The Good Things Bush Did For Us
Wednesday - January 14, 2009
On Dec. 22 the mother of all Bush-bashing political cartoons took up a full quarter of the oped page of the Honolulu Advertiser.
Titled The Bush Legacy, it incorporated symbolically the fall of the Trade Towers, the Enron scandal, debt to China, Rovian Politics, Iraq Occupation, collapse of Wall Street, Abu Ghraib, Katrina, Environment for Sale, Guantanamo, Global Warming, Afghanistan-no exit, Osama bin Ladin, Mission Accomplished (which was true for the sailors aboard the aircraft carrier who had accomplished their mission and were on their way home), Patriot Act, Tax Cuts for the Rich, Cheney and Rummy as nefarious characters from the nether-world, and Deficit!
Such continual pandering by the mainstream media to a like-minded constituency obscures the positives for which George Bush deserves to be remembered as well.
Don’t get me wrong. I share much of the frustration with Bush’s inability to communicate (which could have neutralized much criticism), failure to veto bad spending and some very offthe-wall appointments.
But consider the following, just for example: 1) Under Bush’s leadership, America has increased development and humanitarian aid to Africa from $1.4 billion in 2001 to more than $4 billion per year now.
He has doubled U.S. trade with Africa, and has launched the largest siege against AIDS and malaria there ever. Even though the challenge is never-ending, more than 800,000 Africans are currently receiving anti-AIDS medication thanks to George Bush’s priorities. 2) Despite pressure from many quarters, Bush has kept Alaska’s ANWAR off limits for drilling.
He has increased by millions efforts to clean America’s forests to reduce the threat of wildfires, and to restore those lost or damaged.
He has further enhanced his environmental legacy by designating more than 190 million square miles of ocean as national preserves, including Hawaii’s Northwestern Islands.
With few exceptions, America’s air, water and land are cleaner today than at any time since our industrial revolution. 3) Although Bush’s record on healthcare is a mixed bag, he gets undeniable credit on at least two counts: prescription coverage for seniors, and community health care centers.
Despite opposition from his own party, “he achieved the largest expansion in Medicare benefits in decades” as one health expert put it; especially significant “in the modern medical era in which drugs are the cornerstone of treatment.”
Also, the President literally doubled funding for community health care centers, expanding or creating 1,300 centers across the nation, several of which - Kalihi-Palama,
Waianae, Waikiki, Waimanalo - are right here in Hawaii, and represent the typical center serving otherwise under-served areas. Without such centers, expensive emergency room care would often be the only alternative. 4) Contrary to popular wisdom, in 2001 George Bush was one of the first to warn Congress of the dangers of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac run amok. Between him and John McCain, the warnings continued through 2006. Leading the pooh poohs were Democrats Sen. Chuck Shumer and U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, both leading recipients of Fannie and Freddie campaign contributions. (Click onYouTube: “Timeline shows Bush, McCain warning Dems of financial mess.”) 5) On the day after 9-11, I wrote: “The only way we may be able to measure victory in a war against global terrorism are the lengths of time between major attacks on our homeland.”
Although in some ways, pre-9-11 policies of both Clinton and Bush may have made us more vulnerable, Bush’s post-9-11 anti-terror policies - for better or worse - have kept us safe from another attack.
Right after 9-11, who would have bet on that possibility?
The Department of Homeland Security, the provisions of the Patriot Act, reforming the relationships between our intelligence agencies, the handling of captured enemy combatants at Guantanamo and - yes - the war in Iraq.
Whether intended or not, the Iraq war - besides liberating Iraqis from a despot and planting the seeds of a democratic ally in the most dangerous part of the world - distracted Al Qaida from plotting more attacks on the U.S. It drew them into a losing commitment, showing their darkest side to the people of Iraq and the world.
Their power and stature have been significantly diminished. Bin Laden is withering away in a dark Wiziristan cave, emitting an occasional feeble message to his wandering followers.
Yes, there is much work to be done in Afghanistan, but with Gen. David Petreaus still in overall charge at Central Command, our imminent victory in Iraq will serve as a model for victory in Afghanistan.
Oh, and for those who still think Bush “tricked” all the Western intelligence agencies and every Democrat in the Senate into buying into Saddam’s WMDs:
If you’re right, who’s smarter, them or him?
Thanks, Mr. Bush, for almost everything, but especially for the simple “cowboy” determination that has kept us and our homeland safe.
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