Some unexpected hope

A week ago when I was pondering an Obama win, I was filled with dread.  I saw myself constantly worrying about the coming crises, worrying about the inevitable four years of recession that will be caused by higher taxes and more government involvement.  But I have surprised myself in the last day or two:  I’m actually hopeful.  Who would have ever imagined that?  Certainly not me.

It may be that I am just an irrepressible, optimistic guy. But I think it’s more than that. There is something inside me, emotional and not necessarily rational, that just seems to think an Obama administration will do a lot of good things. As a conservative, I can’t rationally think of very many of them now (I do think taxes will increase, I do think the economy will suffer even more, I do think foreign bad guys will test us even more, I do think Obama will choose horrible judges, and on an on). But then the emotional side says: “wow, look at all the good will we are generating worldwide with our new president. Something good has got to come from that.”

This same dynamic appears to be at work with the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s chief of staff. The rational side says, “wow, a horrible partisan, lots of contention, we’re in for some bad times.” The emotional side says, “hey, it could be worse, at least he will be pro-Israel and he’s not a Socialist.”

So, as we move forward into this great American experiment, I am hopeful. I hope I can maintain that hope in the weeks and months ahead.

This entry was posted in General by Geoff B.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

57 thoughts on “Some unexpected hope

  1. I decided that I am going to do what the Left would not do for George Bush–respect the office of President and give Obama a chance.

    On the issues where I disagree with Obama, I will let him know. On the issues where we agree, I will support him. It’s that simple.

    Obama was elected by the voice of the people and I respect that. He is our president and deserves the respect that accompanies the office he will soon hold.

  2. Irony: I was equally in dread of a McCain administration, so I was happy for about fifteen minutes when he lost.

    Then I thought: “Poor Obama. There’s no one alive with the ability to pull us out of this economic mess, and he’s going to end up taking the flak for his inability to clean it up.”

  3. Julie, I have to agree with you.

    And, upon reflection, the atmosphere with a McCain win right now would be horrible. Millions of very upset people, perhaps even rioting, international condemnation about what a racist country we are. The hatred of Sarah Palin would be hundred times what it is now. So, perhaps part of my feeling of hope is a sense of relief that we don’t have to go through that.

  4. “we’re in for some bad times.”

    Now you can feel what we liberals have felt for the last 28 (possibly 40) years (granted I have only been alive for 32 and only a liberal for 11).

    Brian,

    “I decided that I am going to do what the Left would not do for George Bush–respect the office of President and give Obama a chance.”

    Wow, you are self-righteous.

  5. Julie, I was dreading the thought of either man winning the election. :-) Sadly, one of the two had to win.

    You are right about Obama and this economic mess. Consider also the high expectations people have for him. He is just one man and will be unable to live up to these high expectations (at least in terms of giving the people everything they want from him).

    Obama showed a lot of class during the election. I know he loves the country and wants to do what he feels is best for the nation. My prayers will be with President Obama and Vice President Biden.

    Btw- I think Joe Biden was a great pick for VP. He is exactly who Obama needed!

  6. Chris H, c’mon give Brian a break. He is the least mean-spirited person in the bloggernacle and probably the least self-righteous person I know. Sometimes you have to just let those kinds of comments slide.

  7. Thanks, Geoff. I didn’t mean for that comment to come off as self-righteous. Believe me, I am not enamored with everything Bush has done as president, but I do respect the office he holds.

  8. I do not care about President Bush. Is he still president? Anyways, it was the “I will too what those mean liberals were not decent enough to do” sentiment that set for my reaction. I actually do not buy into the hate the man, respect the office stuff (though honor is likely a better word than respect). It is fluff that is used to trivialized any criticism of the occupant of the white house.

    Sorry for making it sound personal, it was the tone of the comment, not Brian, who I should have been critiquing.

    As a right-winger in 1992, I have sympathy for how the right is feeling. Yet, I think that I have moved left as well as political matured (childish comments on M* aside). I disagree with President Bush on everything. I was bummed when he won in 2000 and 2004. But I did not feel despair. I did not think that the word was coming to an end. I just started looking forward to the next election. That is why democracy is great and politics is fun.

