A Muddled Critique of Bush 43, By Muddled Dreamers at the WaPo

“A legacy of grave errors and mismanagement”…to which the WaPo offers few workable solutions.

Mr. Bush Exits is the title of the WaPo’s farewell shot at…ummm, editorial about, the Bush 43 presidency. It reminds me of the old adage “Work is fascinating–I can sit and watch it for hours.”

There should be a corollary for reporters: “Responsibility is a fascinating thing. I love sitting behind the safety of my keyboard and pontificating wisely upon it.” Silent prayer: Lord, may I never have to actually assume it myself!”

Alas, [his] certitude led Mr. Bush down many blind alleys and, in the worst moments, caused him to debase his country’s moral currency. In rejecting the Geneva Conventions, he seemed not to realize that the world, even those parts of it that were friendly toward the United States, does not assume American righteousness — and that even a necessary counterattack against al-Qaeda and other enemies must therefore be constrained by law. History may credit him for avoiding a second attack on U.S. soil but not for his handling of Guantanamo or “enhanced interrogation.”

Okay, WaPo:

1) even a necessary counterattack against al-Qaeda and other enemies must therefore be constrained by law.

Don’t mince words. What laws should President Bush have followed that he didn’t?

And, more to the point, if he HAD followed the laws as you had wished, are you willing to assert that the strength of our effort against terrorists would NOT have been diminished?

I suspect you’re not willing to come out and SAY that…so you imply it instead.

That’s safer for you, because it helps you avoid responsibility (“Yes, we at the Washington Post feel that the US should have followed the Geneva Convention to the letter in the GWOT—even if that means more people could have died!”). It’s also more gutless of you—but you knew that already.

2) History may credit him for avoiding a second attack on U.S. soil but not for his handling of Guantanamo or “enhanced interrogation.”

Hmmm…what to choose? The safety of my wife and son on the one hand, the approval of the next Howard Zinn on the other…

Sad to say,there are most likely people on the WaPo staff that would pick Option 2. Is there something about J School that makes you spineless? That neuters your spirit? Anyhoo…

In Iraq, too, Mr. Bush gambled his nation’s international alliances and reputation.

Our “international alliances.” Yeah, buddy…those NATO allies of ours in Afghanistan are really kicking butt and taking names, aren’t they? It was those same NATO and EU allies that said they wanted to take the lead in Afghanistan—a war that was so much more PC than Iraq. Isn’t that the same Afghanistan where we’re having to send reinforcements to? What was that about international alliances then? Precisely WHAT international armies could have meaningfully replaced ours, if Dubya had been more Davos-friendly?

And, about our “reputation.” Yes, our reputation may have been tarnished at EU parties. But, Dubya did fix our reputation with another part of the world’s elite—its terrorist elite.

Remember how Bin Laden said that he viewed America as a “paper tiger,” because of the reputation Bill Clinton built? Check out Debra Saunders’ latest column. Al Qaeda terrorists we’ve captured under Dubya’s watch have told our interrogators—some of whom were probably at GITMO!!!—that they expected a Bill Clinton, Davos-friendly US response to 9/11. They got Texas* instead.

The global backlash against the war, especially in Europe, has cost the United States dearly, making it more difficult to rally the world against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

IIRC, the “Big Three” of the EU were going to negotiate with Iran, to show us cowboys how diplomacy could save the day. How did THAT work out, WaPo?

in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, support for dictators, justified by the anti-terrorism campaign, trumped support for liberty.

You got me there, WaPo. In the midst of fighting an international war on terror, George Bush failed to cure all the world’s other problems. And, he forgot to cure cancer too. And my cable bill is still going up and up and up! You’re right—what a loser he was!

some of the dilemmas he confronted will persist beyond his presidency. As President-elect Barack Obama has recognized, for example, closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is not as simple as many of its critics imagined, because a significant number of those detained there would try to attack Americans if released.

WAIT WAIT! What about international law? Under international law, the issue of Gitmo is quite simple: close it. And, if some of the prisoners later go out and kill people—well, that is the price we pay to live in a civilized world.

Come ON, WaPo, SAY IT! It’s OK. You’re safe behind your keyboards, under the protection of rough men who will do what must be done, no matter how much you scorn them, or no matter how far you hunch down behind your keyboards, as you silently acknowledge that, yes, oh yes, you really ARE that gutless.

Mr. Bush’s characteristic failing was to apply a black-and-white mind-set to too many gray areas of national security and foreign affairs. But as they assume power with a mind to clean house, Democrats must be careful not to make the same mistake.

Thanks for clearing that up for us, WaPo! Now I know EXACTLY what President Bush should have done in the GWOT!

(Turn Snark button to OFF position)

I’m envisioning a Military Sciences class at West Point. The instructor directs his cadet’s attention to the screen in front of the classroom. On the screen is projected this WaPo editorial.

“Okay, cadets,” the officer says, “we’ve talked about the importance of leaders accepting both responsibility and reality.”

“For homework, you’ve read General Eisenhower’s note he wrote before D-Day, in which he accepted responsibility for the invasion’s failure. A note that, fortunately, he didn’t have to read publicly.”

“In that note, you saw several things. First, the simple fact that the general wrote it, showed that he recognized that even the most thoroughly planned operation could fail. Even the most detailed plans could miss something. In past lessons, you’ve learned how Eisenhower and his staff were unprepared for the hedgerows in the Normandy bocage, even after the best minds in the Allied Powers had studied the terrain of France for more than two years.”

“Then, with the lessons of the bocage fresh in his mind, Eisenhower was still unprepared for the German assault in the Ardennes. Yet, Eisenhower’s statue still stands on our grounds.”

“In the Pacific, Admiral Halsey blundered during the liberation of the Phillippines. He took his main battle fleet in seach of the Japanese fleet. The Japanese gave Halsey the slip—and attacked our now thinly-defended invasion fleet. Only heroic efforts by the skeletal American naval forces left behind averted disaster. Yet, today, we still remember Halsey as a hero.”

“The general’s letter shows the thinking of a leader who understood that judgement calls will go wrong. That mistakes will be made. But, in the end, the leader must accept those risks, accept those shortcomings inherent in life itself, and move forward.”

“In contrast, we’re now going to look at this bit of writing. As we go through it, ask yourself if the people who wrote it strike you as people who understand what it really means to make major national security decisions, and to lead, in times of crisis.”

“Try not to laugh too much. And no, this is not testable.”

* Austin excepted