Friday, September 19, 2008

George W. Bush Cast as Abraham Lincoln

That is what I get from Charles Krauthammer's History Will Judge. Which is such a large pile of BS that I cannot help myself.
For the past 150 years, most American war presidents -- most notably Lincoln, Wilson and Roosevelt -- have entered (or reentered) office knowing war was looming. Not so George W. Bush. Not so the war on terror. The 9/11 attacks literally came out of the blue.
Especially for a President more interested in getting to his vacation in Crawford than reading National Intelligence Estimates. Even more worrisome is where Krauthammer goes from 9/11.

I think Krauthammer wrongly limits history's memory about Bush, I suspect he will be remembered for more than he contains in this paragraph:
But a wartime president he became. And that is how history will both remember and judge him.
AIG, Lehman Brothers, weak dollar, Katrina, executive signing statements, etc.

Here comes the jackpot:
It is precisely that quality that allowed him to order the surge in Iraq in the face of intense opposition from the political establishment (of both parties), the foreign policy establishment (led by the feckless Iraq Study Group), the military establishment (as chronicled by Woodward) and public opinion itself. The surge then effected the most dramatic change in the fortunes of an American war since the summer of 1864.
9/11 conflated into the Iraqi debacle then the allusion of the surge to Lincoln's bringing Grant to fight in the East. Yeah, right. Not that we are all that clear that the surge has worked as advertised or if it was part of a wider change in Iraq, not it appears that the surge provided the space needed for political stability, not that it reduced our troops in Iraq, but none of this matters as Krauthammer worships his hero.

And here I think Krauthammer mistakes obliviousness, one of the key Bush traits, with something better:
That kind of resolve requires internal fortitude. Some have argued that too much reliance on this internal compass is what got us into Iraq in the first place. But Bush was hardly alone in that decision. He had a majority of public opinion, the commentariat and Congress with him. In addition, history has not yet rendered its verdict on the Iraq war. We can say that it turned out to be longer and more costly than expected, surely. But the question remains as to whether the now-likely outcome -- transforming a virulently aggressive enemy state in the heart of the Middle East into a strategic ally in the war on terror -- was worth it. I suspect the ultimate answer will be far more favorable than it is today.
I cannot tell whether the Republicans' hyperbole comes from a genuine mistake of reality or they are just trying to cover for their intellectual errors that have jeopardized this country.

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