  9. Politics is the national sport. It’s like Red Sox v. Yankees.

    I actually feel bad for Obama as well. Expectations are so high and the problems he has to deal with are so big that there is little room for success. Don’t they say that he has the highest approval rating of any incoming president since Eisenhower? If so, he has no where else to go but down. Add on top of that a recession and that’s a recipe for change…just a few years down the road.

  10. Many of us craaaazi lefties did give Bush a chance.

    We said to ourselves ‘Well, he’s the president and he has access to a lot more information on Iraq than we do. He’s presenting it well, and ooo look! Colin Powell!’

    Then we waited. And the dread grew. And we waited.

    And then we started calling him the Chimperor.

  11. Why do so many conservatives talk about “higher taxes” rather than “higher spending?”

    In the long run, taxes and spending have to be equal (in a present-value sense). President Bush raised spending a lot, so in my mind he’s a high-tax president. In addition, he cut current tax rates and kept them down even through an economic recovery, which worsened the debt/deficit situation, which I think is dangerous given the long run fiscal problems that we face.

  12. “I am going to do what the Left would not do for George Bush”

    Actually the Right wouldn’t do it for George Bush, either. Nobody likes him.

  13. Kodos, you need to have a chat with Art Laffer.

    Take a look at this video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIqyCpCPrvU#GU5U2spHI_4

    All kidding aside, there is considerable evidence that lowering taxes in some cases increases revenue. Think of it this way: if Obama raises the highest tax rate from 35 percent to 75 percent (not in his plan, but just stay with me for a second), what do you think the highest-earning people will do? Their incentive for tax avoidance will be extemely high, so their salaries will be paid overseas, they will move to overseas bank accounts, they will move their primary residence, etc. When these things happen, the fed govt gets LOWER revenue, not higher, because the people with all the money are figuring out ways to avoid paying taxes. This is something that JFK recognized very quickly (being in the highest tax bracket himself), and his tax cut in the early 1960s was credited with the 1960s economic boom because it caused a huge number of the very rich to stop trying to avoid paying taxes. The same with the Reagan tax cuts in the early 1980s, and the same with the much-reviled Bush tax cuts.

    Your other point that Bush’s spending was out of control is irrefutable. That is why very few conservatives will go out on a limb today for the president. Big mistake on his part.

  14. Steve, I will make one of the most controversial statements you could ever say today: I am one of the 25 percent of the people who still approve of Pres. Bush. I probably would agree with you on 95 percent of his faults and failures, but I still think his tax cuts, his protecting of the country after 9/11, and his judicial nominations make him worth supporting. He was not nearly as good a president as Reagan, and he made countless mistakes, but overall I approve of him more than disapprove. So, now you know one person who feels that way.

  15. Well, no mainstream economist thinks we’re near the point on the Laffer curve where revenues would decline from a tax increase (although you can have temporary effects from things like capital gains taxes). And we’re talking more about returning to Clinton-era rates, not to 75% rates.

    But the basic point is right: we need to remember the efficiency costs of taxation. That’s yet another reason NOT to run up giant debts and obligations that will require high future tax rates (and put us in danger of financial emergency if there was ever a loss of confidence in the solvency of the government.)

  16. Kodos, I would agree with you that raising the top rate from 35 percent to 39 percent will not cause the sky to fall. However, increasing the capital gains tax and not dealing with the uncompetitive nature of the business tax rate (the highest in the developed world) are a huge concern.

    So, let’s take a look at a very realistic scenario under an Obama administration: we will face huge deficits in 2009 (yes, Bush’s spending is primarily to blame — that is irrefutable, although Congress deserves some of the blame). So, Obama raises the top rate from 35 to 39 percent. No biggee. Meanwhile, he raises the capital gains tax to 35 percent (to get “the rich”). Then he increases business taxes, which are already uncompetitive.

    Likely result: LOWER tax revenue. Tax avoidance will increase. The super-rich will find ways around the new rates. And businesses will move HQs to lower-tax countries (do you know how many companies are already planning to move to Ireland because of the lower business taxes there?). So, higher unemployment as well.

    But the purpose of this post is not to dwell on all this doom and gloom. Somehow, my emotional side says we still can hope for something better.

  17. “Every leftist I know, will still go out of his/her way to denigrate President Bush.”

    Like we have to try that hard. Heck, even John McCain put him down at every chance.

