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[Promoted from the Diaries - MB]

With Bush so anxious to compare the trials of our own time to the challenges of World War II, and others on the right ready to equate what we're now facing with the greatest dangers of the past, it only seems appropriate that we see how Bush stacks up against the man who led us through those days.

That's right, folks, it's time for Presidential Thunderdome.  George W. Bush vs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Two presidents enter, one president leaves!

In this corner, don't let that chair fool you, this is one tough hombre, it's the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin "No Fear" Roosevelt!

And in this corner, the man with the Connecticut drawl, y'all -- the 43rd President of the United States, George "Workin' Hard" Bush!
Hank: Welcome to this special Presidental edition of Thunder Dome, where we've got a real heavyweight fight on our hands.  Jim, it seems that our challenger can't wait to get in the dome.

Jim: You know it, Hank.  It seems like a day doesn't go past without Bush trying to compare the problems he's facing to those of World War II.  He's itchin' for this fight!

Hank: And I'm sure his supporters are pulling for their man.  They want this to be World War III, and this is their chance.  Okay, the fighters are coming out.  Let's get the chainsaws and spears ready to go.  Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, let's get ready to rummmble!

Round 1: Starting Economy

FDR comes in with an enormous depression that left the nation's economy in ruins.  Foreclosures outstripped new home construction as businesses closed, factories were boarded up, and millions left without work or homes.

W slipped into office with some of the most  prosperous and productive years in the nation's history.  He had a record government surplus.   Unemployment and interest rates were both at historic lows, causing a huge surge in home construction and consumer spending.

Jim: Wow, Hank, that's gotta hurt.  Bush definitely had it easy in that round.  Roosevelt's starting economy is so weak, it's hard to believe he's going to be able to pull this out.

Hank: You're right there, Jim.  It's hard to see how Roosevelt is going to come back without the swift right hook of a good economy.

Round 2: Starting Military

FDR inherited a military that was the 17th largest in the world.  Every weapon system in the army was either outdated, or simply non-functional.  There were very few experienced officers, and most of the men were poorly trained and equipped.

W was gifted with a US military that outspent every other military in the world combined, the world's only "superpower."  U.S. weapon systems were a decade ahead of any other -- including an array of new "smart" weapons and advanced aircraft.  American soldiers were the best trained on the planet, and the military's ability to project US power was nearly unlimited.

Hank: Another huge round for Bush, his advantage is enormous.

Jim: Yep.  I'm afraid this fight might be over before it's even started.  With a broken economy and weak military, it's hard to see Roosevelt lasting much longer. Bush has everything in his favor.

Round 3: The Event

On 7 December, 1941, the Japanese military staged a massive surprise raid on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  In a matter of minutes, not only were 2400 Americans dead,  but the US had lost most of the Pacific fleet, severly crippling its already weak military forces.  There was fear that the Japanese would stage a full scale invasion of US Pacific territories or even the west coast.

On 11 September 2001, 19 terrorists associated with the group Al Qaeda took the controls of four civilian aircraft, flying two into the World Trade Center towers, one into the Pentagon, and crashing a fourth when passengers fought back against the hijackers.  In a matter of minutes just under 3,000 people were dead, and the giant towers collapsed in a horrific ruin.

Hank: No doubt about it, that round was tough on both men.

Jim: It sure was.  They were both tested, now we'll see how they respond.

Round 4: The Enemy

FDR faced off simultaneously with the #1 and #2 militaries in the world, both of whom had more soldiers under arms, more ships, more tanks, and more planes than the US.  Germany, Japan, and Italy supported their military with enormous industrial resources and boasted research programs that gave them the best weapons in the world.  German tanks were better and faster than any the US could field.  Japanese Zeros could outperform any other plane.  Both the Germans and Japanese had already defeated other forces in the field and had experience in fighting a modern, mechanized war.

W's enemy was a small, irregular force of less than 10,000 men, most of them poorly armed.  They had not a single plane in their air force, not one ship in their navy, and barely a handful of artillery.  The most modern equipment they could boast were cast-offs from our own forces that were two decades or more out of date.  Their training was erratic.  They were outcasts, even among their own people, with little support and no ability to make or repair their equipment.

Jim: This is a total mismatch.  Hank, if this continues, there's no question about the winner.  Bush is going to take this in a walkover.

