Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 2, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE FANTASTIC FREEDOM INSTITUTE....George Bush talks about retirement with author Robert Draper:

First, Mr. Bush said, "I'll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol' coffers." With assets that have been estimated as high as nearly $21 million, Mr. Bush added, "I don't know what my dad gets — it's more than 50-75" thousand dollars a speech, and "Clinton's making a lot of money."

Then he said, "We'll have a nice place in Dallas," where he will be running what he called "a fantastic Freedom Institute" promoting democracy around the world. But he added, "I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch."

This guy is president of the United States? Seriously?

Kevin Drum 2:34 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (100)

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Born to be wi-i-i-i-ld.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on September 2, 2007 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

This guy is president of the United States? Seriously?
--

Damn right it's serious. Very serious. The guy couldn't be more delusional, ignornant, and a complete jacka@@. We are so... screwed.

Posted by: Jay in Oregon on September 2, 2007 at 2:41 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, butt... I do understand what he is talking about. Bush talking about freedom and boredom go hand-in-hand. It will be a lonely life for him.

Posted by: Impeach_Bush on September 2, 2007 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

In Iowa, Republican Terry Branstad left the governor's mansion in his early 50s back in 1999. He was liked by his base and connected well with the ag community, but didn't come across as being that bright while speaking.

He had followed a centrist Republican, Robert Ray, who flowed pretty easily into substantial and well-respected CEO posts. Branstad seemed, to me at least, to be assuming that similar offers would come his way, but they didn't.

If memory serves, he did a bit of teaching and served on some boards, but his biggest career announcement ended up being that he got licensed to sell investments and securities. More than four years after leaving office, he was appointed president of the local osteopathic college and med school.

Needless to say, Dubya reminds me of Branstad... it will be interesting to see how things go for him.

Posted by: Steve Boese on September 2, 2007 at 2:54 AM | PERMALINK

A freedom institute, huh? That's odd. Who knew he was interested in freedom?

Maybe he can send some experts to the Justice Department.

Posted by: F. Frederson on September 2, 2007 at 3:22 AM | PERMALINK

It's serious alright. Can you imagine how much damage a wounded animal can do in 17 months?

Ah, such a pessimist am I! Wonder why.

Posted by: Fel on September 2, 2007 at 5:25 AM | PERMALINK

...a fantastic Freedom Institute...

That sounds about right in as much as everything that Bush has done is based on fantasies.

Even his fantasies have fantasies: "I'll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol' coffers." George, your speeches are already an incoherent embarrassment to you, your party and your country. What in the world makes you think that anyone will want to hear from you, let alone pay for the privilege, once you're mercifully out of office?

Posted by: Dennis P on September 2, 2007 at 5:28 AM | PERMALINK

I was watching CSPAN 3's history series very early this morning--a Hans Blix interview of 3/04, Ambassador Joe Wilson's interview of 5/04/the outing of a CIA asset by senior administration officials, and the 3/03 meeting of the UN Security Council prior to the war. (Colin Powell)
As such, the history unfolds


Posted by: consider wisely always on September 2, 2007 at 5:34 AM | PERMALINK

What in the world makes you think that anyone will want to hear from you, let alone pay for the privilege, once you're mercifully out of office?

Don't be naive: of course there will be loyal Republicans contributing the cash for the speakers' fees. It's the Republican version of welfare for otherwise talentless retired Republican politicians. I mean, good Lord, it's not as if any of them want to hire him for a job where he could cause some real damage their company, like actually make decisions or anything.

Posted by: Calton Bolick on September 2, 2007 at 6:23 AM | PERMALINK

...damage to their companies, I meant.

Posted by: Calton Bolick on September 2, 2007 at 6:25 AM | PERMALINK

25% of the population still approves of him.

That's what really boggles the mind.

And most of those identify themselves as Christian--blessed are the peacemakers, turn the other cheek, be your brother's keeper, etc.

Posted by: Nick on September 2, 2007 at 6:51 AM | PERMALINK

Yupper, George W. has the wing-nut welfare speaking tours and think tanker shows all lined up once 2009 hits.

I wish he would become obscure....but that's not gonna happen with the koolaide drinkers funding him.

Posted by: brat on September 2, 2007 at 6:59 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Bush's warped fantasy of how "historians" will spend their time on his lame excuses and lies.

________________________________________________

Mr. Bush said he believed that Mr. Hussein did not take his threats of war seriously, suggesting that the United Nations emboldened him by failing to follow up on an initial resolution demanding that Iraq disarm. He had sought a second measure containing an ultimatum that failure to comply would result in war.

“One interesting question historians are going to have to answer is: Would Saddam have behaved differently if he hadn’t gotten mixed signals between the first resolution and the failure of the second resolution?” Mr. Bush said. “I can’t answer that question. I was hopeful that diplomacy would work.”

Posted by: mario on September 2, 2007 at 7:34 AM | PERMALINK

Shrub on Saddam: "I can’t answer that question. I was hopeful that diplomacy would work."

Real quote: "We tried nothing, and we're all out of ideas!"

Posted by: ThresherK on September 2, 2007 at 7:38 AM | PERMALINK

It is always surprising how blinkered his vision of the world is. Personally, I see him becoming a fundamentalist preacher, giving talks at churches around the South.


