was able to get more done than Reagan was and will, as a result, rank even higher one day....

I'd say this list is about right. There are things I'm worried about at present. Mostly I'm worried right now about the appearance of an administration that's run out of steam. But even if Bush sits on his hands for the next two years, he'll still be viewed by history as a transformative president.

There's a larger lens you can use to look at almost everything Bush has done. We are entering a new era. The Industrial Age is over, and all sorts of ideas and institutions associated with it are brittle, rigid, and they are cracking and crumbling. And Bush has, both in real and symbolic ways, been helping us to shed the old skin. Think of him scuppering Kyoto, the ABM Treaty, ICC, Arafat. And updating Westphalia, and openly saying we will defend Taiwan. And at least proposing to privatize Social Security. He's been rather brutally scraping off all sorts of stupid 20th Century cruft. It's quite proper that leftists should hate him, because their entire mental landscape is a desert of failed 20th Century hogwash.

Posted by John Weidner at December 3, 2006 6:31 PM
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