George W. Bush
Today is the 10 year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. It is a good time reflect on what, if anything, was gained. It is also a time for those of us to learn about what, if anything, can we learn from the mistakes of the war.
I supported the Iraq War when it began. I looked at the evidence leading up to the war and I came to the conclusion, as most Americans did, that the regime of Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and that the status quo that was in place after the end of the Gulf War was simply unsustainable. Also, I was also intrigued by the possibility of bringing democracy to the Middle East to combat the appeal and vision of radical Islam. Furthermore, I do believe the Bush Administration sincerely believed that Iraq possessed WMDs. I do not think this was an attempt to steal Iraqi oil or other conspiracy theorist nonsense.
However, I was wrong. I’m enough of a man to look at the evidence that has emerged in 10 years and more importantly the results of the war and acknowledge that I was wrong to support the Iraq War. I do not believe the war has served the interests of the United States. I also believe that the high losses, in both blood and treasure do not justify the results achieved.
Below is the speech I gave last night at the FreedomWorks’ Spring Break College Summit at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington, DC.
Before I get down to the crux of my talk this evening, I’ve gotta say, watching Senator Rand Paul’s epic 13-hour filibuster on Wednesday was nothing short of inspirational. For more than half a day, Senator Paul — aided at times by some of his colleagues, including Mike Lee and Ted Cruz — gave a brilliant defense of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and challenged the notion of perpetual war.
While Democrats in Congress have claimed to be champions of civil liberties, it was the Tea Party, led by Senator Paul, defending due process. It was the Tea Party making the case against a government that could arbitrarily kill its own citizens on American soil. And it was the Tea Party who was fighting against an extraordinary expansion of executive power.
The message got out there. Senator Paul gained some 40,000 new followers on Twitter and the social media service reported that over 1-million tweets were sent about the filibuster. Ironically, it was Politico that recently suggested that hashtags were no longer relevant. The hashtag, #StandWithRand, pretty much killed that notion.
C-SPAN confirmed that they had received viewership that was on par with events like the presidential inauguration. The filibuster also had the profound effect of gaining support from individuals and groups who aren’t typically fans of Republicans, including John Cusack, Van Jones, and Code Pink.
And not only was this a courageous stand against a President who has abused his authority, but it was also a rejection of the GOP’s past, and they’re losing their minds because of it. We saw that the next morning when John McCain and Lindsey Graham had a complete meltdown on the Senate floor.
Lindsey Graham has declared war on the Constitution (on the same day Kim Jong Un declared war on his enemies… hmm…). What’s especially funny is that he couldn’t have chosen a less popular time to do so, as the Constitution — courtesy of #StandwithRand — is trending. With overwhelming support for Rand Paul’s filibuster coming from conservatives, libertarians, and even many Democrats; Graham, joined by John McCain, has decided that the possibility of the government killing Americans on American soil without due process is a non-issue.
Graham told POLITICO:
“I do mind our party taking a position completely different than we had with President Bush. I didn’t hear any of these people say anything during the Bush administration. Where were they? I just think it’s politics. I think it’s creating a straw man, creating a situation that doesn’t exist.”
First of all, let’s look at the issue of droning under President Bush. Not once did Senator Paul praise President Bush during his filibuster. Unlike his colleague, Senator Graham, Paul is able to look at an issue based on constitutionality instead of on which political party is at stake. If Senator Graham cared to remember those “good old days”, he might remember the huge anti-war movement that arose during Bush’s War on Terror. Much of that movement was directed at tactics such as waterboarding and use of drones, but the movement was against a Republican president. As a party-line opportunist, I guess it’s not all that surprising that there’s a bit of a memory gap for the senator.
That’s right, folks. Karl Rove, a former White House adviser who had a meltdown on Fox News on election night, and American Crossroads are creating a PAC dedicated to helping establishment candidates defeat conservatives in primary races:
The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s efforts to win control of the Senate.
The group, the Conservative Victory Project, is intended to counter other organizations that have helped defeat establishment Republican candidates over the last two election cycles. It is the most robust attempt yet by Republicans to impose a new sense of discipline on the party, particularly in primary races.
“There is a broad concern about having blown a significant number of races because the wrong candidates were selected,” said Steven J. Law, the president of American Crossroads, the “super PAC” creating the new project. “We don’t view ourselves as being in the incumbent protection business, but we want to pick the most conservative candidate who can win.”
Over the past few weeks, with the Second Inauguration of Barack Obama as a backdrop, a mostly-ignored crisis has been unfolding in North Africa. As President Obama declared at his inauguration that “a decade of warfare is ending,” the United States began aiding France with their bombing campaign in Mali, to little fanfare, fulfilling President Obama’s actual foreign policy goal: to maintain an American global presence, with little accountability here or abroad.
Meanwhile, over the inaugural weekend, to the north of Mali in neighboring Algeria, a hostage crisis at a British Petroleum natural gas plant ended violently; at the time of this writing, 37 hostages were killed, 3 of which were American. Details are still unclear, and the situation is sensitive, but the mind recalls another inaugural hostage crisis 32 years ago with a happier ending.
