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Why Obama should copy Bush (really!)

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 08:21 am
Yes, it's a copy/paste - with little comment. Because I haven't really got anything to add except a hearty "hear, hear".

Quote:
Why Obama Should Copy Bush (Really!)

You hear lots of talk about which former president Barack Obama should use as a model. Bill Clinton comes up regularly. Franklin Roosevelt, too. But what about the guy in the White House now?

I know, President Bush’s approval ratings are hovering around 30 percent. This election was in many ways a referendum on his tenure and the verdict could not have been more unambiguous. The voters didn't like it. “Saturday Night Live” got an entire skit (and a pretty funny one) out of John McCain trying to escape the stigma of he failure.

But was Bush really a “failure”? That depends on how you define it.

Consider what Bush has accomplished. He has overhauled the tax code, tilting it towards the wealthy and significantly reducing federal revenues. He signed a landmark education reform that changed the curriculum in virtually ever public school. He gutted the regulatory state and hollowed out the bureaucracy. He added a drug benefit to Medicare, thereby enacting the largest single entitlement expansion since the 1960s. He tipped the Supreme Court’s ideological balance with two strongly conservative appointees.

And that’s just what he did on domestic policy. Bush also sponsored a massive program to help treat AIDS in under-developed countries. He rewrote long-standing doctrine on foreign policy and human rights. And, oh yeah, he engineered--and then prosecuted--a war that overthrew a dictator, destabilized a region, and committed the U.S. to an occupation whose end is still unknown.

That’s quite a tally--arguably, one that no president since Lyndon Johnson can match. (Before that, you'd have to go back to FDR.) And with the exception of the Medicare drug program, every single one of those accomplishments represent a realization of goals that he, his fellow travelers in the conservative movement, or both had sought for years or even decades.

America today looks radically different than it did in January, 2001. And it looks that way because Bush made it so.

Now, for the most part, the country doesn’t seem to think Bush’s changes have left us better off. And I’d agree, with a few key exceptions. (High on the list would be that AIDS program, for which I believe Bush deserves more credit than he's received.) But he still achieved quite a lot. And, simply in terms of leadership style, President-elect Obama could do worse than to take a page or two from Bush’s playbook.

One of Bush’s most remarkable qualities--and one, I admit, that I frequently admired--was his stubborn focus on goals and willingness to push political boundaries aggressively. It took a president of uncommon gumption and boldness to push such a radical agenda; America, after all, is not a radical country by nature. But Bush understood political opportunity when it presented itself and he seized it. And while I’d hate to see Obama systematically ignoring policy experts and manipulating intelligence--or deliberately stoking partisan division for the sake of winning elections--I wouldn’t mind if, like Bush, Obama showed the same sort of singular focus.

Like Bush, Obama is pursuing an ambitious agenda: Re-organizing the country’s economy and infrastructure to fight climate change and achieve energy independence; overhauling its massive health care system; undoing all of the tax changes Bush signed into law and, in the process, addressing the country’s long-term fiscal crisis; beginning unprecedented levels of investment in young children’s education and well-being; repairing America’s image in the world and, in the process, finishing the fight against Islamic extremism.

Already, the opinion class is tut-tutting. It’s too expensive, they say, and too radical. But it’s not all that different from what Bush tried. The difference is that Obama would be pushing in the opposite ideological direction and, if the polls are to be believed, in a direction that the country happens to favor.

Not only does that mean Obama should, if anything, have an easier time achieving it. It also means that, if he accomplishes those goals, he can leave with his party’s majority intact--and his approval ratings higher than 30 percent.

Fortunately, Obama seems to get this. He hasn't given up the talk of "changing Washington" and bipartisanship; I imagine he believes it, too. But he's also made it clear he's not about to back away from goals just because they'll encounter initial resistance.

When asked repeatedly in the final weeks which of his legislative goals he planned to discard, because of the financial crisis, he refused to play along, insisting his agenda remained the same. Just today, incoming Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said something similar on ABC's "This Week." After making the case for energy independence and health care reform, even in the midst of an economic calamity, Emanuel said "This opportunity, this crisis, provides--as the president-elect has said repatedly--the opportunity to do things Americans have pushed off for years." President Bush couldn't have said it better.

--Jonathan Cohn
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 08:34 am
@nimh,
I wonder, nimh, why you didn't bring up this point before the election. "I prefer Democratic candidate X, because [s]he's more like George Bush than Democratic candidate Y" would certainly have made for a fascinating debate.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 10:07 am
@nimh,
Quote:
(High on the list would be that AIDS program, for which I believe Bush deserves more credit than he's received.)


Tied aid, just like most everything else. And also "preaching" aid, one of the worst forms of aid.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 11:07 am
@Thomas,
I think I have made such points, Thomas. Back when I was expressing my doubts about Obama concerning the ways I perceived him to be an overly cautious, overly compromise-minded candidate. I was saying that those traits concerned me, and that what Hillary had going for her was that you'd at least know for sure that she'd go in ready to fight, and be as ruthless as a Democrat needs to be to significantly reverse the damage of the last eight/twentyeight years.

