Over the last few years I have heard more than enough aspersions cast against George W. Bush and his administration in the simplest of accusations that fail to account for the complexities of causality that are a part of all social and political issues. The problems of this new decade have been generally and solely attributed to this prior presidency alone and I think this is incredibly naïve. I wonder why people seem to think the entire American system started with just him and doesn’t have precedents and roots that extend long before him.
The very notion that Bush destroyed this country is absurd. Many of the attacks made on him are based on his personality, religiosity, style of speaking, and demeanor. We should focus exactly and rationally on what he and his administration did in order to truly understand him, for the sake of posterity. I’m tired of emotions guiding all of debate – if I wanted that to be the case I would go back to kindergarten.
Having said this though, I agree with most Democrats that most of Bush’s policies were very unproductive. I will admit he did some decent work with tax cuts and leading America’s spirit out of the rubble on left during 9/11. However, much of this was overshadowed by his tactical errors, especially with Katrina and most especially Iraq – his penchant for combat was a large money waster and a complete destroyer of our image abroad. But, contrary to what many Democrats believe, it wasn’t his conservatism that was bad. It was his liberalism that was. His excessive spending was incredibly detrimental to this country and he created a military-industrial complex the likes of which we have never seen before. In addition to the excessive liberalism, he also retained some of the worst virtues of conservatism, which were the outrageous tenets of Rothbardian strict deregulation.
However, we can’t blame the economic turmoil on him though. First of all, anybody who has had a basic primer on the U.S. government knows that the president makes only a handful of decisions. By and large, the Judicial and Legislative branches have the most power. In fact the Judicial, in some respects, determines almost everything as they handle legal precedent and reform the ways in which we are to understand the constitution. After all, the Civil Rights movement could not have happened without them.
As it is and as it was, the economic destabilization started with Reagan, as many economists note, and this of course was extended by the successive three presidents. Not to mention, it was Reagan who appointed Greenspan, a large culprit in the economic crisis of 2008. Of course Bush continued the deregulation, but it was Clinton who contributed greatly to the problem by not controlling the accounting schemes that grew in earnest during his presidency. Not to mention, the business cycle expansion and economic growth that was attributed to Clinton had more to do with the Federal Reserve’s change in policy.
If we are to attribute blame fairly we need to look at the structures in place that have led up to this crippling economic situation we are in. Bush, like almost any other politician, was a pawn for businessmen. The problem with our system is capitalism, not a lack of capability. Business has systematically ruined this country and continues to do so. Everything that happened in the Bush presidency, aside for the aforementioned mistakes of policy such as Katrina, can be traced back to the very roots of the reciprocal relationship between capitalism and politics, mirroring the leach and the infected cyst reciprocity. This is why I don’t expect Obama’s presidency to be much different than Bush’s. He is not going to get us out of the debt and the crap holes that are Iraq and Afghanistan. The only thing good that Obama is doing is being a more likable character abroad than Bush ever was.