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It's suddenly become very, very common to hear Republicans expressing anger and dissatisfaction with "W: The President".    He's lost staunch religious conservatives, Reagan aides, and even major neocons like Francis Fukuyama.  All of sudden, these freedom-loving patriots so willing to sacrifice thousands of American lives for "democracy" (or at least carefully staged elections) in the Middle East are starting t sound like America-hating, French-speaking, treasonous libruls.  In fact, they're suggesting Our President of all people might be incompetent.  Well don't you believe these latte-sipping surrender-monkeys.  By any political measure (and we all know that's what MATTERS), George W. Bush is among the most successful Presidents in American history.

You can hear it from all the usual sources of right wing spin.  The Wall Street Journal, Free Republic, the National Review.  "Bush is incompetent!" they say.  "Bush is betraying our principles" they say.  Reagan aide Bruce Bartlett says the man is an imposter.  Why it's as though you're reading those wacko left-wing America-hating moonbats at Daily Kos!

But those of us who've been fighting this Administration since the beginning know this is very, very new.  Most of us remember a time, only a few short years ago, when the conservative base was lined up shoulder to shoulder alongside Bush.  When being liberal was labeled an act of treason, and when asking questions about his policies was considered "objectively pro-terrorist".  This is a level of political power that is virtually unknown in modern American politics.  Even Reagan could not achieve the level of personal near-worship that Bush gained between 2001 and 2004.  To believe the conservatives now, you have to completely forget that era.

As liberals we absolutely cannot let that happen.  The fact is that George W. Bush has been an incredibly successful politician.  His party has enjoyed a more absolute level of control over government than nearly any other.  He has been able to manipulate the public into giving him extraordinary powers -- starting with the Florida election and continuing through illegal wiretapping and the "unitary executive" doctrine.  It is time to see this development of "Bush is a failure" rhetoric as what it really is: it's a frame.

Measured by legislative control alone, Bush has had extraordinary latitude.  His party has controlled the House for his entire term so far, and the Senate for 4 of his 6 years in office.  We have therefore spent FOUR of the last six years under effective one party rule.  By contrast, Republicans controlled all of Congress for 6 out of Clinton's 8 years in office.  Bush I spent all four years of his term dealing with a Dem Congress.  Reagan NEVER achieved total control of Congress -- the House stayed Democratic throughout his 8 years.  The last Republican president to control both branches of Congress was Calvin Coolidge. This means Bush has had an unmatched opportunity to pass partisan legislation with no need for consultation or compromise with an opposition. (Numbers from Wikipedia)

On top of his party's numerical control of the Congress, Bush's cronies in Congress have established strict rules that promote their power even more.  Delay's tactics of threats and bullying to Republican lawmakers, as well as total exclusion of Democratic ones are now legendary.  As a result of the President's absolute control of Congress (both Delay and Frist are personally linked to him), Republicans have passed nearly every part of their agenda.  Run down the list of MAJOR policies enacted in the last 6 years.  No Child Left Behind, the PATRIOT Act, Medicare Part D, Bankruptcy Reform, tax cuts that have already cost us 1 trillion dollars, terrible environmental legislation, a "war of choice" that has and will have horrifying results, an Office of Homeland Security  with no clear mandate.   Each was passed nearly whole, without time for debate or compromise.  This is not the way legislation is supposed to work in this country.  Yet it provides a fascinating opportunity for a "natural experiment".  For perhaps the first time since the Great Depression, Americans are able to see what unchecked conservative government actually looks like.

Sadly, Bush's power has been abetted by Democrats as well.  Believing in either incrementalism or triangulation, Democrats have been led astray with distressing regularity.  This is not an ideological issue.  Some of the major defections have been Ted Kennedy on No Child Left Behind and Russ Feingold on John Ashcroft's nomination.  However, some Democrats have embraced a misguided policy of "strength" that involves inevitably and uncritically supporting the President.  This problem has declined since 2004, but the damage was done on a slew of issues.  I'm not an expert on the Roaring Twenties (again, the last period of Republican domination), but it's doubtful that even Coolidge and Hoover had an opposition party as silent as our 9/11-era Democrats.

