A Response To “10 Reasons To Fire George W. Bush”

Daniel Drezner saw fit to link my 40 Reasons To Vote For George Bush Or Against John Kerry article on his fine blog, which I certainly appreciate.

Drezner also linked to a piece called 10 Reasons To Fire George W. Bush by Jesse Walker at Reason. Since Walker’s column has been getting a lot of play, I thought it might be worthwhile to give a brief response to the points that Walker came up with…

1) The war in Iraq: In my opinion, we were way, way, overdue to knock Saddam out of power. During the Bush 41 presidency, we should have helped the Iraqi people overthrow Saddam after they rose up against him in the aftermath of the Gulf War. Then in 1993, after he tried to assassinate Bush 41, we again should have invaded. Then in 1998, after the inspectors had to leave, once more, Clinton should have rolled in there.

After all of that, in this post 9/11 world, knocking out Saddam was an absolute necessity. Winning the war on terror requires that we get rogue nations out of the business of supporting terrorist groups with global reach. Saddam was the low hanging fruit and because we plucked him, we MAY be able to deal with Iran, Syria, and North Korea WITHOUT having to use force. Furthermore, a democratic Iraq has the potential to help transform the region and take the starch out of radical Islam. I don’t care how you slice it, it was time for Saddam to go and we’re better off with him out of commission.

2) Abu Ghraib: I’m sorry, but Abu Ghraib is a big sack of nothing. I think this has been the most overblown story of the century so far & despite the spin, I think it has very little to do with the Bush administration. In other words, I think the idea of holding the President responsible because a few sadistic grunts got out of hand is just silly.

3) Indefinite detentions: My sympathy for non-Americans who have been detained for a long period of time because they’re illegal immigrants or because they’ve violated our immigration laws is pretty close to zero. In fact, we should do more to publicize this, maybe it’ll discourage illegals from coming to the US in the first place.

Furthermore, the tiny violins are playing for the three guys who are being detained as ‘enemy combatants’ as well. When you team up with a terrorist organization at war with America and plan attacks on your own country, you’ve lost your right to use the Constitution as a shield in my opinion. If you join the enemy, you should be treated like the enemy.

4) The culture of secrecy: Daniel Drezner seemed really impressed with this one, but I can’t say that I agree. We’re at war, so of course we’re classifying a lot of documents and trying to keep things close to the vest. Heck, when you consider all the books that have come out, the leaks, and all the information the Bushies have given these investigating committees, we may have given out TOO MUCH info.

5) Patriot and its progeny: I think the fear of the Patriot Act has been incredibly overblown. Other than a few minor quibbles, I think the Patriot Act is fine and has in fact helped to make the country safer. In other words, I’d call #5 “a feature, not a bug”.

6) The war on speech (McCain-Feingold): I strongly opposed McCain-Feingold and I sincerely wish that the President would have vetoed it. Not only are parts of McCain-Feingold unconstitutional in my opinion, it hasn’t “taken the money” out of politics as its proponents claimed it would. That being said, Kerry would have signed McCain-Feingold too. So even though I wish Bush would have shot it down, would Kerry’s position have been any better? Not one bit…

7) The drunken sailor factor (Spending): Again, I agree with Walker that Bush is no fiscal conservative and I’ve been bitterly disappointed that Bush has performed so poorly in this area. But once more, what does Kerry have to offer here that Bush doesn’t? Kerry is promising “Hillarycare redux” along with a bazillion other expensive new programs that will bloat the budget. Furthermore, after watching Republicans in Congress throwing money down a rathole along with W. for the last 4 years in a futile attempt to “triangulate”, I’m no longer confident that the Republicans would fight new Democratic spending as they did during the Clinton administration. So unfortunately, the irresponsible spending will probably continue whether Bush or Kerry is elected in November.

8) Cozying up to the theocrats (Gay Marriage, Stem Cells, & Cloning): If you believe life begins at conception then you should be opposed to government funding of Embryonic stem cells, cloning is an issue fraught with moral pitfalls that you don’t have to be religious to appreciate, and the FMA is the only way to stop liberal judges from running roughshod over the will of the voters and doing irreparable damage to our country by imposing gay marriage. So Bush’s positions on these issues are a plus as far as I’m concerned.

