My opinion of George W. Bush has been a frequent topic on these pages, and I have to say, in defense of consistency, my feelings have not wavered one way or the other in the 6+ years we’ve been with him. As he gears up for the State of the Union speech tonight, I would like to know: what do you, personally, really think of him? It may sound reductivist and easy, but a snapshot of your collective feelings would be immensely interesting.

Anyone, including lurkers, are invited to answer – you can stay anonymous. Give your exact impression and don’t be afraid to be explicit one way or the other!

UPDATE: Awesome debate in the comments. Can anyone who watched the State of the Union address give their impressions to those of us who didn’t?

52 thoughts on “pellinore

  1. Claverack Weekender

    Seems to be too weak as a communicator or manager to get the job done. It seems like most of the people lining up for this job have similar issues, sadly. Everyone wants to work at hedge funds or Goldman Sachs. Or move to Hollywood.
    I do find Laura to be soothing in a “Leave it to Beaver” kind of way.

  2. Food Fighter

    George Bush is arrogant, angry, and dismissive of other’s opinions. He is stubborn, and unwilling to admit mistakes.
    I also think he is a phony conservative.
    To his credit, he does seem to understand that the economy depends on petroleum.

  3. Neva

    Ooh, this is inticing.. Here’s my take. Bush has always since Day 1 reminded me of some of the obnoxious, stubborn, “the world revolves around me” white male frat boys I have known. Sorry to all you frat boys (Ian, my husband, many of these readers) but you know this type is overly represented among you. His is a dangerous combination of traits because it creates a person so used to getting his own way and so stubborn that he is unable to admit that he’s not capable or competent enough to do a job like this. His “charisma” that was described initially always struck me as pure arrogance. His “compassionate conservatism” never fooled me – I always thought he was truly lacking in humility which I believe to be his number one problem. Unfortunately I have yet to be impressed that anyone who gets to a position of power on whatever side of the aisle can maintain true humility and not get seduced by power and all the “special interests” out there.
    Maybe 2008 will change my mind? I hope so.

  4. Confused liberal

    I am a Democrat and thus am suspicious of him and all he represents, though at least he didn’t launch an immediate attack after 9/11.
    I have a question for everyone, though, especially my fellow liberals, because I think I am a little bit stupid. It is very easy for me to criticize the war of Iraq (particularly with thousands of servicemen dead) and Bush in general, and you can utter platitudes against Bush and receive nods of approval from everyone in the room. But…
    Seems to me that the only way to find out if there are real WMD is to go in there and check. And considering how the Muslim world has a stronghold in the middle east and we don’t, the best way to keep tabs on potential weapons to destroy the world, or at least to make any kind of terrorist attack, is to have a stronghold there. And Saddam was a torturer of his own people anyway.
    So here is my question: Was it completely wrong to go to war in Iraq, and now that we are there, is there any other way of doing it than to try to settle the insurgency and unrest there? It’s a big country, and we’d at least keep the world a little safer by being there and watching over what’s going on in the Middle East. Considering that places like Israel get attacked and have to have so many of their own people dying to defend their small state, don’t we need more of a presence in the Middle East? Esp with Iran and Syria?
    You can say that Bush is there for the oil or just to foment war or to give his friends’ companies contracting jobs, but who’s to say that we could do better in deciding to a) invade or not invade Iraq or b) leave the place in a non-volatile state?
    I don’t think it’s worth it to have as many Americans die as are dying now over there, but on the other hand, I think it’s easy to criticize and hard to know how better to protect the world from terrorists. Sure, there were no WMDs found, but we wouldn’t have known that for sure unless we looked, and we might have been subject to more threats.
    I don’t want platitudes from fellow liberals. I want some thoughtful answers.

  5. HKk

    He is the ass-man. I want to say he is dumb, but he is not. He is self-absorbed and blind to life.
    From 2001 – today we have had so little progress in our amazing country, and have only stepped backwards in almost every facet of life here – dem / repub / indy – we’re all hurt now.

  6. LFMD

    Well, I am one of the few (only?) readers of xtc who actually voted for Bush, so here are my impressions.
    In the beginning, I was charmed by Bush. I’ve said it before, but Gore was such an automaton. In comparison, Bush was likeable, funny — he was able to relate to and connect with the average American in ways that Gore could not. Have you seen Alexandra Pelosi’s “Journeys with George”? The man has charm! And, despite what all of you seem to think, he is smart. Consider the staff with whom he surrounded himself right away — Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. These are experienced politicos, and he knew what he was doing when he chose them.
    Right after 9/11, I felt as though he responded in the way that the majority of Americans wanted/expected him to. He was decisive, tough, and focused. The whole “Let’s get the guys who did this!” thing. As unlikely as the “War on Terror” was in theory, I believed in it. Bush also expressed a level of warmth and kindness to the victims’ families that I appreciated.
    Is he stubborn? Yes. Dismissive of other’s opinions? Yes. Arrogant? Yes. What President is not? Clinton certainly was.
    Anyway, while I was initially caught up in Bush’s cult of personality, over time, he fell short of my expectations. WMDs in Iraq? I believed they were there because Bush said they were. . . . not a single thing found. Hurricane Katrina? His whole “Brownie – You are doing a fine job” and slow response was a huge disappointment. What I perceived as charm turned to the disingenuous frat boy attitude that Neva spoke of. What I perceived as compassion turned to disinterest and insincerity during the Katrina situation.
    And now, years later, we are stuck in this terrible situation. I feel like we have all been duped. I don’t think Bush had evil intent to dupe us. . . . he believed what he wanted to believe, and he lead us all down the wrong path.

  7. LFMD

    I just read Confused Liberal’s comments, and I don’t feel so badly about having voted for Bush. He raises good points — I don’t have any answers, but I do not think it was completely wrong to go to war in Iraq, and I do think that we cannot pull out without bringing some order to the unrest.

  8. jason savage

    i think confused liberal makes some excellent points.
    i suppose I qualify as a liberal as well. certainly on social issues, though i don’t know enough to claim that I am a liberal on economic ones.
    this comment in particular resonates with me:
    it’s easy to criticize and hard to know how better to protect the world from terrorists
    Bush *is* easy to criticize and incredibly easy to make fun of. But I think he deserves (or the people he has hired deserve, but he should take partial credit then) a lot of praise for the fact that there has not been an attack on US soil since 2001.
    I would also agree with confused liberal on the point of our presence in Iraq. I thought it was an awful idea to go in the first place, but i think withdrawing now only creates the next Afghanistan.
    I think that Bush is woefully underqualified, and while I don’t think he is stupid I do think he is small minded and simplistic. I don’t believe that he is a bad person. I don’t think he went into Iraq for the oil or to line the coffers of his friend’s companies. I do think he went because Sadaam was an easily accesible symbol for us to knock out of power. And I think that he imagined we could plant democracy there and that it would take. But he should have just been forthright about his reasons. The dance he did to “justify” the invasion was cringe-worthy and exposed the worst kind of American arrogance.
    I think Bush is in a job that is well beyond his grasp. And he utterly lacks the humility to compensate with good listening skills or openness to changing course. He acts very often like the spoiled child he no doubt was (and I say this as a spoiled child myself). I am a white, male frat boy. I know some wonderful, intelligent, nimble, open minded, forward thinking white male frat boys. Not one of them bears even the slightest resemblance to our President.

  9. The other Lee

    I never trusted him. If you look at his history he didn’t have to earn anything, it was all giftwrapped for him solely because of his family name. This is exactly the kind of person that should NOT be the single most powerful man in the world.
    He never understood what it was like to work for something, he never understood what it was like to start from nothing and earn anything, he has never known what it is like to have to choose between something you want and something you need when you can only have one or the other.
    He is exactly the kind of person that thinks that the poor are poor because they choose to be, that race relations are bad because minorities want it that way and have no reason to be angry anymore.
    He distrusts academics and intelligent people because they deal in abstracts and constructs that he does not understand and does his best to devalue their contributions.
    He believes that the world was put here for us to use and that no matter how much damage we do to it, it will always be fine and we shouldn’t worry about keeping anything for our children because after all it is so big there will be plenty for all future generations, no matter what anyone tells him.
    I have a very low opinion of dubya because he is just like so many narrow minded, insecure, dreary, uninspired, inconsiderate, boorish people I’ve met. We all know the type, they are proud to be backward in everything, afraid of change, afraid to think outside of their cozy little world, afraid to challenge the status quo for risk of losing their tiny little kingdom.
    I’ve never trusted him, I won’t trust another from the Bush family and I’m afraid it will take 10+ years to undue the damage he’s caused this country, much less the entire world.
    I shudder to think that there is even the possibility of ever having a worse President, I just cannot fathom the thought, yet I fear it happening. I just hope that as a nation we’ve hit rock bottom with this one and we can hopefully start building back up and repairing ourselves and the world.

