Monday, January 19, 2009

Fail to the Chief

(The Financial Times offers up a scathing indictment of the Bush administration this morning. In comparison, the Wall Street Journal has been stridently ideologically suggesting the Repubs spent too much and well... it was Greenspan's fault - have no quarrel with that attribution. At the end of the day, the election of a Black French guy with an Islamic name is Bush's epitaph. Shrub and his minions were of the ideological stripe where they would proclaim that the earth was flat and if you presented a globe to them they would question your patriotism. As a patriot I was thoroughly disgusted by these folks and their debasement of the American ideal. Good riddance and may he fade into obscurity and absurdity. Will highlight just one bit as a counter to the pablum that Bush should be compared to Truman. - AM)

By Edward Luce
Published: January 19 2009 02:00

Not generally a noted fan of scholarship, the outgoing president has developed a habit of plundering episodes from the past in defence of his eight years in office. Among his unknowing allies, Mr Bush has enlisted Theodore Roosevelt (a strong sense of nationalistic purpose), Winston Churchill (unwavering resolve in the face of evil), Ronald Reagan (ditto) and, most of all, Harry S. Truman.

Although a Democrat, the last has proved most helpful. As the statesman who presided over the beginning of the cold war, Mr Truman stood for freedom against tyranny. In spite of his leaving office with what was then a record low voter approval - dragged down by US involvement in the Korean war - history has elevated the plain-spoken and unintellectual Mr Truman into one of America's most respected presidents.

The analogy has proved irresistible to Mr Bush, who departs with the thanks of fewer than one in four Americans. So far it does not have too many takers. "Harry Truman and George Bush both left office with rock-bottom approval ratings," says Strobe Talbott, head of the Brookings Institution, America's most venerable think-tank. "That is as far as the parallel goes."

He adds: "Truman set up Nato, strengthened the United Nations and helped lay the groundwork for the European Union - all legacies that persist to this day. Bush leaves no architecture, no institutions, no treaties and no respect for the international rule of law. His unintended legacy may be for America to turn back to those institutions and try to revitalise them after the aberrations of the last eight years."

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