9) Protectionism in all its flavors: I am big free trader and I certainly disagreed with Bush’s decision to impose steel, shrimp, & lumber tariffs for political reasons. However, W. has also pushed for free trade agreements with Singapore, Chile, Australia, & much of Central America. So on the whole, I think W. has STRONG credentials as a free trader and would be far superior to John Kerry on this issue.

10) He’s making me root for John Kerry: Here Jesse says, “Yet I find myself hoping (that Kerry) wins. Not because I’m sure he’ll be better than the current executive, but because the incumbent so richly deserves to be punished at the polls.”

That sounds like a personal problem to me =D

Look, here’s the bottom line. While I certainly have complaints about Bush, there’s not a single issue, not one, where John Kerry better represents my interests than George W. Bush. Not only does Bush have a number of strong points that Kerry doesn’t, in every area where Bush is weak, Kerry is even weaker. So why waste a vote on a guy who offers ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to conservatives just because we’re not thrilled with parts of Bush’s agenda? It just doesn’t make a lot of sense..

***Update #1***: Jesse Walker responded to my post in the comments section and in turn I responded to him. Here’s what he had to say…

“…I appreciate the time you put into responding to my column, John, but the fact is that except on the question of the war, your responses basically consist of either restating your opinion (“Abu Ghraib is a big sack of nothing”) or saying that you agree with me but think Kerry is worse. (And on many of these issues, like spending, he probably *is* worse, though I’d rather have a Republican congress restraining the worst impulses of President Kerry than ratifying the worst impulses of President Bush.) For that reason, I don’t find it very convincing. For example, my piece included several links to sources that indicate that Abu Ghraib was more than just “a few sadistic grunts [that] got out of hand”; if you doubt them, that’s fine, but you should explain why you doubt them rather than pretending they aren’t there.

You do offer an argument for the war, and while I disagree with it, I appreciate the fact that you laid out an argument. I put the war first on my list because I think it’s the worst disaster of this administration; but I also think, maybe a little paradoxically, that it’s the point on which it’s easiest for reasonable people to disagree. (Or at least, I know more reasonable people who disagree with me about the war than any other item on the list.) We’ve both written about it too many times to go through the argument yet again in a comment box, but I’ll just say for the record that Iraq sure doesn’t look like low-hanging fruit to me.

Finally: I’m glad to see you join me in criticizing Bush’s spending problem, but didn’t your list of reasons to vote for Bush include his increase in federal funds for education? :>”

My response

“Jesse

“For example, my piece included several links to sources that indicate that Abu Ghraib was more than just “a few sadistic grunts [that] got out of hand”; if you doubt them, that’s fine, but you should explain why you doubt them rather than pretending they aren’t there.”

Fair point, but I did say I wanted to keep it brief =D. Also, I didn’t want to get into a wonkish “he said – she said” debate about the relevance and authority of some of the links, particularly since I believe Abu Ghraib has been given far too much attention as it is.

“I’d rather have a Republican congress restraining the worst impulses of President Kerry than ratifying the worst impulses of President Bush.”

I used to believe that the Congress would be a check on the spending of a Kerry Presidency, but I’m not so sure anymore. The Republicans in Congress have been just as much of a problem as W., if not moreso, in the spending department. And since Republicans have fallen in love with Clintonian triangulation, I think they’ve lost the will to take the sort of tough stands on spending that they did in the 90s.

“I’m glad to see you join me in criticizing Bush’s spending problem, but didn’t your list of reasons to vote for Bush include his increase in federal funds for education? :>”

I’ve beaten W. up for his spending a number of times and if you’ll notice, my phrasing on the education spending was let us say “nuanced” =D

“If you believe it’s important to increase funding for education, “President Bush’s overall Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 budget represents a 49% increase for elementary and secondary education since FY 2001″.”

I don’t believe the problem with our public education is that we’re not spending enough, but a lot of other people do. So since Bush has done the spending, I figured that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”

And last but not least, Jesse’s response to that…

“You have a good point about Republican legislators’ recent spending habits. Still, gridlock would surely slow the beast down; and Republicans facing a Democratic executive would have more of an incentive to dig in their heels. (Especially since Kerry’s political skills don’t seem to be remotely as good as Bill Clinton’s.) Bottom line is, I really don’t think Kerry would be good for the nation’s bank account, but I think there’s a good case to be made that he’ll face more restraints than Bush does.”

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