The events in Algeria and Mali are intrinsically linked, not just by the actors therein, but by the actions which spurred them. To properly confront the crisis at hand, we must also confront our contributions to the crisis, for as Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Before Christmas, amid the drama of the fiscal cliff, and before the horrible shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama announced that our government would recognize the Syrian opposition as the legitimate representative of the country’s people, stating:
“The Syrian opposition coalition is now inclusive enough, and is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population, that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.”
As a libertarian, it has been puzzling to watch how conservatives have reacted to the foreign policy of Barack Obama. In almost every tangible way, Obama’s policies have been a continuation of his predecessor’s. In fact, in some ways he has been even more aggressive - amping up the mission in Afghanistan, involvement in Libya, and increased drone attacks (including against American citizens). Yet the right continues to pretend that the Obama administration has been “weak” on national defense.
This debate has reached an even greater level of absurdity in recent weeks as Obama has used the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s killing to tout his foreign policy successes. Obama has even attempted to argue that Mitt Romney would not have ordered the killing (more than a bit far-fetched in my humble opinion). Conservatives, on the other hand, have tried to minimize the significance of the event and find any way possible to not give Obama credit for it, when surely they would have praised George W. Bush.
And while military spending has not been cut at all under Obama, conservatives are still arguing that he is somehow short-changing the Pentagon. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma went as far as to claim Obama is “gutting” the military in recent comments regarding President Obama’s trip to Afghanistan early this week:
“Clearly this trip is campaign-related,” [Inhofe] said. “We’ve seen recently that President Obama has visited college campuses in an attempt to win back the support of that age group since he has lost it over the last three years. Similarly, this trip to Afghanistan is an attempt to shore up his national security credentials, because he has spent the past three years gutting our military.”
I remember some time ago – maybe as far back as a couple of years ago – I saw a link pointing to a list ranking the presidents on a libertarian scale. I did some digging around tonight, and I believe that this is that list I saw.
Of course, it’s all subjective. There are several lists like this one, and they all vary a little bit depending on the views of the person who wrote the list. I say that to stress that while I’m linking to this list, I didn’t write it, so don’t assume that I endorse everything in it.
His top five U.S. Presidents:
- Martin Van Buren
- Grover Cleveland
- John Tyler
- Calvin Coolidge
- Zachary Taylor
And, of course, no “best of” list is any good without an accompanying “worst of” list. Here are his list of the worst 5 presidents:
- George W. Bush
- Abraham Lincoln
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Ronald Reagan
- Harry S. Truman
A few of my thoughts on the list:
On the campaign trail and during the third presidential debate with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama promised that Americans would see a “net-spending cut” during his presidency.
The claim was met with a boatload of skepticism given that Obama was proposing massive expansions in healthcare and non-defense discretionary spending; however, we all crossed our fingers that he would follow through, but we didn’t hold our breath.
The skepticism proved to be justified. Just a couple of months after coming into office, President Barack Obama told Americans that under his budget that there would be trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.
He wasn’t kidding. The Congressional Budget Office released its budget report for this current fiscal year yesterday, predicting yet another trillion dollar budget deficit and unemployment hovering around 9%:
The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday predicted the deficit will rise to $1.08 trillion in 2012.
The office also projected the jobless rate would rise to 8.9 percent by the end of 2012, and to 9.2 percent in 2013.
These are much dimmer forecasts than in CBO’s last report in August, when the office projected a $973 billion deficit. The report reflects weaker corporate tax revenue and the extension for two months of the payroll tax holiday.
If the CBO estimate is correct, it would mean that the United States recorded a deficit of more than $1 trillion for every year of Obama’s first term.
Tim Thomas sure stirred up a hornet’s nest, didn’t he? The Boston Bruin’s goalie made a personal decision to not meet President Obama. He said his piece on Facebook about why he decided to forego the meeting. Fair enough. Of course, Governor Deval Patrick seems to feel that Thomas was lacking “courtesy and grace”:
Governor Deval Patrick struck a disappointed tone today as he commented on Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas’s decision not to attend a White House event earlier this week honoring the Stanley Cup champions.
“He’s a phenomenal hockey player and he’s entitled to his views, but it just feels to me like we’re losing in this country basic courtesy and grace,” Patrick said.
“I didn’t think much of President Bush’s policies – two wars on a credit card, prescription drug benefit that we couldn’t afford, deficit out of control – but I always referred to him as ‘Mr. President.’ I stood when he came in the room,” Patrick said in his monthly appearance on the “Ask the Governor” segment on WTKK-FM.
“There are rules to live by so I don’t want to make more of this than is deserving. I guess I’d prefer to pay more attention and offer more commentary when there are acts of grace as opposed to the reverse,” he said, moving onto the next topic.
Interesting. Please note the part in bold. Obviously, Thomas simply must have said something horrible. Luckily, we can go to the tape, so to speak…or at least Thomas’ Facebook page. There, Thomas says this: