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He said nice things about HM Queen Elizabeth II on her state visit to the US.

He'll be leaving office peacefully.

Allowing "faith-based" groups access to federal funds for their charity work was a salutory corrective.

Dave,

That's how you establish credibility, folks.

Name me one foreign leader who thinks Bush is credible. And I'm not talking about diplomatic stuff. The real stuff, behind the scenes, what a leader would say were his words not going to get him in trouble.

he's done good work for AIDS in Africa.

Dan, the credibility I'm talking about goes to the willingness to use force if required to protect and defend the United States and its legitimate interests. It's clear Bush has credibility on that measure. That's why some foreign leaders object; they prefer a US leader with no credibility.

If someone thinks it is more important to kiss up to foreign leaders than defend and protect the United States, they shouldn't take the oath of office. Go work for the UN or some NGO, but don't run for president.

Uh, I don't see that you made a real effort to say something nice about President Bush, Dan. Try again.

He allowed NIH funding to double under his budget (something agreed upon before he took office, but he still had the power to nix it).

He had one of---if not the most---diverse cabinets of any president.

I will miss his tax cuts.

Bush doesn't make being president into something like a drug-toking rock star. When he leaves office, I suspect he won't be stealing the dishes.

As Dave mentioned, he did what he had to do after September 11. He never wavered and didn't buckle under the polls or relentless attacks from those across and on the same side of the aisle.

As much as many have tried to paint him as a theocrat, I haven't seen much of that except an incredible patience with being attacked for for the silliest (and not so silly) of things and not return in kind. He was certainly not poll-driven.

Dave,

My apologies. I have nothing nice to say about George W. Bush. May he rot in hell. That's all I have to say about that.

Dave,

Dan, the credibility I'm talking about goes to the willingness to use force if required to protect and defend the United States and its legitimate interests.

And as far as the use of force is concerned, all Bush did was show that America was a "strutting cock", striking at any hint of threat, rather than wisely acting based on well thought out strategies.

Take for instance the latest incident, where we violated Syrian territory and killed eight Syrians. Guess what the Syrians did in retaliation. They effectively moved their soldiers OFF the Iraqi border, thereby making that border far more porous. Was it really necessary to make that strike? No, not really. We lacked the imagination of how to deal with that problem and simply became a dumb, blunt force tool. It speaks to the whole Iraq war. Did we really need to get Saddam? Was he really a threat to his neighbors? no not really. Don't believe me? Would you believe Colin Powell? You say you like him as Secretary of State. Well, here is what he said in February 2001 about Saddam Hussein:

We had a good discussion, the Foreign Minister and I and the President and I, had a good discussion about the nature of the sanctions — the fact that the sanctions exist — not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein’s ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq…

Yes, Colin Powell, as Secretary of State said in February 2001 that Saddam was not able to project conventional power against his neighbors. Pray answer, what changed in two years? Did Saddam really increase his capability in a mere two years worthy enough of an invasion? Please! What changed is that America was turned into a dumb, blunt-force tool by Bush and his cronies. Let me share with you a Chinese parable that illustrates who we are, and who we are not.

Chi Hsing Tzu was a trainer of fighting cocks for King Hsuan. He was training a fine bird. The King kept asking if the bird were Ready for combat. "Not yet," said the trainer. "He is full of fire. He is ready to pick a fight With every other bird. He is vain and confident Of his own strength." After ten days, he answered again: "Not yet. He flares up When he hears another bird crow." After ten more days: "Not yet. He still gets That angry look and ruffles his feathers." Again ten days: The trainer said, "Now he is nearly ready. When another bird crows, his eye does not even flicker. He stands immobile Like a cock of wood. He is a mature fighter. Other birds will take one look at him And run."

America is the untrained bird, the one full of itself "ready to pick a fight with every other bird." We are not the "mature fighter." We are not the one that other birds take a look at and run. We've lost our way.

Thank you, Bush.

You'll notice the glaring absence of successful terrorist strikes inside the borders of the United States after 9/11

Didn't 9/11 itself count for something?

We'll also notice that we are substantially more likely to be attacked by terrorists in the future, thanks to the worst foreign policy move in a generation: Bush's preemptive invasion of Iraq. American goodwill has gone down the crapper abroad.

He was a good campaigner and got me to vote for him twice.

I get the impression he tried hard to be a decent president.

It will be a lot easier to tell what to miss about George W. Bush after his successor has been in office for a couple of years.

For now, I admire his (regrettably unsuccessful) veto of the 2008 Farm Bill, his promotion of free trade, and his zeal to defend the country against terrorism.

I have nothing good to say, either.

