>The Bush legacy (Aug. 06 Manistee News Advocate)

Posted: August 2, 2006 in Columns

>What will the Bush legacy be? How will he be remembered? First off, he will be remembered as a president who served during a time of extreme crisis; September 11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the fight to strengthen our country’s defenses against the threat of terrorism.But will the president share the same fate as president Johnson — being forever linked with the escalation of an unpopular war with an unclear exit strategy? If his father was remembered for “read my lips, no new taxes”, George W. will be remembered for the failed attempt to find those much talked about and endlessly debated WMD’s, and for standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier and declaring combat operations in Iraq “over”. Whether or not the president and his administration purposely used weapons of mass destruction as a reason for the Iraq invasion — knowing that the intelligence wasn’t correct, is the big question; one for which I don’t have the answer. Whether Bush had planned to invade Iraq before 9/11 happened in order to seek some type of closure for Bush Sr.’s gulf war is also a point of contention. Unfortunately, the truth of these accusations is difficult to determine, and I will leave that to speculation.Why we entered the war and how we entered it are no longer issues we should waste our time debating. Now that we have a protracted war in Iraq, with casualties and deaths to our soldiers growing daily, the only questions we should be asking are: how long will this war take, what is the strategy for our eventual withdrawal, and how will we know when we’ve won?The administration’s answer that setting a withdrawal date or schedule of specific troop reductions would only show weakness to the enemy is not sufficient. The U.S. could develop an exit strategy without jeopardizing our troops. I think our military leaders are intelligent and experienced enough to develop a suitable plan. If we truly believe that all nations have the right to a democratic government and sovereign rule, it seems like we would want to leave the Iraqi people to rule as they see fit and to settle their own problems now that we have deposed their dictator and freed them to proceed with a new democratic government. So, besides the war, what legacy will G.W. leave? I did a Google search for “Bush accomplishments” and got zero hits, but I’ll see if I can piece a couple of things together on my own. (Dave accuses me of plagiarizing my material off of the Internet, anyway.)Even though I’m not a huge fan of the war, Sadam Hussein was captured and is facing trial. The world is surely a better place because of this. Also, two-thirds of al-Qaeda leaders have been captured or killed.Through diplomatic negotiations, nuclear weapons programs have been disabled in Libya, and talks continue with North Korea. So far, so good.Here’s where it gets tricky. Bush has instituted the USA PATRIOT Act, which allows federal law enforcement to better share information, track terrorists, disrupt terrorist cells, and to seize assets. The new Department of Homeland Security supplements such legislation by enabling coasts and borders to be patrolled with a closer eye. In theory, this is great.However, I tend to agree with some of the experts, who say that the USA PATRIOT ACT is taking away honest citizens’ rights. The current administration is walking a very thin line when it comes to the protection of private citizens versus the rights to privacy of these same citizens.Add to this the debate over illegal wire-tapping, and the CIA leak scandal, and Bush’s security record reads like a page out of George Orwell’s 1984.Now, just so Dave doesn’t accuse me of being a bleeding-heart liberal, I would like to add that I voted for George Bush Sr. in 1988, and I worked for the Republicans in the state house for a couple of years as well. I mention these items only because I want to point out that I judge a president not by his party, but by his politics, and his record. Judging by his record, George W. Bush will be remembered as a war president, and nothing else — except maybe “the Decider.”

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