A letter writer to my local newspaper recently penned this gigantic pool of effluence in defense of Dubya:
Previous presidents far worse than Bush
I continually hear people of this state whine and complain about how President Bush is the worst president ever. That is a shock to me.
I think Bush has done much better than many presidents. If Bush worse than Franklin Roosevelt, the man who rounded up Japanese Americans, citizens of this country and threw them in internment camps? There was Abe Lincoln, who many regard as a fabulous president. This would be true as long as you don’t mind the raping of the United States Constitution. States’ rights were a dying animal since his presidency, especially because his Emancipation Proclamation didn’t even apply to the entire U.S., just to states he didn’t like.
President John Kennedy wasn’t much of one either. He wiretapped and kept tabs on civil activists like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., cheated on his wife, and escalated the Cold War to the highest tension it has ever been, almost inciting all out nuclear war.
Let us not forget President Jimmy Carter, who let Iranian terrorists keep dozens of Americans hostage for 444 days. When he finally decided to take a small amount of military action, he couldn’t even do it right, and it cost eight Americans their lives because he didn’t plan well.
Don’t forget about the part where he gave $8 billion dollars [sic] back to the terrorists and one of them eventually became president of a terror state that constantly mocks and threatens the U.S. and states that it should annihilate Israel.
If you think President Bush is as bad as it ever was, I guess ignorance really is bliss.
It required a response, so I wrote one:
Bush is far worse than previous presidents
A recent letters page featured comments from someone who was “shocked” to hear criticism of President Bush; more knowledge of history might help him to be less surprised by reality. Bush is a very unpopular president—with an approval rating hovering below 40%—and there are many valid reasons for this negative assessment.
Evaluators of the previous presidents mentioned are well aware of their flaws. Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus is widely acknowledged to be a constitutional violation; FDR’s partisans freely admit that internment was a mistake of similar magnitude; and even people nostalgic for JFK’s mythical Camelot realize the errors inherent in allowing J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI to run amok. (I would add that Kennedy’s resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis was a masterful response to Soviet missile deployment, not an optional or preemptive measure, and that his marital infidelity was—like Clinton’s—irrelevant to his presidential standing.)
The difference between these clear-eyed assessments of past presidents and the sycophants currently worshipping at the altar of Bush is startling. Neither Bush nor his supporters seem able to admit that a single mistake has been made since January 2001, although the list of failures seemingly grows longer by the week.
Bush’s failures are both egregious and legion: ignoring the threat of terrorism until 9/11; wrecking our long-term economic prospects with fiscal profligacy and top-heavy tax cuts; engaging in a reckless and lawless invasion of Iraq while letting bin Laden escape; ignoring science in favor of politics; bulldozing the church/state wall with funding for “faith-based” programs; blundering the response to Hurricane Katrina; violating international treaties; demanding a “unitary executive” right to disappear or torture detainees at will; fostering an unprecedented attitude of secrecy and unaccountability; and continuing to ignore or excuse the steady drumbeat of domestic spying scandals and other constitutional violations.
While history may not rate Bush the worst president ever, he is certainly in contention for that dubious distinction. How can the GOP dead-enders continue to defend the indefensible and blindly support an administration that has been such a travesty? They must be wearing Republican-tinged glasses that transform Bush’s ignorant bravado into political principle and his bluster into statesmanship in order to rate his failed tenure in office anywhere above the bottom tier of presidencies. The GOP faithful may be enjoying a blissful ignorance of W-worship, but the rest of us will be laboring for decades to repair Dubya’s disastrous legacy.
There are two other points that would not fit into my letter, so I append them here:
The writer’s attack on Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation is nonsensical. The Proclamation was not a pre-emptive strike against the Confederacy, but an action taken nearly two years into the Civil War. Lincoln did not write it to penalize “states he didn’t like,” but to take action against those states that had seceded from the Union in favor of maintaining slavery. Whatever one’s opinion on the “states’ rights” doctrine, there is no doubt that the individual rights of an enslaved people righteously took precedence in this instance.
Also, the failure of Operation Eagle Claw—the attempt to rescue the Iranian hostages—can hardly be blamed on Carter. The unexpected sandstorm, mechanical failure, and helicopter crash that doomed the rescue mission were not his fault. In addition, Carter’s agreement to return $8 billion in frozen Iranian assets was contingent upon release of the hostages. The Algiers Accords which contained this condition were signed the day before the hostages were released, yet many commentators give Reagan the credit for Carter’s diplomacy. (Speaking of Reagan, he deserves far more criticism than Carter for making deals with terrorists; see his unconstitutional Iran-Contra scheme for details.)