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Trump has done more for Obama and Bush's reputation than they did

 
 
Reply Tue 17 Oct, 2017 11:12 pm
By setting the bar so incredibly low Trump has had a way of making the previous presidents look positively rosy in comparison. I for one find a lot of my strident criticism of Obama petty, but it's crazier that these days many Democrats are even downright nostalgic for W. His class is all the more apparent in contrast to Trump's classlessness.

I came to terms with Bush during his second term. I realized that he was not stupid or evil but a genuinely good man (despite having made, in invading Iraq, what I consider the biggest mistake the country has made in my lifetime and a man ultimately responsible for enormous death and tragedy). When I expressed such sentiments then there was still enough vitriol to have a useful discussion but I'm interested if any others here also consider him to be a good person who did bad things now in retrospect.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 14 • Views: 1,582 • Replies: 34

 
hightor
 
  3  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2017 03:13 am
@Robert Gentel,
My biggest problem with Bush II was the sense that he was trying to act like a swaggering Texan. Of course much of that could have been the work of his handlers. And who coached him on his delivery of important speeches? They always seemed rather childlike. But I liked him when the Republicans made the decision to sandbag the Obama presidency and W wouldn't jump on the bandwagon — "He deserves my silence."
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2017 04:32 am
Post President Bush has not been the monster I found him to be while still in office. I consider his election to be the lowering of the bar that set up Trump's election. Prior, there were standards now all but forgotten.
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jespah
 
  4  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2017 06:09 am
@Robert Gentel,
"Don't it always seem to go
that you don't know what you've got till it's gone."

- Joni Mitchell

Seriously, this is a lot like dating. As you get older, you get less hung up on superficial stuff. Not to say that things with Dubya, etc were superficial; it's more that you find you can tolerate more, and let more things go. Fight for social justice and for equality, clean air, etc, but let some other things go or recognize that change won't happen overnight and that there are times when it actually shouldn't happen overnight.

Trump is also making Pence look good. Pence is a whole train wreck unto himself.

But back to Bush and Obama - they both had at least a basic understanding of how the US government works, and they did both make efforts to work within its confines (with Obama being thwarted a lot). But there was never an impression that either of them did not respect the rule of law or the Constitution. There was never an impression that they were trying to feather their own nests, either.
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rosborne979
 
  7  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2017 07:07 am
@Robert Gentel,
I think Dubya was a Good'Ole Boy who was in over his head. I think Trump is a Snake Oil salesman who will say anything just to prevent half of the crowd from walking away, while trying to convince the other half that the Snake Oil he sold them really works.
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blatham
 
  4  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2017 07:26 am
@Robert Gentel,
My notions of Bush evolved. But one could make the case that Bush himself evolved over his eight year tenure. It took him too long to recognize that Cheney had not been a good influence and he possibly came to recognize the same about Rove as well. He came to understand, I think, that he'd been used.

Initially, we didn't think well of Bush because of the manner of his assumption to office. That seemed a consequence of take-no-prisoners power politics at a pretty ugly level - ugly enough that the SC majority chose who would be President. But even prior to that point, Bush seemed woefully unprepared for the presidency, who was under the pretty constant care of handlers so that he wouldn't say stupid stuff in public, who seemed poorly educated (his favorite philosopher was Jesus), and who had a depressingly poor familiarity with the world outside the US (or even with the world outside of very privileged America). And there's the similarity with Trump. Bush, originally at least, was out of his depth in that office and it showed in all sorts of ways as it does with Trump.

Then 9/11 and American politics went really nuts. If I remember correctly, it wasn't until near halfway through Bush's second term that he began to act independent from Cheney's office and from the other power centers in the party at that time (neoconservatives, even the Christian right). The bombast was gone or turned way down, the deceits diminished, and a more sober and honest reflectiveness emerged.

But it has really been his demeanor since leaving office which most deserves respect. In this period, he has shown a level of character which, by way of contrast, remains totally absent in Dick Cheney. And one can (at least I can) see in Bush a real empathy for others which I've never seen in Rove.

But Trump is never going to be reflective. He's never going to feel much empathy for others. He's never going to have "character" because that word and attribute refer to honesty, to transparency, to consistency, to dependability and to an innate sense of community membership.



Cycloptichorn
 
  4  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2017 10:06 am
I think the fact that Bush picked his dad's rivals to be his cabinet members has a lot to do with the way his administration turned out.