    Trust me, all I have to think of is “President-elect Barack Obama” and I quickly forget President Bush.

  18. I decided that I am going to do what the Left would not do for George Bush–respect the office of President and give Obama a chance.

    I hope more do that. Some clearly aren’t. (There’s already an “impeach Obama” movement clearly done purely for revenge on liberal attacks on Bush)

  19. I decided that I am going to do what the Left would not do for George Bush–respect the office of President and give Obama a chance.

    Well, I’ll take that with the spirit it was intended despite the slightly inelegant method of communication. Thank you. I also hope that Obama is able to break past the very wide divide that has been created between “us” and “them.”

    To be personal about this; I was disappointed that Gore didn’t make the cut in ’00. But like you I decided that I’ll support President Bush as my president. And I was quite content and respected him in office up until the Iraq war. I still tried to respect the office, but found after so much abuse, corruption, incompetence and scandal, etc. I just couldn’t anymore. I think many of us on the Left have had a similar experience. It’s not that we left the President; the President left us.

    But fortunately that is (almost) behind us. And while I severely doubt I’d change my mind on the Bush Presidency, I am willing to try to heal the divide between Right and Left. And that’s why I’d like to say to “Geoff B.,” thank you for this post. I too am hopeful and am pleased to see the reaction from the world. And I decidedly think you should make sure you hold Obama’s feet to the fire and make sure he keeps his word to be bipartisan.

    More than almost anything I want to see this country no longer think of ourselves as “us” vs. “them.” There will always be differences of opinion, but there never is an excuse to viciously attack another person just because they don’t agree with you. So I’d say to both sides of the conversation here: sit back, relax and take a deep breath. Then post.

  20. A very unexpected post from you Geoff, I really appreciated it.

    I decided that I am going to do what the Left would not do for George Bush–respect the office of President and give Obama a chance.

    This is totally untrue in my case and millions more. I did not like how the election went in 2000, but I blamed that more on Gore not being good enough and the election system being so messed up that it took the Supreme Court (activist judges) to decide it. I and many liberals still gave him a chance, especially after September 11th, and I didn’t turn really sour toward him until 2003. And I never remember anyone saying he would drag the country down and he was a terrorist in disguise, something I see all over the place from the Right.

    The Left gave him a chance, and even sucked up to him and gave in to his stupid ideas after 9/11.

    I pray for George Bush all the time, my prayers are usually for him to see the error of his way and to do the Christian thing in situations, but I do pray for him. Now Cheney’s another story… ;)

  21. jjohnsen,

    I thought the left was all for activist judges? Let me guess, you liked what the the Florida Supreme Court did but not like what the US supreme court did?

  22. jjohnsen, I did not take any offense. Thank you for thinking of me.

    My apologies for my “inelegant” way of phrasing my intent to support Obama’s presidency. :-)

  23. Jjohnsen, an interesting thought exercise would be to imagine what Gore would have done after the 9/11 attacks and think if it would have been that different than what Bush did and how most Democrats would have reacted. I am reminded of Clinton insisting that Saddam DID have MWDs in early 2003, and I am reminded of Hilary’s — and many other Democrats’ — vote for the war. I am reminded of generalized support for the Bosnia military action during the Clinton years.

    So, from my perspective, when I see the growing opposition to Bush, frankly, it is difficult to put aside pure partisanship. Bush was hated by many on the left because of the rancorous Bush-Gore election, he was almost universally supported after 9/11, and there were many who agreed, based on the available intelligence, that the Iraq invasion was the right thing to do all the way through 2003. It seems to me that the tide began to turn in 2004, and it was mostly a partisan thing, and that is what I think Brian is referring to. If you don’t remember anyone saying Bush “would drag the country down” and accusing him of being a terrorist, we are definitely living in different countries, because that happened all the time in 2003-2004 and still happens today.

    I simply have to disagree with you that “the Left gave him a chance.” I don’t think that, in general, they ever gave him a chance, although there may have been individuals who did. But in general my memory of the last seven years is very different than what you describe.

  24. “I am one of the 25 percent of the people who still approve of Pres. Bush.”