  10. jason savage

    the other Lee makes this point:
    I never trusted him. If you look at his history he didn’t have to earn anything, it was all giftwrapped for him solely because of his family name. This is exactly the kind of person that should NOT be the single most powerful man in the world.
    He never understood what it was like to work for something, he never understood what it was like to start from nothing and earn anything, he has never known what it is like to have to choose between something you want and something you need when you can only have one or the other.
    i would only ask that wasn’t FDR from much the same background? and he is often heralded as one of our best presidents. i am not sure that privilege disqualifies you outright for leadership.

  11. Anne

    Probably the most sympathetic thing I can say is that W seems to be in way over his head. I don’t think he is actually quite as stupid or shallow as many people believe. And I bet he is actually a fun person to actually hang out with… a charming, jokey type, maybe even a bit sexy or at least overtly flirtatious. (Girl talk, this.)
    But my reading is that W is essentially a front man, a convenient dynastic proxy for hardliners with some very distinct agendas…. agendas that have led the U.S. to a pretty pass internationally. :-( I think Bush is neither intellectual enough nor substantial enough to analyze complex policy issues and formulate informed strategies.
    Then there is his whole public-speaking deficit… I try to forgive it, but sometimes it’s just so embarrassing.

  12. Jody

    I have Libertatrian and isolationist tendencies. I don’t really care if the rest of the world runs on Republics or Democracy, so let’s say I celebrate diversity. I did not vote for Bush and never would, but it didn’t bother me in the original debates when he hammered on about not being the world’s policeman. Social issues always vacillate because we have a moral majority that runs in conflict with personal liberties. I would not like to have dinner with W, he has a narrow range of interests and is cut from a far more honkey cloth than I. (The Other Lee just covered most of this pretty well). I don’t hear it mentioned as much as I thought during his tenure but I will put this out there:
    Watch the movie “Being There”. Watch it carefully and follow it to the very last line. That’s who Bush is, to me.

  13. Bozoette Mary

    I believe he’s an alcoholic — he won’t admit responsibility, he shifts blame, he has big ideas that he doesn’t think through, he does not tolerate opposition. I did think he showed some leadership after 9/11, but I can’t help thinking it was all scripted for him.

  14. Drake

    I’ve always felt like he’s a puppet that was pushed into office by oil and big business. Then 9/11 fell on him and he had to pull something out of his… ear.
    I worry that the Rich Republicans have hoodwinked the Religious Right into believing that they are the Jesus party… when they could really care less.
    Or am I just paranoid?

  15. tbruns

    As much as I hate to admit it, I can almost accept an ignorant president, but one that understands his weaknesses and then does not surround himself with people that can then shore up those weaknesses and assist him in leading this country is a criminal shame. Christ I can’t wiat till it’s over

  16. Sean

    I identify with the President for a number of reasons. He’s strong willed and simple minded, easily swayed by compelling and obvious answers to complex questions which require a lot more nuance than he is capable of, and I see this in myself.
    Also, he has been afforded opportunities that he didn’t deserve because of the situation he was born into (not just the presidency, but that is the most obvious example) and every time he has failed, my guess is that he has taken it as a learning experience and moved on.
    His politics is deeply personal, and I’ve found a way to respect that. When he attacked Iraq and gave no-bid contracts to Haliburton, it was because he personally knew Iraq and Haliburton, he didn’t seem to know about a whole lot of other countries or companies when he became president. It doesn’t matter how many actors, writers, directors or producers there are in the world, if I got the chance to do something on a national scale, I’d stick to the people I know right now as well.
    The only thing I find disgusting about him, and I really do, is his abject dismissal of his own flaws and mistakes. I believe that some of this is centered in his deep Christianity and Messiah complex – his praise is seen as Palm Sundays and his criticisms are seen as crucifixions.
    And all of that is fine, except that, instead of running a little league team or a group of contractors or a community theater, he’s the president of the U.S. at its darkest historical moment, alone as the only superpower, isolated from its allies and dedicated to infuriating its enemies. At no time in recent history could a president’s actions have such a devastating effect on this country, and his complete mistrust of anyone smarter than him, combined with an inability to hear his critics enough to recognize a broken situation, coupled with no real managerial experience makes him one of the most dangerous bunglers in the history of the United States.
    That being said, I can totally understand why people voted for him, and I was more in favor of the war in Iraq than most of the other liberals I know. He’s not an evil or bad man, and virtually every step he’s made has been based on a combination of the best intentions and intellectual laziness.

  17. kevin from NC

    It was wrong to go to war in Iraq and will be remembered as one of the biggest blunders in our history. I believe the war has served to hasten training of terrorists in our tactics by perhaps 10 years or more.
    That being said, I think it is best that we stay in Iraq now. I think were we to pull out that the fears of fighting this war on US soil will become a reality much sooner. I also think had we NOT invaded iraq and focused on domestic security we would all feel a lot safer and it would be many years before the terror war on multiple fronts was brought here.
    Bush… I think he does not consider all consequences of his actions. I also think he has failed to recognize the importance of using a solid allied front on US international positions. After 9/11 we had the world’s sympathy and I think they would help us in most any way. I think after Iraq we have squandered that position and now the world suspects our motives. Our next president has the work cut out for them…. and the next president will have to do it with a restrained budget.

  18. Confused Liberal

    So far I am still confused. Inherently, I think going to war in Iraq feels like a bad idea, but I assumed that everyone else knew a lot more than I did.
    Maybe everyone else just issues platitudes too, and doesn’t really know anything! “Bush is a dope.” He probably is, but that doesn’t elucidate the issues for me. I want to hear from some folks who actually pay attention and can tell me why we should have stayed out of Iraq.
    “I believe the war has served to hasten training of terrorists in our tactics by perhaps 10 years or more.”
    Okay, but why?!?
    I do agree that we should be focusing more on domestic protection (although it’s hard to protect from WMDs.)

  19. Megan

    I’ve always had a dislike, verging on hatred of him, to the point where it causes me physical stress to think about the details of what he’s done since he’s been in office. So, in self-preservation, I’ve been burying my head in the sand to a large extent for the past 6+ years.
    He’s the reason I gave $$ to the DNC when they called last night.

  20. wottop

    Bottom line.
    I went to college and got a degree. If I don’t feel the president is at least as smart as I am, I cannot have faith in the job he does.
    Intellectual elitism? I want to feel like the president is not just a figure head. And if he is just a figire head, he should be able to talk off-the-cuff and sound like he has 2 brain cells to rub together.
    So far, I am not impressed.

  21. Matt

    Doing the right thing is rarely popular, and I think that’s a big reason why so many people, here and abroad, dislike the President. They’d rather pretend it’s all unneccesary than deal with unpleasant realities. That and the usual partisanship that runs both ways. The war and the closeness of the ’00 and ’04 elections and the rise of blogs and cable news outlets have only exasperated it.
    Personally, I agree that Bush suffers from poor communication skills, but believe he’s sincere. Not perfect, of course, and not really much of a “conservative,” unfortunately, but sincere nonetheless.

  22. yaytee

    “Like his father, George W. attended the exclusive prep school Phillips Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts. He distinguished himself early. His English teacher, a Mr. Chips type, asked the class to write an essay on emotion. Wanting to impress his teacher, the young Bush looked up synonyms for “tear” (as in “droplets from eyes”). Unfortunately, he looked up “tear” (as in “to cut”). Bush wrote, “Lacerates ran down my cheeks.” The professor gave him a zero.”
    For all the reasons listed above and below, I do too.