Posted by: PTate in FR on September 2, 2007 at 7:40 AM | PERMALINK

I have no doubt he will make some speeches. Not many for much money, but for a year or two the inertia will carry him, and then five or six years later, when people are starting to forget how #*$\ing dumb he sounds when he has an entire corps of scripters, let alone only one or two C-raters, he will have a small resurgence for nostalgia's sake. I think he will have a think tank as well, the rich nuts will fund it, he'll be chairman, condi is ceo, and george can color in his memoirs while the rest of the dead enders play pocket pool on Sciafe interst.

no one has commented yet...for the first time, he admits the pig farm is a showpiece...he's going to live in Dallas? I thought Crawford was home...

Posted by: Northzax on September 2, 2007 at 7:42 AM | PERMALINK

Speeches? This man can't even use the English language properly, even four year olds can speak English better than he does. The man is a total idiot! I have worn out the mute button on my remote control everytime that moron starts to speak!

Posted by: A Nuffer on September 2, 2007 at 7:53 AM | PERMALINK

Is that like fantasy football? Maybe we choose five of the first ten ammendments and then . . .

You know, I don't see that game getting very popular.

Posted by: asdf on September 2, 2007 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

I would suggest the man get a good agent.

50-75 thousand per speech is nothing compared to what he could earn with a dunking tank.

Posted by: B on September 2, 2007 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

Another up close and personal study of presidential emptiness. Bush's words sound so shallow.

Just recently a conservative newspaper published by Richard M. Scaife had an editorial on the casting down of conservative principles, noting in part:

"...It may have been Bush's flaw to entrust too much of his presidency to anyone.
By having deferred to Rove, the president reveals of himself a needy emptiness
into which content is poured by others."

"On the stump one can give the same speeches over and over again. In the presidency, a person should be prepared to grow fully into what he is.'

"In the seventh year of the presidency of George W. Bush, is this all there is?"

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 2, 2007 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

I just assumed Bush was going to go back to his job as the assistant night manager of some 7-11 in Texas somewhere.

Posted by: Orson on September 2, 2007 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

I think he is going to get his feelings hurt when he finds out how few people want to hear his views after he is out from behind the mantle of the U.S. Presidency.

Posted by: Del Capslock on September 2, 2007 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Two images of Shrub - One we never saw and one we'll never see.

Never saw Shrub standing in a Humvee leading the 82nd Airborne into New Orleans, yelling, "We have arrived to help" and then stepping into the flood waters to wet his boots.

And we shall never see him in New Orleans helping build homes with Habitat for Humanity.

But, we can see him on stage at the NRA conventions, where Craig will cry out, "They'll never pry this toilet paper from my cold, dead hands". Two of a kind in many ways.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 2, 2007 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

he will be running what he called "a fantastic Freedom Institute" promoting democracy around the world

Yes, since he approaches democracy with the sense of sanctity it's due and is evermindful that every vote can be verified, that every voter has equal access to the voting booth, that every candidate has equal access to the media and is head of a party that embodies these principles. We all remember how mindful he was that process be followed in Florida in 2000 and that it be applied equally throughout the state. We all remember how he graciously chose not to stoop to using the events of September 11, 2001 for political ends. We all remember how respectful he has always been of the right to dissent and how he decried the use of 'First Amendment Zones' and declared all America is a First Amendment Zone.

And of course how respectful he is of the democratic process overseas. How when told he couldn't be guaranteed a standing ovation at the European Parliament, he chose to address the Parliament anyway, how when he was told that they couldn't guarantee there would be no catcalls by the opposition in Canada, he chose to address the Canadian Parliament anyway, how when he was told that at a town meeting in Germany they couldn't predecide the questions, we don't do things that way here, he chose to take part in the town meeting anyway. Oh, he didn't do any of these things?

Yes, I can't think of a more fitting man to run a Fantastic Freedom Institute

Posted by: snicker-snack on September 2, 2007 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

And most of those identify themselves as Christian

Some "Christians" are very much into smiting. Smiting's fun, and hurts lots less than turning the other cheek.

Posted by: dr2chase on September 2, 2007 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't vote for him.

Posted by: ComfortablyNumb on September 2, 2007 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

I like the way Smirky doesn't even know how the Iraqi army got disbanded. The buck sure doesn't stop with him.

Posted by: Bob M on September 2, 2007 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

As Shrub might say, "I smite for spite, I have smoten for spite, and I will spite smite forever"

For a fee, of course.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 2, 2007 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

He's 17 months from the end of his Presidency. Don't articles like this usually start coming out later?

He's running out the clock. This is his entire governing plan. To run out the clock, and then go to Dallas.

It's just incrdibly irresponsible. Worst President Ever.

Posted by: anonymous on September 2, 2007 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

"You'll either hire me to give this speech for a $75K honorarium or you're with the terrists!"

Dunno. Doesn't seem to have the right ring to it. But it might get him a gig or two at AEI.

Posted by: DrBB on September 2, 2007 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

"Iユve got Godユs shoulder to cry on, and I cry a lot...Iユll bet Iユve shed more tears than you can count as president.モ

Posted by: George Bush on September 2, 2007 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

What strikes me more than anything is the humility and unpretentiousness of the President.

Like Cincinnatus, he wants nothing more than to return to the simple pleasures of private life after serving the Republic.

Posted by: Al on September 2, 2007 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Who has better superheroes: the Fantastic Freedom Institute or the League of Justice? I bet The Surge could take out Green Lantern any day.

