• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Bush’s Apologia Should Not Be Accepted

Former Congressman, and 2008 Libertarian Party nominee for President, Bob Barr isn’t very impressed with George Bush’s new book or the hagiography that the 43rd President has been receiving from conservatives since it was released:

If you have been keeping up with the news lately, then no doubt you have noticed George W. Bush has come out of his self-imposed exile to promote his new memoir. While I understand the ex-President’s publisher has to make money off its investment, this self-serving apologia provides nothing more than an excuse for supporters of the ex-President to reaffirm their support and to blast his successor.  In terms of substance or historic insight, the book is pretty thin gruel.

In his promotional interviews, Bush claims the low point of his presidency was not when his administration used cherry-picked evidence to convince the Congress to invade Iraq, or when he deliberately gutted constitutionally-protected liberties of American citizens.  According to the new Mr. Bush, the nadir of his tenure in office was when a rapper accused him of being a racist on national television during a benefit for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Bush can perhaps now sleep well at night, serene in the knowledge that the rapper, who has a history of uttering statements that make himself look like an idiot, now says he regrets making that particular comment about the former president.

(…)

Many Republicans and conservative talk-show pundits are swooning over Bush’s re-emergence into public life; but it is difficult to grasp why any of them would have nostalgic feelings toward man who largely is responsible for his party’s electoral defeats in 2006 and 2008. What’s more, Bush’s demonstrated contempt for free markets, individual liberty, and the Constitution are counter to what the Republican Party supposedly believes in.

Indeed, judging  it purely by the standards of the Tea Party, the Bush Presidency was a massive disaster:

  • Increased federal domestic discretionary spending (even before the bailout) faster than any president since Lyndon Johnson.
  • Enacted the largest new entitlement program since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, an unfunded Medicare prescription drug benefit that could add as much as $11.2 trillion to the program’s unfunded liabilities;
  • Dramatically increased federal control over local schools while increasing federal education spending by nearly 61 percent;
  • Signed a campaign finance bill that greatly restricts freedom of speech, despite saying he believed it was unconstitutional;
  • Authorized warrantless wiretapping and given vast new powers to law enforcement;
  • Federalized airport security and created a new cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security;
  • Added roughly 7,000 pages of new federal regulations, bringing the cost of federal regulations to the economy to more than $1.1 trillion;
  • Enacted a $1.5 billion program to promote marriage;
  • Proposed a $1.7 billion initiative to develop a hydrogen-powered car;
  • Abandoned traditional conservative support for free trade by imposing tariffs and other import restrictions on steel and lumber;
  • Expanded President Clinton’s national service program;
  • Increased farm subsidies;
  • Launched an array of new regulations on corporate governance and accounting; and
  • Generally did more to centralize government power in the executive branch than any administration since Richard Nixon.

So why the reflexive desire on the right to continue defending the record of a man who governed in a manner completely opposite from many of the principles that they claim to believe in ?

Part of it, I think, is simply the natural tendency of people to defend someone who is being attacked by their opponents. During his time in office, George W. Bush was the target of much unhinged criticism from the left, especially over the Iraq War. Many on the right most likely saw it as their obligation to not only defend Bush from those attacks, but remain quiet about their own disagreements with policy. In fact, it wasn’t until the TARP bailout that conservative disgust with the Bush White House, which had surfaced somewhat over issues like Harriet Miers’ Supreme Court appointment and the Dubai World ports deal, finally came to the fore. Now that he’s out of office, the defensiveness is back.

Barr has a point, though. If they were true to their principles conservatives would largely reject the Presidency of George W. Bush.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Only a dip shit would think Bush did anything wrong. He does not appear to be appologizing for any thing Doug. His explaination is not an appology.

    Doug, did you ever get even with the kids who took your lunch money from you when you were in school? When did they stop? Graduate school?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    DS (dip s**t), that be you Dougie, why is it Obama spent more in two years than Bush did in 8? My is it Obama increased the budget of the EPA by 132%? When did Bush get the power to write spending bills and legislation? As President he signed bills passed by a GOP congress, just as Obama signs bills passed by a Democratic congress. You should know this then I remember you are a lawyer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. michael reynolds says:

    If they were true to their principles conservatives would largely reject the Presidency of George W. Bush.

    Principles? They haven’t had principles in decades. It’s not about principles, it’s about identity politics. Our Team vs. Their Team. Everything else is bullshit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. john personna says:

    I haven’t read the book, but from what I’ve heard, it ignores the Downing Street Memo narrative.

    We can now be pretty sure that intelligence was fixed around policy, and in the English phrase, “sexed up.”

    The apologia seems to be that Bush was wrong about WMDs, without acknowledging the contradiction in the argument. That is, he had to be so “convinced” that he was willing to fake evidence to prove it.

    That and the Cheney meeting carving up Iraqi oil resources a year or two before 9/11.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Billy says:

    Why is Zels not IP banned from this site yet?