  23. ls

    I think he is incredibly simplistic, unable to see ANYTHING from any perspective other than his own, very very narrow and privileged one. That to me is the definition of stupidity. To still see the world in black and white terms in this day and age is beyond misguided, it is dangerous. He seems to be in a world of his wishing, not one of reality. I actually cannot listen to his short, bumper-sticker-phrase “speeches” because he is just repeating the same thing over and over again. He isn’t saying anything!! And I do not excuse his inability to speak publicly, that is his job as a politician. He can’t even answer simple questions!! When I hear him my heart pounds with rage, and unlike others, I can’t forget that he never should have been president in the first place. The Florida fiasco was criminal. The only thing that keeps me from wiching him harm is my even greater fear of Cheney in the top spot.

  24. Scott M.

    However well-intentioned, I think he has done this country more harm (in recent memory at least) than any single person other than Osama.
    He is smug, arrogant, smarmy, and exudes the worst aspects of both “frat boy” and “good ole boy”, both of which I abhor (the worst parts, at least). I cannot understand how anyone can find him charming; he comes across as insincere even at his best.
    To be honest, I don’t think he really cares about others, especially those less fortunate than him (e.g., Katrina) and/or those who are not in his wealthy, elite circle. He has no sympathy or understanding of those who are poor or haven’t had the privileges of the elite.
    He is completely unable to admit mistakes, even when they’re blatantly obvious to everyone.
    He’s gotten by on his family/name and money for his whole life, which has led to a sense of entitlement. He probably thinks he was chosen by God to lead the country.
    He didn’t win the first election fairly, and I am pretty confident that there were illegal things going on in the second one as well.
    His popularity (what’s left of it) even now is dependent upon propaganda and blind allegiance by misguided followers.
    He’s woefully incompetent as president, willfully ignorant of things outside his own experiences, and far too bound to corporate interests.
    His religion is frightening and overbearing; he wants to bind Christianity and America despite any opposition. And to me, he’s not even a good Christian, as he has no humility, sincerity, or concern for others… he’s willing to go to war for oil and corporate interests.
    Fundamentalists scare me, especially when in positions of power, because they have no perspective and understanding of other views.
    He actually believes that he is doing God’s will, which is both insane and profoundly troubling given what he’s done as president.
    He lied to get into a war that he wanted to start even before 9-11. He wanted the war for several reasons: OIL, daddy issues, profit for the companies that support him, an effort to leave a legacy, and as a response to 9-11 (even though it wasn’t related).
    He lied about WMDs, and about Iraq’s connection to Al-Queda, both of which are reprehensible considering they led us to war.
    He’s responsible (at least partially) for the erosion of civil liberties, including the bullshit Patriot Act, torture of prisoners (war crimes, let’s be honest), wiretapping, etc.
    I have never hated anyone in US politics more than I hate him. I can’t bear to see his face (especially his little smirk), hear his voice, or even think about him unless it’s in mocking or derision.
    He claims to be a uniter, but no one in recent memory has divided us so much. No, not even Clinton.
    More than anything else, it makes me angry and sad that he is president. And it hurts me the most to think that there are actually Americans who still like him. I simply cannot fathom it, and it makes me realize that many people in this country have a vastly different idea of what this country should be and should represent.
    PS I liked The Other Lee’s post, too.

  25. Josie

    After the 2004 elections, I decided I didnt have enough energy left to be angry/displeased/livid with our Commander-in-Chief’s many inadequacies. My focus shot out to 2008.
    Essentially, Mr. Bush, “You’re dead to me.”

  26. grumphreys

    9/11 was the event that finally gave the Hawks in our government (the “neo-conservatives”) the political capital to push their bellicose agenda through in the post-cold war era, via a not-so-subtle manipulation of our collected intelligence. Never forget, the UN had weapons inspectors in Iraq doing their job, and the neo-cons including W decided they couldn’t wait.
    I believe W has always been the front man for this political movement, destined to be the Hero if it succeeds and the Dupe if it fails. Isn’t it strange how the neo-cons have begun to distance themselves from Bush in order to try to save themselves politically? Beware the Neo-cons, they will show up again.
    In this sense, even though W has made bad decisions of historical importance, I feel bad for him; he will be the one blamed by history, while many of the true architects of the Iraq debacle may just walk away. Bush will also have to live with knowing that many American soldiers have died for what is now acknowledged as a huge mistake, one that has gravely weakened our alliances throughout the world.
    Anyone who doesn’t understand why it is trouble for us to try and perpetuate a military stronghold in the middle east (confused liberal? hmmm) should delve into the history of western intervention/colonialism in that region. You will find your explanation there.
    Just watched “The Good Shepherd” last night; loved it. Makes you stop and consider the Brahmin Skull and Bones culture that has been at the upper echelons of political power for so long, a culture that produced leaders like Bush Jr. and Sr., not to mention the CIA (WMD, anyone?)

  27. kevin from NC

    “”I believe the war has served to hasten training of terrorists in our tactics by perhaps 10 years or more.”
    Okay, but why?!?
    I do agree that we should be focusing more on domestic protection (although it’s hard to protect from WMDs.)”
    Because they now know how we react in fighting situations and how we adapt to their changes in tactics. I guess they are getting on the job training now whereas had we not invaded they would only be guessing at our tactics right now.
    there were no WMDs.

  28. Rebecca

    I agree with so many of the comments here. But what has bothered me most since 2004 is that W was reelected. Personally, I want a President who is smarter than I am. W doesn’t qualify. However, he’s obviously smarter than the majority of Americans. And that is truly depressing and frightening.
    And now I fully expect for someone to jump on my ass for insinuating that voting for Bush makes you stupid.

  29. CP

    my family overseas (and in New York) views him as the idiot cowboy figurehead of a truly dangerous would-be american regime. (to quote borat: if you do not vote for him, he will TAKE power!) my christian family members don’t get his particular brand of christianity. my family members who lived through various european political upheavals from WWII through the 60’s through the 90’s put him in the category: best villain, global stage. (sorry, oscar noms today! as I was saying…) while they were appalled and dismayed by 9/11, they were even more so at the arrogant defiance of the UN and international law, and use of the world’s post 9/11 goodwill as a blank check to so blatantly wreak havoc/play out an agenda in the middle east, under the guise of spreading freedom and democracy, and of course making the world and everyone in it safer.
    politics and war aside, I personally think he’s intellectually lazy, willfully ignorant, a dry drunk and very similar to a big mac (meaning the sandwich.) history will not be kind to the man, much in the way it hasn’t been to herbert hoover and king george III, just to name two.
    sadly, he’s come to embody what many people around the world not only hate but fear about america and americans. he does not appear to be a civilized, ethical, principled man. he does have “faith”, but it’s akin to that of the spanish inquisitors.
    to quote my dad (in foreign accent): BUSH AND ISIAH THOMAS ARE THE WORST PRESIDENTS EVER!
    ps — my mom’s side of the family, the yahoos from texas and tucson, LOVE him. (good thing they’re divorced!)

  30. Confused liberal

    So far I am hearing the following:
    -He’s a fratboy
    -He’s stupid (with evidence cited from back to gradeschool) and especially stupider than me
    -He’s arrogant
    -He has a sense of entitlement
    -He thinks he’s better than everyone else
    -He went to war for oil, etc.
    I get those impressions too, and it’s easy for me to spout them about Bush and get pats on the back from my fellow libs. Everything I read makes him sound like an idiot. But so far I am not seeing the meat of the issues. Does anyone have any *evidence* that he’s made bad decisions? (Not just evidence of his frat ways or low IQ or “I don’t like the Iraq war”). Yes, there were to WMDs, but we wouldn’t have known that if we hadn’t gone to war, would we have? Did we???
    There are 35 comments here and they mostly say the same things I can hear in an anti-bush comedy routine (with some exceptions, so thanks…). I appreciate all of them, but I want something deeper! One statistic or proof that he lied, or something.

  31. CP

    it was wrong because not all arabs are the same. just because arab 1 attacks us and arab 2 doesn’t like us (and is probably really happy about it), doesn’t mean the first thing necessarily has anything to do with the other.
    it’s the bernie goetz school of international diplomacy. or put another way, a testament to the political philosophy of scare the people enough and they’ll let you do what you want.
    I don’t see what’s so confusing about this.