But I'm not sure either of them are up to the arch-villains of the Academy of Evil. Especially Extremist. That guy is wicked.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 2, 2007 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Guy couldn't even organize a coherent response to a long-predicted disaster in his own country. He lets a whole American city go into the shitter and can't muster the discipline or expertise to bring it back to normal after two years. But supposedly he's going to make Western Democracy™ bloom in a war-blasted, civil-strife torn country on the other side of the globe with a culture and language completely alien to ours.

The U.S. media, the reigning punditocracy, and even a large portion of the opposition leadership seem to have no trouble swallowing that elephant. So actually I bet he'll do just fine on the lecture circuit.

Posted by: DrBB on September 2, 2007 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

What strikes me more than anything is the humility and unpretentiousness of the President.

Yes, and he's got so much to be humble about.

Posted by: DrBB on September 2, 2007 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

He's running out the clock. ... Worst President Ever.

Posted by: anonymous

Agree with the latter, not sure about the former. I fear Bush has big military plans to secure his legacy. I see a clearly delusional egomaniac catching his second wind, newly reinvigorated by the dems' cowardice. He knows that all he has to do is convince Americans that we are "winning." Since few Americans are in any way affected by the war, they will go along with a much longer stay. And, more important, if he can persuade Americans that we're winning, the dem leaders will go along also.

I think he believes that, with the help of Petraeus, given the weakness of dem leaders, he can secure his legacy in the next 17 months. Surviving all the bad news and plowing ahead will energize him enormously.

This guy is not going away quietly.


Posted by: Econobuzz on September 2, 2007 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Columnist Maureen Dowd had this take :

"Son, I know how you feel," Poppy calls in to him, trying to sound positive. "Riding high in 2002, shot down in 2007. That's life, as Sinatra says. You were a puppet and a pawn to King Dick
and it screwed up your presidency and our party and the Middle East and the Atlantic alliance
and the family legacy and Jeb's future, not to mention the fate of the planet..."

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 2, 2007 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

If only karma would kick in - After gutting inspection and stacking the deck with corporate shills over at Consumer Safety Products, perhaps some joy rides on ATVs.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 2, 2007 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

But I think the quote illustrates something very important -- the presidency, for all its power and perks, is a gilded prison. It strips the ability to be normal from the occupant of the Oval Office.

How many of you can decide that you want to make an impromptu road-trip on the weekend because you are bored or stressed? Probably all of you. What you see in Bush's statement is his yearning to be able to do exactly that.

I live here in Houston. I'm a teacher, not anyone of great social importance. And yet I see George & Barbara Bush at community events on a regular basis. They have a freedom to come and go as they choose that they lacked for the dozen years of his Vice Presidency and especially his Presidency. I believe their son is looking forward to that.

Posted by: Rhymes With Right on September 2, 2007 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Yosemite Sam, the sage for our age!

Posted by: Matt on September 2, 2007 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Just a few posts back, Kevin made an aside about "snarking ... and complaining aimlessly." Now Kevin has a post that points us to an interesting NYT article, but apart from that doesn't appear to be anthing other than unhelpful snarking and aimless complaining.

Flip flop, flip flop....

Posted by: coffeequeen on September 2, 2007 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, a tear for the reprise of the Prisoner of Zenda - Locked in his gilded cage.

Yeah, and poor Adolf would have strolled the glens and leas of Dachau strewing petals, if only he had not been locked in his bunker.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 2, 2007 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Yes, I know it's your shtick to berate the President, but really, there's nothing to see here. President Bush, after his retirement, plans to do speeches and set up a lending library, just as other Presidents typicaly do. Every President since Truman has done this. Yet when Bush does it, it gets snickers from the Bush bashing crowd.

I think this post just shows how partisan you all are. In something so innocuous, you find something to bash. That's all you people are good for.

Posted by: egbert on September 2, 2007 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Here's another mind-blowing quote from Draper (courtesy of Steve Benen at Talking Points Memo):

Mr. Bush acknowledged one major failing of the early occupation of Iraq when he said of disbanding the Saddam Hussein-era military, "The policy was to keep the army intact; didn't happen."

But when Mr. Draper pointed out that Mr. Bush's former Iraq administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, had gone ahead and forced the army's dissolution and then asked Mr. Bush how he reacted to that, Mr. Bush said, "Yeah, I can't remember, I'm sure I said, 'This is the policy, what happened?' " But, he added, "Again, Hadley's got notes on all of this stuff," referring to Stephen J. Hadley, his national security adviser.

Posted by: nepeta on September 2, 2007 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Yep...what you see is what you get...skin deep and no further. Marie A. had nothing on this intellectual and caring giant.

Posted by: Evergreen on September 2, 2007 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

But I think the quote illustrates something very important -- the presidency, for all its power and perks, is a gilded prison. It strips the ability to be normal from the occupant of the Oval Office.

"Occupant." That sounds about right. Should be his official title.

I'm hoping the next stage in his life won't be a gilded prison. I'd hate to think of him being surround by all that gilt. "Guilt," however, and "prison," on the other hand, sound about right as well.

Posted by: DrBB on September 2, 2007 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

No, Kevin, Bush isn't really the president of the United States. Only due to the perfidy and underhandedness of five Supreme Court justices, who thwarted the will of the people and didn't want all of the votes counted in 2000, is he sitting in the White House. Al Gore is the legitimate President of the United States.