This President has provided Americans the chance to get as close as possible to seeing government without politics.  It has not been pretty.  The lack of oversight has allowed major gaps in attention -- which have led to the deaths of thousands of New Yorkers, New Orleanians, Iraqis, and American soldiers.  The lack of debate has led to legislation structured along blatantly ideological lines, with assumptions taking the place of reasoning and pedagogy taking the place of pragmatism.  With no debate, no Democratic compromises softening the rough edges, no liberalism tempering the hard heart of conservative policy, Americans are beginning to see exactly what "starving the beast" means.  And Americans are beginning to really hate it.

That is why the conservatives have begun to turn on him.  With every dime added to gas prices, every new revelation of graft, every preventable disaster, Dorothy gets a little closer to realizing there's a man behind that curtain.  The more unpopular Bush's conservative policies get, the more his supporters want to dissociate from him.  It does Democrats no good to help them.  We can see their strategy now, because it's the only option they have left: destroy Bush so that conservatism may live.  Our job is to make the opposite case.  Bush has been a colossal success -- a historic success.  Bush has gotten more of his policies passed than any President since Lyndon Johnson.  The reason America is suffering today is not bad administration, and it's not incompetence (at least not JUST incompetence).  The reason lies in the simple ideology of greed and entitlement served out by the Republican party.

Originally posted to ChicagoDem on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 07:22 PM PDT.


Is Bush a failed politician?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fantastic diary. (10+ / 0-)

    I agree with every word - except I don't give Bush credit.  I give the millions of dollars, the media machine, and the corporations that pull the strings credit.  This is the Republican Party in all its glory.

    Republicans must not be permitted to cast all their sins onto Bush and run him off the cliff.  They must be held accountable.

    •  Sure (6+ / 0-)

      Bush is just the sock puppet on top.  But y'know, he's the one most Americans think about when they conceptualize conservatism.  And he's the one the Republicans are trying to cut off.

      I really would love it if we could round up every "support the President" or "love it or leave it" style quote and just throw it back in their faces.  Seeing them run is particularly gratifying after so many of us were called traitors and near-terrorists because we voiced many of the same concerns a few years ago.

      Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

      by ChicagoDem on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 07:26:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am Republican (0+ / 0-)

        Bush,Congress Senate are not real Republicans That is why I am Backing Democrats.See not all of us are nut cases.

        •  On the contrary (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo, means are the ends

          THAT is the real republican party.

          Bush, the stupid moron in charge, is only a small part of how the entire process unfold form 10-20 years ago. This is not some rengade band of wackos suddenly take power.

          Bush adminstration in fact is the pinacle of Republican power grab. A continuous 20 years process. They are ABLE to get EVERYTHING. bend the rule, put most corrupt people in houses, Tink-Thank, lobbyist... They put the people one by one two decades ago. building media system etc.

          If Democrats win next. they MUST absolutely demolished everything ruthlessly. No mercy. These mofos are vicious and will comeback like cancers. (you think Iraq war is cute, think WWIII.)

          But frankly, we have to remove all DLC bastards first. THEY ARE in the same corporate boats as the fuckers we need to remove.

  •  Borrowing from Colbert? (4+ / 0-)

    George Bush: Great President or Greatest President?

  •  Yep: Republican, Republican, Republican (4+ / 0-)

    They built it. They paid for it. It's theirs and they're going to keep it tied around their necks all the way to the bottom of the sea.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 07:30:14 PM PDT

  •  Name one thing (0+ / 0-)

    Name one thing Bush has done right

    •  He got into office (4+ / 0-)

      Which is a bad thing for those of us in the real world.  But among the values of the DC political culture, power makes right.  And he's become one of the most powerful Republicans-- if not Presidents in general-- in American history.  He's accomplished nearly all of his goals.  That makes him successful.  The problem is that his policies, when implemented successfully, lead to terrible outcomes.

      Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

      by ChicagoDem on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 07:40:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  He gave the rich people who got him into office (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChicagoDem, corvo, greenearth

      exactly what they wanted, and what he said he was going to give them: enormous tax cuts. That is "right" in that he stuck to his promise, and followed through, and has made the tax-cut crowd very happy.