    For content: Barr is right, and Michael hits the nail on the head. Imagine, just for a moment, if Obama tried to do anything that Bush did in the first six years – and I mean any of it. If you think the Iraq war criticism was unhinged (BTW, did you miss the part where the premise put forth by the administration was demonstrated to be knowingly false?), just try to picture the sheer crazy that would come from the right – and I don’t mean the fringe – if Obama tried to create a Department of Homeland Security.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Drew says:

    “just try to picture the sheer crazy that would come from the right – and I don’t mean the fringe – if Obama tried to create a Department of Homeland Security.”

    You’re right, Billy, Obama was better at it, he just created a bunch of czars……..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. john personna says:

    Drew, the best indictment of Obama is that he’s been a non-president, rather than that he’s actually moved the country in any big way.

    As Billy says, there his been great sensitivity to small moves, but no great moves. (In either sense of the word “great.”)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. mantis says:

    Indeed, judging it purely by the standards of the Tea Party, the Bush Presidency was a massive disaster:

    Ha! They just blame it all on Obama, Doug, no matter how ridiculous. Look at Zelsdorf.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. matt says:

    Czars aaaah what they used to call advisers before Bush came into town and before “they” realized that czars are scary russian communist sounding!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. mantis says:

    Czars aaaah what they used to call advisers before Bush came into town and before “they” realized that czars are scary russian communist sounding!

    IOKIYAR

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. TG Chicago says:

    “George W. Bush was the target of much unhinged criticism from the left, especially over the Iraq War.”

    Why their criticism was so unhinged that it proved to be accurate!

    Do you think that it was wise to go into Iraq? If not, then why would you demean those who knew that it was unwise prior to invasion?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Davebo says:

    “Indeed, judging it purely by the standards of the Tea Party, the Bush Presidency was a massive disaster:”

    Look guys, we should ignore the fact that Bush doubled the national debt yet again. We should ignore the Medicare obligations which his advisors warned him about. We should basically ignore the past 10 years because;;;;;;;;;;;;\\

    Well because the wingnuts here chose to ignore them. And they’ve been so right in the past “while ensuring they’re kids never get near Khanadar” or could even spell it.

    If you ask me, a veteran like James, America needs more true Patriots and less pussies. But it does seem at times that we are a country of childish idiots with too few patriots.

    And you do realize that Zel is a hoax right?????? No one is that stupid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Joe says:

    I’d have to agree with you, Michael Reynolds. It’s similar to when a non-family member tries to make fun of your cousin, who you know is stupid, but only you’re allowed to say so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Herb says:

    “So why the reflexive desire on the right to continue defending the record of a man who governed in a manner completely opposite from many of the principles that they claim to believe in ?”

    Because they voted for him. Twice.

    It’s less about defending Bush and more about defending their own decision to back him for two terms.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Michael says:

    He does not appear to be appologizing for any thing Doug. His explaination is not an appology.

    Apologia you idiot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. mantis says:

    It’s less about defending Bush and more about defending their own decision to back him for two terms.

    I don’t think so. I think it has more to do with the fact that liberals don’t like him. Most wingnuts are motivated almost entirely by a desire to piss off liberals. If they think liberals don’t like it, then they must. This dementia will extend to the point of harming themselves if they feel it is in service to opposition of whatever they think is the “liberal agenda.” Case in point: Dan Foster at NRO, who claims to be thinking about taking up smoking cigarettes because the FDA is proposing new warning labels. Now if we could just get them to think not walking off bridges is a liberal idea…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. ponce says:

    It’s hard to hate a former president.

    Nixon got rehabilitated…Bush deserves a second chance too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Herb says:

    “I think it has more to do with the fact that liberals don’t like him. Most wingnuts are motivated almost entirely by a desire to piss off liberals. ”

    Hmm….maybe. It certainly accounts for much of Sarah Palin’s support, but during Bush’s first term, I got the sense that the conservative movement and the Republican party had bigger ambitions. They had things to do, goals to accomplish.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. anjin-san says:

    > You’re right, Billy, Obama was better at it, he just created a bunch of czars……..

    No doubt Drew is duly alarmed by Gretchen Carlson’s warnings about the threat of the czars:

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-december-8-2009/gretchen-carlson-dumbs-down

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Gilbert says:

    “If they were true to their principles conservatives would largely reject the Presidency of George W. Bush.”

    One can reject the policies of President Bush without rejecting the man. Bush was one of the more gracious presidents we’ve had.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. john personna says:

    There’s a strange story up at HuffPo that he plagiarized his own biography:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/12/george-bush-book-decision-points_n_782731.html

    (via Naked Capitalism)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. anjin-san says:

    > Bush was one of the more gracious presidents we’ve ha

    True. He graciously abdicated his responsibllites as President to Cheney for much of his time in office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***True. He graciously abdicated his responsibllites as President to Cheney for much of his time in office.***

    Come on man…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. rodney dill says:

    Maybe Obama should start writing his Apologia now, then the Kool-aid Krew will have plenty of time to brainwash themselves with it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. John Personna says:

    For what Rodney? We’ve had conventional responses to most things. Health care reform was not conventional, but neither was it really the end of western civilization. It certainly has a lower body count than Iraq.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0