I read this article about Draper's new book over my morning coffee and was struck by how mentally ill Bush sounds. He truly thinks he has a hotline to God. I remarked to my wife that it is too bad that the presidency doesn't require psychological testing and profiling, the way some jobs, like pilots and policemen, do. I doubt whether Bush would have passed. He is one sick puppy. These next 16 months cannot go by quickly enough.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 2, 2007 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

"set up a lending library"

And what interest rate will he charge for "My Pet Goat" and ARMs?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 2, 2007 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

But when Mr. Draper pointed out that Mr. Bush's former Iraq administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, had gone ahead and forced the army's dissolution and then asked Mr. Bush how he reacted to that, Mr. Bush said, "Yeah, I can't remember, I'm sure I said, 'This is the policy, what happened?' " But, he added, "Again, Hadley's got notes on all of this stuff," referring to Stephen J. Hadley, his national security adviser.

So by now, how can anyone be surprised by this kind of thing. Yet I'm still gobsmacked. The most jaw-dropping aspect is the fact that he betrays no sense that anyone might think such a response demonstrates anything but the normal, even commendable qualities of a great commander in chief.

"I had no clue what was going on, and I can't remember much of anything." Those are the kinds of answers the proud 27%ers are looking for in their national leadership, apparently.

Looking at this phenomenon I can't help feeling a bit of the abstract admiration microbiologists have when examing an ebola virus in the electron microscope. Such a simple, brainless, only quasi-living organism, yet capable of such massive, horrific destruction, and utterly oblivious of its own effect on the lives it destroys.

Posted by: DrBB on September 2, 2007 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

I'm afraid I must agree with Egbert. Bush said he would do pretty much what all recent Presidents have done: give speeches, set up a liberary, work to promote principles we all believe in.

Kevin's post doesn't explain what he found remarkable about Bush's statement. Commenters here agree that Bush's statement was embarassing, but there's no agreement about what was wrong with it. One says it's Bush's grammar. Another mocks the idea of promoting democracy. A third disbelieves Bush's statement that he hoped US sanctions would work with Saddam. Other commenters are as cryptic as Kevin was.

As the saying goes, when you point a finger at someone else, you're pointing three fingers at yourself.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 2, 2007 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

This guy is president of the United States? Seriously?

I didn't vote for the dope. Has Sandra Day O'Connor finally owned up to her screw up?

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on September 2, 2007 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

And while we're here: hey Egbert, have you spat on any triple-amputee veterans recently? Still waiting for you to apologize about that Max Clellan comment.

"It wasn't my fault, stuff just happened, I wasn't paying attention, and I can't remember anyway." The proud motto of the egbert party (formerly "the GOP").

Posted by: DrBB on September 2, 2007 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

He makes you think this whole presidential library thing may have been a bad idea.

Posted by: Linus on September 2, 2007 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

As the saying goes, when you point a finger at someone else, you're pointing three fingers at yourself.

But I think the quote illustrates something very important -- the presidency, for all its power and perks, is a gilded prison.

...and other gems from the Middle Schooler's Handbook of Trite Phrases and Obvious Insights.

Guys all had a nice cupful of banality juice for breakfast this morning or what?

Posted by: DrBB on September 2, 2007 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Coincidentally, Andrew Sullivan has a well-written commentary that's relevant to this thread. The whole thing is worth reading. Here's the first and last paragraph:

Anti-totalitarianism was once an animating feature of the Democratic Party, and the American left in general. It was FDR who led the United States against Fascism, Harry Truman who aided anti-communists fighting in Turkey and Greece and John F. Kennedy who stated that the United States "would pay any price, bear any burden" to defend freedom abroad. The American labor movement played a crucial role in fighting communism (both domestically and internationally), with the AFL-CIO's Lane Kirkland, the "Champion of American Labor," at the helm.

[snip]

Indeed, Tony Blair is gone and his evil puppeteer George W. Bush will soon be out as well. We may very well have a Democratic president. But what will inform their foreign policy values now that the Democratic Party is not animated by the anti-totalitarianism of old, but rather a mere hatred for the president and a serious lack of faith in even the potential role America can play in the world?

I'd be interest in Kevin's and the panel's answer to the question asked in the final sentence.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 2, 2007 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Fantastic Freedoms to be built in Dallas.

Well, suppose they could put it on the grassy knoll.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 2, 2007 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

What's embarrassing is that with *only* 20 million, he feels the need for more money. This is a guy who will have free red-carpet medical care, 50 or 60 Secret Service agents to protect him, and a pension of several hundred thousand dollars for the rest of his life.

Maybe he could get his name and face on a Wheaties box.

Really, his next step should be intensive treatment for his inability to read from a teleprompter. Until he gets it, he should let other people do the driving.

Posted by: serial catowner on September 2, 2007 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

>>Like Cincinnatus,

Even the Right is comparing Bush to dictators now.

Oh, but they see it as a good thing.

Posted by: Orson on September 2, 2007 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

As FAUX-Lib steps out of his Yellow Cab and tries to misdirect traffic once again. Watch out for Mrs Lee, FAUX.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 2, 2007 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

"What's embarrassing is that with *only* 20 million, he feels the need for more money."


