I'd have a (non-alcoholic) beer with George Bush

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 27, 2020, 3:00 PM | comments: 0

I've been reading George W. Bush's book on and off for awhile. It's fairly interesting, and more vulnerable than I expected, but I think it's because he's willing to admit mistakes while offering his perspective about why he made the decisions that he did. Like any previous president in my lifetime, except for Nixon, I would absolutely jump at the chance to talk to him about his experiences as president. I would certainly have a non-alcoholic beer with him. (While he doesn't self-identify as an alcoholic, even though what he describes sure sounds like alcoholism, he stopped drinking in the 80's.)

Now, make no mistake, I think Bush's foreign policy was an absolute disaster. Invading Iraq on a premise that was not true had enormous consequences, not the least of which was the rise of ISIS. He definitely should not have let himself be influenced by Cheney. Humoring the deregulation cause of his party had unintended negative effects, including the mortgage crisis. His environmental record was variable at best, while he was somewhat progressive about immigration, and his actions as a leader right after 9/11 were about what you wanted and needed from a president in such a terrible time.

So while I think on the whole he was not a particularly good president, what I do recognize is his intent and character. After serving in the National Guard and going to an Ivy League school, I do believe that his intent was good, and was rooted in service. I can separate the policy from the man. He clearly believed that there was a dignity to the office and understood its importance. That's why I could easily be in a room with him and ask him questions for as long as he would allow it.

I bring this up, as you might expect, because this is not what Donald Trump is. His actions show no respect for the office, the American people or the institutions he's entrusted with operating. His intent is only to satisfy his ego. He's not making any policy decisions. He's not governing or operating the government (ask people working in the various federal departments how it's going with a revolving door of "acting" directors). The US has lost the respect of our allies, and even our enemies have less respect for us. He's objectively an autocrat and a fascist who watches TV and worries more about popularity than anything else. You've been lied to repeatedly. He isn't looking out for you.

Yes, there are ideological differences between Republicans and Democrats. It was never about that with Trump. This isn't someone you would have a beer with.


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