  32. Sean

    Hey, Confused “Liberal”, you can ask for something more than people’s impression of Bush, but that’s not really what Ian asked for on today’s blog. Ian asked people to say what they thought of him, and he asked that we feel free to say anything we want.
    -He’s a fratboy-
    Well, you have to understand what people mean when they say this. I think I know what it is (an intellectually lazy person who’s capable only of black and white concepts of the world, who drinks too much and who’s life will be made easier for him because of his upbringing) but, again, people were asked for their impressions, and this catch-all may not mean much to you.
    -He’s stupid (with evidence cited from back to gradeschool) and especially stupider than me
    There is a long list of decisions he has made, (from tax-cuts during war to No Child Left Behind, to the Iraq Invasion, to Katrina, to Afghanistan, to Sub-Saharan Africa to Faith-based Initiatives to Creationism over Science and Abstinence over Education in schools, etc.), and abuses of power (like suspending Habeus Corpus, Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, torture, racial profiling, etc.) that seem like the ideas of a dumb person.
    That being said, Americans love a person of vision, and early on in his presidency, many people on the radical right had many in the middle convinced that these only *seemed* stupid, but that they would pan out. Now, almost everyone feels a little betrayed because we suspended our own limited intelligence in order to accept that the President would know more than we do. He doesn’t.
    -He’s arrogant
    -He has a sense of entitlement
    -He thinks he’s better than everyone else
    I’m gonna take these three together, because although the second is not the same as the first, it ends up feeling the same to the public at large. He continues to follow through on ideas once they are *proven* to be wrong, and he refuses to accept any facts that counteract his dreams.
    It feels to many people that he ignores the opinions of the rest of the political world because he exists beyond criticism. My guess is that Matt believes in Bush’s vision, and although I disagree with him, I do admire Matt for continuing to support the same ideas today that he supported two years ago, unlike so many other conservatives.
    -He went to war for oil, etc.
    Well, yes, there are 35 comments and Scott M. mentioned oil as a reason for the war, but most people are disappointed because he lied to us about the reasons. And because he didn’t apologize, and never admitted that he was wrong.
    So, there’s a lot of evidence of bad decisions, lots of evidence of, if not stupidity, then intellectual laziness, and a lot of evidence of arrogance. Not that any of that was asked for by the guy who runs the blog
    The idea that we had to invade Iraq to find out that Iraq wasn’t a feasible or immediate threat is a leap of logic that only… well, that only a closet conservative would make.
    And so, seriously, if you think that decision was a good one, and I would not disrespect you if you did, then you shouldn’t consider yourself a liberal and do what you can to support this administration

  33. Annie

    I agree with my brother grumph that one of the most disturbing facts before us is that W as front man is a huge and all-to-easy target while the underbelly of neocons escape blame and responsibility, hiding under W’s long train of detectable incompetence.
    The evidence that W has made bad decisions stares us in the face every single day: thousands of US soldiers dead, many MORE thousands of Iraqis dead, total chaos and anarchy in what used to be Iraq, broken (or at least badly bruised) alliances and political enemies as far as the eye can see.
    It should be obvious (this is what killed me at the time) even to the average observer that Bush & Co. rushed into “war” (really an unprovoked invasion) on a flimsy premise that did not seem as though it would, and in fact did not, stand up to closer inspection. I.e., there was NOT enough evidence at the time to suggest that Saddam did have WMDs, which is what was ultimately revealed. There was NOT a link between 9/11 and Saddam/Iraq, which was another main “reason” for going to “war” (though Bush & Co are now trying to pretend they did not suggest that: a lie).
    I don’t know if Confused Liberal is trying to determine whether or not Bush KNEW these were bad decisions at the time he was making them–this is irrelevant. Perhaps it would be important to determine that if we were trying to figure out whether or not he knew he was lying at the time. But whether or not he knew he was lying, he still made bad decisions–a lot of them (continuing the “war,” Katrina, etc) –and therefore he has been a bad leader. A smart leader would not have made such stupid mistakes that resulted in so many people losing their lives, and that is why everyone’s angry that Bush is so stupid.

  34. GFWD

    I have a feeling this one is going to be long and rambling. My apologies now.
    I hate how Bush is described as “resolute” and “sincere”, as though those two words are synonyms for being “right” or “just”. I agree that Bush believes he’s been sincere. But he’s been sincerely wrong many times without taking measures to correct himself.
    What I dislike about his presidency is his lack of a “Plan B” and his failure to amend and make changes on the run. I cannot think of a profession where one does not have to constantly amend, re-invent or tailor the plan they initially put into place. Coaches make halftime adjustments. Teachers amend the syllabus to truncate stuff for slow learners or add coursework for gifted students. Lawyers, like me, start off with one theory of the case, but switch positions or change our strategy as we go through the discovery process.
    I have no problem with a president, dim-witted or otherwise, standing tall before Congress and telling me and the rest of the nation that he’s going to war to find the weapons of mass destruction and taking the fight to the terrorists. I DO have a problem, however, when he does not alter that initial plan once the scope of the war changes.
    For you lawyers, can you imagine learning something detrimental to your client in a deposition and failing to adapt your case to cover that new contingency–especially where your failure to amend would cost the client much more than the exposure in that particular case? If you didn’t get disbarred, you would certainly not retain that client.
    But in Bush’s case, he got re-elected.
    By and large, however, I just feel sorry for the folks who have been duped by him. Although Bush & Co. have “embraced” the religious right and pacified them with their tough stances on gay marriage and other things religious, he couldn’t really care less about them. They’re pawns to him. Yet, they vote for him every time, graciously drinking his Flavor-Aid. (Check the facts, those folks in J-town didn’t drink Kool-Aid).
    I think we as Americans expect too much from our Presidents. Just perusing this list, you can tell that some of you want him to be cool and hip and easy to relate to; others want someone as book smart as a Harvard professor; others want one who is as moral as a local minister; others want G.I. JOE to protect them; others still want him to be the perfect father figure; finally, we all seem to want him to be as polished speaker as an Aaron Sorkin character.
    There is no such candidate–living or dead.
    And there shouldn’t be.
    The American President’s religious beliefs should be subordinated, if they’re even known at all. For a country based on religious freedom, I’d just as soon have an atheist or agnostic President, especially since he’s never going to be able to please every religion. If he’s Christian, then there will be a chasm over whether he’s Catholic or Protestant. If he’s Protestant, there will be a chasm over whether he’s Baptist or Episcopalian. To say nothing of the issues there would be if the President were Muslim or Jewish.
    Similarly, the President’s every actions shouldn’t be scrutinized to the point of paralysis. I don’t care who the president sleeps with, whether he drinks (as long as it’s not to incapacitating excess) or whether he can spell and conjugate verbs with the proficiency of a Blue Book scholar. I do, however, want him to be able to effectively think on his feet. To be smart enough to change the course, when necessary. To be able to effectively manage and communicate his thoughts–whether he barks them out or writes them down in Crayon. And, most importantly, I want him to surround himself with people who ARE superlative in those individual fields I outlined above. If he does all of that but snares a random blow job in his personal office on the side, I can live with that. It’s really not my business . . . and it shouldn’t be yours.
    I know this is jumbled, but I also have some thoughts on the war. As Americans we have nearly crippled our own ability to wage war and do it efficiently. While the rest of the world–terrorists, especially–fights war using stealth and guile and surprise, we are still like 18th century Redcoats marching in parade formation playing a fife and waving a flag. (It’s almost a farce, like the scenes from LAST OF THE MOHICANS, where the Native Americans are running around in the trees while the British Army marches in straight lines.)
    Terrorists, by contrast, hide among civilians and children and hospitals. That’s unfortunate. But it should not be the US ARMY’s problem. All we can do is warn the locals not to harbor suspected terrorists. Where they suddenly clam up and can’t remember that “OSAMA”, hiding in the corner, just ran into their home after killing an American serviceman, then they become, by default, enemy combatants. If you recall from his first post-9/11 address to the nation, Bush said he would not tarry with trying to distinguish between terrorists and those who harbor terrorists.
    The fact that we have wasted time bringing US soldiers to trial in a military tribunal for killing “innocent” civilians is a joke. You lose the safe “innocence” tag when an American platoon takes on “enemy” fire from a sector and, after the fire fight is over, there are suddenly no “obvious” sniper/sharpshooter present. Instead, they’re just a bunch of “innocent” civilians who “saw nothing, heard nothing, and did nothing.” In that situation, I can certainly understand how an American soldier could–in the heat of the moment–open fire and exterminate an entire group of “innocents” with extreme prejudice. Far be it for me to try and judge that man or woman, sitting on my fat ass in the comfort of my living room. No one I’ve heard pipe up on this blog can know what it’s like to be fired upon and I hate that we collectively try to project on to those soldiers our Monday morning armchair quarterback morality.
    War is hell, folks. If you cannot stomach it, turn off your CNN.
    Have we lost the moral high ground? Yes. But it wasn’t when pictures of the sophomoric prison guards emerged. (By the way, every teenage American boy has endured and doled out way more embarrassing “treatment” to other boys than any of those prisoners “endured”).
    We lost it when we declared that we had to get the dictator “who killed his own people” in the oil rich Iraq but didn’t apply that same moral code to Rwanda or Darfur. We lost it when we declared that we’d intervene for white people in Bosnia or brown people in oil rich Iraq, but not for black people in Africa.
    It’s all about the oil folks. I would have respected Bush more if his campaign for war was this:
    “I like riding around in an SUV. I bet you do too. So we’re going to war to give you that American right to do so. And if we can bag a dictator and a terrorist or two on the way, then that will be icing on the cake. Now who’s with me?”
    Finally, and I know I ranted long enough, I’ve got to take the Liberals to task. To quote the recent hilarious segment on SNL’ s “Weekend Update” with Seth Myers and Amy Pohler called, “REALLY?”, I give you my thoughts on the emerging front runners for the Democratic ticket:
    1. Hillary–You’re the most polarizing woman in the American consciousness in the past two decades and you carry around the baggage of your should-be-ex-husband’s presidency like an unflattering SCARLET LETTER. Yet, you think you can win an election in this country? “REALLY?” And, not that you should be chided for being ambititious, but the dems around the country believe it too is mind boggling. All I can say is, “REALLY?” Have you seen how much Bubba brings you down? “REALLY?”
    2. Edwards–you’re a serendipitous ambulance chasing attorney whose biggest claim to fame is that you didn’t bungle a products manufacturing case where a little girl was eviscerated when she sat down on one of those backyard pool intake pumps. A first year law student could have done just as well. So you got rich and now you know what it’s like to be “common folk” and what it means to re-build in the Lower Ninth Ward? “REALLY?” How about you go back to those cushy seats in the Dean Dome and watch Carolina basketball, where you only went to law school. How come you don’t claim your two undergrad schools, STATE COLLEGE and CLEMSON?
    I apologize for everything being random. I think Bush is flawed, but I blame the American people for twice electing him. Fool you once, shame on him.
    But he fooled you twice.
    And what’s so shameful about it is that he never changed. So it’s not like you can really say you didn’t see it coming.