Say what you want to about him, he was no scumbag like the current guy is.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2017 11:01 am
@Robert Gentel,
There's no such thing as "a good man doing bad things".
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2017 12:56 pm
@blatham,
blatham wrote:
My notions of Bush evolved. But one could make the case that Bush himself evolved over his eight year tenure.


Oh he definitely did, he fired Rumsfeld and pissed of Cheney by starting to stand up to him. His second term was when I realized that he wasn't the main guy pushing for war, he was led along by those guys and he distanced himself from them in his second term.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2017 12:57 pm
@Olivier5,
Yes there absolutely is (though this is a logomachy of sorts). The banality of evil is a concept we prefer not to believe in, we prefer to believe that that is the purview of "others" but Bush was an ordinary person and not a "bad" person and his flaws were largely situational and not dispositional.

Good people do bad things all the time, and that doesn't change the moral calculus, or responsibility.
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2017 01:54 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

By setting the bar so incredibly low Trump has had a way of making the previous presidents look positively rosy in comparison. I for one find a lot of my strident criticism of Obama petty, for one but it's crazier that these days many Democrats are even downright nostalgic for W. His class is all the more apparent in contrast to Trump's classlessness...



I could be mistaken, but the U.S. is 3,000 miles wide. That's a lot of territory, with a lot of demographics. Most of them are not exactly on the same page, so to speak, when one discusses many topics. Therefore, if one believes in the U.S., as "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," whether or not that is completely true all the time, one does not want to disenfranchise any one demographic, like the one that voted in Trump. Remember, those that voted for Trump did live with Obama in the White House for eight years, while their religion and other preferences were mocked in the liberal bastions on the west coast. Everyone gets a turn for milk and cookies.
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blatham
 
  2  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2017 04:58 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
His second term was when I realized that he wasn't the main guy pushing for war, he was led along by those guys and he distanced himself from them in his second term.
Yes. I got a leg up on this dynamic from an essay in the London Review of Books published while the weapons inspectors were still in Iraq. That essay introduced me to the DC universe of neoconservatives (a term I'd not encountered before). Cheney was tightly aligned with this crowd. Then Jane Mayer did some wonderful reporting ("The Hidden Power") on Cheney's office focusing on David Addington.
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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2017 06:38 pm
@Robert Gentel,
That he wasn't leading the push was actually apparent all along, a better way to word this is that in his second term I began to believe that he regretted it.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2017 06:38 pm
The country has been heading for dumb for a long time. Look how many embraced a crap show like Forest Gump.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Oct, 2017 07:22 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Indeed, it all depends what you call a "good person" and a "good deed". I judge people by their actions, not by comparing them to the worst among us. The intentions count too but they are difficult to know.

And yes, evil is banal. It is in each and everyone of us. We're "good" to the degre we resist it.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 07:44 am
@Robert Gentel,
Certainly I think W looks far better in comparison with Trump, but I don’t see him as a good man who did bad things.

He went for the position as one of the most powerful people on earth and I think he had a duty to consider his decisions, especially highly lethal ones, very carefully.

Just to consider Iraq, there was plenty of advice available to him that the disaster of Iraq was ill conceived and and based on highly contaminated intelligence. I think he showed intellectual and moral recklessness.

I don’t find that to be consistent with goodness

However, if you define goodness, I would feel more able to comment
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 08:24 am
@Robert Gentel,
Agreed.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 09:13 am
@dlowan,
I mean psychologically ordinary, not demonstrating significantly reduced empathy, and not demonstrating ill-will in the acts that were harmful.

Obviously what one considers “good” is a more nebulous value judgement. I think he was a kind person with a good heart who was talked into doing something with significant negative consequences. I don’t absolve him of responsibility but there is a clear difference between him and someone like Trump in the other regards.
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 09:29 am
@edgarblythe,
The movie was good despite its politics. It's Candide from a rightist point of view, and its digs against the left. What with its practicality in the face of uncontrollable events, "we must tend our gardens."
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 09:39 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
I don’t absolve him of responsibility but there is a clear difference between him and someone like Trump in the other regards.

Or someone like Dick Cheney. Bush, in his political naiveté, was duped by Cheney, and the neoconservatives in his administration.

His administration would have been much like his father's, had he not invaded Iraq.
0 Replies
 
 

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