    I think President Bush’s low approval rating is due to a lack of comparison. If I was polled about whether or not I approved of President Bush I’d have to give it some thought. What exactly would that mean? Would that mean that I had to approve of all the controversies that inevitably pile up over an eight year administration? I think I’d say yes, but it’s a tricky question to answer given the baggage that you open yourself up to by approving of him.

    On the other hand, if the question is whether I’m happy he won instead of Gore or Kerry then the answer is definitely yes. And if the constitution allowed him to run for a third term then I would have strongly supported him against Obama. I suspect that there are many Republicans like me that would do the same, much more than his current approval rating would lead you to believe. But we’re not given the choice, and he is always weighed alone, which gives a misleading answer.

    Regarding hope/fear of the coming Obama administration. The USA is the greatest nation on earth, we’ll be fine.

  25. And then there’s the significant detail of getting the inside scoop on warfare–or anything else these days. Bush’s “blunders” wouldn’t’ve been half so blunderous in a world without the nitty-gritty immediate airing of all things grizzly.

  26. Jack, I disagree. I think the real impact politically of Bush’s blunders came slowly as the books and articles came out. The immediacy of cable news isn’t what turned the tide against his screwups in Iraq. The immediate news was all pro-Bush. It was things like appointing someone unqualified for the Supreme Court (which infuriated his base). It was the cumulative effect of being ill prepared for Katrina and finding out those on Bush’s staff were political appointees rather than qualified. It was the coming out about torture, spying on Americans and so forth.

    In other words it was a slow burn when even those who agreed with Bush’s stated policies realized he was incompetent in implementing policies.

  27. I think President Bush’s low approval rating is due to a lack of comparison.

    What you’ve written does have a ring of truth to it, but I don’t think it is the only or even the most significant aspect to Bush’s popularity or standing.

    I will however have to respectfully disagree strongly with Jack in that Bush’s blunders wouldn’t be as galling without the 24-hour media. The only difference is that we know of a President’s actions much faster that we have previously. That doesn’t alter the actions themselves or how they’re perceived. Wrong is wrong no matter how it’s portrayed.

    I am one of the 25 percent of the people who still approve of Pres. Bush.

    You know? One of these days I would love to have a civil one-on-one conversation with someone who believes this. I’d really like to know where it comes from considering all that I know that has happened. I am open to the possibility that there may be something I’m missing. But, from my current viewpoint, this statement is 180 degrees from my own.

  28. James, before Pres. Bush leaves office I’m planning on a post in which I discuss this position. I don’t expect anybody to agree with me. But at least there will be one lonely voice out there. Stay tuned.

  29. Regarding support for Bush: According to this WSJ article from 2005, Bush’s approval rating remained above 60% from September 11 through his next two years in office, dipping into the 50s and lower range near the end of 2003. This demonstrates to me that at least some people on the left gave the man a fair shake before turning on him.

  30. In regards to President Bush, I think that the Newsweek cover of Sarah Palin is a good analogy. It was intentionally overexposed and close up, exposing every possible facial flaw. Every flaw of the Bush presidency has been blown out of proportion and used to beat him over the head, and in the end, it damaged his “brand.” While there is certainly plenty of room across the spectrum to challenge his policies and actions (and those discussions have been had continuously by deeply thoughtful people on both sides of the debate) it is the constant negative drumbeat that has settled into conventional wisdom in relation to Bush. His name has been associated with Hitler, he’s commonly called a murderer and a torturer, the slogan “Bush lied, people died” is now a part of his legacy, even though it is in itself an untruth. He has been a deeply honorable, compassionate man who has been steadfast in his office and in his respect for the American people. He has held his head high and forged through the hostile political environment, never aggrandizing himself at the expense of others or abandoning his commitments to the people of America. I can certainly respect a man like that.

  31. I decided that I am going to do what the Left would not do for George Bush–respect the office of President and give Obama a chance.

    I said something similar but I was careful not to paint with too broad a brush. I don’t think “the Left” can be entirely skewered for not respecting the office of President, but there have been plenty of examples of people who can. Caveats aside, I think “the Right” are pretty sick of the constant hate and ridicule directed at Bush (disagreement and criticism are fine of course). So, when we decide not to return in kind, I think that’s a good thing. Not self-righteous, but just plain righteous if we can do it with the proper heart.