  35. xuxE

    bush is bullshit in too many ways to even describe.
    he’s not qualified to be president, and i’m not talking about comparisons to historical figures, i’m talking about comparisons to his peers, right here and now. he doesn’t deserve his position because he’s not a world class leader.
    the low IQ really is important because he isn’t able to deduce what’s coming around the corner. this is really tragic in a world where things are changing at a really rapid pace and you can’t rely on what worked before and hope the good-ol-boy network will hold up.
    he puts religion ahead of science and caters to the extreme right wing. and his religion isn’t even a caring humble type of religion that puts the needs of the poor and needy ahead of corporate greed, it’s the sundays-only type of religion that regurgitates reactionary propaganda and doesn’t demand any deep thought.
    his lack of intelligence limits his cultural sensitivity and ability to handle the unknown. he can’t embrace global diplomacy because of his intolerance, racism, and discomfort outside of his own turf.
    overall, i think he has depreciated the US’s political currency and credibility at a time when the balance of power is already shifting away from the US toward a truly global economy.
    bush is microscopic when you hold him up against a true leader.
    bush put forth a resolution to go into afghanistan right after 9/11 and what followed was one of the only truly heroic moments of leadership in government durin the entire war on terrorism, in my opinion:
    just about the only thing that could change my opinion of bush at this point would be for him to personally suit up in desert camoflage and go battle the insurgents in iraq. i think he might as well go ahead and do that, since it’s about the only way he’s going to get anybody else to go over there.

  36. Zel M.

    Well, I guess it’s time for me to be the designated asshole.
    Confused, welcome to the world of xtcian posters. You put a legitimate, lucid thought on the table and got absolutely nothing but stereotypical rhetoric in return.
    The truest answer to Ian’s original question is, of course, Bush is whatever the anti-Bush crowd wants or needs him to be.
    When things were going well, and Bush was immensely popular, Bush was a puppet of Cheney, Rove, and the Neo-Cons.
    When things took a bad turn, Bush was arrogant, smug, and a loner – and he alone was running the ship onto the rocks (he must have tossed Cheney and Rove overboard somewhere).
    Just look at the replies in this post – Bush was born into privilege (just like FDR and JFK); he’s dumb (a lot of people thought Truman wasn’t all that bright); he’s a frat-boy (and Clinton and JFK weren’t inviting people to the party in their pants?); he doesn’t exude leadership (unlike that beacon of presidential gravitas, Jimmy Carter).
    Has GWB been a screw-up? Absolutely. Is he the first? No way. Ask Clinton (health care), Bush Sr. (“read my lips”), Ford (Nixon pardon), or JFK (Bay of Pigs) how that worked out.
    For all of Vietnam’s faults (of which we are still paying for even now), does history hold JFK or LBJ responsible for 50,000+ dead? Even at its worst, the iraq conflict – which has achieved far more than Vietnam ever did, in so far as liberating a people from an evil, genocidal dictator.
    Post 9/11, GWB did what most Americans wanted done. As for Iraq, you can argue about how he chose to go there (as opposed to Darfur or North Korea or wherever). But most Americans were in favor of that as well.
    Personally, I think GWB has combined a certain degree of ineptitude with some of the worst luck known to mankind to go along with a virulent media and now, of all things, a combatitive opposition Congress who will be eager to swing some heavy lumber after being out of power for 12 years.
    I have never met the man, so I cannot intelligently comment on his personal nature (e.g. “he only cares about his wealthy friends”) or his personal beliefs. For all the religious barbs thrown at him, many conservatives would argue he is not conservative enough to suit them.
    But if some hard core left-wingers (and not necessarily those on this board) look around the world and the only evil they see is Bush, then what does that say about them?
    Incompetent, probably. Unintelligent, not likely. Arrogant? Not so much as entrenched.
    Feel free to fire away…

  37. Zel M.

    One point of clarification – I am not defending GWB; I merely state an opposing point of view.
    Also, in the last sentence, I really meant “Incompetent, most likely.”

  38. Confused Lib

    Zell M., yep, there were a lot of platitudes issued there. But after a while, we did get to the meat of some of the issues. There’s still more meat to be ferreted out, of course. (Talk about mixing metaphors.) But really, with our strong central govt, we should be doing more about global warming (like admitting it exists), should have done better with Hurricane Katrina (even Ian was worried about it before it ever happened…and the White House wasn’t?) altho who knows what another prez would have done in that situation. And yeah, he isn’t admitting any fault with the messups in Iraq.
    I don’t think the press is any more virulent to Bush than anyone else, but I do worry that there are a lot of meaningless criticisms fired at Bush when we could stand to have some reasonable discussion. It’s telling that we look to the Daily Show for commentary.
    Bush may have some bad luck (9/11 and the hurricane) but he’s gotta stand up and be a strong leader – maybe if he was better at what he did, people wouldn’t be able to get away with calling him all these names.
    See, now I’m hedging. I remain confused, but I speak from the heart.

  39. NobleDome

    I agree with GFWD on many points, and I think his analysis is as sharp as any I’ve read so far. And I agree with Confused Liberal that it’s far too easy to make fun of Bush and demonize him, which is exactly what the Right did with Clinton, and I find it all so tedious and childish on both sides.
    RE Iraq – I didn’t have all the info either, but I read Tom Friedman, who is as astute on the Middle East as anyone out there, and when he agreed with the invasion in principle, so did I. What he didn’t know – and none of us knew, as it turns out – is that there was no Plan B if things went wrong. I don’t KNOW this, it’s only based in info I’ve read (in “Fiasco,” in “State of Denial,” in many news and op-ed articles, and believe me, if there were a pro-war book out there, I’d read it). Hindsight’s 20/20. I knew that there were most likely no WMDs; I knew that the administration knew this, but in their myopic eyes, once we were hailed as “liberators”, everyone would have forgotten why we were there in the first place. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Ahmed Chalabi and even Powell (for not standing his ground) are ALL to blame, but as Harry Truman said, “The buck stops here.” The buck stops with Bush.
    As far as his personal characteristics, I have to admit I admire some of them. I respect that he quit drinking and turned his life around; I’m sure that he’s a good man, a good father, a good husband, a good son. I will not demonize him because it is simply a waste of time and breath.