Combined with Tony Snow's comments about jumping ship because his loan ran out, that pretty much sums up the Republican/conservative view of life. Not only is making money the most important thing in life, but making and getting as much money as you possibly can is the only important thing in life.

I mean, assuming that Snow's health really doesn't have anything to do with his departure, does his explanation for leaving sound like a man genuinely serving his country or more like a rich guy who did a favor for a friend but now has to get back to his "real job"?

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on September 2, 2007 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

What econobox said (10:11 am).

Forget Dallas. His destination is the New Crawford Ranch in Paraguay.

Bush will likely suceed in dragging Iraq out for his successor to take blame for.

But it doing so, he'll finally make himself open to prosecution as a war criminal.

Paraguay sheltered the Nazi brass from extradition after WWII.

Bush's acquisition and development activities there (including an airstrip that will accommodate the largest aircraft known) have been widely published over the past year.

New Crawford awaits him. (Just for fun, try going there by Google Earth. Last I checked, that part of Paraguay had been blanked out, Just like Cheney's place).

You can kiss Air Force One goodby his last day in office. IMO, cheap at twice the price!

Posted by: wileycat on September 2, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

"econobuzz" -- sorry

Posted by: wileycat on September 2, 2007 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Even New York Times reporter Matt Bai has critcized the Dems' lack of ideas in a new book. From the Times book review today:

Moulitsas, the Prince Hal of the left-liberal blogosphere, comes off as an intellectual lightweight....When MoveOn — the Web-based “colossus” whose e-mail appeals, Bai says, have always centered on the same message: “Republicans were evil, arrogant and corrupt” — devised its member-generated agenda, it came up with a low-calorie three-point plan: “health care for all”; “energy independence through clean, renewable sources”; and “democracy restored.”

[snip]

Bai writes: “Seventy years ago ... visionary Democrats had distinguished their party with the force of their intellect. Now the inheritors of that party stood on the threshold of a new economic moment, when the nation seemed likely to rise or fall on the strength of its intellectual capital, and the only thing that seemed to interest them was the machinery of politics.

...The lack of depth among the Democrats may not hurt them in the 2008 elections — the Republicans, whose would-be presidential candidates have mostly publicly rejected evolution, are not exactly bursting with new ideas either. But it remains profoundly disappointing.

If Romney or Guiliani or Thompson is the Republican candidate, it won't matter that other minor candidates sounded dumb. These three men are smart and sound smart. They are organized and and full of ideas. Have your fun laughing at George Bush in this thread, but to win the Presidency, Dems may need to offer serious policy choices.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 2, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

I know this is pointless, but... Ex-liberal:

I seem to notice that all presidents have to have some sense of priorities as to which totalitarians are worth knocking over and which aren't. Long list of dictators out there, after all. Not just Iran and Syria. Saudi Arabia. Pakistan. N. Korea. China for that matter. There can be really really good opportunites for kicking one over. And there can be really really really REALLY bad ones. Plus you can do it out of necessity, with humility about the difficulty of intervening in a culture that is completely alien to you and the need for getting world opinion (and material support) behind you and using adequate force and having a plan for what to do after and all that kind of good stuff. A keen awareness, in short, that most such attempts all too easily turn into a hegemonic power occupying an angry and resistant populace and that tanks and bombs are rather crude implements to use and should only be resorted to as a genuine last resort.

Or you can cook up a reason for doing it because you like blowing things up and think it would be healthy for your political position to smash more stuff, and then go about it in the most astonishingly clueless way in history, thus proving yourself a criminal incompetent and incidentally driving home the exact opposite of the message to the world you intended, to wit: that America is a power genuinely compassionate and genuinely to be admired by moderates and feared by extremists.

With me so far?

It is certainly the case that Bush has done an astonishingly good job of discrediting the concept of anti-authoritarian interventions. Therefore it is both natural and wise that we should approach the prospect of further such interventions with a great deal of caution and misgiving. Such caution and misgiving is a good thing. Because this kind of operation is fraught with risk and under the best circumstances has a low chance of succeeding. It's all too easy for them to end up with a hegemonic occupational force repressing a resentful populace and bombing and mistreating the very people they ostensibly came to rescue. Creating that situation is something insurgencies are very effective at. This is a rule many people had actually learned even before Iraq.

Still following? I know it's hard to read so many words without any pictures.

So anyway, the point for many of us "lefties" is that one Vietnam is plenty, but certainly two has got to be the limit. For some reason, we think it's a real question whether the country could survive a third one. So are we cautious about all these other plans to blow stuff up that you and the Cheneyists are so keen on? Um, yes, quite a bit actually.

Here's a handy capsule version--maybe you can make a copy of it for future reference:

1) Invading Afghanistan after 9/11: Probably necessary, certainly inevitable, worth doing well.

2) Dropping the ball in Afghanistan and invading Iraq incompetently: Unnecessary, extremely ill-advised, bad for the US and Iraq, bad for the legitimate effort to repress international terrorist organizations.

I have to say, Sullivan is not as big an idiot as a lot of wingnuts, but the sort of lobotomized black-white illogic that leaps from "You're against doing anti-totalitarianism incompetently" to "you are pro-totalitarianism!" is like some kind of weird brain-tic with you guys. Please try to get over it.

Posted by: DrBB on September 2, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

These three men are smart and sound smart. They are organized and and full of ideas.

"I'd double Guantanimo!" --Mitt.

