Mea culpa to Bush on Presidents Day
Plain Talk by Al Neuharth, USA TODAY founder (2-16-07)
Our great country has had 43 presidents. Many very good. A few pretty bad. On Presidents Day next Monday, it's appropriate to commemorate them all.
A year ago I criticized Hillary Clinton for saying "this (Bush) administration will go down in history as one of the worst."
"She's wrong," I wrote. Then I rated these five presidents, in this order, as the worst: Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan, Ulysses Grant, Hoover and Richard Nixon. "It's very unlikely Bush can crack that list," I added.
I was wrong. This is my mea culpa. Not only has Bush cracked that list, but he is planted firmly at the top.
The Iraq war, of course, has become Bush's albatross. He and his buddies are great at coining words or slogans. "Bushisms" that will haunt him historically:
- "Shock and Awe," early 2003.
- "Mission Accomplished," May 1, 2003.
- "Stay the Course," June 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006.
- "New Strategy," 2007.
Another term historians may weigh critically is "Decider."
Is he just a self-touted decider doing what he thinks right? Or is he an arrogant ruler who doesn't care or consider what the public or Congress believes best for the country?
Despite his play on words and slogans, Bush didn't learn the value or meaning of mea culpa (acknowledgement of an error) during his years at Yale.
Bush admitting his many mistakes on Iraq and ending that fiasco might make many of us forgive, even though we can never forget the terrible toll in lives and dollars.
Feedback: Other views on Bush presidency
"Just as we don't stop football games after three quarters, we shouldn't judge the historical place of presidents when they've still got nearly two years in office."
— John J. Miller, political reporter, National Review
"Unless there is some great reversal, Bush will be seen as one of the country's poorest presidents. Iraq will stand at the top of the list, but the administration's failed responses to Katrina and global warming will stand with its abuse of civil liberties to mark Bush out as a man with poor judgment and a failed leader."
— Robert Dallek, historian; his new book, Nixon and Kissinger: Powers in Power, will be published in April.
It is unusual to see someone treat an apology via mea culpa as an "argument", but it does have a logical cause and effect characteristic. You should note "wrong" is a moral term most often but in this case he meant "incorrect" in retrospect.
The fallacy with Neuharth's reasoning was that he assumed there was an objective way to measure how "bad" Bush really is. Bush is clearly bad for those who died or lost money and suffered pain and worry; but Bush has been the best President in history for raising the income of the upper 10% of Americans and for advancing the cause of Nazi/Fascism.
He has been successful at doing what he intended to do, which was to turn back the clock on civil rights and the US position of "a brother among nations". He may be even more successful if allowed to go unchecked and get us into another war that we can't get out of, in Iran. He has been more successful than his brother Neil was when he intentionally made bad loans knowing the Feds would bail him out and allow him to keep his profits.
Young Bush has been more successful than his father, which takes a lot considering the first Bush started a war with Nicaragua and simply got out of it by saying, "No I didn't," and by leading the assassination of JFK and claiming he wasn't even in the CIA at the time, which was a lie and by selling the weapons that Iran is giving insurgents in Iraq to kill US soldiers today.
As a President "W" has realized the incredible power of the Presidency in foreign affairs and his ability to act from the "bully pulpit" with impunity and to claim executive privilege until congress has the balls to stop him. As a helper of the US people he has utterly failed, but that's assuming it was his goal to help the masses that didn't even elect him. He has succeeded at not only giving hundreds of billions of government money to his friends and building a debt so that his buddies will continue to benefit long after he is gone.
I guess it depends on who you ask. His friends would say he will go down as their best President. And isn't that what it's all about?