Saturday, October 10, 2009

More Jeb

Jeb Bush was on GOP TV's Fox and Friends on Thursday morning and claimed

I was on the plane yesterday coming up to Washington and I heard someone complain that their child's acne was because of George Bush. Of course last week the Olympics didn't come to Chicago, that was my brother's fault.

Bad enough to suspect that the former Florida governor was making something up. His brother played fast and loose with the facts generally, so it's not shocking that Jeb is cut from the same cloth. (On the plus side, at least it's as significant as making a false connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.)

But J. Bush said also during that interview

And at some point people are going to have to put on their big-boy pants and assume responsibility for the great challenges and opportunities our country has...

Great. Another tough-guy, macho Bush. But as to the substance of his remark, the inference that at least GW Bush wore "big-boy pants," Blue Texan that same day posted a great response on, noting these news items:

President Bush on Friday put responsibility squarely on the CIA for his erroneous claim that Iraq tried to acquire nuclear material from Africa, prompting the director of intelligence to publicly accept full blame for the miscue.
"I gave a speech to the nation that was cleared by the intelligence services," Bush told reporters in Uganda.

"Nobody organized this country or the international community to fight the terrorist threat that was upon us until 9/11. … We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaida," saith the President.

"When I took office, our economy was beginning a recession," Bush said in a speech at a Mississippi high school. "Then our economy was hit by terrorists. Then our economy was hit by corporate scandals."

I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so, before I arrived," he [Bush] said.

It appears that President Bush spent eight years failing to fit into those "big-boy pants."

Mr. Bush is right when he says "a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street" preceded his administration. But not all of them, and the "I blew it, but so had they" excuse doesn't quite cut it. And despite continual claims by former members of the administration- rarely if ever challenged by the media- that Mr. Bush inherited a recession, the recession did not begin until March 2001. A minor point, perhaps- but Republican loyalists, were they concerned about the truth, would argue that the seeds of recession already had been planted, rather than dishonestly claiming that it was inherited by their guy.

The most interesting claim made by the President, oft repeated by Condoleezza Rice, is that the incoming administration was "not left a comprehensive strategy to fight" Al Qaeda.

Apparently, that depends on what the meaning of "comprehensive" is. In the first week of January, 2001 Richard Clarke, chairman of the inter-agency Counter-Terrorism Security Group, gave a briefing on terrorism to smooth the transition between the outgoing and incoming administrations. As Time Magazine reported in August, 2002

....Clarke, using a Powerpoint presentation, outlined his thinking to Rice. A senior Bush Administration official denies being handed a formal plan to take the offensive against al-Qaeda, and says Clarke's materials merely dealt with whether the new Administration should take "a more active approach" to the terrorist group. (Rice declined to comment, but through a spokeswoman said she recalled no briefing at which Berger was present.) Other senior officials from both the Clinton and Bush administrations, however, say that Clarke had a set of proposals to "roll back" al-Qaeda. In fact, the heading on Slide 14 of the Powerpoint presentation reads, "Response to al Qaeda: Roll back." Clarke's proposals called for the "breakup" of al-Qaeda cells and the arrest of their personnel. The financial support for its terrorist activities would be systematically attacked, its assets frozen, its funding from fake charities stopped. Nations where al-Qaeda was causing trouble—Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Yemen—would be given aid to fight the terrorists. Most important, Clarke wanted to see a dramatic increase in covert action in Afghanistan to "eliminate the sanctuary" where al-Qaeda had its terrorist training camps and bin Laden was being protected by the radical Islamic Taliban regime....

The proposals Clarke developed in the winter of 2000-01 were not given another hearing by top decision makers until late April, and then spent another four months making their laborious way through the bureaucracy before they were readied for approval by President Bush.

By then it was too late- except for George W. Bush himself, who was able to parlay the events of September 11, 2001 into a successful election re-election bid.

The Bush Administration- at least the George W. Bush Administration- is now history, of course. But that apparently hasn't stopped his self-serving brother, himself dreaming of the presidency, from attempting to rewrite the record of that period, of the term of a president who was remarkably unwilling to concede fault or failure.

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