Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bush Legacy

With his performance as president despised by so many, when it comes to his legacy George W. Bush reportedly is seeking perhaps his only available solace - that perhaps history will treat him more kindly.

Not likely.

What many people and present-day commentators such as the New York Times refer to as "the most disastrous presidency in modern times" is also viewed similarly by respected and reputable historians.

For example, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the late historian, commented to Jane Mayer of the The New Yorker for her new book, "The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals,” that “the Bush administration’s extralegal counterterrorism program presented the most dramatic, sustained and radical challenge to the rule of law in American history,” reports Bob Herbert in today's NYTimes.

Schlesinger concludes, after considering all of the breakdowns of law that occurred throughout American history in prior administrations, including Watergate, that "No position taken has done more damage to the American reputation in the world — ever.”

Not much solace there for Mr. Bush.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Clever Writing - Maureen Dowd on Task Facing Obama

I couldn't resist passing this one along....

In "Ich Bin Ein Jet-Setter," her column yesterday in the New York Times analogizing to a sort of mythological undertaking the tall task facing Barack Obama as he travels the world in his coming-out tour these next weeks, Maureen Dowd comments that among Obama's challenges will be:

"Instead of slaying the nine-headed Hydra, he must bedazzle three European countries without causing Middle America to begrudge his popularity with a bunch of foreigners.
"Then again, maybe it will be a refreshing change to see a leader abroad reflecting the America the world wants to believe in, after the ignominy of Iraq, Afghanistan, Dick Cheney and Abu Ghraib."

And the coup de grace: "Instead of obtaining the girdle of the Amazon warrior queen Hippolyte, Obama has to overcome the hurdle of the Amazon warrior queen Hillary. [Whoa.] He has to figure out how to let her down easy on the vice presidential deal, while wooing the frantic Clinton sisterhood and Hillraisers who would rather see a McCain Supreme Court than support the glib, cocky young guy who presumptuously sped past their gal."


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Al Gore, Progressive

Ya gotta love Al Gore.

With his challenge Thursday that the United States set a goal of getting 100 percent of its electricity from renewable resources and carbon-constrained fuels within 10 years, he's set an audacious goal - but one behind which Americans can rally; and which would place the United States in a vastly different posture at the end of 10 years than where we stand today in terms of oil dependency and global climate change.

Of course the naysayers and small-minded will say it can't be done - but really, why not??

This is the sort of challenge America used to embrace - leading the way on solving problems with hard work, unity and innovative new approaches.

Can America still pull itself together for these sorts of challenges? Good question. Bob Herbert ruminates in today's New York Times, "The correct response to Mr. Gore’s proposal would be a rush to figure out ways to make it happen. Don’t hold your breath.

"When exactly was it that the U.S. became a can’t-do society? It wasn’t at the very beginning when 13 ragamuffin colonies went to war against the world’s mightiest empire. It wasn’t during World War II when Japan and Nazi Germany had to be fought simultaneously. It wasn’t in the postwar period that gave us the Marshall Plan and a robust G.I. Bill and the interstate highway system and the space program and the civil rights movement and the women’s movement and the greatest society the world had ever known.

"When was it?

"Now we can’t even lift New Orleans off its knees."

Herbert continues, "Americans are extremely anxious at the moment, and I think part of it has to do with a deeply unsettling feeling that the nation may not be up to the tremendous challenges it is facing. A recent poll by the Rockefeller Foundation and Time magazine that focused on economic issues found a deep pessimism running through respondents.

"According to Margot Brandenburg, an official with the foundation, nearly half of 18- to 29-year-olds 'feel that America’s best days are in the past.'

"The moment is ripe for exactly the kind of challenge issued by Mr. Gore on Thursday. It doesn’t matter if his proposal is less than perfect, or can’t be realized within 10 years, or even it if is found to be deeply flawed. The goal is the thing.

"The fetish for drilling for ever more oil is the perfect metaphor these days. The first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole is stop digging."

A View From Germany of George W. Bush's America

I feel like a broken record in decrying George W. Bush's disastrous presidency, but it's hard not to be angry when you read the sort of commentary (as part of an OpEd, "Obama at the Gate," on whether Barack Obama should speak at the Brandenburg Gate) by author Christoph Peters, translated from the German for publication day before yesterday in the New York Times.

Peters says, "George W. Bush’s contempt for the rules and institutions of international politics, his revival of preventive war, with all its unforeseeable consequences, his abrogation of the rule of law in his own country, and his ignorance of every issue related to environmental conservation have become, for me and for the vast majority of Germans, synonymous with a high-handed, ugly America. This state of affairs has provoked not only rage and horror, but also great sadness, for the United States has always been the symbol of freedom, democracy and law."

184 days and counting - better things are in store....