Monday, June 23, 2008

Bush's "arrogance" will be missed

One year into this epic, two-year presidential election odyssey, there is one thing that is clear. Given all of his faults, the steadfast determination and conviction of George W. Bush will be absent in the White House.

By many (some would say most) on the political left, this quality of Bush has been derided as “arrogance,” “stubbornness” and “stupidity.” Given the leaps of logic we’ve seen Barack Obama try to make us swallow over his close, 20-year relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and John McCain overnight conversions on matters such as tax cuts and immigration, this quality is going to be sorely missed as we inevitably end up with a president who has gotten where they are by being a chameleon. John McCain may not be the maverick we’ve been lead to believe he is, and Barack Obama is another politician who only seems different due to his good looks, interesting name and eloquently spoken but intellectually vacant rhetoric.

Whereas I often doubted much of what Bush said to be true, it was much rarer that I doubted he believed it. He genuinely believes that the establishment of democracy in the Middle East will lead to a renovation of the oppressive politics that have plagued it since the end of World War I. He has kept strong in his vision despite poor poll numbers and real world results that countered his words. With McCain and Obama, I actually doubt that they believe a good deal of what they say.

The Bush presidency will be very interesting in how it is treated by history. For every blunder, there was a success. For every tragedy like that of Iraq, he put more effort into combating disease and poverty in Africa than any president before him. For the continued diseased presence of Donald Rumsfeld at a critical position in government, there was eventually the presence of Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. For every Harriet Myers, there was a Samuel Alito. For every failure to reform Social Security (something President Obama or President McCain had better take on and not ignore), there was the establishment of the most ethnically diverse presidential cabinet in history, an achievement that had an extremely positive effect on the political climate. I have no doubt that seeing and hearing the names of Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Alberto Gonzales and Elaine Chao in roles as important as Secretary of State, Attorney General and Secretary of Labor has made Americans more comfortable with having minorities in high positions of government and more welcoming towards the idea of an African American president than they were ten years ago.

A president who had a vision for progress made these accomplishments. From what we have seen of them this election season, I’m not sure Obama or McCain really have a vision beyond their own success.

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