  32. I voted for Obama in large part because I thought he was the more likely of the candidates to be “post-partisan”, reaching more effectively across the aisle, than the other. I join with Geoff in hoping that my hopes come true.

    I am one who voted for Bush in 2000. I consider myself politically moderate. It was the Iraq invasion that caused my decision to cease supporting Bush and the GOP and to consider supporting the democrats.

    I still consider myself a moderate, and from my position, I feel like there is, today, more room in the democratic party for moderates than the republican. I think that is a reversal from the 1970s/1980s when the opposite seemed true.

  33. This is the one thing that conservatives cannot do. Conservatives need to be in active opposition to the Democrats from now until the end of the Republic. However, we need to avoid the lack of class that is shown by many democrats like Harry Reid, who has trashtalked the personal character both George Bush and Ezra Taft Benson, and Nancy Pelosi, who seems just plain vindictive.

    Conservative role models in aggressive opposition to the liberal agenda need to be people like Ronald Reagan, Robert E. Lee, Daniel Patrick Moynahan, and Sam Ervin who never let up on their opponents but maintained their opposition based on a conflict of ideas, not raising personal hatred against their opponents.

  34. I think one can come to Washington with hopes of being post partisan. I’m not sure it works once you get here. Further I’m not convinced it’s a good thing. Some compromise is a must, of course. That’s the essence of politics. But if you have firm beliefs then you ought push those.

    The problem with Republican (and often Democratic) partisanship is that so often it is partisan for its own sake. Winning for winning sake with no ideas behind it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for pragmatism and hope Obama turns out to be a pragmatist. But you need some firm convictions you fight for as well.

  35. KHK, I’ve heard the exaggeration issue. But the list of screwups is so long that it’s hard to believe it’s all about exaggeration. Put an other way, you can sure have an unflattering picture of someone’s face with bad acne. But you can’t blame the photographer for their having acne.

  36. I’m like Geoff in that I have a unusual sense of hope for the Obama administration.

    I am curious to know, however, if people believe Bush failed because he was too conservative or because he was too liberal. My take is that Bush tried too hard to appease the Democrats and the mainstream media and didn’t stick to core conservative ideals. I think many of today’s challenges are due to following a left-of-center course.

  37. Bush failed because he’s only socially conservative, he isn’t actually conservative on other matters that Republicans used to care about. Unfortunately the Republican party seems to have embraced this new conservatism. More and more the most important issues are social issues instead of small government and less spending.

    Bush failed the former Republican party an embraced what he probably saw as the new Republican party.

  38. Jjohnsen, I agree in some ways and disagree in others. Many people like myself feel that Pres. Bush could have done a lot more in terms of being socially conservative. He only half-heartedly endorsed the FMA and really did not speak out against abortion as much as, say, Reagan. He clearly was not comfortable being a social conservative (as the Harriett Miers appointment showed). On the other hand, he was certainly more socially conservative than Clinton and his father. So, I guess it is all relative.

    His “compassionate conservative” acceptance of big government and out of control spending were big mistakes. I think if he had to do it over again he would do things differently in terms of spending.

    The problem with being a “big spending” Republican is that it is a no-win proposition. The liberals are always going to hate you because of the social issues. And the Republicans are going to turn on you because you’re not really a Republican. Look at what happens to “big spending” Republicans — Nixon, GHWB and GWB — not popular presidents by any stretch. Out of our recent Republican presidents, only Reagan is beloved, and part of that is because he stuck to his principles on spending and taxes.

  39. Bush failed the former Republican party and embraced what he probably saw as the new Republican party.

    That is my belief as well.

    In my eyes Bush became the spokesperson for the extreme right-wing of the Republican party, that far too many people believed was the “new” Republican party. And as a result, the Republicans (at least those in power) became no longer conservative but something else altogether.

    I personally have no problem with conservatism as a party platform. In fact many of my religious beliefs line up with the conservative ideals. But I have a great deal of antagonism towards radicalism of any kind. And what I saw from the Bush administration during the buildup to the Iraq war and afterwards struck me as far too distant from moderation for my tastes.

    For what it’s worth, I’d have the exact same reaction if any Democrat becomes a left-wing radical. I don’t see it coming from Obama, but I am keeping my eye on Reid and Pelosi.

