Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘President Bush’

Iraq elections: Good news for Iraq and US

Posted by sanityinjection on February 5, 2009

I’ve been waiting to post about this until the first official results were released today. Iraq has completed its first local elections since 2005. The elections were free of violence and certified free and fair by international observers. Security for the elections was handled entirely by the Iraqis themselves, a major accomplishment.

The big news is that of the 14 provinces at stake, more than half resulted in victory for the Dawa party of Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki. This represents a major political shift. al-Maliki had been a compromise choice for Prime Minister from a small Shiite party. The results will be a major boost to his power and credibility. The big losers were the two other Shiite parties which are widely seen as being under Iranian influence. Sunni parties did well in other provinces, adding legitimacy to the government among Sunnis that it lacked when Sunnis boycotted the elections in 2005. Overall, secular and nationalist parties did well; religious parties and those seen as dominated by foreign powers did poorly. 

All of this is very good for the US.  For the last five years, Iraq has been the centerpiece of our foreign policy, and arguably of our politics here at home too. President Bush told Americans that the goal of our occupation was to develop Iraq into a stable democracy that would become an example for the rest of the Middle East. For this he was roundly scorned and mocked by those who said such a goal was impossible. Iraq could never fucntion as a Western-style democracy, they said. Shiites and Sunnis could never cooperate, they said. The only way to keep them from killing each other is to partition the country, said then-Senator, now-Vice President Joe Biden. All agreed that Bush was an idiot.

So who turned out to be right? Well, it is still too early to say whether Iraq will become stable. But there is no question that Iraq has become a real democracy of the kind that was considered impossible in the Arab world. And that fact has not been lost on the authoritarian Arab regimes and their people, nor on the leaders of Iran, whose bid to dominate Iraq has, for the moment, failed, and who now have an example on their borders that must seem attractive to the massive youth population of Iran.

If you ask me, perhaps the biggest winner of all in this Iraqi election is George W. Bush. Oh, wait, except for, you know, the people of Iraq.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Goodbye, George Bush

Posted by sanityinjection on January 20, 2009

Today is also the day that America says good bye to President George Bush. Some have been waiting for this day breathlessly for eight years.

It is hard to know how history will judge Bush’s Presidency. It seems unlikely that he will ever be considered a great President. But perhaps the passage of time will allow some of the positive aspects of his Presidency to be considered along with the negatives.

Much may depend on the future of Iraq. Should Iraq develop into a stable democracy, Bush’s legacy will surely reap the credit. If it sinks into a quagmire of ethnic and sectarian conflict, he will just as surely bear the brunt of the blame.

Bush’s strong leadership in the aftermath of 9/11 is perhaps balanced by his failure of leadership during Hurricane Katrina. Perhaps his biggest failure, though, has been his philosophy that admitting mistakes is a sign of weakness. On multiple occasions this has prevented him from switching course when needed, until much damage had already been done.

I did not vote for George Bush in 2000; I did vote for him in 2004, mainly on the war issue. But I think that it is time for him to pass from the world stage, and that it will be healthy for Bush’s supporters, detractors, and middle-ground folks like me to turn the page and enter a new era, which if not free of partisan polarization, at least will find some other focus for it.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Inaugural hypocrisy

Posted by sanityinjection on January 14, 2009

Matt Drudge reminds us that before both George W. Bush’s inaugurals, there was much criticism and discussion in the media about the cost of the celebrations and whether it was appropriate, even though mostly privately funded.

Where, he asks, are these same critics today as Barack Obama’s inaugural shapes up to be the most expensive in history in the midst of a severe economic crisis? Strangely silent.

In 2005, the Washington Post commissioned a poll which showed that 66 percent of Americans thought the inaugural should be a smaller affair. Has any such poll been commissioned this year? I’m betting the answer is no, because the media is no longer interested in asking the question. (And if a poll is taken, and the answer turns out to be the same, they’ll try to make sure you don’t hear about it.)

I am not troubled by Obama’s inaugural plans, but then again I took the same view with Bush. For our friends in the liberal media, however, the rules of the game are apparently different depending on who the contestant is.

Rich Noyes has the embarrassing details here:

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Details of the final auto bailout

Posted by sanityinjection on December 19, 2008

This one comes from the Bush Administration and does not have to be approved by Congress. It consists of $9.4 billion in emergency loans for GM and $4 billion for Chrysler. The companies will have to meet the same conditions specified in the Congressional plan that failed to pass – submit acceptable restructuring plans by March 31 or repay the loans immediately.

President Bush explained his rationale for approving the loans this way:

“If we were to allow the free market to take its course now, it would almost certainly lead to disorderly bankruptcy and liquidation for the automakers. Under ordinary economic circumstances, I would say this is the price that failed companies must pay. And I would not favor intervening to prevent the automakers from going out of business. But these are not ordinary circumstances.  In the midst of a financial crisis and a recession, allowing the U.S. auto industry to collapse is not a responsible course of action.”

The problem with this is that there is no way that GM and Chrysler are going to meet that March 31 deadline. The biggest reason is that without bankruptcy protection, they will be unable to get relief from their creditors and they will be unable to force renegotiation with the auto workers, whom you will recall have refused to discuss changes to their contract which extends through 2011. I don’t see how they can become solvent without these steps.

That is the difference between this plan and the Congressional plan, which in its final form would have required the creditors and the UAW to come to the table. The Bush Administration can’t make that happen by itself. Therefore, while I sympathize with what the President is trying to do, I think it’s misguided and will fail. April Fools will be on the taxpayer when GM and Chrysler default on their loans and go into bankruptcy. With no Congressional law requiring the government to be paid before other creditors, we’ll be lucky to get half of that money back.

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If the shoe fits…

Posted by sanityinjection on December 16, 2008

World reaction to the shoe assault on President Bush by a disgruntled Iraqi journalist has run the gamut from amusement to hero worship of the assailant. However, the New York Daily News has the right perspective on the incident:

Here is mushheadedness in the extreme. Shoe-hurler Muntathar al-Zaidi works for an independent Iraqi television station. Think about that. During Saddam Hussein’s 35-year nightmare, there were no journalists, only mouthpieces like Baghdad Bob. And Iraqi viewing choices extended to the offerings of the Saddam Propaganda Channel.

Consider also the fate of Zaidi. He’ll likely be charged with assault. Had he pulled such a stunt under Saddam, his whole village might have been put to death in gruesome fashion. Following a show trial.

And consider that an elected prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, stood beside Bush as head of a democratic government that is Shiite-led. Saddam’s Sunni clan had ground the Shiites, who compose about two-thirds of Iraq’s population, into powerlessness.

Yes, indeed, Iraqis andAmericans alike have grounds for anger that Bush badly botched the war for far too long. But now the U.S. is looking toward a successful withdrawal that leaves Iraq as a stable representative democracy, where citizens are free to be rude enough to throw a shoe in protest without fear of execution.

Zaidi should count himself lucky.

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