"I spent as much time at ground zero as the recovery workers!" --Rudy.

The problem, see, is they're not good ideas.

Posted by: DrBB on September 2, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

>>These three men are smart and sound smart.

Mitt sounds smartest when he is quoting from "Battlefield Earth."

Il duce Rudy sounds smartest when he says "freedom is about authority."

Fred? Probably when he warns us about Cuban dishwashers with nukes strapped to their backs coming to kill us.

They're a lot of geniuses.

Posted by: Orson on September 2, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

I appreciate your response, DrBB. You did a nice job of explaining your position.

I will respond only to one minor point: Gitmo. Many liberals visualize Gitmo prisoners as with mostly innocent people who got caught up in the war in Afghanistan. They want to see Gitmo closed.

Many conservatives (including me) see Gitmo as filled primarily with barbaric terrorists who would immediately return to mass murder if released. Which view is right?

My guess is that, whether it's accurate or not, the conservative view is more popular with the voting public. I think most Americans are more concerned with their own security than with the rights of foreign prisoners at Gitmo.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 2, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

No class, ignorant, vindictive, petulant, very weak judgment and analytical skills, no understanding of history or the role of the rule of law or the Costitution.

And he is the leader of the world’s only superpower (although much less power as a result of his tutelage).

The country collectively needs to do some real soul searching on how this dim wit with such weak character was able to get elected President.

He is the strongest argument yet for moving to a parliamentary form of government.

The other irony of our system is the paradox that anyone who wants to be president so badly is by definition unqualified to serve as an effective President... what mentally healthy and balanced person would really want to go through that and put their family through such turmoil?

Posted by: del on September 2, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-Liberal writes: "Many conservatives (including me) see Gitmo as filled primarily with barbaric terrorists who would immediately return to mass murder if released. Which view is right?

Answer: If this were true, the smartest thing to do would be to release them and follow them back to their HQ and CO. Obviously, the true believers, even a kid from the Bay area, have better luck finding kingpins than all our supposed intelligence "experts." Ever watch "The Stranger"?

But the truth is that most of the people at Guantánamo would be dead meat if they tried to go to their home countries or, worse, seek contact with terrorist leaders. Most would be arrested upon arrival by authorities or suspect as double agents by Al Qaeda. And if you think the "authorities" in Saudi Arabia might be negligent, or possibly have a different agenda, maybe the real truth of the matter is just starting do dawn on you.

Every day, with no help at all from anyone locked up in Guantánamo, people are blowing themselves up to frustrate the US occupation of Iraq. Those who are not Iraqis probably come from some place we label an "ally" in the GWOT. More years of imprisonment of people in Guantánamo will do NOTHING to prevent more such acts, but plenty to discredit our position or credibility.

Posted by: Jkoch on September 2, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

He'll call it,
THE FREEDOM CENTER FOR KIDS WHO DON'T HAVE DEMOCRACY TOO GOOD.

Really, He must have been watching ZOOLANDER when he came up with that gem.

Posted by: POD on September 2, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

What's embarrassing is that with *only* 20 million, he feels the need for more money.

With Snow admitting that he is leaving because he can no longer take the pay cut to a mere $170k/yr, it appears to me that everyone in the WH realizes, including now GWB himself, that GWB admin is effectively over, and all that is left is for them make as much money as they can.

Posted by: Disputo on September 2, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Jkoch, never having been at Gitmo, I cannot prove that you are wrong.

However, my view is that there America-hating leftists have mounted a campaign to discredit Gitmo from its very beginning, using dishonest claims. We heard about how badly prisoners at Gitmo were treated, even though they were treated extremely well: great food, medical care, each one given a Koran, exercise, reading books (Harry Potter is popular), etc. Yet, because the untrue negativism, the ridiculous story of a Koran being flushed down a toilet was believable enough to be printed in a major news magazine.

If we were to close Gitmo, the America-haters would find some other aspect of the United States to attack. Since their attacks don't have to be accurate, there are innumerable targets.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 2, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Every cloud has a silver lining. This plan will keep Letterman's "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches" bit rolling indefinitely. Maybe Great Moments in Ex-Presidential Speeches.

Posted by: rab on September 2, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

ex-l: Again, this fallacy of black-and-white thinking. I don't think "most" liberals think Gitmo is full of "mostly" innocent people. I can only answer for myself, but I do, for good reason, believe that some of its occupants are not terrorists. Many were swept up in a system of denunciation--"Is your neighbor Taliban? Turn him in for cash!" Such expedients may be justified in a hot conflict, but it is bound to grab innocents along with the guilty and you have to have some kind of judicial review process in place to determine which is which. This enhances U.S. credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of the world, and more importantly in the eyes of moderates in the countries where we are trying to suppress terrorist movements. It ultimately causes far more problems than it solves.

Which is a realization even the Bushists appear to be belatedly coming around to, as I read articles about how they are casting around for a way to shut down operations there. Yet another mess they have caused without a clue how to extricate themselves from it. Something of a life-pattern for Mr Bush himself.