  40. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/10/obama-wants-lieberman-to_n_142731.html

    The Huffington Post reports that Obama has stated that he wishes Lieberman to stay in the democratic caucus, which means Harry Reid may have to offer Lieberman to continue as committee chair. This will offend the left in the party, but I am pleased. It was in large part because of Lieberman that I became comfortable re-registering as a democrat. Lieberman represents, to some degree, the “right” in the democratic party, and I am glad that Obama does not want him booted because of his support for McCain.

  41. Lieberman is really only on the right on one issue: Iraq and the war on terror. It was a bad sign for the Dems when they tried to force him out because of that one issue, and it’s a good sign that Obama is trying to keep him among the Dems. Another sign of hope?

  42. In my eyes Bush became the spokesperson for the extreme right-wing of the Republican party,

    Could you clarify? I see Bush as very incompetent but have a hard time seeing him as even remotely close to the right wing of the party let alone extreme.

  43. Yes, please do clarify, James. Please explain how his big spending, bailout support, and his liberal positions on illegal immigration fall under the “right wing” category.

    As for Obama, I was hoping for some hope or some warm fuzzies- something. Nope, nothing. Every time I feel a little hopeful, I realize it’s the same sensation I get after watching an inspiring movie- it’s nice, but it’s superficial and fleeting.

    Geoff, I’m sad to say that I don’t share this hope you have. Part of it, I’m assuming, is the joy and spirit of unity currently present in the hearts of Obama supporters, who dusted off their mini flags and waved them for the MSNBC cameras on election night. What’s going to happen when Obama can’t fill their cars with gas and pay their mortgage? Will they still be flying those flags?

    What happens when the thinking Left realizes they just elected the Milli Vanilli of politics? What about the duped moderates that just wanted to be part of history? What happens when they see Obama for the uber-liberal he was all his life up to the general election (during which he tried his best Reagan impression)?

    The only hope I have is that the next 4 years goes by quick, that Obama media bubble will finally pop, and that the GOP comes to its senses.

  44. Could you clarify?

    I’ll try.

    Some people have called the extreme right-wing section of the conservative base the “neocons.” That actually is a bit misleading in that the neocons are a small group within the far right, while what you could call the extreme right-wing encompasses a lot of various factions, beliefs and ideologies. And so I was being simplistic in my description of Bush being the spokesperson for all of the far right.

    Now the left has demonized the neocons to no end and have thus warped or changed the actual truth of the movement. The basic understanding of the movement is that it began as a reaction to the left-leaning influences of the ’60′s. And for the most part a neocon is pretty much identical to a normal conservative. At least they are indistinguishable from a normal conservative on most mainstream and internal matters. They are, however, very different from normal conservative thought when it comes to international affairs.

    Neoconservatives are associated with foreign policy initiatives of think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), The Heritage Foundation, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). And while on the surface these organizations do sound and act as typical conservative political initiatives, I personally find their focus and ideals on international topics to be very extreme in nature and in some cases abhorrent.

    To put it very simply, the neocons believe that America should become a “Pax Americana” or a successor to the British Empire. To this end they have adopted an interventionist belief in regards to foreign policy. They believe that America should “export” democracy directly and refuse to work with international organizations (the U.N. for example) that would stand in their way. They believe that by nation building and interventionist policies they will create more democracies in the world and thus would reduce the breeding grounds for Islamic terrorism.

    Bush’s ties to the neocons can be illustrated by the National Security Council text “National Security Strategy of the United States”, published September 20, 2002.

    “We must deter and defend against the threat before it is unleashed… even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack… The United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.”

    This is the now famous “Bush Doctrine” of preemptive war that took hold of the Presidency after 9/11. Bush’s State of the Union speech in January 2002 was written by neocon David Frum and named Iraq, Iran and North Korea as states that “constitute an axis of evil” and “pose a grave and growing danger.” And, “I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”

    From a Wikipedia article:

    Nebraska Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel, who has been critical of the Bush Administration’s adoption of neoconservative ideology in his book America: Our Next Chapter, writes, “So why did we invade Iraq? I believe it was the triumph of the so-called neo-conservative ideology, as well as Bush administration arrogance and incompetence that took America into this war of choice … They obviously made a convincing case to a president with very limited national security and foreign policy experience, who keenly felt the burden of leading the nation in the wake of the deadliest terrorist attack ever on American soil.”

