Major changes need to occur quickly and extensively. Otherwise, the bush league actions and inaction of the President, his team, and many elected Republicans threaten to make his Presidency one of the least respected in recent memory.
Now don’t take that commentary to mean that I am turning into some liberal Democrat on you folks. Far from it.
LibDems such as John Kerry, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Fritz Schumer would certainly have many criticisms for the President and the Republicans. But their criticisms would certainly be nearly the opposite of mine.
The Democrats would advocate that we should get out of Iraq as quickly as possible, reverse the tax cuts, and turn our attention to redistributing wealth from the wealthy and middle class to the poor.
Theirs is a recipe for failure. But sadly, so is the President’s.
President Bush was elected by his base to aggressively protect our nation, reduce taxes, reform the tax system, reinvent social security, and if given the opportunity appoint conservative, originalist jurists to the Supreme Court. Thus far, on almost all of those mandates, he and his administration have failed us.
Let’s take the aggressive protection of our nation first. The President certainly responded quickly and decisively to the attacks of September 11th, 2001. Less than a year into his first term, suffering an incredible blow both physically and to our national psyche, the President came out swinging.
He sent U.S. troops into Afghanistan to demolish the entrenched Taliban government. Those troops destroyed the main hub for training Islamofascist terrorists such as those who had perpetrated the 9/11 attacks.
Next, he sent our military into Iraq, and deposed the murdering, rapist Baathist regime of Sadaam Hussein. It all culminated in the arrest of the evil dictator himself.
But despite that fact that a number of his top aids have been captured or killed, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has, to this date, not been sufficiently dealt with. There is every indication that our forces had opportunities at bin Laden, and bad decisions allowed him to escape and retain the allusion among his followers that he is special, that the U.S. is powerless against him.
Having had a hand in defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan, and now successfully dealing strong blow after strong blow to America, and coming out of it apparently intact, bin Laden is seen as an Islamic Superman. He is now “Terror Man”, if you will, able to inflict serious physical and psychological damage on the world’s greatest powers, and thumb his nose at them as he does it. That he has not been eliminated is a failure.
Further lowering Bush’s grade on national defense is the failure to do anything whatsoever to improve the security at our nation’s borders, as well as to provide serious answers to the enormous problem of illegal immigration.
The President has stated that he feels some sort of amnesty program must accompany immigration reform. He believes that many illegals currently living and working in the States should be given a pass, allowed to remain and begin taking steps towards becoming a full citizen.
This misguided thinking overlooks the basic fact that these individuals are here illegally. They have already broken our nation’s laws just to get here. Mr. Bush has provided almost no clue as to securing the borders.
Any true reform on immigration must begin with the immediate deportation of almost every single illegal to their country of origin, a near air-tight closing and securing of our borders, and a definitive, restrictive system of applications for future immigrants.
There are those who argue that this is a bad idea, that many illegals fill jobs that cannot be filled by Americans. That is, of course, a load of horse chips. Any American would fill any job if that job were made attractive enough, either by the attractiveness of the job itself, or the attractiveness of the compensation package to perform the job, or both.
My argument would be, if you can’t find the maid or the nanny, or the factory or field worker that you want, then you just aren’t paying enough, or providing good enough benefits, etc. Though unemployment is low, there are still many unemployed in America, and many more working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Provide proper compensation and working conditions at a free, open market level, and you will get the workers you need.
Illegal immigrants continue to stream across our borders, particularly our southern border with Mexico, by the thousands on a daily basis. It has been estimated that this stream could be nearly dammed up to a trickle by tripling the size of our U.S. Border Patrol, and by properly equipping them. This is something that should be addressed as quickly as possible, but the President shows no leadership in putting forth such a plan, or any other border control plan.
By the way, this is not to put all the weight on Mr. Bush for these failures, though it does highlight a failure of leadership, and a failure to respond to those who got him elected to office. Blame also falls squarely on the shoulders of many others in the leadership of the Republican Party, many of whom have forsaken the conservative fiscal values that got them elected to Congress or the Senate.