The weird thing to me is that all of these mistakes are defended by people calling themselves "conservatives," but they originate in a kind of radicalism--this view that "9/11 changed everything" and therefore none of the rules apply any more. As time goes on, the wisdom of the rules built up over centuries of experience in how to deal with human conflict that these people cast aside so cavalierly becomes more apparent. There are, in fact, good reasons why past administrations, whatever their faults, have chosen the hard path of dealing with terrorism within the law, rather than by discarding everything from habeas corpus to the fourth ammendment. It requires vastly more fortitude than "finding some small country and smashing it against a wall," as Mr Ledeen so charmingly puts it, and it is more patriotic in that it reflects a genuine faith that our system of rules is actually and truly the most effective and rational way of surviving and bettering our condition in an irrational world.

To me, *that* perspective, now being labeled (and denounced as) "liberal" actually sounds rather conservative. I would have thought that term implies something about having respect for the evolved wisdom of the past and suspicion of anyone who claims that our problems are unprecedented and our solutions must break with that wisdom. To me, the kind of thinking you are defending is radical in the extreme, not to mention lazy and narcissistic.

Bushism, in short, is "conservative" only insofar as that term has lost all distinction from "authoritarian."

Posted by: DrBB on September 2, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Correction: meant to say "Not to do so ultimately causes far more problems than it solves."

Posted by: DrBB on September 2, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Is he talking about opening a theme park? That would be fantastic! I hope it has waterslides.

Posted by: Scott Herbst on September 2, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

I'd probably enjoy going to a ballgame with W (and in fact, he and I have both been in the park the same night at RFK, albeit he was in the VIP box and I was up in the 500 level). Beyond that, however...

Posted by: Vincent on September 2, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

DrBB, I plead guilty to your charge of black-and-white thinking, but the reason is that I do believe that the Gitmo issue is substantially polarized. Those who think as you do (and there are many) focus the prisoners wrongly imprisoned at Gitmo. Their highest priority is getting fair trials so that the innocent can be released.

Those who think as I do focus on the threat from the terrorists at Gitmo. Our highest priority is keeping the bad guys imprisoned. We oppose the use of the American criminal justice system for three reasons that seem convincing to us:

-- American justice tends to follow the Blackstone rule: "Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer." In my opinion, releasing ten terrorists is more immoral than keeping one innocent person imprisoned, because the ten released terrorists are apt to kill dozens of innocent people.

-- Getting appropriate evidence for American criminal prosecution would often be difficult or impossible. Much of it is in far-off lands and not accessible. Some of it would require making military secrets public in order to be admissible under civilian criminal court rules.

-- People are not imprisoned in Gitmo because they violated American laws (although they may have.) They're kept locked up, because they are soldiers in a time of war whose loyalty is to our enemy. That is, the reason for keeping them behind bars is the threat of what they might do in the future, rather than as punishment for what they did in the past.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 2, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

"I will respond only to one minor point: Gitmo. Many liberals visualize Gitmo prisoners as with mostly innocent people who got caught up in the war in Afghanistan. They want to see Gitmo closed.

Many conservatives (including me) see Gitmo as filled primarily with barbaric terrorists who would immediately return to mass murder if released. Which view is right?" - ex liberal

All the liberals that I know "visualize" Gitmo as a place where a lot of folks have been imprisoned (and most likely mistreated) without regard for their guilt or innocence.

I know of no liberals who wish to release dangerous people back into the world.

I know a bunch of liberals who thing it very, very wrong to imprison innocent people.

All the liberals that I know feel that we are well served by the 'innocent until proven guilty' approach that we enjoy in this country. And feel that if we value that right we should extend it to others.

I know no liberals who take a 'kill them all and let God sort them out' approach to dealing with their fellow man.

I guess the liberals that I know are more like Jesus and the founders of this country than are conservatives?

Posted by: Bob Wallace on September 2, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

George Bush will be like Pete Rose, standing around political events signing autographs for money. His father has some speaking skills, a capacity for cognitive processes and a wry sense of humor. Bill Clinton has flair, a marvelous sense of humor and grand ideas. What does Junior have. I leave the answer to the reader. As far as ex-presidentts go, Bush might best compare himself to Nixon.

Posted by: Mudge on September 2, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Bush might best compare himself to Nixon.

What did Nixon do when he retired?

Posted by: Disputo on September 2, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

spend the rest of his life trying to rehabilitate his name.

Posted by: snicker-snack on September 2, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Some ex-Presidents grow in stature after their departure from the White House. Others are diminished by it. In a disturbing New York Times profile Sunday, President George W. Bush left little doubt which will be his destiny after exiting the Oval Office.

For the details, see:
"Replenish the Ol' Coffers: Bush on Life After the White House."

Posted by: Raging on September 2, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, some ex-Presidents do grow in stature as former Presidents - Then, you also have the "Who is buried in Grant's tomb", variety.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 2, 2007 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

When GWB leaves the White House, his family will take care of him, just as they always have...

