Ok, there’s always way more then enough Bush debating, but the reason I am starting this one is because William Kristol has written a much better than average defense of the Bush presidency (note: requires free registration at the Washington Post.)
Supporting his statement, he offers up: first that there have been no further terrorist attacks on U.S. soil (which I feel is one of his more specious assertions), second that despite the deficit the economy is robust and its performance has defied the dire pronouncements of critics (which is true, but for how long?), and third:
This third assertion I think is absurd. I haven’t read the “benchmarks” report he refers to, but I follow the situation in Iraq with a fair degree of assiduity, and it seems to me that there is no possible positive outcome anywhere in the foreseeable future. But let’s leave that for debate…
Kristol follows this with extolling the Medicare prescription drug reforms, praising the choices for the Supreme Court, and insisting that Bush has had significant successes in the realm of anti-terrorism and foreign policy in general:
That statement seems to me to be fairly obvious cherry-picking. Conventional wisdom, and my opinion based on evidence, is that American prestige abroad is at a nadir, but that’s another point to debate. I think he may be right that Medicare drug reforms have gone fairly smoothly–although I think the healthcare situation in American remains a mess overall–and few can argue that his supreme court appointees are highly competent: whether you like them depends on your own political disposition. I think they’re a threat to values I hold.
A small nugget of criticism:
Assume makes an ass out of … well, anyway. This seems to me to be unduly optimistic. I also still strongly feel that the unnecessary (at the outset) Iraq war has distracted the efforts in Afghanistan, where one sees a resurgent Taliban and very little signficant western control (or western-backed control) over broad sections of the county. The situation in Pakistan–in terms of the spawning of terrorists–is worse than it was, as even Kristol agrees.
Kristol posits successes in Iraq, champions General Petraeus as the man for the job, and praises the effectiveness of the troop surge. Frankly, I’m not seeing it. Although Petraeus may be the man for the job, it’s all but a hopeless set of tasks placed before him. When Kristol writes: “We are routing al-Qaeda in Iraq, we are beginning to curb the Iranian-backed sectarian Shiite militias and we are increasingly able to protect more of the Iraqi population,” I want to shout, “cite?” in good SDMB form. I’m not buying it.
He concludes with:
His supposition is probably correct, but I cannot share a favorable view of “the odds.” I think the odds are it will take many, many years before there is any kind of success the U.S. claim in Iraq, and I think failing and giving up (with spin that it was success, in good Vietnam style) is more likely than any true success, especially before the 2008 election. I do give even odds that a Republican wins in 2008, whatever is happening in Iraq.
Let’s debate those odds!
There are many points here. I’d like to provide some direction to this debate: pick a point or two, or three, and please let’s keep this civil. No sarcastic one-liners, ad hominem blasts at people who post here, or snarky comments. Kristol provided a mature, sensible, cogently written defense. I think it’s flawed, but I think it deserves a mature, sensible, and cogent response, whether in favor or against.
And please no “ho-hum a another Bush thread.” Yes, it is, and if you don’t want to participate, you don’t have to. I just ask you to not drop a turd on my thread, please.