      He has supported, as promised, corporate globalization and "free trade". Corporations have never been so profitable and successful. Nor have they ever been so unconstrained by regulations, obligations to workers, and been so free to use up and discard employees like kleenex.

      Bush is highly popular with the rich, because he has done what he promised, exactly right.

  •  The sock monkey bush is stunningly (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChicagoDem, corvo, greenearth

    successful politicly.  And the Republicans can use him again, as their strawman, to maintain and extend the overreaching power that they have grabbed.  As repulsive an individual as bush may be, he sure ain't the brains of the outfit.  The GOP won't hesitate to run against him in 2006.  It's totally Rovian, and Rovian has worked twice for them already.

    "From discord find harmony." Einstein

    by Friend of the court on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 07:39:01 PM PDT

  •  Bush IS the most successful modern President* (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scottman, greenearth

    *If you define "modern" as post-Clinton.

    The playground is open -- Philosophers' Playground: One part sandbox, one part soapbox

    by SteveG on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 07:52:08 PM PDT

    •  exactly (0+ / 0-)

      I was going to say that Bush is the best president this century has ever seen...

    •  Clinton's legacy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      metal prophet

      was enabling Bush by (1) eliminating the Democratic Party's identity as an ideological alternative to the Republican Party and (2) his personal failures.

      In short, Clinton has no legacy.  Bush's is at least equal to FDR's, and possibly greater, if this nation lacks the courage or ability to recover from it.

      •  Not an FDR legacy (0+ / 0-)

        We saw how Bush stacks up to FDR's legacy when Bush tried to replace Social Security with private savings accounts.  Bush may have got a lot of programs pushed through, but FDR showed us that the government can and should be a force for good in her people's lives.  

        2000-2008: The Eric Cartman Presidency

        by scottman on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 10:24:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're right about Social Security, (0+ / 0-)

          but Bush has trashed the economy, the environment, and the electoral process, all possibly irreparably.  That ought to count for something.

          •  Pushing policy doesn't change the office. (0+ / 0-)

            Bush has dismantled some of the critical modernizations Roosevelt made, but I still disagree that he's had a comparable impact to FDR.  

            Bush hasn't fundamentally changed the office of the President.  We won't know the lasting effects of his term for some time, but it's possible and perhaps likely that most of Bush's impact will quickly be blunted by his successor.  The programs Bush has implemented can be re-instituted.  The theory of a unitary executive will not stand serious partisan scrutiny from an opposition Congress.  

            FDR used his bully pulpit in an unprecedented way to push policy and sway public support.  While Bush directly addresses the public far less, he still uses FDR's methods to move his agenda.  While conservatives love to praise Reagan for being a great communicator who connected to the American people, Franklin Roosevelt had done the same fifty years earlier, with greate results.

            2000-2008: The Eric Cartman Presidency

            by scottman on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 10:37:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You obviously missed (0+ / 0-)

              the part in my comment about the electoral process.  The only serious question about Bush's successor is whether they'll let McCain have it, or whether they'll insist on the family prerogative for Jeb.

              •  I don't think they can maintain (0+ / 0-)

                I don't think they can hold on to today's level of control.  I think that the Congress(whether it's Democrat or Republican) will give the 2009 President a rough 100 first days, and generally ride him pretty hard.  

                I know a Democratic President will have trouble on the Hill, and I believe a Reep President will also get his nose bloodied as the House and Senate move to quell any hope our future-President has of running a Bush-style unitary executive branch.  

                The long and the short of it is that I don't believe McCain or Jeb will get the free passes that W has gotten.  

                2000-2008: The Eric Cartman Presidency

                by scottman on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 11:49:17 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Clinton built his bridge.... (0+ / 0-) the 21st Century and Bush blew up the bridge. You're doin' a heckuva job, Bushie.

  •  It's about failed Republican policies (4+ / 0-)

    I agree wholeheartedly with your point that we must not let right wingers shirk blame and claim that our nation's problems are due only to President Bush, the individual.

