Bush - Architect of Democrat Victory


It is only two years since Bush won a narrow but convincing victory over John Kerry and pundits were speaking of a permanent Republican majority. In the wake of the Democratic sweep of both houses of Congress, and the undoing of twelve years of Republican control since 1994, there will be the inevitable post mortems that accompany so drastic a shift in the political balance of power. Whatever explanations are offered to decipher the electoral sea change, none are as significant as the role played by Bush mismanagement in post war Iraq.

The Bush missteps here are legion. In brief, he did not commit the resources needed to conclude the enterprise - nor did he have a well thought out post war strategy. Troop levels were inadequate, the insurgency was not crushed, security never established, and, in general, a minimalist media war was fought, which has allowed the costly rebellion to gather strength and the endless barrage of demoralizing images of death and destruction to appear daily before us.

Why did we disband the entire Iraqi army? Why not just the upper echelon, leaving the rank and file? What powerful allies they could have been if converted to the new Iraqi army charged with protecting a freshly liberated and free Iraq instead of part and parcel of the Baathist insurgency.

Why was there not a dominant Iraqi face beyond the original clueless governing council that provided no leadership in the early days after the takeover?

For those of us who believed in the Bush vision of a democratic Middle East, the Iraq campaign is sadly seen as a major set back and lost opportunity brought on by the administration's ineptness.

The Democrats, for their part, played an important part in undercutting the war effort; this along with negative reporting ultimately bred success. It was never as bad as depicted, and victory in Iraq is still possible, but Americans, perhaps understandably, have opted for change.

Bush and Republicans failed in other ways.

From the party of fiscal discipline, balanced budgets, and reform as it was in 1994 under Gingrich, it became the party of vested interests and pork, dedicated not to the greater good of the nation but protecting incumbents. Congress spent ravenously and Bush happily signed off. Ear marks, the Abramoff scandals, outrageous spending, record deficits, massive government growth, are all now trademarks of the Republican Party in power.

Bush and Republicans botched an attempt to reform Social Security beginning with private accounts. This would have brought the nation closer to Bush's worthy goal of an "ownership society," with average working Americans invested in their economy and owning a piece of their retirement - a measure that could have helped save the shaky program and, indeed, cement the Republican majority. It never left the ground.

He did nothing about Tort and Malpractice reform. He passed the unfunded Medicare Prescription Bill. He did not strengthen or expand Health Savings Accounts, nor did he make his successful tax cuts permanent. He did not have a coherent energy policy. He did not push strongly for energy independence through increased drilling, exploration and refining; nor did he move the country towards greater reliance on coal, nuclear energy, or other alternatives to foreign oil.

While Americans worried about border security and illegal immigrants, Bush argued for amnesty and guest workers. With Democrats in power, he may achieve his goals, moves that could spell the undoing of our nation as it fractures into a bicultural state and expands welfarism to unsustainable levels.

America remains a center-right, religious based, and conservative nation. If Republican's want victory in 2008, they should hew closely to conservative principles; when elected, they should govern like Republicans, not Democrats - on a platform of limited government, low taxes, strong defense and traditional values. "Big government conservatism" (of which Bush was a proponent), is an intrinsically illogical concept - and an unworkable political strategy. If Americans want big government, they will go with Democrats.

It is hoped that with their election victory, Democrats in power may govern more responsibly than they did in opposition. In particular, they need to demonstrate that they can be trusted with national security. The Democratic party of FDR, Truman, and Kennedy, which led this nation through war and defended liberty abroad, has vanished, but a return to some semblance of it would be a welcome change - if their anti war, pacifist base will allow them. Instead of carping, backbiting, and undermining, perhaps they may actually offer ideas that can bring the Iraq project to a successful close and better protect the homeland.

Leaders of both parties should begin an honest debate about reversing the reckless defense cuts made after the fall of the Soviet Union, not addressed by Bush despite 9/11 - this, his most grievous failure.


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