Sunday, June 17, 2007

I Was Wrong

George W. Bush took the oath of office on January 20th 2001. Six months later, in June of '01, his first major achievement, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, reduced our taxes and set in motion his program for economic growth. Most everyone cheered.

Then, on August 9th, 2001, he faced his first real challenge. He announced his signing of an executive order lifting the ban on federal funding for the 71 "existing lines" of stem cells. But research on "new stem cell lines," he decided, would not be funded by federal dollars. Our president had made what I saw as a "Solomon-like" decision. I thought he acted very prudently, and very wisely.

Barely a month later came the horror of 9/11. During those early months following the attacks and murders of American citizens by Islamic terrorists, our president stood firm, and spoke well. In that season, I held him in very high regard.

When he stood on that pile of rubble in New York City, held a megaphone to his mouth and told the world, "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon," pride swelled within me.

Later that day, speaking at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., he offered these thoughts:

"This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others; it will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing."

He presented himself in a way that was stirring and statesmanlike. I began to wonder if George W. Bush might be an American Churchill, raised up to lead in a time of great crisis.

A few months later, addressing a joint session of Congress for his first State of the Union address, our president employed the phrase, "axis of evil" to describe Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. I found it bold and provocative. And I liked it.

One thing did trouble me, however. Our president kept saying that "Islam is a religion of peace."

We had already entered Afghanistan, wiped out the Taliban, and had our sights set on Iraq. Sadaam had ruthlessly murdered hundreds of thousands of Kurds. And our best intelligence showed that he was hiding weapons of mass destruction (WMD). For years, Sadaam had thumbed his nose at the world. And we feared that his WMDs would get into the hands of Islamic terrorists like those who took down the Twin Towers, and put a huge hole in the side of the Pentagon. After months of trying to persuade the United Nations to act (they finally passed a toothless resolution), our legislators authorized war against Iraq with Congressional Joint Resolution 114.

We invaded Iraq and quickly put an end to Sadaam's bloody regime.

Except for his nagging "Islam is a religion of peace" mantra, I tracked with Mr. Bush 100% until May 2nd, 2003. That day, our president flew onto the naval carrier USS Lincoln in a Navy S-3B Viking. Welcomed by a crowd of cheering sailors, he announced that major combat operations in Iraq had ended. "Mission Accomplished" read the banner overhead. For the first time since events of 9/11, I questioned his judgment. I thought the overt display of bravado just a little bit over the top—just a little. But I stuck with him, writing off his excessive show, and excusing the moment as one slight misjudgment among many good ones.

The war in Iraq continued, and "major combat operations" went on. We tracked down and killed Uday and Qusay, Sadaam's two ruthless sons on July 22nd, 2003. Then, on December 14th, 2003, the announcement came that Sadaam himself had been captured.

In the months that followed, Iraq set up a new, democratically-elected government. Who can forget those smiling, purple fingered Iraqis, braving the threat of suicide bombers to cast their votes? It was, indeed, a genuine moment of joy and pride for most of America, myself included. We had succeeded in a very lofty achievement, delivering 25 million people from a ruthless, bloody dictator, and helping them to establish their own, self-governing nation.

If only it had been that simple.

Fighting continued, and escalated. Here at home, protests against the war escalated as well.

As the 2004 elections loomed, we gathered with friends to earnestly pray for our president's reelection. Hundreds of thousands of other Christians did too. His opponent, John Kerry, constantly reminded us of his military service in Vietnam, and concluded his nomination speech at the Democratic convention with a silly salute and the ridiculous words, "I'm John Kerry, reporting for duty." Clearly, Kerry was a fake, and a very dangerous man.

Left-wing filmmaker and all around kook, Michael Moore, sat next to former President Jimmy Carter at the 2004 Democratic Convention. Huh?

Bush defeated Kerry in a stunning way. After early exit polls showed Kerry as the inevitable winner, Bush ultimately won, defeating Kerry by three million votes. No longer could the phrase "selected, not elected" be employed to describe our president.

In early October of 2005, Bush nominated his good friend Harriet Miers as a replacement for the retiring Supreme Court justice, Sandra Day O'Connor. His base reacted strongly. By the end of the month, under pressure, the president withdrew her name and selected Samuel Alito who was subsequently approved in January, 2006.

What was he thinking?