Hank: It's hard to imagine this will go much longer.  Roosevelt doesn't seem to stand a chance.

Round 5: Wartime Strategy

Roosevelt swiftly pulled the nation together, and with a combination of skillful planning and bold action, turned the tide of the fight.  Soon, new ships were rolling out of the yards to replace the damaged fleet and newly designed planes and tanks were replacing the outdated models.  American forces were on the move, making big gains in the Pacific and in Europe.

Bush started out well, tackling Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, but long before that fight was done, he drove the nation apart with divisive rhetoric, then sent American troops plunging into a second fight in Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11.  Soon, those troops were facing a growing insurgency and a lack of any plan for victory.

Hank: I don't understand what happened there, Jim.  Bush had every advantage, but he completely blew that round.

Jim: It's hard to tell what they're thinking in the Bush corner.  Iraq?  Why get involved there when there's still Al Qaeda to fight?

Round 6: Wartime Economy

While fighting the war, Roosevelt not only held the economy steady, he made gains as great as those of the soldiers in the field.  He put in place programs that created jobs, and turned the nation into an industrial powerhouse that produced decades of good wages and rising standards of living.  And he capped it all with Social Security, protecting the country from another depression.

During the first five years of his war, Bush racked up flat income growth, a stagnant economy, and the crumbling of the American industrial sector.  His record surplus turned into even larger record deficits.   Rising consumer debt and a growing trade deficit, made the economy less stable by the day.  Meanwhile, Bush funneled funds to his pals, while weakening the same safety measures Roosevelt had put in place to protect the public.

Jim: I can't believe what's happening here.  Bush had everything going for him.  How can he lose?

Hank: As impossible as it seems, he's doing just that.  In record time, he's turning what should have been an easy victory into a messy slog with no sure outcome.

Round 7:  Results of the War

In less than four years between Pearl Harbor and VJ Day, FDR led the nation to victory after victory.  The dominating German war machine was crushed and Europe set free.  The imperial Japanese navy sent in flight, and Japanese armies on the mainland of Asia forced to withdraw.  Victories were won in Africa, Asia, Europe, and in every ocean.  At the end of the war, the army that had started at the 17th in the world was clearly the premiere fighting force on the globe, trained, provisioned, and led with the skill to face down any foe.  Japan and Germany were converted from foes to allies, and both became peaceful members of the world community.

At the end of five years, Bush's forces were worn down, stretched thin, and facing one hit and run attack after another.  The enemy was still on the march, stronger than ever.  The insurgency in Iraq was growing, the Taliban was back in Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda was recruiting faster than it was losing troops.  Exhausted American forces took areas of Iraq and Afghanistan again and again, but with no real plan, they gave up those areas, and had the fight the same battle time after time.  Despite all the evidence that his tactics weren't working, Bush refused to change, and the war dragged on and on.

Hank: That's it!  The referee has stopped the contest.  Jim, I don't believe I've ever seen anything like this.  Starting from almost nothing Roosevelt managed to defeat the two largest militaries in the world less than four years after Pearl Harbor, while building up the economy, and putting in place a social safety net that protected every American.

Jim: Right, Hank.  But with five years since September 11th, Bush hasn't even managed to defeat an enemy two hundred times smaller than the one Roosevelt faced.  An enemy with no factories to make weapons, no economy to keep them going, not even a country to call their own -- an enemy so small they couldn't fill a basketball arena.  For all that, Bush has let them run circles around the greatest military ever created through his boneheaded tactics.  I wouldn't have believed it, if I hadn't seen it myself.

Hank: You know, it's a shame that Roosevelt didn't live to see what came next, but he left us with a stronger military, a stronger economy, and a stronger society.  He's going out of here a big winner.

Jim:  He sure is.  Bush's team is in there looking at their man now.  You can see the bruises from here, not just from his military blunders, but from that stock market scandal, the dishonesty in his administration, the WMDs that weren't there, those lies about connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda... frankly, Hank, I don't think I've ever seen anything this ugly.

Hank: You have to wonder if Bush will get a rematch.  Maybe he can take on Nixon.

Jim:  From what I've seen, Nixon would crush him without breaking a sweat.  

Hank:  Right.  Well, that it's from Presidential Thunderdome.   Two presidents enter, one president leaves, and tonight it's George W. Bush who is going nowhere.

Originally posted at Political Cortex

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 08:28 AM PDT.

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