By James Shott
It is difficult to know just where to start in discussing the column in last Friday’s local newspaper by Bonnie Erbe titled “How can Obama fix so much that went wrong?”
Undoubtedly, that’s all some readers need to know, because so many people uncritically accept all criticisms of George W. Bush. She cites an article in the current edition of "Vanity Fair'' magazine, which she said “tries to explain how so much could have gone wrong in so few years. In less than eight years, the Bush White House managed to accomplish the following:” “[From the Vanity Fair article] The threat of 9/11 ignored. The threat of Iraq hyped and manipulated. Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Hurricane Katrina. The shredding of civil liberties. The rise of Iran. Global warming. Economic disaster. How did one two-term presidency go so wrong?"
To this list Ms. Erbe added “a monstrously useless expenditure of human life and taxpayers' limited resources (to wit, the war in Iraq, implied in the Vanity Fair quote but not spelled out) and the decimation of America's financial watchdog system designed to prevent the kind of economic mess we're now experiencing.”
But before getting into the goo and muck contained in Ms. Erbe’s rant, it needs to be said that there is ample room for legitimate criticism of Mr. Bush’s presidency. He did a lousy job on illegal immigration; he abandoned the conservative ideals of fiscal responsibility and of small government, to name just two areas deserving criticism.
But by blindly dittoing Vanity Fair’s list, Ms. Erbe shows herself to be either a victim of Bush Derangement Syndrome, or a lazy journalist. Lazy journalism is in vogue, these days; she has lots of company.
She doesn’t actually say so, but one gets the idea that both she and Vanity Fair actually believe that Mr. Bush caused Hurricane Katrina, although neither says so. Ms. Erbe, in fact, said nothing of substance; she just alleged a lot of things. What she likely meant is that Mr. Bush was responsible for the poor response to the storm, despite the plain fact that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, both Democrats, sat on their hands instead of taking action to help their constituents, and that many of those constituents sat on their hands waiting for the government to come and save them from themselves.
Then, there’s “the threat of Iraq hyped and manipulated. Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.” The revision of history, whether through willful intent and intellectual dishonesty or out of laziness and ignorance, is rampant these days. Knowledgeable people remember that not only the Bush administration, but also the Clinton administration (Remember Madeline Albright?), Tony Blair and the British Parliament, the United Nations, and several European nations, believed that Saddam Hussein harbored WMD (he used them against his own Kurdish civilians), and was at least friendly with the goals of al Qaeda. Others have offered evidence that some WMD were found in Iraq, and still other offer evidence of a massive transfer of WMD to Syria and other places prior to the US attack.
And like so many people, she apparently believes that terrorists are boy scouts, and are either criminals subject to our laws and entitled to our court protections, or soldiers protected by the Geneva Conventions. They are neither.
How about the shredding of civil liberties? She apparently gives no credit to Mr. Bush for having successfully defended America from further terrorist attacks, while other nations like England, Spain and France have been attacked. But have any of you readers had your bank account seized (aside from punitive tax rates, of course)? Has your property been seized? Do you have police watching your every move? Has your ability to move about the country or visit another country been impeded?
Yet, Ms. Erbe makes the following statement: “If America was so spellbound by what I always viewed as the GOP's gross manipulation of the terror issue, I would go so far as to say we need to revisit how we elect our presidents [never mind the Constitution]. Something in our system is going seriously wrong. 9/11 was a horrible event. Still, Americans should have been able to see through Republicans' fear-driven '04 campaign to recognize the danger was more imagined than real.”
Ms. Erbe conveniently ignores the dirty hands of Congressional and other Democrats in the recent financial crisis, and blames that, too, on Mr. Bush, even though the seeds were sown by the Carter administration, watered and fertilized by the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration attempted a few times to alert a compliant and complicit Democrat-controlled Congress to the coming problems. Instead of acting on the warnings, Democrat committee chairs and members like Barney Frank, Maxine Waters and Christopher Dodd, humiliated and shouted down the regulators, and Ms. Waters even praised Franklin Raines.
Were it not for Barack Obama being elected Messiah, Ms. Erbe seems to think John Kerry could have filled those shoes. Of Mr. Kerry she says: “In fact, if he had won in '04, chances are we would have been out of Iraq by now, and much of the mortgage and housing crisis that rocked Wall Street and the global economy would not have taken place.”
Towards the end she says this: “Clearly, President-elect Obama is a much better choice [than Mr. Bush]. As it has been said by some, the grownups are back in town.”
It is really difficult to take pap like this seriously. What is sad is that lots of people do take it seriously.