In the end there were too many other things speaking against Hillary and for Obama, so after Edwards dropped out I eventually started sympathising with Obama. But this is one thing Hillary the candidate had going for her. Obama is not that kind of person, I'm afraid, but I can't help wishing he were.
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 11:31 am
@nimh,
I agree completely. I hope Obama will prove to be as strong and unmovable in purpose as bush on the really important things....which I consider to be the reversal of the bush years and a return to responsible governing. It will not be easy.... I liken it to risky and traumatic surgery that causes great pain in the short term required to give healing and restore proper function of the body in the long term.

Let us not forget how (and I hate to even use this comparison) incredibly efficient and strong of purpose Hitler was. He got a LOT of **** done. It's not the strength of purpose or ability to stay focused and pony through that can be assigned a positive or negative value....it's the goal and result to which you apply these qualities.
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 02:29 pm
@Bi-Polar Bear,
I'm going to have to disagree on this one. I can live with stubbornness provided it is supported by data, but the kind of ignorant willfulness we've witnessed over the last 8 years should not be emulated. Ever. Obama should continue to be exactly who he is: someone who looks at the facts and weighs the proposed solutions based on evidence of their effectiveness and not ideology. I don't think Obama should emulate either of the last two presidents but should forge his own path.
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  2  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 03:22 pm
@FreeDuck,
no one said anything about willful ignorance duckie, come on. I'm saying he should be equally adamant in his goals and meeting them without faltering.
engineer
 
  3  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 03:37 pm
@Bi-Polar Bear,
Bi-Polar Bear wrote:

no one said anything about willful ignorance duckie, come on. I'm saying he should be equally adamant in his goals and meeting them without faltering.

Exactly. One thing Bush going for him (and against us) was intense disipline. Congress never once stopped Bush from getting what he wanted. The only concession they got was an expiration date on the tax cuts. Of course, that is now paying dividends, but at the time it was nothing. If Obama can move legislation like that things might get done. Let's hope they're good things.
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 05:12 pm
@engineer,
Sorry, still not with you. I would rather see him convince people than to ram things through. It is one thing to stand firm and push hard, but what Bush did was something else. I have no doubt that Obama has a backbone and can be bold, but not in the way that we have been used to with Bush.
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 05:58 pm
@FreeDuck,
if your child has his fingers in the fan will you try to convince him that he's about to get them cut off or will you yank them out quickly and firmly and explain to a ten fingered child rather than reason with an eight fingered one?
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 06:10 pm
@Bi-Polar Bear,
bpb wrote :

Quote:
if your child has his fingers in the fan will you try to convince him that he's about to get them cut off or will you yank them out quickly and firmly and explain to a ten fingered child rather than reason with an eight fingered one?


i hope you are not saying that the american people are children that don't know any better than to stick their fingers into the whirring fan .
i would still think that americans as a people are a lot smarter than a child ???
hbg
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 06:18 pm
@Bi-Polar Bear,
nimh wrote:
no one said anything about willful ignorance duckie, come on.

It seems to me that nimh kind of implied it. The defining characteristic of Bush's administration was willful ignorance; nimh wants Obama to emulate Bush; ergo ....
blueveinedthrobber
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 07:08 pm
@hamburger,
not like you'd notice for the past 8 years...until last tuesday..
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  2  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 08:10 pm
@Bi-Polar Bear,
Contrary to popular belief, it is actually very difficult to lose a finger in a household fan.
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 05:26 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

BPB wrote:
no one said anything about willful ignorance duckie, come on.

It seems to me that nimh kind of implied it. The defining characteristic of Bush's administration was willful ignorance; nimh wants Obama to emulate Bush; ergo ....

If one didnt read beyond the title, that would make sense, yes. But what in the actual post "kind of implied" it?
FreeDuck
 
  2  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 09:57 am
@nimh,
Not to nitpick, but I actually said "ignorant willfulness" not "willful ignorance", I intended a different meaning (precisely because I did read past the headline). The author seems to be saying that Obama should take this opportunity to ram as many "bold" initiatives down the throat of the country as he can, and then assumes that this will make him popular. Which page of the Bush playbook should Obama borrow in order to accomplish this? The one about stacking government agencies with incompetent but loyal cronies or the one where you lie and obscure the facts to convince congress to give you what you want?

Obama can get the initiatives through that the public is ready for (and we're ready for a lot) and he can do it without using any of Bush's tactics. The answer to the Bush presidency is not the same kind of thing but a with a (D) after it. This reeks to me like talk of a "permanent majority". The power is going to someone's head. That kind of thing will aid and quicken the Republican party's recovery.

If the author simply meant that Obama should be focused and forceful to accomplish his goals then it seems to me that a comparison with Bush is unnecessary. He only needs to emulate himself.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 10:20 am
@nimh,
nimh wrote:
If one didnt read beyond the title, that would make sense, yes. But what in the actual post "kind of implied" it?

Well, there's a reason I hedged my point with the "kind of".

My honest opinion of the article is that the author shoehorned the Bush comparison into an otherwise reasonable article for the sake of making a clever-sounding point. But the point isn't actually clever, even if it may sound clever to the author's jaded blogger friends.
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 11:42 am
@Thomas,
Hmm I guess that makes me a jaded blogger friend.

Just wait till you post your first blog, you'll become one of Them too, you'll see.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 12:54 pm
@nimh,
Why thanks for the stage fright, dude!
0 Replies
 
blueveinedthrobber
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 01:01 pm
@FreeDuck,
please substitute sticking a fork in the electrical outlet....
0 Replies
 
 

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