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Tilting at Windmills

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December 28, 2007

THE BUSH/RICE LEGACY....In the NYT this week, Robert Dallek reviews Elisabeth Bumiller's new book on Condoleezza Rice, "An American Life: A Biography." One gets the sense the book probably won't be too hard-hitting -- Bumiller has a well-earned reputation for passivity, and Dallek notes the biography's "above-the-battle tone" and refusal to "offer any decisive judgments on Ms. Rice's performance."

Most notably, though, there was this gem:

Ms. Bumiller says that if President Bush and Ms. Rice can produce a settlement in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians and an end to North Korea's nuclear program, it would give them claims on success that would significantly improve their historical reputations.

After struggling a bit, I think the word I'm looking for here is, "Duh."

As Scott Lemieux put it, "And if I discover a way of powering cars entirely with oxygen, emitting a vapor that would result in the immediate killing of cockroaches and paralysis in the hands of every Hollywood producer about to sign a contract with Joel Schumacher and Uwe Boll, my reputation as a world-class scientist would be greatly enhanced."

Yglesias gets in on the fun, too: "By the same token, if earth's yellow sun gave me the powers of a kryptonian, I'd be a super hero. If my blog had Engadget's traffic, I'd be the most popular political blogger. If George Bush could breath underwater, he'd be a fish."

To be sure, if Bush and Rice can bring peace to Israel (after seven years of intentional neglect) and solve the North Korean nuclear crisis (which they helped exacerbate through a meandering and misguided foreign policy), then sure, the progress would certainly "improve their historical reputations."

But if that's what it will take, I'm fairly confident that history will not be kind.

Steve Benen 11:50 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Comments

You got this wrong - dur chimperor is getting away with looting the federal treasury, destroying the US Constitution, treason, war crimes, and crimes against humanity on a scale without precedence.

Of course, its really the criminal cabal behind the bush family and the smirking chimp that are "successfully" pulling off some of the greatest crimes in world history.

Surely, the ability of this gang of thieves to fully enact their social, economic, and military agenda while enriching the military-industrial complex that Ike warned about has some sort of historic "merit."

Just look at how they stole 2 elections and the MSM and sheeple didn't say "boo." 9/11 was an INSIDE JOB that was exploited to make all the rest of the criminality possible.

GREAT CRIMES DEMAND EVEN GREATER CRIMES!

Posted by: little bear on December 28, 2007 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Rice is a toady to a terrible president. What legacy?

Posted by: Dale on December 28, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

"if President Bush and Ms. Rice can produce a settlement in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians and an end to North Korea's nuclear program, it would give them claims on success that would significantly improve their historical reputations."

I'm trying to recall an old axiom about the difference between Grandma and Grandpa, but it escapes me at the moment.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on December 28, 2007 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

How about this version:

If President Bush and Ms. Rice can make it impossible for Iraq to reconstitute its nuclear program that was so successful through 1991, and if they end North Korea's nuclear program and Libya's nuclear program, it would give them claims on success that would significantly improve their historical reputations.

Oh, wait. They did these things.

Actually, I'm not so sure that they ended NK's nuclear program. NK has a history of not fulfilling their agreements.

Still, Bush/Rice ended the potential nuclear threat from two terrible tyrranical. That's two more than Clinton did.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 28, 2007 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps that could be a new stanza for the best Mountain Goats song ever:

"And the Chicago Cubs / will beat every team in the league / and the Tampa Bay Bucs / will make it all the way to February / And I will love you again"

Posted by: jpe on December 28, 2007 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Christ. "all the way to February" s/b "all the way to January." looks like I just had my "Patriots winning the world series" moment.

Posted by: jpe on December 28, 2007 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

I picture ex-liberal as a completely bald guy who sees a full head of hair when he looks in the mirror, a thoroughly-despised-by-the-neighbors guy who thinks he's the most popular guy on the block, and a broke guy who believes he's got a million bucks in the bank.

It's all true if you just pretend hard enough.

Posted by: shortstop on December 28, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Christ. "all the way to February" s/b "all the way to January." looks like I just had my "Patriots winning the world series" moment.

There have been a couple of February Super Bowls; don't be too hard on yourself.

Posted by: DJ on December 28, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

"If President Bush and Ms. Rice can make it impossible for Iraq to reconstitute its nuclear program that was so successful through 1991"

LOL.... Nice propaganda, dear, since the program was, in fact, shut down, as you well know, which means that Bush and Rice accomplished ... nothing.

"and if they end North Korea's nuclear program"

ROFL.... Dear heart, you really shouldn't lie so clumsily and stupidly about a matter of public record that's been so much in the news.

"and Libya's nuclear program"

And another stupid and clumsy lie. Are you really so desperate for material these days, dear?

"Oh, wait. They did these things."

No, dear, they didn't, which is why their reputation is, deservedly, in the shitter.

"Still, Bush/Rice ended the potential nuclear threat from two terrible tyrranical."

No, dear, they didn't, which is why their reputation is, deservedly, in the shitter. As for your reputation, well, you just confirmed it with this post. Do try a little harder next time, won't you, dear?

Posted by: PaulB on December 28, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget that Bush kept Grenada from going nuclear as well.

