January 18, 2009

Angry, Defiant, and Replete with Poor Grammar

Angry, Defiant, and Replete with Poor Grammar

I didn’t see Bush’s farewell address on TV on Thursday, but Mariquita and I did see his press conference on Monday.  It was exactly what you’d expect it to be and quite frankly just like the last eight years:  angry, defiant, and replete with poor grammar.

I’ve said repeatedly that I think Bush has destroyed the Republican party and will go down in history as one of the worst presidents this country has ever had, if not the worst.  It’s not surprising that his tone at the end is as the title of this post describes.  But it is a shame.  His whole administration is a shame.  The really sad part is that it didn’t have to be.  People make mistakes — even really bad ones.  And they can recover from them and go on to do great things in life if two conditions exist:

1. They solicit feedback on their performance, and

2. The internalize and act on that feedback

Bush not only didn’t “get” these two points; he seemed to revel in them.  “Not paying attention to polls” and “At least you know where I stand” seemed to him to be pillars of strength as opposed to pillars of ignorance and complete and total lack of intellectual curiosity.  You don’t have to try to win a popularity contest to find out when something is going wrong on your watch.  And you can be bold, admit a failure, learn from it, and move on instead of just digging yourself deeper and deeper into the same hole.

I read a great article in The Economist last night that summarized its current view of Bush’s legacy, and in fact it noted a bunch of areas in which Bush appeared to learn from his mistakes, though he probably wouldn’t phrase it that way.  The fact that his second administration did do more to reach out to key allies in Germany and France is one example.  And to the article’s credit, it even noted some of Bush’s accomplishments, or at least the areas in which his thinking was right — those those are just dwarfed in the end by his failings.  

At any rate, I’m delighted he’ll be leaving office on Tuesday.  Inauguration day is one of my favorite days in America, and I look forward with optimism to the incoming administration as I always do, regardless of how I voted.

But as for Bush, I think I’d rather have the pilot of that USAir flight as my commander in chief.  Now there’s a guy (I don’t even know his name, and I probably never will) who had a quick grasp of a difficult situation and produced a brilliant and elegant solution in short order!

6 responses to “Angry, Defiant, and Replete with Poor Grammar”

  1. Steve says:

    I can understand not liking a person from a personal stand point, but what has President Bush done during his term that another person in that position could have done differently?

    I haven't read the article in the Economist yet, good link, I will read it and maybe there will be some of your points inside there.

    Im not angry or in disagreement with your opinion, but many times I hear similar comments from people that do not have much to back up their claim except they do not like Bush as a person and he annoys them.

    So just a question, I'm enjoying the blog, keep up the good work!

  2. I actually don’t mind him as a person, and whether or not he annoys me is irrelevant. And for the record, I’m an ardent Republican. I even voted for the guy in 2000, though I couldn’t stomach it in 2004 (though I couldn’t stomach Kerry either and wrote-in).Here are some specifics that resonate with me:- He came into office as a “uniter who reached across the aisle in Texas,” but he was a massively divisive force in Washington. True, he didn’t call Democratic leaders names the way they called him names (they’re just as bad or worse). But he thumbed his nose at them time after time with ridiculous appointees designed to put them in a bad position around confirmation, appointing key people while Congress was in recess so they didn’t have the opportunity to confirm (e.g., Bolton), and even from the beginning by barely winning an election and then governing as if he had some kind of landslide mandate. Obama, with a much broader win than either Bush 2000 or Bush 2004, is assembling a far more bipartisan and centrist cabinet – He came into office as “humbled by the Presidency,” and then he proceeded to abuse the power of the office like no one else in history. It’s as if he believed checks and balances were a quaint relic of the past. Besides the above examples, the wiretapping, the unnecessary no-bid contracts, the torture, the ridiculous firings of US Attorneys, I could go on… – He came into office as a “compassionate conservative” and then seems to have taken every turn possible to steer away from the poor and needy in the US. All the aid to Africa is great, but nothing he really did in the US was helpful to ordinary Americans – He came into office modeling himself after Reagan, but that ended up being half true. He was, like Reagan, a “chairman of the board” type, as opposed to a day-to-day CEO. But unlike Reagan, he didn’t actually hold anyone in his administration accountable for poor judgment. Think about Reagan – what would he have done with Rumsfeld, Brownie, Cheney, Tenet, and even people like Chris Cox in recent days? He would have taken them to the woodshed and/or fired them. Bush just told them to “keep on keepin’ on” with a pat on the back despite their incompetenceI could rant further, but I’ll stop for now. Read the article in The Economist. Let me know if it doesn’t resonate with you!

  3. Isaac Garcia says:

    Interestingly, I'm pretty politically conservative myself – yet I'm sick of GWB as well.

    I voted for him in 2000, 2004 but I voted for Obama this round. The republicans just didn't deserve to win – and mainly because of Bush – although, McCain didn't help the case either.

    Anyways, while I'm sick of Bush, my discontent isn't as strong as you've written. I always fall back on the simple fact that no matter how bad he is – the US has not suffered another terrorist attack on our soil. And I, like most of America, did not believe we would go this long. While I don't give him all of the credit, and while he did overstep on many occassions – I do believe that some credit must be given to GWB.

    Anwyays, the real purpose of this email is too point you to an article that James Fallow's wrote in the Atlantic monthly back in 2004. The article discusses how the author was shocked at how fluid Bush sounded during the debates in Texas. Something that I thought you'd find interesting and confusing at the same time.


    I don't get it either.

  4. Matt Blumberg says:

    Cool. I will look at it. Thanks for pointing it out (both the article and the comment problem).

    You are right about the lack of another terrorist attack and that he should get credit for that. It's always hard to feel good or bad about something that HASN'T happened. Sort of like proving a negative.

    I still feel like that could have happened while still believing in checks and balances – a court almost certainly would have approved the wire taps, for example – but you make a good point. I will try to publish it later.

  5. Steve says:

    Thanks for the information and informed viewpoints. I wasn't trying to be difficult with my initial question and you both have given me some good information. I guess most of perspective comes from a financial point of view. I don't believe that one person can cause the markets to go up or down.

    Matt, thanks for posting the Economist article, I'm going to read the other article too.

    Thanks again

  6. karen says:

    The pilot's name is Chesley Sullenberger. "Sully" for short.