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The Bravest President?

Michael Novak makes the case that Dear Leader is, well...let him tell it:

...after Washington and Lincoln, Bush is the bravest of our presidents.
But wait...

How so?

He has faced the most intense fire, hatred, contempt, heavily moneyed and bitterly acidic partisan opposition, underhandedness, betrayal, of any president in the last hundred years.
Really? More than Clinton? More than Reagan? More than Carter? More than Nixon? More than Johnson? More than Truman? More than Roosevelt?
He has faced hostility over a longer time, in possibly the most dangerous period of international warfare in our national history.
But that still isn't addressing why so many people are hostile.
He has remained constant, firm, decided, and generous (to a fault) with his opponents.
Geoge W. Bush? Generous to his opponents? All you need to know about the Bush White House's generosity toward its opponents is contained in Ron Susskind's recounting of this episode:
Inside, Rove was talking to an aide about some political stratagem in some state that had gone awry and a political operative who had displeased him. I paid it no mind and reviewed a jotted list of questions I hoped to ask. But after a moment, it was like ignoring a tornado flinging parked cars. "We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!" As a reporter, you get around—curse words, anger, passionate intensity are not notable events—but the ferocity, the bellicosity, the violent imputations were, well, shocking. This went on without a break for a minute or two. Then the aide slipped out looking a bit ashen, and Rove, his face ruddy from the exertions of the past few moments, looked at me and smiled a gentle, Clarence-the-Angel smile. "Come on in."
Politics ain't beanbag and this White House knows it. It'll be "generous" with its opponents as long as it has its boot on their throats. Generous? Ha.
He has faced almost unbroken contempt from the academy, from the mainstream press, from Democratic elites, from Moveon and all the other holders of the Democratic-party purse strings, from the Democratic Congress, from his treacherous (if not treasonous) Central Intelligence Agency, and from many levels of the permanent State Department. Almost every day, he has been pummeled and undermined by powerful forces of American power.
Novak's argument is curiously silent on WHY so many of these individuals, agencies, parties are arrayed against him. Could it be that they are opposed to his policies, such as they are?
Still, he has stayed firm, with clear arguments, and an even clearer vision.
Again, curiously values-neutral. Plenty of people can be firm. That doesn't make them right. And...clear arguments? Clearer vision? Again -- right and wrong doesn't enter into it.
On the number-one issue facing the nation—the war declared upon us by fascists who pretend to be religious—he has not wavered, he has not bent, he has stayed on course and true.
Novak never seems to consider that maybe Bush has set us on the wrong course? He should get out more -- the vast majority Americans believe that we are, in fact, on the wrong track. But according to Bush and Novak, we're making really good time!
In Iraq, civil society, nearly comatose under Saddam Hussein, is today alive and full of vitality. Newspapers and television and magazines are full of diversity and energy, political parties multiply, private associations are functioning by the thousands, most of the country is more secure than some American cities. Iraqi exiles from around the world, far from fleeing, are coming back in droves....Whatever American voters may say of him to opinion pollsters—and his polls are now very low indeed—the survival of democracy in Iraq will in the future count as an enormous achievement.
Bless their hearts. But when do we, at home in America, start to get the benefits of a free and open civil society? When do we get back those individual liberties guaranteed by the US Constitution? When do we get our own democracy back?
Despite a normal diet of failures and setbacks, common to all presidents, it is also worth counting up his steady, always surprising successes in cutting taxes [i.e., draining the Treasury in wartime], in reshaping the Supreme Court [guaranteeing the loss of personal liberty], in getting personal Social Security accounts and personal medical accounts on the agenda of public discussion [where it flopped horribly and, hopefully, permanently], and in presiding over the most amazing economy in the world during the past six years [Bwahahaha! That's why we raised the debt ceiling countless times during this administration -- so we could borrow and spend more and leave the check with our kids.]
What a maroon.
If you were in his shoes, would you not prefer the fame of 30 years from now to popularity in your own time?
The future is now, baby.

Kevin Drum has an opinion on what makes Bush so different:what is it that makes Bush so different?

He's subject to the same stew of competing interests and factions as any other president, but what truly makes him unique is what's missing: a respect for policy analysis.

After eight months of working in the Bush White House, John DiIulio reported that "the lack of even basic policy knowledge, and the only casual interest in knowing more, was somewhat breathtaking."

Paul O'Neill described Bush in cabinet meetings as "a blind man in a roomful of deaf people."

A senior White House official told Ron Suskind that the Bush White House is "just kids on Big Wheels who talk politics and know nothing. It’s depressing."

The meltdown at FEMA, the war with the CIA for being insufficiently hawkish, the lack of a serious plan for Social Security privatization, the staffing of postwar Iraq with inexperienced ideologues — all of these things have the same root cause: a belief that ideas are all that matter.


I make it a rule not to read anything by anybody named Novak.

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