  40. D

    How do we know Bush is a good man, a good son, a good husband? By his acts?
    “A good man”: allows his campaign to falsely portray his opponent as a mentally unstable father of mixed-race illegitimate children; publicly mocks a woman who he has condemned to death; appoints an unprepared friend to high office and blames him when the federal government is unprepared to respond to a serious natural disaster; dismisses his national security briefer as having “covered his ass” when that person tries to warn him about the risk of a coming terrorist attack in the US; diverts the federal budgetary surplus into the pockets of the richest Americans, leaving the rest of the country and their children to pick up the tab.
    “A good son”: drunkenly challenges his father to a fistfight; ignores his careful guidance with respect to the war.
    “A good husband”: well, we won’t get into the rumors.
    To express outrage about prosecutions for war crimes is to ignore not only the repulsive nature of the crimes committed but also their effect on our military as a whole and the individual service members who are put at risk by the wrongdoing of a few. We cannot just gloss over cases like those of the men who planned and carried out a rape, then killed civilians to cover their crimes. They tarnish the honor of our country and our military, and they encourage our enemies.
    And it’s pitching it a bit strong to suggest that every American boy has participated in acts that were more degrading than those at Abu Ghraib.

  41. sb

    social work has made me suspicious of the left, but damn i despise him. he’s part of the “great duping”….smart=elitest/effete, dumb=down home/populist, stubborn+unreceptive=convicted, complex=spineless, etc.
    i am sick of having those who can at least acknowledge the ambiguity or complexity of something being protrayed as indecisive, even whiny, as if the world’s problems and great philosophical questions came with a punchcard of answers and the only thing you really need was some jingoistic notion of “strength.” Strength for what? to be wrong, to miss the point entirely?
    Let’s get it straight: maybe a president should be empathetic, but THEY SHOULD NOT BE ONE OF US.
    they should not eat mcnuggets or watch ‘the view’ or think that mag tires rock and that dr. phil is so true; they should not check out the latest paris hilton nipple slip when the boss isn’t around or think that the world’s problems have parallels to WWE smackdown. they should not have a spirituality based on something your mom forwarded that promises God’s blessings, if you also send it to five friends. THEY SHOULD NOT BE ONE OF US.
    they should be worlds ahead of and above us. why this is not a prerequisite for saying “i would be pretty good leading the whole fucking free world” i do not know.
    that we elected toby keith is sad, but not suprising, given the events of the preceding years. but getting re-elected? that’s all us. and while kerry may have been a plank with the inspirational qualities of egg substitute, he was the lesser of two problems.
    if you voted for w the second go round, i do blame you. for convincing the globe that we are liars, for the mess that will take years to fix, for the billions spent, for all the dead, for the crippled, for confusing slogans with beliefs or just being angry enough to excuse ignorance.
    no matter how much you want to slap the left–and there are plenty of reasons–it never excuses voting dumb.

  42. sb

    p.s.–on a completely random and unwarranted side note–does laura not have an absolutely satanic look in her eyes 24/7?
    tell me she wouldn’t eat baby flesh.

  43. kent

    When Bush was running for president, I told anyone who would listen that here was a man, when faced with any political choice, would do the worst fucking thing possible. He’s never let me down in that regard. Some people I disagree with on a few things, but Bush is unique in being, to my mind, completely utterly wrong about everything.
    After 9/11, he really outdid himself though. He put on the blinders, put the pedal to the metal, and drove us straight towards hell. He has had a consistent policy goal: he is focused, laser-like, on a utopian vision of democracy, that he thinks can only be brought about by killing and destruction.
    Worst president ever.
    And Laura isn’t that creepy, sb. I have to wonder how and why she puts up with Bush, though — she’s apparently not stupid, and, like, reads stuff.

  44. LFMD

    Honestly, I can’t stand it when a bunch of liberals proclaim a conservative President to be “dumb”. I can’t stand it when liberals dismiss anyone who thinks differently as “dumb.” If the liberal Democrats are so smart, WHY CAN’T THEY OFFER UP A CANDIDATE WHO CAN BE ELECTED AS PRESIDENT??????? WHY?
    I’ll tell you this much: if all the DNP has to offer is Obama, Clinton, and Edwards, we are going to have YET ANOTHER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT.
    How dumb is that?
    Oh, and I heard a conservative talk show guy say the other day that Obama will never be elected. Not because of his race. But because his name rhymes with Osama, and his middle name is Hussein. Americans would never go for it. You know, I think the talk show guy was right on the money.
    It is time to pack our bags for Coastopia. . .

  45. kent

    LFMD, you can google ‘chaircrusher bush’ and find out that I at least have never said Bush is dumb. He is a lot of things, but think about it: Even given the head start being the son of a President is, he’s got to be the biggest success story ever for the career strategy of failing upwards. He’s like Santa Claus and the guy with the Real Estate Agent infomercial all rolled into one. The guys should be the hero of glad-handing no-account twits everywhere. He’s pulled the ultimate long con.
    I think the Democrats have a good shot in 08. The Republican field is weak, and if past performance is any guide, Bush will continue to fuck up extravagantly until he sails off in 09. He will have fully satisfied people’s appetite for a Republican President for a while to come.

  46. herman

    The view from Europe is pretty clear.
    It doesn’t matter whether he appears to be personally likeable or not (though cracking fart jokes all the time isn’t my idea of likeability).
    This is a president who got to the White House by a 5 to 4 Supreme Court vote after a lot of fishy stuff at the polls, after which the Uniter tirned out to be a Divider all the time.
    This is a president who’s been subverting the laws all the time so as to get more executive power.
    From the moment he was in the White House he was looking for a casus belli, just to make sure he was going to be elected the second time around. “I’m a War President now.”
    Unfortunately the population fell for this even though it was plain to see there was (again) a lot of fishy business surrounding the case for going to war. And this includes the socalled left media – they gave GWB way too much leeway.
    This is a president with no real character or leadership qualities: whenever some shit hits the fan he’s outa there: flying sky high on 9 / 11; being on looong vacation when Katrina occurred etc etc. If it’s not scripted he’s a cipher.
    This is of course nothing new. GWB’s entire life and career consists of these kinds of failures. There’s no business he hasn’t run into the ground before. So that’s what he did with US of A, and its standing in the world. It will take a very long time before the USA will have rebuilt its credibility as a power that will be able to help build democracy abroad.
    He’s made sure the next two presidential terms will have to be spent cleaning up his mess, both in terms of the US’s financial structure, Bush having sold a solid chunk of America to China and India, and in terms of extricating itself from the Middle-East. The powers of evil have benefited immensily, but of course, the USA is now seen unambiguously as a power of evil, too, by most of the world.
    So that’s what it looks like. The only thing that keeps one from putting Bush in the Mussolini, Hitler, Mao, Stalin category is that he didn’t kill large numbers of his own population.
    Most of this was pretty clear from day one, and it is a sad omen that the American people have been so eager to like him just the same.

  47. scruggs

    Dude, we need to discuss your Edwards angst.
    And, fyi, I ordered an Edwards car sticker last week, so you best not key my new minivan!