    I personally believe that Bush thought that this method of foreign policy was the best thing for the nation at the time. Unlike most rabid lefties, I don’t think Bush is “evil” or try to demonize him. I think he was trying his best, but was in far, far over his head. And he let the neocon’s ideology take over the administration with no possibility of an alternative viewpoint.

    PS: My antagonism against the neocons does not in any way form a belief that America should not act against terrorism and threats to the country. I do believe that Bush was successful in reducing the threat of terrorism within the US. But sometimes the end does not justify the means. This is not a black/white policy; there are many shades of grey. And if you do not recognize that, you are in danger of causing great unrest in the world at the expense of current US safety. But what about the future? What about the enemies you’ve created to keep the US safe? This is why I think the neocons are wrong and are extremists.

  45. To put it very simply, the neocons believe that America should become a “Pax Americana” or a successor to the British Empire.

    I don’t think that’s quite fair. It seems to me that neo-cons started as a movement of very liberal almost Marxist Democrats who, as they put it, “got mugged by reality.” They feel the US should be far more interventionist to promote democracy and human rights. I’m not sure that means they are far right wing extremists nor that all neo-cons agree with the way Bush promoted things. (And while Bush was influenced by neo-cons he himself is anything but a neo-con)

    So I think you’re giving a bit of a caricature. Not that I like the Bush administration. But I think even under Bush things were more complex than you suggest. Even with regards to the so-called Bush doctrine I’m not sure it is as extreme as portrayed although it’s implementation sure was bad. But then the very meaning of “Bush doctrine” is a moving target.

    I think even many if not most neo-cons agree that the ends don’t justify the means. That’s why I think we have to be careful to distinguish incompetence from ideology.

  46. Just a note, I don’t necessarily disagree with your disagreement with many neo-cons. I think I guess I’m more saying that portraying this as “right wing extremists” isn’t the best way of putting it. (Typically the right-wing is seen as Realists and not Neo-Cons) To draw an analogy I don’t think one should call the expansion in Somalia or intervention in Yugoslavia as far left wing extremism. Were Obama to be silly and intervene into Congo I wouldn’t call that far left either. I might call it stupid.

    Maybe this just highlights the problems of the term “right” and “left” though.

  47. But I think even under Bush things were more complex than you suggest.

    I absolutely agree. Unfortunately to address that complexity I’d have to write a book instead of a blog posting. :-)

    I think I guess I’m more saying that portraying this as “right wing extremists” isn’t the best way of putting it.

    Yes, you are right in that I am being simplistic in my descriptions. I agree that I probably shouldn’t make broad generalizations like that. My weak excuse is that I really don’t have much time for posting as I usually do them during my breaks at work. I make mistakes like this because I’m hurried.

    I also agree that the terms “right” and “left” really don’t have very good definitions and have often been used inappropriately. Anymore they are used as “swear words” demonizing the other camp. I’m trying to be fair, but I still occasionally use “right-wing” that way, sadly.

    Thanks for the “boot to the head.” :-)

  48. As noted, the reason why there is sentiment to push Lieberman out is because he supported and campaigned with McCain and against the democratic candidate Obama. The fact that Obama is willing to tolerate that and welcome Lieberman back is a good sign, particularly when the DailyKos and HuffingtonPost commenters are agitating to kick Lieberman out.

  49. What happens when the thinking Left realizes they just elected the Milli Vanilli of politics?

    Now, that’s funny.

    At least it would be if I didn’t think you were serious. I will be hoping and praying that you will be proven wrong. But until then, I’d say that we should all at the very least give Obama a chance before we demonize him.

    And if he does become the Milli Vanilli of politics, I hope that he can choose better music. Maybe something folksy… :-)

  50. Part of me fears the full extent of what the Obama administration is capable of, but another part puts some faith in him to do the right thing, especially when he begins to feel the pressure of American opinion on him. I had the same fears during the Clinton administration, but I feel he came to the center on many issues. I don’t think Obama was elected for his left-wing politics; he’s more a symbol for the moderates, who also hope he does the right thing. If Obama follows the Clinton model, he is going to put a lot of trust in the polls and keep a wet finger in the air. After all, most presidents want to remain popular.

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