    Bush is a very bad president, no doubt, but the reason has less to do with competence or character than it does ideology and public policy.  The fact is that right wingers, the Republican Party, and Republicans in Congress have all ardently supported Bush's agenda, including the war in Iraq, tax cuts for the wealthy, taxpayer subsidies for big oil, and record deficits.  At the same time, the president and his cronies have done almost nothing to address the problems of 46 million Americans with zero health coverage, increasing economic inequality, and accelerating global warming.

    Right wingers may want to distance themselves from the president now, but the fact is, his failing policies would have never been implemented without their support.  Congress is a coequal branch of government (or at least our nation's founders intended for it to be -- the current occupants seem to think of it as more of a lapdog) and it and the others who have enabled the president's agenda deserve plenty of blame.  Simply getting rid of the president will not solve the problem if his ideology is still dominant in government and his policies remain in place.

    If we want to get things going in the right direction again, we need new leaders with a different approach, and we're just not going to get that from the Republican Party and its right-wing base.

  •  Bush is the best President of... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...the Millennium.  Well, so far anyhow.

  •  I agree.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, greenearth, means are the ends

    I despise Bush's politics but he is an amazing politician.  He has millions of people believing that 'he' just like 'one of the common folks - them'.  Also, Bush has people believing that while he may make mistakes, he is still looking out for 'their' best intersts and 'To err is human'.  So, let's not put too much stock into all these conservatives turning away from Bush or underestimate his capacity to regain his base.  

  •  Bush is the most powerful President, ever. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChicagoDem, corvo, greenearth

    Blurred executive power to the other branches rendering all checks & balances moot.

    No vetoes ever. 750+ signing statements, more than all other presidents combined.

    This is his agenda, this is the conservative movement, when applied out of theory its an utter failure. But the theory has been applied thoroughly.

    "Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?" -George Washington

    by House on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 08:50:54 PM PDT

  •  Bush is a total failure, total success (3+ / 0-)

    He's a total failure as a President, if by success or failure you mean someone who has benefited the safety, reputation, economy, and society of the United States and the world.  If a successful Presidnecy, you mean one that has benefited the Presidents key supporters, he's a success - the kleptocratic pseudo-capitalists are establishing them firmly as an inherited aristocracy of wealth.  (The religious right folks that gave him the votes have only been gently rewarded on their social agenda; Roberts and Alito's nominations were far more about their views of Presidential power than abortion.  And, as many of them are regular working people, they've gotten completely used economically.)

    As a politician?  With that many transparent lies, with a disasterous war he started, with stagnent/declining real wages, he got reelected.  Astounding, astonishing, success.  I know, diebold helped, but the fact that the man was even renominated is quite frankly amazing, the fact that he won the popular vote is amazing, and the fact that there are still folks out there who don't cringe when they think of their votes for him is amazing.  He timed his fall from grace well; he'd never get elected to national office again even if he could run.

    His one area of failure, apart from the way he trashed the country and the constitution?  He'll never be commissioner of baseball now.

    Lonnegan: Your boss is quite a card player, Carver. How does he do it? Carver: He cheats.

    by Fides on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 08:53:23 PM PDT

    •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      As a politician?  With that many transparent lies, with a disasterous war he started, with stagnent/declining real wages, he got reelected.  Astounding, astonishing, success.

      This is my point.  So far he's gotten more of his policies implemented than nearly any President since the end of World War II.  The only one who might come close is Johnson, but at least his policies were mostly intended to benefit people who weren't already corpulent plutocrats.

      Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

      by ChicagoDem on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 09:56:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  He was successful in the short term for GOP (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChicagoDem, greenearth

    But if the Dems exploit it, GOP can be buried dead over the next few years, with the havoc he wreaked for the nation. The only thing really holding the GOP up is the media bias which is leading to weak knees for the Dems. They really need to break free, invent ways to overcome the media bias, and GOP will then be history.

  •  Not a failure as a politician (0+ / 0-)

    A failure as an American, a failure as a man, and a failure as a human being, but GWB is definitely not a failure as a politician.  As you point out he has gotten almost everything he wanted, how could that be considered failure?

    Don't attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

    by jasfm on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 11:40:06 PM PDT

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