  48. GFWD

    I don’t hate him. My rant with the LIBS is more like what LFMD said in her most recent rant. If Obama, Hillary and Edwards are the best the Dems can do, they will get blown out of the water.
    Hillary is too polarizing. Obama and Edwards, while young, fresh and energetic, are too inexperienced. I think a country that is prone to falling for simplistic sound bites and Kindergarten-esque spin will not vote for them.
    I get frustrated when the Liberal ideology does not have a “Plan B” to be able to bring their message down to the common man. They’re great on college campuses. They are adept at getting the “choir” excited, but they can’t preach to the common man.
    I don’t know if it is arrogance or an inability to do “Politics for Dummies”.
    Unless they figure that out, however, it will be another Republican who takes office in January ’09. Say what you want, but the Republicans can bring their message home to the blue collar workers.
    For someone like me who can bridge the gap with any English speaking audience, it’s maddening to see them so unable to effectively communicate their message across all strata.
    A classic example by way of comedy would be Dennis Miller. I think, by and large, many educated people find his humor to be hilarious or at least clever and witty. Yet recall how he bombed magnificently on Monday Night Football. Setting aside the fact you don’t need comedians at a football game aside, his problem is that he does not know how to address all Americans.
    In order to reach all strata in the comedy world, you better be able to intersperse your high-brow comic insights with some Jerry Lewis/Jim Carrey pratfalls; and a few Jeff Foxworthy “You Might Be A Redneck” jokes; topped off with some Def Comedy Jam riffs and a few Git-R-Done’s for good measure.
    I see the Republicans as being able to hit a broader slice of the masses, while the Dems sit on their high horses unable to fathom why their purportedly superior plans went over like a lead balloon.
    I met Edwards when he campaigned on the ticket with Kerry and got my picture taken with him when he spoke to the local Carolina Club. I’d respect him more if he was more transparent about how he got to be where he is and acknowledged that much up front.
    Admit that he earned his money being a plaintiff’s lawyer first and don’t apologize or hide behind it. Rather, talk about how being a plaintiff’s attorney gave him insight to people who are less fortunate. Do that and then you get my attention. Do that and then the Republicans can’t paint you as a sleazy ambulance chaser running up insurance premiums. Do that and then you have the credibility to make me want to sip some more of your Flavor-Aid.
    Do it not, and you’ll have another four years to sit and watch the Tar Heels play in the Dean Dome.
    Which, given my druthers, wouldn’t be a bad Plan B.
    I think Obama is the best of the bunch. He’s smart, articulate and able to bridge the gap across all strata. I think he’s got the worst flippin’ surname of anyone who ever sought public office, especially given today’s climate. Even when I see his name, I do a double take and immediately think of the turbaned nomad we still can’t find. I think race relations in this country are still so poor that a black man will not be elected president–Fox’s “24”, notwithstanding.
    So then you’re left with Hillary. For the good of the party, I don’t know why she doesn’t pull back NOW to back one of the other front-running Dem candidates. By doing that, she could become the anchor for the ticket and assume that all-powerful CHENEY role. That’s another thing the Republicans did better. They knew to put the puppet up front and center, while the real power monger sits just behind or to the side of the president.
    But her ego won’t let her subordinate her desire to run. While I sympathize that she’s arguably already held that role for 8 years with Bubba, I don’t think this country is ready to elect a woman, either. Sadly, the choir won’t say this to her. And the Republicans are just sitting around licking their chops.

  49. kent

    Anyone who says the Democrats ‘have no plan’ just aren’t fucking paying attention. That’s a media echo chamber truism. And any time someone says the Democrats ‘have no plan’ for Iraq, well, at a minimum, they have the Iraq Study Group Plan, which Bush has largely ignored. The Democrats aren’t unanimous about anything, true. But the Republicans are unanimously full of shit, and 2/3 of the country now sees this. About time.
    And as for criticising Obama for his name — this is bullshit. His name wasn’t a problem until a concerted effort by right wingers in the media to make it an issue. Combine that with the recent bullshit stories about Obama studying in a Madrassa, and it’s pretty clear that the wingnuts are starting their character smear campaign on Obama. And what makes it especially stupid is that since there’s really no dirt to be had on him personally, they go after how his name sounds, and that his father was Mulsim.
    How fucking dumb do those people thing we are? Jesus wept!
    And I am not a big Hillary fan, based on policy positions. But I respect her and would vote for her. She is wicked smart, and as the political instincts to defenstrate any chump the Republicans nominate. She may have ‘high negatives’ but these are mostly based on illusions perpetuated in the MSM and the frank misogyny of the right wingers.
    If she really gets out in front of the public, and maybe catches a slight tailwind from the main stream media, her image will completely change over the next 21 months. The conservatives spent millions of dollars trying to bring the Clintons down without succeeding — now they got nothing.

  50. The other Lee

    Confused, you can play the “yeah, but tell me WHY?” game to infinity for every criticism offered about the President, but really the most damning and undefendable(is that a word?) criticism about Bush are the results of his Presidency, and they pretty much speak for themselves. I’m not saying he will be remembered as the worst President ever in 100 years, but he will always be in the debate.

  51. yaytee

    “This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in.” – Dubya, SOTU
    “It don’t matter who did what to whom. Fact is, we went to war an’ now there ain’t no goin’ back. If it’s a lie, then we fight on the lie. But we gotta fight.” Slim Charles, The Wire
    Interesting post from a conservative about Iraq and the current administration’s stance thereon:

  52. Confused Lib

    Hillary is “polarizing” because she is a) smart b) a woman c) strong d) caring. Someday maybe the U.S. will be ready to accept someone like her…
    Plus, you get Bill in the bargain.
    Anyway, as for the State of the Union…that Senator Webb is a rising star. I dig him.

  53. caveman

    I think if Annie would stand up on the podium in the great hall at the United Nations and hoop to Missy Elliott, a lot of these “issues” would simply melt away

  54. GFWD

    Kent, you made my point exactly. It doesn’t matter if Obama and Hillary have YOU sold. It doesn’t matter if they are the best candidate around. What matters is if you or the Dems can sell that “can’t miss” product to the masses.
    Getting your panties in a wad (and I recognize, or least hope, that you don’t wear panties) over the “smear” campaign is exactly what I was talking about.
    The fact that Obama’s surname may be an issue is bullshit. I agree with you. But to stick your self-righteous head in the sand and lament that it shouldn’t be that way is simply naive.
    But you know it’s going to be out there, so how will you combat it?
    Confused Lib, I never said Hillary was not capable. I think everyone on the planet recognizes that she is quite capable, partisan politics aside. But to look at her in a vaccuum is short-sighted and unforgiveably absurd.
    She DOES come with the baggage Bubba brings. Certainly there are benefits to her candidacy. Can you say Secretary of State William Jefferson Clinton? I’d like to think so. But our society has always been hypocritical when it comes to defining characteristics along gender lines.
    A strong, smart, tough-minded man is heralded as a great leader. The same things being said about a woman earns her the title of “Bitch”. I didn’t make that up. I didn’t say it was fair.
    It is what it is. The Dems simply need to figure out how to combat that anticipated type of smear attack with a strategy of their own.
    Setting aside which party has the better agenda for a moment, the Dems appear to me to be the smart kids who always get picked on by the bigger, dumber kids at the playground. I’m not calling the Republicans big dumb kids. I am, however, saying that their smear tactics are firmly rooted in playground tactics we learn in elementary school.
    As simple as it is, the Dems are doomed to repeat it if they don’t toughen up and get out ahead of these ANCILLARY issues. The message should be about the issues–not the derivation of one’s surname.
    I could be wrong. I hope I am. Hell, we witnessed history last night as Nancy Pelosi sat in the Speaker’s chair for the State of the Union.
    Maybe a woman will stand with her hand on the Bible as Chief Justice Roberts swears her in sometime in January, 2009.
    But, it would be foolhardy if Hillary’s campaign hasn’t tried to get her face and agenda in the faces of the folks in Florida and Ohio to see if they could stomach voting for a strong, smart, tough-minded woman.
    It would be foolhardy if Obama’s camp didn’t have some sort of strategy to explain his unique last name and what it really stands for and how that makes him more well rounded and qualified for the job.
    For you NC folks, think back to Jesse Helms’ well-timed and controversial race-baiting ad when he ran against Harvey Gantt. Gantt, a black candidate for the U.S. Senate, ran a good campaign and seemed poised to possibly unseat Jesse. Then an ad came out in the last weeks before the campaign that showed a white man’s hands wringing in frustration while a narrator talked about white people losing jobs to lesser qualified minorities because of affirmative action.
    Was the ad fair? No. Did the Dems cry foul? Yes. Are the Dems utterly stupid and foolish enough to think something similar would not happen again?
    We’ll see.
    For the record I am not against Hillary trying to run. I commend both she and Obama for attempting to be pioneers. I simply think they are stupid if they haven’t brainstormed about how they’ll be attacked and have not prepared counter-measures to combat those attacks.
    My request for Annie the hoopster would be for her to emulate that guy who did the dancing around the world video. See here:
    I want to see a montage of hooping all around Chapel Hill. Like in the background outside of the Dean Dome as fans arrive for the game, in line at Peppers Pizza or in the middle of The Pit during a change in classes.

