Skip to comments.The Case for George W. Bush (Excellent article from a Lefty magazine, LONG READ).
Posted on 07/29/2004 11:10:58 PM PDT by Gforce11
The Case for George W. Bush i.e., what if he's right?
by Tom Junod | Aug 01 '04
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It happened again this morning. I saw a picture of our presidentmy presidentand my feelings about him were instantly rekindled. The picture was taken after his speech to the graduating seniors at the Air Force Academy. He was wearing a dark suit, a light-blue tie, and a white shirt. His unsmiling visage was grim and purposeful, in pointed contrast to the face of the elaborately uniformed cadet standing next to him, which was lit up with a cocky grin. Indeed, as something more than a frozen momentas a political statementthe picture might have served, and been intended to serve, as a tableau of the resolve necessary to lift this nation out of this steep and terrible time. The cadet represented the best of what America has to offer, all devil-may-care enthusiasm and willingness to serve. The president, his hair starting to whiten, might have represented something even more essential: the kind of brave and, in his case, literally unblinking leadership that generates enough moral capital to summon the young to war. Although one man was essentially being asked to stake his life on the wisdom of the other, both were melded in an attitude of common purpose, and so both struck a common pose. With the cadet bent slightly forward and the commander in chief leaning slightly back, each man cocked his right arm and made a muscle. They flexed! I didn't know anything about the cadet. About President George W. Bush, though, I felt the satisfaction of absolute certainty, and so uttered the words as essential to my morning as my cup of Kenyan and my dose of high-minded outrage on the editorial page of the Times : "What an asshole." Ah. That feels better. George W. Bush is an asshole, isn't he? Moreover, he's the first president who seems merely that, at least in my lifetime. From Kennedy to Clinton, there is not a single president who would have been capable of striking such a pose after concluding a speech about a war in which hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis are being killed. There is not a single president for whom such a pose would seem entirely characteristicnot a single president who might be tempted to confuse a beefcakey photo opportunity with an expression of national purpose. He has always struck me as a small man, or at least as a man too small for the task at hand, and therefore a man doomed to address the discrepancy between his soul and his situation with displays of political muscle that succeed only in drawing attention to his diminution. He not only has led us into war, he seems to get off on war, and it's the greedy pleasure he so clearly gets from flexing his biceps or from squaring his shoulders and setting his jaw or from landing a plane on an aircraft carrierthe greedy pleasure the war president finds in playacting his own attitudes of belligerencethat permitted me the greedy pleasure of hating him.
Then I read the text of the speech he gave and was thrown from one kind of certaintythe comfortable kindinto another. He was speaking, as he always does, of the moral underpinnings of our mission in Iraq. He was comparing, as he always does, the challenge that we face, in the evil of global terrorism, to the challenge our fathers and grandfathers faced, in the evil of fascism. He was insisting, as he always does, that the evil of global terrorism is exactly that, an evilone of almost transcendent dimension that quite simply must be met, lest we be remembered for not meeting it . . . lest we allow it to be our judge. I agreed with most of what he said, as I often do when he's defining matters of principle. No, more than that, I thought that he was defining principles that desperately needed defining, with a clarity that those of my own political stripe demonstrate only when they're decrying either his policies or his character. He was making a moral proposition upon which he was basing his entire presidencyor said he was basing his entire presidencyand I found myself in the strange position of buying into the proposition without buying into the presidency, of buying into the words while rejecting, utterly, the man who spoke them. There is, of course, an easy answer for this seeming moral schizophrenia: the distance between the principles and the policy, between the mission and "Mission Accomplished," between the war on terror and the war in Iraq. Still, I have to admit to feeling a little uncertain of my disdain for this president when forced to contemplate the principle that might animate his determination to stay the course in a war that very well may be the end of him politically. I have to admit that when I listen to him speak, with his unbending certainty, I sometimes hear an echo of the same nagging question I ask myself after I hear a preacher declaim the agonies of hellfire or an insurance agent enumerate the cold odds of the actuarial tables. Namely: What if he's right?
As easy as it is to say that we can't abide the president because of the gulf between what he espouses and what he actually does , what haunts me is the possibility that we can't abide him because of usbecause of the gulf between his will and our willingness. What haunts me is the possibility that we have become so accustomed to ambiguity and inaction in the face of evil that we find his call for decisive action an insult to our sense of nuance and proportion.
The people who dislike George W. Bush have convinced themselves that opposition to his presidency is the most compelling moral issue of the day. Well, it's not. The most compelling moral issue of the day is exactly what he says it is, when he's not saying it's gay marriage. The reason he will be difficult to unseat in Novemberno matter what his approval ratings are in the summeris that his opponents operate out of the moral certainty that he is the bad guy and needs to be replaced, while he operates out of the moral certainty that terrorists are the bad guys and need to be defeated. The first will always sound merely convenient when compared with the second. Worse, the gulf between the two kinds of certainty lends credence to the conservative notion that liberals have settled for the conviction that Bush is distasteful as a substitute for convictionbecause it's easier than conviction.
IN 1861, AFTER CONFEDERATE FORCES shelled Fort Sumter, President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus from Philadelphia to Washington and thereby made the arrest of American citizens a matter of military or executive say-so. When the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court objected to the arrest of a Maryland man who trained troops for Confederate muster, Lincoln essentially ignored his ruling. He argued that there was no point fixating on one clause in the Constitution when Southern secession had shredded the whole document, and asked, "Are all the laws but one to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated?" During the four-year course of the Civil War, he also selectively abridged the rights of free speech, jury trial, and private property.
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The most compelling moral issue of the day is exactly what he says it is, when he's not saying it's gay marriage. The reason he will be difficult to unseat in Novemberno matter what his approval ratings are in the summeris that his opponents operate out of the moral certainty that he is the bad guy and needs to be replaced, while he operates out of the moral certainty that terrorists are the bad guys and need to be defeated.
He clued in.
An interesting read with a very real supposition. Maybe he (Bush) is right. A civil discourse on what President Bush is doing to protect the American people written by someone who does not like our President. It is nice to see someone on the other side trying look at the 'war on terror' through a historical perspective of Lincoln. Although I don't agree that Bush was 'dishonest', I do appreciate the writer's soul searching view in reviewing what President Bush has done to protect us from those who wish to destroy our way of life. I have forwarded this to all of my left leaning friends and family. This writer makes the case for a renewed Bush presidency.
It already has over 100 replies.
"It happened again this morning. I saw a picture of our presidentmy presidentand my feelings about him were instantly rekindled....."
I needed this after seeing the Democrats in my face for the last 3 -4 days
I'm stunned to find this on Esquire!
Oops, I did a search to see if it was posted, but it never showed up. Thanks for the link