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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Applause at a Wake?

I just finished watching President Bush speak at the requiem for his own Presidency. (#1)

The meat of Bush's address boiled down to this paragraph:

Over the past seven years, a new Department of Homeland Security has been created. The military, the intelligence community, and the FBI have been transformed. Our nation is equipped with new tools to monitor the terrorists’ movements, freeze their finances, and break up their plots. And with strong allies at our side, we have taken the fight to the terrorists and those who support them. Afghanistan has gone from a nation where the Taliban harbored al Qaeda and stoned women in the streets to a young democracy that is fighting terror and encouraging girls to go to school. Iraq has gone from a brutal dictatorship and a sworn enemy of America to an Arab democracy at the heart of the Middle East and a friend of the United States.

These points sound so good you WANT them to be true but reality says otherwise. Despite billions spent shuffling deck chairs between federal agencies to form the Department of Homeland Security, America still lacks a unified radio communication system for first responders, a problem flagged as one of the key barriers to a more effective response on September 11, 2001. The military, intelligence community and FBI have been "transformed" yet Rumsfeld's fantasy of an outsourced, right-sized, high-tech, remote control strike force in Iraq failed to achieve Goal #1 of any war -- secure the territory -- and produced a descent into anarchy that trapped us in a five-year conflict. An intelligence community that ignored information we had about Arab nationals taking flying lessons with cash payments and no interest in landing still wasn't transformed enough to properly analyze and reject trumped up intelligence about WMD capabilities Iraq did not possess. The FBI and Justice department were transformed by one Attorney General who approved wholesale illegal wiretaps and a second Attorney General who politicized daily operations of the Justice Department.

Like his partner in war crime -- Dick Cheney -- George Bush stuck to the talking points of his internal dialogue that helped justify all of the bad advice he accepted and the good advice ignored that didn't fit his image of a "leader" willing to make the "tough choices". Here's the exact quote:

Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks. There are things I would do differently if given the chance. Yet I have always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions.

News flash to Mr. Bush and all future Presidents. The American people don't give a **** about making "tough decisions" -- we care about making the RIGHT decisions, whether they're easy or tough. If you had made a few more RIGHT decisions, you would have had fewer TOUGH decisions to make.

Maybe the oddest part of the short address was the round of applause from the hand-picked audience at the beginning. I thought applause at the beginning of such a somber occasion was awkward -- a bit out of place. Then again maybe the attendees were as excited to watch the end of George Walker Bush's reign of error as roughly two thirds of the rest of us are.

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#1) http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/01/15/politics/bush_legacy/main4726092.shtml