Dan, Steve M., and Hunter -- Wow, you guys are really hard core partisans. I'm no Obama fan, but I could find a half dozen nice things to say about him if I really had to. His election would help advance racial equality and heal lingering harsh feelings. He gives fine speeches. Maybe liberals will stop fulminating and try governing for a change (this would be a step forward). He knocked Hilary out in the primaries, for which he deserves praise and credit. Foreign leaders and populations will initially be very happy (until Russian "peacekeepers" visit the Ukraine in force). Somebody's taxes will go down.

See? It's not so hard. Give it another try to see if you can find one nice thing to say about Pres. Bush.

Dan,

The whole Parable thing is cool and all but what if the other bird is an idiot and can't judge the trained bird's fighting skills?

What I'm going to miss about George W. Bush is his humor and his persistence of protecting the American People.

Dave,

Back on September 12, 2001 when 90% of the country gave Bush his support, I was a part of that 10% who didn't. I knew he would abuse that power.

There is nothing nice I have to say about him. He took our country into Iraq, and he introduced torture. Those two things, above all else---including politicizing the Department of Justice and, well, all other Federal departments---overwhelm any nice things about him. I will never have anything nice to say about him for the rest of my life. Get back to me in the eternities, Dave. My heart might be softened toward him then.

Sean,

Ah, but see the trained bird would still not strike wildly, and more importantly would not take its eye off the real target to strike at another bird that's, well, giving it the "bird."

You're also going on the assumption that al-Qaeda is idiotic in striking the trained bird---America. But they are not. There is a method to their madness, you see. Hellmut over at Headlife made a great point. Al-Qaeda is hiding right now in Pakistan, among the Pashtuns. Do you know how many Pashtuns there are in Pakistan? 45 million of them. These Pashtuns apparently think highly enough of Al-Qaeda that they allow them sanctuary.

There's nothing idiotic about what Al-Qaeda did. They struck the United States to generate a response against Muslims to prove to Muslims that Christian America hates Islam. To this point, the United States has attacked two Muslim nations, is threatening two others, and making peace with repressive dictators in the rest. Al-Qaeda made their point, and it was a supremely successful strike.

Yeah, I'm really going to miss the tax cuts, and the whole child tax credit thing.

Eric,

Do you make over $250,000?

Dan, I think your figures are a little out of date.

"I will miss his tax cuts."

+1.

As a student I particularly enjoyed his wealth-spreading Earned Income Tax Credit.

I'm going to miss being the BMOC (Big Man On Campus) in the world Scene. He showed that we can attack anyplace we want, just because he felt like it. Way to dominate the world W!

I dunno, Ian. At least in his second term, Bush got soft on State Sponsors of Terrorism and even went so far as to twist Treasury's arm to unfreeze North Korean assets in a deal-making dance with the devil that left many of his conservative pals foaming at the mouth.

Not that progress towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is bad thing.

Dave: I am trying, I really am. The best I can come up with are back-handed compliments, like 80% of your observations about Obama.

Here is one: W's wife seems nice.

I voted for Bush in 2000, Kerry in 2004, and will vote for Obama tomorrow.

I admire Bush's personal recovery from alcoholism or alcohol abuse. I think he has personal compassion for a lot of people. I admire his selection of his wife and the raising of his daughters.

I am glad he went against the GOP base with respect to immigration, and in favor of treated undocumented workers with respect and opening a way for their legalization.

I am glad of his support of the fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases overseas.

I agree with his support of heath savings accounts and increase consumerism in health care.

I appreciated his selections of Collin Powell and Robert Gates in his cabinet.

I liked many of his judicial nominations.

Dave,

Okay, I'm going to give it a try. Bush's wife is a librarian. There, I said something nice about him.

Although Bush doubled funding for AIDS prevention in Africa, in effect two-thirds had to be spent on abstinence training. IN other words, two-thirds was totally useless; the AIDS rate in Uganda, previously declining is now rising. Thanks Bush Administration.

I have nothing good to say about him. Though I think attacking THE WRONG COUNTRY after 9-11 was his worse mistake.

He makes hilarious faces when attempting to make an exit using doors that won't open.

When he leaves office, I suspect he won't be stealing the dishes.

He'll just pay Karl Rove under the table to do it for him, and then he'll pardon him for anything that might come up in the future.

I think Reagan's greatest weaknesses were all relative to Africa. Bush's greatest successes were all relative to Africa. I doubt Obama, despite his African heritage, will come close.

Geeze Dan, you can't find anything he did right? I mean I can find nice things to say about LBJ and he got us into Viet Nam which killed way more people than HWB. And he gave us some pretty horrible government programs.

Take for instance the latest incident, where we violated Syrian territory and killed eight Syrians. Guess what the Syrians did in retaliation.

There is fair evidence that raid was done with the cooperation of the Syrian government. Most intelligence sources say our relationship with Syria is better than it has been at anytime since 9/11 and there is a lot of cooperation. If Syria is opening the border like that it's probably (a) a power play within the government or (b) part of some larger military strategy.