  55. Matt

    There are probably a hundred reasons why I would never vote for Obama, but his name and Muslim childhood aren’t one of them. What I think is interesting, however, is that because of his conversion to Christianity, Islamists consider him an apostate, the penalty for which, in many Muslim countries, is death. Sure, the Islamists would like to kill any US president, and so in that way it’s nothing new. But one can hardly say his Muslim background brings an advantage in dealing with the Middle East. Being born an infidel is one thing to Islamists, turning your back on Islam is wholly another.

  56. xuxe

    well the analysis about who *can* win vs. who *should* win a particular election is the whole reason we have bush in the first place. the high powered, commercial-flavored, two party politics have turned the presidential campaign into a ridiculous farce that is divorced from the actual job.

  57. xuxe

    for me, politics is personal, and when i read obama’s autobiography back when he was running for the senate, i was like – this is someone i would get up and campaign for if/when he runs for president. i had a really strong personal reaction to the way he reflected on his own life and his ideals, etc., i responded to him as a person and i think he continues to put himself into politics in a really authentic way.
    to me, that’s how real leaders affect people – they inspire you on a very personal level to act or to get on board with their ideas.
    i couldn’t care less what soundbytes can be crafted around his name or how people will try to tear him down. i’m sure people worried about that type of thing with JFK because he was catholic, but i probably wouldn’t have been worrying about that issue either.
    so i’m not going to dumb-down my vote or try to vote for someone who comes in a more palatable package that the marketing polls favor, and i wouldn’t ask anyone else in the country to do that either.
    i’m just going to keep voting for the candidates i like best and if everyone else does this too, who knows, maybe the malcolm gladwell tipping point will kick in.

  58. Neva

    I’m with GFWD. Kent, although I know you are right about the dem candidates being competent and able, I just don’t see them as electable. Maybe that’s because I live here in a red state and even in my small oasis of Chapel Hill it is clear that there are many, many people who will not vote for Hillary or Obama because they are too “different”. Change is hard for everyone but especially for those who’ve had it pretty good so far.
    I think the key demographic in 2008 will be the “Nascar Dads”. Kent, you are their base, they don’t have to win you over (or me for that matter – I’m the example of a bleeding heart liberal) but they do have to get some of those folks who voted for Bush last time. Sadly, I don’t think anyone so far is going to do that. I know these “Nascar Dads” because they are my Dad and my brother and many of my neighbors and friends and believe me Hillary and Obama don’t excite them. Perhaps, maybe, if the new candidates were running against Bush himself next time they might have a chance but, scarily, the Republicans will have new blood – someone without direct ties to the this mess of the last 8 years and I think that the average white guy “Nascar Dad” in America is going to go with the Republicans again for their “strength” and their “military friendliness”, etc. etc. and, for better or worse – because he looks like them.

  59. Neva

    by the way yahtee – love the Slim Charles quote from The Wire. Since we finished the DVDs of that recently I have missed it like I lost an old friend. What an amazing show!

  60. kent

    In current polling, John Edwards beats Giuliani head to head, and Giuliani is current ‘frontrunner’ on the Republican side.
    Electable Schmelectable. What makes a candidate ‘electable’ is being appealing on a personal and political level. Obama is very appealing on a personal and political level to a lot of people — not just me. I have policy differences with Hillary, but I think she will run a smart, tough campaign, both before and (if she wins) after the convention.
    Yes I’m part of the base. The real action is in what’s called the ‘swing’ voters — a truism, I know. The Republicans, according to polling, are _only_ supported by their base.
    The election will come down to how good a job the Democrats in general do in the next 21 months. If they do a good job — and more important, are perceived to be doing a good job, any of the current field of Democrats can beat any of the current field of Republicans, because the visible face of the party right now is Bush, who has a personal approval rating of 28 percent — the lowest since Nixon’s lowest point.
    My judgement on electability doesn’t come from my status as a member of the Democratic party base, it comes from my judgement about policy positions and character. You can disagree with me, but so far no one has put up any facts about why Hillary/Obama/Edwards are unelectable.
    And the ‘experience’ thing is a red herring. Bush won the presidency after 6 years as governor of Texas. On election day Obama will have had 6 years in the Senate. Edwards had 6 years in the Senate as well. And I’d put _their_ experience up against Bush’s pre-presidential experience any day, because they at least pay attention.

  61. concerned scientist

    OK-I’ve never gotten on for a comment before, but if you need fuel against the leader, here are 2 brief tidbits. Remember when 80 nobel laureates BEGGED the president to reconsider stem cell research? Pretty good science that he absolutely ignores. Here’s the Wash Post article from 2001.
    Then how about when 48 nobel laureates endorsed Kerry in 2004 (article here in NYT). These are peer-critiqued, incredibly intelligent and hard-working people who are undisputed leaders in the world in their respected research areas BEGGING him to change course. He repeatedly fires and/or refuses to hire advisors who disagree with his personal politics. That defines ignorance.
    And the word typically accepted is indefensible, not undefendable.
    It’s all a big tragedy.

  62. Confused Lib'ral

    All the name-calling of Bush aside, he hasn’t done too much that I’m impressed with. I’m open to supporting him if he does the right thing. I applaud some of the things he said last night (more AIDS funding in Africa, etc.) but I can’t forget the fact that the Republicans are still the party of ignoring the needs of the poor, still the party of putting religion first. Bush can’t help that a massive hurricane and a terrorist attack occurred during his presidency, but he has a lot of advisors and a lot of power to make the right choices. So far, I’m not impressed. I think someone strong like Hillary can’t be worse.
    It IS important to have a stronghold in the Middle East, and keep an eye on terrorists. It’s hard to know what another president would have done three years ago, but I know they’d do things differently right now.
    But what LFMD said is true…if we libs are so smart, why can’t we pick good candidates with the experience both in domestic and foreign affairs to lead us, and the strength, smarts and heart to do the right thing?? There are what, 301 million people in America, and we can’t get a few decent political candidates out of that pool??

  63. tregen

    I’m in Phoenix for the week…God, someone beam me up out of here please. Anyway. Bush.
    I don’t know how many of you are from our part of Texas. I grew up in the country in West Texas, about 140 miles from Odessa. While, I still insist that Bush is not a Texan or a cowboy, he does exhibit many of the traits West Texan male. I hate to generalize so understand I am not saying all Texans are like Bush but… I can tell you there are tons of smart, tough, ideological people running around out there, and that, on it’s face, is not a bad thing. It is the mixing of these characteristics with a complete uninterest in the world, an evangelical christian belief system and complete disregard for actually looking at history or the future through any lense other than one which fits into their comfort zone. Our little area out there is covered in these idiots. Hell, some of them are my best friends, but I would never vote for them to be in charge of the country.
    Finally, the man clearly has some issues with his dad. We are all screwed up in one or another and each of us, hopefully, finds a way as we grow to deal with demons of our mind but I just find it hard to believe that the man has done any self reflecting in his life. His demeanor and philosphy seem to out of sink with a person who has come to terms with his issues. I know, I know, he has kicked the drinking habit and hasn’t touched the nose candy in years but that’s not the kind of thing I’m talking about. Sure, he had an “awaking” and turned to God but again, not sure that gets him where a leader needs to be.
    Just my 2.5 cents worth of total bullshit.

  64. LFMD

    Thanks, Confused Liberal. Don’t give me credit for a thought-provoking comment, though. For all my yammering, I did not even bother to watch the speech. Instead, I chose to watch a repeat of “The Hills” on MTV via my computer. I was more interested in finding out if Heidi was pregnant, and whether LC would go on a date with Brody Jenner.
    I am afraid that I am part of the “dumbing down of America” that I bitch about.

  65. sb

    but you seem honest and kinda humble and that means something, especially when guys like me go into jerk-mode.
    for the record, i would have loved for colin powell to have run.


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