On the heels of the Miers fiasco came the Dubai Ports debacle. President Bush recommended Dubai Ports World, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) based company, to take over the management of six of America's ports. Great protest arose. How could we expect an Islamic country with a mixed record on terrorism, to ensure the safety of goods coming into our country? Again,under pressure, our president withdrew his recommendation.

Then came Katrina, the hurricane that left almost an entire American city underwater. State and local officials (Democrats all) displayed absolute ineptitude in their response. But sadly, Homeland Security's handling of their role in the aftermath was likewise less than stellar. Gross mismanagement of resources and public outrage resulted in the resignation of Michael Brown, FEMA's chief.

Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, began to trouble me. For some reason, I just did not like him.

2006 became a pivotal year for George W. Bush. As the November elections approached, anti-war protests heightened. Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war poster girl, appeared almost nightly on television newscasts. Bush's poll numbers dropped as the war in Iraq seemed to be going nowhere, lacking a serious plan.

In November of '06, Democrats swept both the House and the Senate, promising an end to the Republican "culture of corruption." Within one day of the Democratic victory, Bush fired Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense.

Why then? Why not BEFORE the election?

Long a defender of Rumsfeld, I began to seriously question his leadership at the Pentagon. Now, with the help of hindsight, it is evident to me that he clearly failed in some aspects of his leadership. Is it true, as Tony Blair has said, that Bush and Rumsfeld had no post-war plan for Iraq?

Government spending went through the roof for the first six years under Bush's tenure. According to some sources, spending increased at the greatest rate since WWII. He is definitely not a fiscal conservative! And about that, I am very, very displeased.

But by far, the biggest disappointment—no ... make that the absolute outrage—is his insistence on this so-called "Immigration Reform Bill."

What a load of CRAP!

Being the president is sometimes a thankless job. I love a man that stands up for his convictions and does what he believes is right. But as time has worn on, Bush appears to be more stubborn than truly, deeply convicted.

Second guessing is always easy, and the Democrats are experts at it. Their outright vitriol toward our president perhaps blinded many of us supporters to some real concerns. We might have seen them sooner had not there been such uproar and hate-filled demagoguery from the left.

Bush has had more than his share of detractors. The press and his Democrat opponents excoriate him almost daily. He is more hated than Richard Nixon ever was. And that certainly has to weigh on a soul. Still, as rough as he has had it at times, and considering how much I respected him at the beginning of his presidency, I am now done with George W. Bush.

For a year or two I proudly carried his banner. Then I prayed and voted him in for a second term, both because of his stance against terror, and because the only other choice was clearly unacceptable. But I carry his banner no more. He has mismanaged both the war and his administration.

Though I have no problem whatsoever with Alberto Gonzales firing some of his attorneys, Gonzales has been an absolute embarrassment in the way he has handled the aftermath. And Michael Chertoff is a whiney, excuse-making joke.

In a lunatic moment of foreign diplomacy, Bush and Condoleeza Rice convinced Israel to vacate the Gaza Strip. Now a civil war rages there. And soon, unless something drastic happens, another terrorist nation will be in Israel's back yard.

Just recently, we decided to abandon decades of the policy of not negotiating with terrorists, and have begun talking with Iran. Bush is behaving more like Jimmy Carter every day.

Our president has utterly failed to use the power of his "bully pulpit" to lead the people, to impart vision, to make us understand his mind. Lately, when he has attempted to use his "pulpit," he says the wrong things:

  • He called the Minutemen, those watching our Southern border because he isn't ... he called them "vigilantes."
  • He said dumb things like illegals are doing the jobs Americans won't do. Yeah, not for $6.50 an hour.
  • And recently, he outright insulted the American people, insinuating that we are too stupid to understand what is best for us regarding the handling of illegal aliens in our midst.
  • Just this past Thursday, at the Hispanic Prayer Breakfast, he told Hispanics to visit the Senate and tell them they wanted this bill. I saw a brief clip of it on television, and he was speaking to them in Spanish!
  • And, he has been twisting the arms of Republican Senators and arrogantly claiming that he will see us at the "signing" of the still pending "Immigration Reform Bill."

I've had enough. Here are four statements I will never believe:

  • Sure I'll respect you in the morning.
  • The check is in the mail.
  • Islam is a religion of peace.
  • We really will enforce border security this time.

HT Gary K. Best

I am disgusted.

I was wrong.

I am sorry.


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