More and more I'm coming to the conclusion that Bush's presidency was an experiment by our nation's super-rich to prove that if you have enough money, you can get away with anything.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on September 2, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK
....Bush said he would do pretty much what all recent Presidents have done... work to promote principles we all believe in....ex-lax at 11:12 AM
Ford played golf; Nixon tried to rehabilitate himself; Carter became involved in Habitat For Humanity and other humanitarian issues; Reagan told stories of the old days; Clinton is politically involved; G. H. W. Bush made more money in the Carlisle Group. But we all know the principles you believe in are not the principles Americans believe in.
Anti-totalitarianism was once an animating feature of the Democratic Party... ex-lax at 11:34 AM
Still is. You RepubliConTarians represent authoritarianism which is the basis of totalitarianism.
Many conservatives (including me) see Gitmo as filled primarily with barbaric terrorists....ex-lax at 1:16 PM
Got any evidence, because Bush doesn't agree with you. Posted by: Mike on September 2, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

"family will take care of him"

Yeah, maybe they'll just stuff him and put him in a museum like Roy Rogers did to Trigger.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 2, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Regnary Press and the Heritage Institute, the Hudson Institute, et al., are basically vanity presses/self-sustaining jokes. They'll pay him to deliver a couple of ribald stories laughing at the clown, not the repartee. In the best tradition of Karl Rove, the Freedom Institute will stand for exactly the opposite of its carefully crafted name. I hope that Bush is hounded by his sins the rest of his life, and his "freedom" intstitute closes without notice in the Dallas Morning News.

Posted by: Sparko on September 2, 2007 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Given the complete lack of magnanimity of any member of the Bush clan, he will probably proceed to directly trash, insult and blame the next president for the disasters he's caused. Then he will proceed to line his scuzzy pockets with the cash the Bushes are so fond of before overseeing the construction of his personal presidential library, which he will call "liberry". All of which will be done while he's high.

Posted by: Chrissy on September 2, 2007 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Friends, Bush is master of laziness. He don't have to do squat--not that he ever did squat. Papa's Carlisle Group will keep George in money for ever.

Hopefully the man will just disappear from history: clearing brush in Crawford, riding his car to the gulf coast and talking with fellow yokels will occupy all his time.

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on September 2, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Bush will be busy working on his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.

Posted by: Ross Best on September 2, 2007 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

Bush will devote his post-presidency to looking for Saddam's WMDs in Paraguay and attempting to correctly pronounce the word "nuclear".

Posted by: Dennis P on September 2, 2007 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

President Homer Simpson.

Posted by: ogmb on September 2, 2007 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Even before he leaves office, I'm nauseated by the thought of a White House Wedding (Jenna). If you think network news coverage is unwatchable now, just wait. However, when he does leave, I predict: Laura will divorce him, he'll hang out with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, he'll go back to serving on boards where he tells dirty jokes and eventually is asked to resign. Oh, and he'll sell that fake Crawford ranch (and kick Barney when he thinks no one's looking).

Posted by: posey on September 2, 2007 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Even before he leaves office, I'm nauseated by the thought of a White House Wedding (Jenna). If you think network news coverage is unwatchable now, just wait. However, when he does leave, I predict: Laura will divorce him, he'll hang out with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, he'll go back to serving on boards where he tells dirty jokes and eventually is asked to resign. Oh, and he'll sell that fake Crawford ranch (and kick Barney when he thinks no one's looking).

Posted by: posey on September 2, 2007 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Don't be lulled. This is more misdirection before the big push to stay in Iraq and start dropping bombs on Iran.

Does anyone seriously believe that Bush and top aides of the most disciplined and secret administration in the history of the republic would suddenly open up to Draper (the journalist who wrote the book), whom Bush had just met in December, 2006?

It is to laugh.

WaPo leaks more from the new book, like, it was John Roberts who recommended Harriet Miers to the USSC. And, "Karl Rove told George W. Bush before the 2000 election that it was a bad idea to name Richard B. Cheney as his running mate."

Posted by: Maeven on September 3, 2007 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

This is my prediction :
Bushes (dumbya and the lump) go back to Crawford. There is no bigbuck speaking tours for dubya - no one wants to hear someone else's words read poorly - and it's hell for Laura. She moves to Houston within two years, and w follows. He can't take it there, there is no respect for him on the streets. He starts drinking. He's a lousy mean drunk, and soon retreats to Crawford - alone. The healthiest president will be dead in 12-15 years. When he dies, he leaves unexplained hundreds of millions to his still worthless daughters. Everyone will ask "where did that come from?"

Posted by: Richard W. Crews on September 3, 2007 at 4:18 AM | PERMALINK

I want everyone to note the caption for the inside picture of Bush accompanying the article: "A biographer found President Bush to be at times introspective, at other confident." Completely apart from the fact that it's doubtful that Bush is every truly introspective, I like the implication that Bush is confident only on those (oh, so rare) occasions when he's not introspective.

"Yuh, see, ah haf t' stop thinkin' 'bout what a harmful idiot ah am, got to keep up my con-FEE-dence."

Posted by: Anon on September 3, 2007 at 5:00 AM | PERMALINK


I still think he'll take Air Force One to his new ranch in Paraguay the night before he leaves office.

And I still think it will be a bargain to be rid of him that cheap. Hell, give him some helicopters, too!

He can ride his bike forever there, and be protected from extradiition for war crimes trials.

Posted by: wileycat on September 3, 2007 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

wileycat - I have a feeling he will be the first expat-fugitive former president (or as I have been calling him for the last couple of weeks, Resident Evil™)

Hell, he doesn't have to come back from Oz as far as I'm concerned. If he abdicates tomorrow, Cheney would be impeached before lunch on Wednesday, I should hope.

Neither of those criminals will be residing in the united states for more than 90 days, if they don't split the scene before the end of the his residency.

And even then, the loonies of the right will still be carrying his water and excusing his criminality. They will never see the hollow, pathetic cretin for what he really is - a petty thug and a bully who has a rich daddy. Different parents, we would still be footing his bill, but likely in prison.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 3, 2007 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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