Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Thursday, May 25, 2006

BUSH UNDER THE COLD EYE OF HISTORY

Ever since 1948, when historian Arthur Schlesinger Sr., first polled leading scholars and asked them to rank our presidents, updated polls have been released every few years. As a participant in the current poll, I spent several weeks thinking long and hard about the best and worst of our country's presidents---and about President Bush's eventual place in history.

As aides and supporters worry whether Bush's presidency can "be salvaged," I respectfully suggest the future of the country, rather than the president's legacy, is the topic more worth pondering. The forthcoming poll will be the first to include a preliminary ranking of this President Bush. So, here is my prediction.

There is much agreement by scholars as to the greatest presidents: they are Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt, with Harry Truman, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson not far behind. These great leaders provide a standard by which all presidents are measured---and clues as to how Bush measures up. From the great presidents we know that the country is well-served by leaders who exhibit the following traits:

* Humanity, compassion, and respect for others
* A governing style that unifies, not divides
* Rhetorical skills and the ability to communicate a clear, realistic vision
* Willingness to listen to experts and the public
* Ability to admit error, accept criticism and be adaptable
* Engaged and inquisitive, with a sense of perspective and history
* Integrity, inspiring trust among the people
* Moral courage in not shrinking from challenges

Unfortunately, Bush's legacy has been the polar opposite of this list. This brings up the matter of who are our worst presidents. Again, scholars are in agreement, listing Warren Harding, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan.

Like them, Bush has been tone deaf, disinterested in advice and evidence that contradict his beliefs, intellectually disengaged from the crisis that have enveloped his administration, and arrogant in exercising power. Bush's failure is most apparent in the major crisis of his presidency, namely mishandling the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, recklessly amassing the world's largest deficits and debt, and failing to lead on pressing challenges such as the skyrocketing costs of health care, fuel and a college educcation.

In each case, he steadfastly refused to adjust, adapt or alter his flawed strategy. These missteps bode poorly for Bush because a president's ultimate legacy is how he responds to crisis, particularly war.

Undoubtedly, the source of the problem rests with Bush's personal style. Ironically, this is the very trait about which he and his supporters boasted as a candidate.

Bush's shortcomings are numerous and can be seen in the mountain of wildly foolish and juvenile official remarks he has made in office, from his premature boast of "mission accomplished" aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to his goading terrorists and suicide bombers to "bring 'em on!" And they have.

The president continues to proclaim success in the face of overwhelming and incontrovertible failure, while spinning or even outright suppressing facts and evidence to the point where one wonders if he is in touch with reality. Examples abound, including his insistence that an "abstinence-only" policy will prevent HIV-AIDS or his decision to legalize the sale of assault weapons. Bush has repeatedly suppressed intelligence about the war, ignored medical evidence in decisions by the FDA and mocked scientific studies on environmental degradation, while both his attorneys general have stood behind legal and constitutional interpretations that fly in the face of reason, precedent and the vision of the Founding Fathers.

A particularly disturbing trait of this president has been the culture of secrecy and deceit that has permeated the White House, a problem compunded by his refusal to explain himself and treatment of questions (and questioners) as if they were treasonous. To be sure, unlike Lincoln (who appealed to "our better angels" in times of crisis) and FDR (who affirmed that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itslef"), Bush opted for the low road, governing on fear and distraction. Far from uniting the nation and reaching out, he has sealed himself off from the public, press and critics and divded this nation more sharply than anytime since the Civil War.

Indeed, the president has long passed the point of simply being untrustworthy; he has made a mockery of the office. That Bush will be remembered by history as a failure is now conventional wisdom among scholars of the presidency.

So, the question becomes how far down the ramking list will he be?

Bush will likely be remembered much as is Warren Harding, who was disinterested in policy details, brought a group of corrupt cronies to the White House and stumbled through one mishap after the other. He is remembered as something of a jovial but incompetent puppet for corporate interests, and for setting the nation on a course to the Great Depression.

But it is James Buchanan, president from 1857-1861, who often earns the dubious title of "worst president" because he lost the Union to civil war on his watch, and failed to change course until it was too late.

When history renders its cold assessment of George W. Bush, I believe he will find himself alongside Harding and Buchanan as one of the worst presidents in American history. Bush's legacy will likely be that of death, deficits and deceit, and it could well take this nation a decade or more to recover from his presidency.


Source: Common Dreams News Center
Story By: Robert P. Watson
May 24, 2006
This article was printed in the Sun-Sentinel (Florida)

***Robert Watson, PhD., won the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award this year at Florida Atlantic University and is the author or editor of 25 books on politics.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home