Thursday, December 22, 2005

I'm sure he means well: I think I know what Bush's legacy is going to be: fear. Fear of everything and everyone (except our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who speaks soft words into our ears as we sleep). Look at his recent comments upon the Patriot Act getting a six-month reprieve in the Senate:

"No one should be allowed to block the Patriot Act,"
and then
"The terrorists still want to hit us again," Mr. Bush said Wednesday morning, as he was leaving the White House to make a hospital visit to wounded soldiers. "There is an enemy that lurks, a dangerous group of people that want to do harm to the American people, and we must have the tools necessary to protect the American people."
He's like a third-rate Stephen King, pulling out the bogeyman whenever times get tough.

Same with the NSA issue -- if you're doing what's right, then explain it to us in terms we can understand. Show us the laws, show us the interpretations, explain why it's in our best interests. Simply saying that if we don't spy on domestic communications without warrants, "the enemy will win," makes me doubt that precious sliver of my mind that says we should have faith in him.

But seriously, looking back, we won't remember his "compassionate" conservatism, and certainly not his fiscal responsibility. No, we're going to remember how scared we were of the lurking enemy, ready to pounce at any time from out of our closet, or grab our uncovered toes from under our beds. I know 9/11 changed everything, but you never heard Reagan lamenting how Ivan was in every airport waiting to convert us to a collective agarian society. He talked about Victory (and not just using the word for its own sake, a la the Iraq problem), he focused on hope and on possibility -- he inspired. Bush does the reverse, he wants us to cower, to shake, to put our heads into the sand and let ol' Uncle W take care of them, and would we mind letting him check out our mail while we're at it? It's for our own good.

1 comment:

Flyer said...

Bush has grown in office, I think. Unfortunately, when anything in government grows, that's a bad thing. Well intentioned programs grow into bureaucracies, principled jurists grow into thoughtful centrists, impassioned legislators grow into get-along re-election machines. Hey, people like term limits for a reasons (though in the end I don't like them much).

Bush, whose presidency began with little hope of great importance, found a resonant issue after 9/11 and his message was the opposite of what you describe, Raz. It was about confidence, spirit and changing the rules. Instead of waiting around to be hit again, or for Eurocrats to get serious, we would take the fight overseas.

He's drifted from that message, to be sure. The government is now the solution, not the problem, and so what if we have to cut a few corners. We know better than you.

Which will be his legacy? I don't know. I'd love to see a return to the Bush we saw, if briefly, early on. But I'm not optimistic.

I don't think the NSA issue is going to get explained in "terms we can understand," though. This isn't a clear cut issue, no matter what is said on either side. Executive authority is necessarily flexible, based on many conditions. Where on the threat level continuum , between 9/11 and last week, do warrantless (though not unwarranted) searches go from a necessary evil to executive overreach (or do they ever become necessary to you)? How do you explain that simply? I'd say he's being too simplistic (and so are you, it seems). What we need is for the opposition party and their confreres in the media to cool off and stop responding in equally simplistic terms. There's a serious question to answer about trade-offs between security and liberty, and it's not helped by comparisons to King George III. In fact, my biggest problem is with those who won't admit there are trade-offs, or that sacrifices should ever come from the side of liberty.