Yes, Colin Powell, as Secretary of State said in February 2001 that Saddam was not able to project conventional power against his neighbors.

Except that at the time conventional power wasn't what anyone was worried about. I mean the WMD evidence wasn't nearly as good as portrayed and Powell deserves blame for how the evidence was portrayed. But let's not get so revisionist that we pretend the debate was about conventional forces.

He took our country into Iraq, and he introduced torture.

Introduced torture? Other than a short time in the 90's was there honestly a period when there wasn't torture? And even Bill Clinton was using rendition to get other nations to torture for information.

I mean let's condemn it. But this illusion that it wasn't going on is naive. Heck, it was standard operating procedure in American police departments for way too long.

Look I'm not fan of Bush. But haters ought read this interesting article by Bob Geldof on Bush and Africa.

I'm grateful he didn't shut down all government funded stem cell research, even though he was getting a lot of pressure from religious zealots to do so. I'm hoping the next president will expand stem cell research, but I'm grateful Bush was willing to compromise.

Clark,

I mean I can find nice things to say about LBJ and he got us into Viet Nam which killed way more people than HWB.

So I should be grateful Bush didn't kill as many people as LBJ...

And he gave us some pretty horrible government programs.

Which ones? Because it seems to me that life got better for far more Americans after LBJ.

There is fair evidence that raid was done with the cooperation of the Syrian government.

Yeah, I saw that report. That's heartening to see. Somehow, I don't think the Syrian government gave approval for the Americans to kill its citizens (though this being an Asad regime that might not be the case).

Except that at the time conventional power wasn't what anyone was worried about. I mean the WMD evidence wasn't nearly as good as portrayed and Powell deserves blame for how the evidence was portrayed. But let's not get so revisionist that we pretend the debate was about conventional forces.

Clark, Colin Powell said in 2001 that sanctions had worked and that Saddam made no progress in his attempts to get WMDs. He did not somehow magically improve those capabilities in a mere two years.

Secondly, you need conventional weaponry to be a threat to your neighbors, to threaten them with invasion, a threat worthy enough of full outright invasion.

Introduced torture?

Yes, introduced torture. Obviously previous presidents had done bad things behind the scenes, but they didn't try to LEGALIZE it, to make it a common occurrence in our country.

Dan, pretty much all of LBJ's social programs seemed bad to me...

Regarding Powell, clearly he changed his mind. But that's beside the point. The point is that it wasn't Sadaam's convential forces anyone was worried about. In any case, despite Powell's earlier comments, there was consensus in the intelligence community that he was further along than he was. The consensus was bad and I strongly think Bush should have investigated further rather than believing things. And Powell should have showed some backbone and integrity. However the fact is that the claim you made simply wasn't what the discussion at the time was about. It's pure revisionism.

As for torture, that's a cop out Dan. The CIA was doing significant research in torture under Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. I know you know that.

I also know you know that the legality of torture is primarily the issue of the UN Convention Against Torture in 1994 and that Clinton added some weasel words so as to effectively allow it.

So let's not be duplicitous.

He made the Daily Show a lot funner to watch.

Dave,

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/opinion/04tue1.html?hp=&pagewanted=all

This is why I cannot say anything nice about Bush. He is still in power, and still messing things up.

Dave, tsk tsk. I gave Bush two bona fide compliments; only one of your statements about Obama was truly positive.

It's going to be so fun pulling Dan's chain now that Obama and the Democrats are in power.

Clark: any problems in the Obama administration will be the residual effects of mistakes made by Bush. {wink}

Clark,

Bring it on. :P

But again, remember, I really am a moderate. I want the war in Iraq ended, and torture removed from our nation. Other than those two things, I really don't have a strong opinion one way or another on the rest of the issues.

Dan, really, you're not a moderate. Seriously.

Look, I want the war in Iraq ended as swiftly as possible but not at the cost of the responsibilities we incurred. I think Bush has given Obama a huge gift by maintaining troop levels at the levels they are at. This will let Obama draw down troops and thus appear to placate the "it's all about pulling out of Iraq" crowd while really leaving a significant force in place.

Where I'm really interested is in how Obama reacts towards Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. Petraeus already holds some positions there that map more on to Obama than Bush. (i.e. in terms of talking to everyone in the region) It appears that Petraeus has been prevailing against the standard Bush position especially with regards to Syria. But I suspect there will be more harmony between Petraeus and Obama than many imagine.

Torture will end, of course. But then it was effectively ended some time ago. Obama will at best hasten changes that are already in effect. I'd be really, really, surprised if Obama makes as big changes as some are asserting. I think the structure of things will preclude those big changes - especially if Obama is as thoughtful and deliberative as I think. Now McCain I'd fear him making some big and stupid changes. Which is why I voted against him.


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