Friday, January 19, 2007

Bush should not be surprised to find himself alone

After six years in office, the Bush Administration has been defined by a number of things: Iraq, tax cuts, conservatism, big government, a strong military, scandal and the perception of a maverick, cowboy-esque attitude. Yet, in the lame-duck phase of this President's second term, it is certainly this administration's mistakes which have crippled its current initiatives and credibility.

From the inception of his Presidency, the political Left feared that George W. Bush was out to ruin the world. He angered passionate environmentalists by rejecting the Kyoto Protocol. To add insult to injury, Condoleeza Rice, then National Security Adviser, proclaimed the treaty "dead on arrival." When he commissioned a report from the National Academy of Sciences on climate change, their report explained that Global warming is getting worse. He ignored it.

The administration's refusal to acknowledge the proof of the negative human impact on the environment has repeatedly galled conservationists. One of his first acts in office was to suspend Clinton's "roadless rule" protecting over 60 million acres. Vice President Cheney's secretive "Energy Task Force" further angered greenies, and even some moderates. This served to bolster the idea that Bush was entrenched with the oil industry.

As the march to war in Iraq began, Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Cheney's insistence that more troops would not be needed on the ground post-Iraq invasion worried military experts. General Eric K. Shinseki's estimate that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in Iraq was criticized as "wildly off the mark" by Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld also added fuel to the fire in the run up to war by his dismissal of "Old Europe."

A fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction and ensuing war in Iraq on questionable grounds left much of the world upset, prompting hundreds of thousands to march against the President. By the time the U.S. invaded Iraq, any post-9/11 good will was wiped away. The effects of Liberal and moderate American's anger at the squandered good will after 9/11 is now showing itself among our foreign allies, as well.

Proclaiming that "You are either with us or against us," Bush stoked our allies' fears of a more aggressive, imperialistic government. These comments engendered no good will around the world.

Landing atop an aircraft carrier proclaiming "Mission Accomplished" in what seemed at the time to be the photo op of the century now seems an overly optimistic PR ploy at best.

When attacks by insurgents began in Iraq, Bush's reckless language, provoking our enemies with "Bring them on" was a political and diplomatic disaster.

Furthermore, Halliburton's numerous no-bid contracts have inflamed Iraq war critics, as well as government ethics watch dogs.

The President and Vice President vehemently defended their assertion that Iraq and al Qaeda had closely collaborated, while the September 11 commission outright dismissed these claims.

The administration has placed itself in the cross hairs of Amnesty International and Human Rights watch because of its constitutionally questionable handling of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.

Now in 2007, the President seems to have awoken to Domestic issues with an epiphany that Congress' wasteful pork-barrel spending is draining the U.S. budget: "31,709 Earmarks Later, Bush Decides Pork Is A Problem"

In less than 100 hours, newly elected Democrats have beaten the President and the [now] Republican minority in Congress to the punch with a whirlwind of legislation ranging from a minimum wage hike, to embryonic stem cell research, education, energy, reducing college student loans rates, to fully implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations.

The outpouring of legislation from the Democrats may be less kind-hearted, feel good, high-minded progress than the desire to demonstrate a kind of one-up-manship immediately after taking power. To their credit, the Democrats have also passed much stiffer rules against lobbyists, created a committee on global warming, and even banned smoking within the speaker's lobby of the house.

This glut of legislative activity has helped grant legitimacy to the new party in power, and further strip away credibility from the beleaguered minority Republicans, whose most recent legislative accomplishments include U.S. Senate Compromise Bill 686, handing jurisdiction of the Terri Schiavo case to the Florida Federal court. Although it couldn't balance a budget, or keep Congressional pages away from sexual predator House Representatives, the U.S Congress found time to micro-manage the life of a single human being in a coma.

Former Ohio Congressman Bob Ney was sentenced to 30 months in prison today, another humiliation for Republicans. The President should not wonder to himself, when he is alone on his ranch clearing brush, or at work in the oval office, why his allies have deserted him, why his political opponents now have the upper hand, or why he must now change course on previous failed policies, such as warrantless wiretapping.

Yet, despite this Administration's many failures, it rightly holds steady on a critical issue - fighting terrorism. Bush's zeal when it comes to combating terror, although not always strategically accurate, is most certainly correct in principle. Islamic fascist terrorists want nothing less than the total destruction of the West, and to impose an Islamic Caliphate that will rule by the strictest of sectarian beliefs. Above all partisan politics, we must be united in our opposition to terrorists.

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