The Bush Legacy - Part 2

We will come together to give law enforcement the additional tools it needs to track down terror here at home.   We will come together to strengthen our intelligence capabilities to know the plans of terrorists before they act, and find them before they strike,” the president continued in his September 21, 2001 speech.


Thus more ammunition was offered to the so-called pacifists on the left and in the media to savage Bush, while the same media had been silent on Clinton’s intel negligence which led to 9/11.  The Patriot Act and the various techniques used by the administration to gather intelligence on terrorists would become the touchstone of leftist opposition from the ACLU and other groups. No sooner had 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed been seized than Democrats and their cronies were inquiring into his whereabouts and his well-being.


The Patriot Act, passed overwhelmingly in the heat of the 9/11, came under increasing challenge. Images of searched library records and tapped phone calls were dangled by the media as sure indications that Bush represented the end of civil liberties as we know them. The Guantanamo Bay detention facility became the focus for leftist rage with no mention that enemy combatants are not due Geneva Conventions protections since they fight outside the parameters that the Conventions were based upon (soldiers wearing uniforms and fighting for an established power etc.). And then came Abu Ghraib, a set of innocuous mistreatments of prisoners in Iraq that the media latched onto like a dog on bone. Using Abu Ghraib as a club, the media assaulted Bush over something that would not even be a news item if it had happened under a Democrat.


But if 9/11 was the focal point of George W. Bush’s first year in office, Iraq became the turning point for his presidency. Since Papa Bush had cut off Desert Storm at the Iraq border in 1991, son George certainly was nagged by the insistent media criticism that Papa “should have gone to Baghdad.” This was the mantra of the anti-Bush media following the first Gulf War and even was used in a speech by Al Gore in the 1992 campaign warning that Papa had ignored the fact that “there were repeated incidents of terrorism, in which Iraq had a part, terrorists operating openly in Baghdad and repeated warnings from our national security people telling the Bush administration that Saddam was on a crash program to develop nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD).”


Thus 9/11 really gave Gorge W. the impetus to do Iraq. There was plenty of delay given to get Hussein to give up his WMDs and let inspectors in. And Bush now had a total of seven rationales for invading – WMDs, according to all intel sources; Hussein’s reputation as a mass murderer with up to 1 million killed; the criticisms of Papa Bush for not going to Baghdad; the 9/11 attacks; Hussein’s financing of terrorist attacks inside Israel; an alleged attempt by Hussein to assassinate Papa Bush when he was giving a speech in Kuwait in April 1993 (”After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad,” said Bush in September 2002); and finally media criticism over not capturing bin Laden after the Afghanistan triumph.  So Bush had political, professional, ideological and personal reasons for wanting to take out Hussein, and the war was on.


On March 20, 2003, the ground invasion began with the authorization of the use of force approved by all Republicans and 21 Democrats in the US Senate (77 total senators) and more than 65% of the American people. Media criticism started on the 20th, however. There weren’t enough troops, they said. Supply lines were stretched thin, the ‘experts’ claimed. Said Gary Kamiya opining on American progress against Iraq on the liberal Salon.com website: “I have at times… secretly wished for things to go wrong… I’m not alone.” But the action was swift and soon Baghdad was captured on April 9.


With the toppling of Hussein’s statue in the streets of Baghdad broadcast live on American television, that part of the victory was sealed. On May 1, 2003, Bush landed in a fighter jet on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln with a banner hanging behind him that said ‘Mission Accomplished’, giving the media yet another occasion on which to question his integrity because while one phase of the mission indeed was done, the worst was yet to come.


Media bias continued in the most grotesque ways. Katie Couric of the Today show further pushed the envelope asking NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski: “So they haven’t been able to confirm reports he (Saddam Hussein) was taken to Tikrit, and then Mosul, and then hopefully to Syria.”


“Hopefully”?!? This is the subconscious thinking of the media as revealed in their very words.