The recent turkey of a Highway Bill was so full of bloated stuffing that I thought that Turkey Day holiday had come early. Republicans had as much, or more, to do with this massive pick-pocketing of American taxpayers as their usually liberal spending Democrats.
The Republican Party is in charge, holding the Presidency and control of both parties of Congress, and in the end the weight of fiscal failure falls on our shoulders. When pork-barrel spending reaches an all-time high on our watch, then we lose the right to ever again say anything about “tax and spend” liberals, to our shame.
In one of his biggest campaign promises during his 2004 re-election effort, Mr. Bush vowed to reform social security. True enough, his second term was laid low by yet another September disaster in the first year.
This time it was of the natural ilk when Hurricane Katrina came along and completely erased a major American city in New Orleans. The hurricane relief effort has indeed been Herculean, particularly in trying to overcome the incredible ineptness of local and state officials in Louisiana.
However, the President seems to have become so distracted by this effort, by the continuing War on Terror, and by the legal attacks on some of his administrations top advisers that he has become frozen like a deer in the headlights.
Bush has been unwilling or unable to go to the mattresses for his social security reform measures, and has been unwilling to take up the mantle of true tax reform. His failure to lead properly in these areas provides stark contrasts with the man who he truly wishes to emulate.
No, not his own father, who preceded him in office by less than a decade. I am talking about President Ronald Reagan himself. While Mr. Bush would rather be remembered as like the legendary conservative Republican icon, it is his own father to whom he may end up more closely compared. The senior Bush failed by not eliminating Hussein when he had the chance in the first Gulf War, and then failed at home by going back on his words “Read my lips…”.
In recent months, progressive conservative thinkers have reintroduced incredibly creative ideas for historic reforms of the overgrown, out-of-control, intrusive tax code. There have been a number of original ideas that are the stuff of true conservatives.
For instance, Steve Forbes put forth an incredibly effective and revolutionary proposal for a ‘flat tax’ system. Forbes plan would completely eliminate the tax code, replacing it with a vastly superior, and more fair system of taxation. Mr. Bush has not taken up the mantle on any of these proposals to this point, another failure to lead fiscally.
Finally, the straw that appears to be breaking the President’s considerably strong back with his most ardent supporters, is the SCOTUS nominee issue. Mr. Bush has been presented with the chance to appoint two new jurists to the Supreme Court of the United States.
There is a strong slate of candidates available, seasoned jurists with intelligence, experience, and most importantly proven conservative and originalist philosophies. Their records are shown in their prior rulings. Instead, the President has turned towards stealth nominees.
Bush pulled a rabbit out of his hat with his first nominee. John Roberts was eventually confirmed to replace the suddenly deceased William Rehnquist as Chief Justice. While Roberts was indeed a largely unknown quantity, he seems to be in the right mold, and may indeed prove to be an intellectual giant for the originalist cause. This potentially spectacular move by Mr. Bush seems to have been followed by a dud.
His second nomination is his own former personal attorney Harriet Miers, who seems to prove the point of the President’s ‘cronyism’ critics. Miers is slated to replace swing-voting and retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Miers is absolutely in the intellectual mold of a moderate, at best, to skeptical conservatives. This is an unfortunate nomination, when so many true originalists with experience were available.
So the President is in trouble. He is assaulted frontally by the liberal Dems who attack him daily on the war. The Dems also link him closely to perceived failures in handling the hurricane disaster, and deride him for his administrations suddenly apparent legal problems.
He is now also assaulted from within his own Republican ranks for the failures of both active and inactive leadership in the areas outlined herein.
The first President to receive my vote twice, I absolutely expected much, much more from Mr. Bush and his administration. I applaud his efforts at sticking with the necessary War on Terror. But the fact is that he may suddenly be ramping down, not pursuing the effort forcefully enough. He certainly is failing to secure our nation properly in the border and immigration issues.
In order to retain Republican control of the Congress in next year’s midterm elections, party leadership must reverse course on some issues, and must begin movement on others. It must act unilaterally to move the nation forward on the war, tax, border, court, and social security issues.
And these changes must be led from the top by President George W. Bush. Far from a closed book at this point, his presidency risks being labeled a failure. If this continues, the Republican control of the nation will itself be in jeopardy.