Grading Bush

Six days away from the end of the Bush Administration, it’s time to look back on and evaluate the Bush Administration. I’ll divide my grade up into three Areas: Social, Economic, and National Security.

 Social Policy:

Bush held the line on pro-life and pro-family issues throughout his Administration. He provided us two great Justices of the Supreme Court in Roberts and Alito (though only after trying to turn political buddy Harriet Miers into a Supreme Court Justice.) He held the line on embryonic stem cell research, signed the partial birth abortion act, and in general stood relatively firm on social conservative issues.

Grade: B+

Economic Policy:

This is an area where Bush’s grade has plummeted in the last six months. Throughout his administration, Bush has had a mixed record on economic issues. During most of the Administration, the economy was growing and stable, thanks to the Bush Tax Cuts. Bush also said no to such boondoggles as cap and trade. On the other hand, Bush didn’t veto a spending bill for six years as wasteful pork and spending ran rampant creating six figure deficits. Bush’s push for an expensive Prescription Drug Benefit for Medicare has only exacerbated the problems with that troubled program.

However, Bush’s socialistic bailouts must drag down the grade. Trillions of dollars in American Treasure have been committed to bailouts, loans, and guarantees. The nation is near the point of a credit disaster. The free market system has been undermined as if Bush were trying to stop Obama from socializing the country by beating him to the punch. Bush ultimately made a decision that people would not pay the piper under his administration but past the bill onto children and grandchildren at an alarming rate.

Grade: D-

National Security:

Whatever you say about Bush, let the record reflect that America has not had a major terrorist attack since 9/11. He has kept America safe through the efforts of his Administration in the War on Terror. While he’s been criticized from the both left and right for his tactics in dealing with terrorism, he got the job done.  

There are two areas where Bush seemed to let down. The first was following the Rumsfeld strategy too long and not getting more boots on the ground sooner. This could have saved quite few American lives. I don’t fault him too much on this as many good folks didn’t believe in the surge and I was skeptical of it, but when American lives are on the line, the President needs to get it right and the buck stops with him.

Another key area is border security, where Bush’s insistence on a guest worker program stalled the country from dealing with immigration in a serious way. For much of the Administration, the Bush Administration irresponsibly held border security measures needed to protect our nation hostage to the interests of WalMart and Big Ag in having guest workers. Whatever one thinks of a guest worker program, it should only have been pursued after taking care of the border. In the last couple of years, the Bush Administration has made a more serious effort, but the prior year’s stalling has had its effect. And the number of illegal immigrants has fallen to do the failing economy, but also due to states that were forced to usurp the role of the federal government  in immigration enforcement in order to protect their own infrastructure and social programs.

Grade: C+

Other Deductions:

  • 0.25 Overall Deduction: Bush signed the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act, even though he stated that he knew it violated the Constitution, the document he swore to uphold. We have seen the effects of this legislation on elections and Bush’s lack of political courage on this issue has had a huge consequence for the country and freedom of speech.
  • 0.10 Overall deduction: Truth be told, the suffering in Hurricane Katrina had far more to do with Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco than it did with the Bush Administration. Still, the appointment of Michael Brown to FEMA was a poor one that blew up at a critical time.

 My overall grade for the Bush Administration: C-. Not the worst President we ever had, but certainly not the best.