In 2000 I genuinely liked George W Bush. He was more than just “not Al Gore” or even “not the continuation of the Clinton Machine.” He was Christian, a conservative (no really) and a quiet, congenial man. He ran on a string of conservative legislative themes, but which never really panned out because he was interrupted by a higher calling. 9-11.
On 9-14 George W Bush became a war president, memorialized by that picture of him at ground zero with his arm around an NYC fire chief.
With the speed of American reaction to bin Laden’s hideout in Afghanistan, to most people’s mind, by 2004, Bush had worked his way into the annals of America as one of its great presidents.
By 2006 I was beginning to have second thoughts. Still a fine Christian, and a steadfast supporter of the troops, in a period when almost 5000 came home in coffins, (Obama 2500, Trump 30) it was clear he had still missed the mark in establishing real democracy in Iraq. And all he had to do was use the models laid out for him by Harry Truman with the occupation and redesign of Japan and Germany, planning to stay at least ten years as an occupier, and afterwards, a regional guardian of that garden of democracy that had produced the modern Japan and Germany. In 2004 I wrote about this great opportunity, and how a single secure Arab democracy could serve as a beacon to the entire region if, instead a total tribal top-down government, institutions were also instilled from the bottom-up so that, over years, the people could rearrange their priorities toward the greater good, much as Americans did in the 19th-early 20th Century. (America proved the process exists in nature.) I even published a book about it, no longer in print.
Alas, Bush chose poorly, handing the running of the Iraqi government over to a top-down council not unlike community organizers in Chicago would design, all within two short years, where far more advanced societies like Japan and Germany had required about seven. (We still have an occupation-era hotel in Tokyo.)
Unlike many people who disagreed with the US invasion of Iraq, on this account I thought it was a good idea, and made my case, because it was workable idea and a project that only America could pull off because it had done so before. Of experts in government, or the several think tanks that advised the Bush Administration, I’m not sure if any of them ever considered giving occupation a chance.
Barely winning the election in 2004 against John Kerry, the Bowe Bergdahl of the Vietnam War, and friend of John McCain, which says more about McCain than you can ever know, George W Bush spiraled down even further to lose in the 2006 midterms, handing both House and Senate control over to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
But this loss was not because of what GW did so much as what he didn’t do. The object of lies and vilification, almost as outlandish as those heaped on Donald Trump today, Bush didn’t fight back. No one is sure why. Some said it was Laura, and the legacy thing, others his deep Christian beliefs about “turning the other cheek.” I remember commenting that while it is true, we are all enjoined to turn the other cheek, we are not authorized by God to turn our fellow countrymen’s cheeks as well. I’m not sure GW could tell the difference.
In fact, it was contrary to his oath of office. Had George W Bush felt he could not serve both God and his Oath of Office, he should have resigned.
Had he done so, even on the day after he was sworn in on January 21, 2005, placing Dick Cheney into the presidency, for one, there would be no Iran threat today, and no ISIS threat ever, and 5000 of America’s treasure would not have died in vain as what in fact did happen when a craven successor would hand the region back over to anarchy and death. When it was clear that Obama would not hinder but assist Iran in its nuclear ambitions Cheney asked the president to end the Iranian threat before he left office, but Bush refused, and while Cheney will never speak of it, I think they did not part as friends in January, 2009.
Instead George W Bush stood idly by as both his plans and the hopes and dreams of democracy-seeking Arabs, not to mention the wasted loss of 5000 Americans, was forfeited to the indifference of a vengeful and cynical successor who first and foremost wanted to spitefully undo the legacy of the man he replaced…in the process creating a regime of genocidal theocracy in the hole left in Iraq’s shattered soul.
Where that Iraq tale will end remains to be seen, but had George W Bush only refused to turn America’s other cheek, he might have been able to usher a proud and defiant electorate into the 2008 election, with the robust support of both his party and the American people, behind a genuine leader, knowing full well the purposes of the Democrat and left-wing opposition, instead of a vain, acerbic placeholder with no greater vision for America that that his name should appear on the President’s page in the World Almanac.
None of that history would have every occurred, including the presidency of Barack Obama, had George W Bush just put up a fight after 2006. And had he remembered those 5000 men greater than his own place in history.
Well, that history is still being written, anyway, and GW’s place in that history is no longer certain, anyway.
To his credit, along with Barack Obama, G W Bush has transformed what has always been considered to be the “stupid 80%” to become the brightest, most intellectual and engaged C- and D- students in American history. In fact, I give them all B’s at the least, especially if you want to compare with real D college snowflakes at Amherst. In 2000 and 2004 our “stupids” elected GW. In 2006 they abandoned him, in a bit of pique I think they probably regret, but because he would no longer defend them in the Congress in that period when he was confused about whose cheek it was he was turning.
Younger than me, and very near the same age as the workaholic Donald Trump, I’m not sure if George Bush has grown tired or has simply withdrawn. During the entire eight years of Barack Obama he said not a word. “Wouldn’t be seemly” as his father would say.
Perhaps a third cause can be found.
It was Obama who let the cat out of the bag. In 2007 when Bush introduced the first comprehensive immigration reform bill, no one had really heard about globalism. The “new world order”, which by 2014, began to carry a fascist ring to it, a big business-big government framework for global management, really didn’t resonate in 2007. No one imagined such a thing. But there it was in 2016, staring buck naked before the people. And then it all made sense, even to the 80% stupids. All of a sudden the true moving forces behind George W Bush became more transparent. Not God, not Country, but a seat at the table of the High and the Mighty was His driving force. The Club.
And what gave it all away was in a speech in 2016 when GW insulted the people who actually voted him into office in 2000 and 2004, his base, as being “nativist”, then repeated it in his most recent speech, October 19th.
As I’ve been saying for over a year, those “nativist” C- and D- students have become the savviest, most wise and politically educated people in America, even compared to National Review, and will, in one lifetime, which I hope to live to see, redefine “conservatism” because of it… all because, just as the Constitution’s Founders envisioned, they would realized, when George W Bush would not stand up for them in 2006, their survival, their very survival, depended on them standing up for themselves.
Only a free people can do that.
I repeat, Donald Trump did not find them, they found Donald Trump. And with their new found power may be able to shove this revolution into many more election cycles, which I pray, makes the globalists shudder.
Ironically, Mr Bush, in deference to your strong faith in God, maybe “de Lawd, He really is workin’ in mysterious ways” here.
Excellent essay, Vassar
I, too, began to lose favor with George W. Bush in the latter years of his presidency.
Too often, I wondered, “why doesn’t he stand up to the disgusting propagandists on the left?” “Why doesn’t he set the record straight?” “Why doesn’t he defend himself? Us?”
Suddenly, a light bulb popped on that would flicker off and on through the years about POTUS43. In 2015/2016, that light bulb flicked on, became brighter and stayed on. POTUS43 was a globalist, of the swamp, for the swamp whose interest was primarily the Bush legacy.
They never saw President Donald J. Trump coming.
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