Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Incompetence Dodge

I have harped on this before, but I think it is worth repeating that it is a mistake to focus too much on George W. Bush’s incompetence as a president and not on the intellectual bankruptcy of the ideas that he championed.
I saw recently where the word “incompetent” is the most frequent one associated with President Bush. While that may be well deserved, it also serves to give Republicans an out as to why their political policies have failed during the past decade. They can say, “It wasn’t our ideas that failed, it was the man who tried to put them into action who was at fault. He was incompetent and screwed things up, thus our ideas were never given their due.”
So it serves Republicans’ interests right now to jump on the “Bush was incompetent” bandwagon so that they can come back in four years with a new standard bearer and the same old failed policies and take another shot at running our country into the ground.
We can’t afford to let them get away with that. So don’t fall for that dodge. Bush was a bad president, there is no doubt. But it was ultimately the failed policies he promoted that sank his presidency, not any personal foibles or missteps. If the taxcuts had actually boosted the economy, rather than creating huge new deficits, then people would not have cared so much about Bush’s mishandling of Hurricane Katrina or his efforts to politicize the Justice Department. If toppling Saddam would have really resulted in a flowering of democracy across the Middle East, people would have dismissed reports of abuse at Abu Gharib and Guantanamo and yawned over reports of domestic spying.
The policies failed. Everything else was the icing on the cake.

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