[Ryan's post is mainly in response to my Bush thread in In the News, but this is where it fits inmy web site. —JoT]
I agree with your comment that Bush is President like OJ is not guilty. It was an unfortunate set of circumstances that the margin of victory in the Florida election was smaller than the margin of error. The nation needs a better system for figuring out how to unwind botched, close elections than letting two teams of lawyers play with the CEO position of the US as a political football. In 1960, Nixon watched an election being stolen in Illinois, and decided that preserving the illusion of a fair and free election was more important than fighting over questionable results in court. In 2000, neither side was able to take that high road. On the other hand, I'd rather have either Bush or Gore in the White House rather than Nixon, so perhaps that's an unfair comparison.
That said, I don't think it's fair to tarnish Bush with the implication that he doesn't have a valid mandate to be President just because the Florida election was too close to call. Having just lived through an eight year period where the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. didn't get a majority of the popular vote in either of two presidential elections, I think it's far too late to start worrying about having a majority of the population support the person in the Oval Office. At the end of the day, I think it is still important that we recognize how incredible it is that the most powerful nation on earth allowed its ruling party to be deposed without a hint of any unlawful action made to maintain power. It may have been a messed-up election, but I'll take a messed-up election resolved by a legal process and representative government over a gun any day of the week.
As a person who believes that the Democratic party pursues an anti-freedom, anti-humanist agenda, and who believes that no effective third party will achieve political power in the US without a severe shock to the system triggered by outside events, I find myself a supporter of the Republican party and its candidates. The GOP produces its own share of insanity at the ballot box (witness the WA state party running a crackpot and a talk-show host in sequential gubernatorial elections...) but on the other hand, the party also tends to produce a steady stream of relatively stable, effective politicians who, for the most part, represent the core of my beliefs (or at least, enough of the core to make them palatable considering the alternatives).
I say that by way of making my bias clear before writing the following.
I think that it is too easy to bash a guy like George W. Bush. Parts of his history fit a stereotype that a lot of people want to believe is true: Rich guy who got by through family connections who has become powerful in his own right mostly through dumb luck, and in spite of numerous personal moral and intellectual failings. When I consider that we're talking about a person who served in the military as a fighter pilot (nobody, no matter the family connections, flies jets in the military unless they've got a lot on the ball. And Bush flew the F4 Phantom, which is regarded as one of the most technically demanding and temperamental planes in aviation history), who attended Harvard and earned an MBA (and I don't think Harvard is in the habit of handing those out just because someone's daddy happened to be a Congressman at the time), who ran for public office and lost, but still decided to stay in the arena and try again (eventually winning the highest office in one of the most diverse and most complex states in the Union), was regarded as an excellent governor by key members of both parties, and won reelection in a landslide, and then successfully did the things necessary to get first nominated as the Presidential candidate of a major national party, then run a dead-heat election against a politically popular regime during a time of economic growth, peace, and general prosperity, I wonder exactly who we think will be willing and able to pursue high public office if this person isn't reasonably qualified and can't be accorded the reasonable benefit of the doubt as to his abilities?
I look at all the stuff that has happened in this country since the 2000 election, and I ask myself if I think Bush has done a good job managing his responsibilities. My answer is yes. Unlike his predecessor, who mostly faced crises of his own creation, Bush has been forced to react to significant and real problems. And I think he has faced those problems and has been managing in a reasonable, prudent way. Are there aspects of his administration that I disagree with? Yes - strongly! Would I prefer that our national policy was to pursue freedom and equality above stability and commerce? Yes - absolutely! Do I worry that radical elements in the GOP coalition will act to restrict my freedom? Yes - inarguably that's a potential agenda. But given the likely policy choices, the choices of who would fill key administration posts in defense, treasury, and state, and the reactions to the events of 9/11 which would have been made had his opponent won in November 2000, I'll happily accept the "Bush Option" rather than that alternate universe.
Keep up the interesting writing. I'll be sure to make this site a regular stop.
—Ryan S. Dancey
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