On December 13, 2003, Hussein was pulled from his spider hole and American approval of the conflict rose. In January 2005, free elections were held in Iraq for the first time in 50 years. In October 2005 a constitution was adopted and Bush seemed prepared to take credit for a major victory over Middle East despotism.


But from 2004 until 2007, the situation was deteriorating with widespread violence and large US casualties which today top more than 4,000. Bush was roundly and properly criticized for making a joke at a White House dinner saying “Those WMDs have to be here somewhere!” which truly was a tasteless attempt at humor by a family usually known for its restraint and decency.


The 2006 report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group said that the situation in Iraq was “grave and deteriorating.” Bush began to contemplate a surge strategy.


On January 10, 2007 Bush announced that more troops were going to Iraq, which was considered a risk. Despite widespread opposition in the United States, the surge worked and Iraq today is considered “won”, much to the chagrin of the anti-war left. But this was Bush – determined to fight against conventional wisdom, and relying on the power and spirit of American can-do optimism as epitomized by the greatest fighting force the world ever has known.





George W. Bush won election as a “compassionate conservative” and his economic record is good. He eliminated federal taxes for those at the bottom of the income scale and reduced them for the rest, but also allowed big increases in domestic spending, refusing to use his veto pen. This angered conservatives.


By 2005, with interest rates low and housing booming, some economists were saying that the American economy was the best they ever had seen it. In October 2007, the White House issued the following statement:


Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released new jobs figures 110,000 jobs created in September. September 2007 is the 49th consecutive month of job growth, setting a new record for the longest uninterrupted expansion of the U.S. labor market. Significant upward revisions to employment in July and August mean employment growth has averaged 97,000 per month over the last three months. Since August 2003, our economy has created more than 8.1 million jobs, and the unemployment rate remains low at 4.7 percent.

Real after-tax per capita personal income has increased by over 12.5 percent  an average of over $3,750 per person since President Bush took office. More than 30 percent of the Nation’s net worth has been added since the President’s 2003 tax cuts.


This was impressive considering that Bush had inherited two big problems to start – the 9/11 sucker punch and  the Clinton recession, which should have begun in 1998 but was postponed by the tech and dot.com bubbles. And to add to the problems, Clinton had institutionalized many economic approaches that were harmful to growth including increases in taxes and the empowering of trial lawyers and radical environmentalist obstructionists. Bush’s 2001 $1.35 trillion tax rate reduction was widely opposed by liberals but it kept the economy strong through the following tumultuous years, as did his tax rate reduction of 2003.


September 11 hit America hard. The New York Stock Exchange had closed on September 10, 2001 at 9,605.85, firmly ensconced into a recession correction from its highs of almost 12,000. On September 17, 2001, the first day of trading after the attacks, the Dow plunged 684.81 points to 8,920.70. As of September 24, 2002, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had lost 27% of the value it held on January 1, 2001, a total loss of $5 trillion. By October 9, 2002, the market had bottomed out at 7,286.27.


In response to the 9/11 attacks and fears of a depression, Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan pushed interest rates to historic lows. This fueled a huge housing bubble that stoked the economy for years. But the bubble started to burst in early 2007, and the collapse of 2008 ensued. The collapse was based largely on two factors:


First and most important were laws advocated by Democrats like the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977 that mandated that banks lend money to “low-income and moderate-income” borrowers without a strong credit history, or no history at all. This latter criterion further was entrenched by Fannie Mae’s decision in 1999 to require no credit history for loans to be purchased by Fannie Mae. And so banks made the loans, earned their fees and then unloaded the loans on the government. This was the majority of the 2008 collapse. The second factor leading to the collapse was reckless lending and borrowing in a heated housing market which was the fault of banks and borrowers. Neither problem was Bush’s fault.


What this fiasco is teaching us is that private sector can correct problems created in private markets. But the huge bubble created by government action in Fannie Mae and through the CRA is what has pushed the economy over a cliff.


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