Posted by: AJ on December 28, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

"I picture ex-liberal as a completely bald guy who sees a full head of hair when he looks in the mirror, a thoroughly-despised-by-the-neighbors guy who thinks he's the most popular guy on the block, and a broke guy who believes he's got a million bucks in the bank."

I rather suspect he knows precisely what he's doing here. The real question is what he thinks he's accomplishing.

Posted by: PaulB on December 28, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see . . . settle things between the Koreas, Israel and the Palestinians . . .. and how about a pony ?

Posted by: Jeffrey Harris on December 28, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

I rather suspect he knows precisely what he's doing here. The real question is what he thinks he's accomplishing.

I actually agree with you. His disingenuousness is much more ubiqitous than it is skilled.

I suspect the same of our pal brian, although people whose opinions I value believe that what's going on there is a natural density combined with a studiedly selective hearing.

Posted by: shortstop on December 28, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

ubiqitous = ubiquitous. Damned Mooslims, teaching me to drop my Us after Qs. More proof of their insane plan for world domination.

Posted by: shortstop on December 28, 2007 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Bush couldn't find Israel on a colored map and Rice has less credibility than Mo, Larry or Curly. Any reason the parties would be desperate for a deal before the next US election?

Posted by: jb on December 28, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

An American Life: A Biography.

This is a title? Who came up with that brilliant gem of a near-tautology? "Condoleeza Rice: An American Life" would be workmanlike but serviceable. You don't need anything very clever for this sort of PR-generated pablum. But this one looks like they couldn't even get up the enthusiasm to fake it.

Posted by: DrBB on December 28, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, but history is never written by liberals, is it?

History will write that the Democrats wanted to retreat from Iraq when Al Qaeda ran a bombing campaign in 2006. George Bush and Condi Rice both held their nerve; and gave David Petraeus the time he needed to win his war. No, Mr. Benen, history will be much kinder to Mr. Bush and Dr. Rice than you can begin to imagine, and savage to the Democrats.

After all, it was Harry Reid, the Leader of the Senate, who insisted that the war was "lost", and wanted to throw in the towel to Al Qaeda.

History savages the weak, and is kind to the strong. Liberals do not understand this. That is why they lose wars.

After all, who is history kinder to, the liberals who said there would be no bloodbath when we retreated from Indochina, or to General Giap?

Posted by: section9 on December 28, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Some historical facts for ex -liberal.

Iraq's nuclear program ended in the wake of the first Iraq war in 1991, during the Bush I administration. This containment policy was successfully continued by the Clinton Administration, and until 9/11, the Bush II administration (specifically Cheney and Powell) described Saddam as contained.

So the Clintonistas had something to do with that, didn't they ?

Bush II invaded Iraq in 2003, but found that the nuclear weapons program had never been restarted. There were no active chemical or biological weapons programs either. In addition, they finally admitted that Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. The stated reasons for the invasion were thus invalid.


The Clinton administration also reached an agreement with N Korea involving provision of electricity producing reactor technology in exchange for cessation of work on nuclear weapons. Note that the preparation of the highly reactive plutonium or uranium needed for a bomb is very far from power production.

This program was successful in restraining N Korea until 2001, when the Bush II administration refused to maintain negotiations with N Korea. N Korea then resumed its nuclear program, and produced rudimentary weapons. Eventually, the Bush II administration restarted negotiations with N Korea, and managed to reach an agreement essentially comparable to that of the Clinton administration.

To summarize, then as a result of Bush II then:

---No WMD were ever found in Iraq. However, we continue to occupy the country, which has a GDP of $40B per year, at annual cost to us of 150-200B (perhaps more when all costs are eventually included) per year, with no end in sight.

---N Korea has put its nuclear program back into the suspended state where it was when Clinton left office---but now has in its possession a number weapons.


Thus, neither of the claims made by ex lib for Bush II has any basis in fact whatsoever. In fact, the next administration has an enormous amount of repair work to do in foreign policy, as the excesses of Bush II have cost us the excellent world reputation we enjoyed prior to his administration.

Quite record of accomplishment, I 'd say. About as successful as Bush II's efforts in the Texas oil industry.

Posted by: jh on December 28, 2007 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, last time I looked, history wasn't being very kind to the proponents of the Domino Theory. Since I don't read any "history" books published by Regnery, I'm only aware of the predominant view of the Viet Nam war: that it was a tragic mistake perpetuated far longer than was ever justified at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives that needn't have been lost and that accomplished exactly nothing.

Posted by: DrBB on December 28, 2007 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals do not understand this. That is why they lose wars.

So... FDR lost his war and dubya won his? And Reagan really proved his mettle when he defeated those Cuban construction workers on Grenada. Didn't do so well in Lebanon, but let's not discuss that, eh?

Posted by: tomeck on December 28, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I would prefer that whatever unkind judgements and punishments that are to be meted out to W. Bush and his henchpersons be done in the present. History may be unkind to them, but that has nothing to do with justice.

Posted by: Brojo on December 28, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Why do our trolls always have to compare Bush with Clinton.Everything Clinton did they want to take credit for.Clinton Bombed Iraq (despite the howls from the right)and finished Bush sr job and forced Iraq to shut down all weapons programs.Clinton was containing N Korea untill Bush jr messed things up.Clinton went into a former Soviet Country (despite all the howls from the unpatriotic right)took down there leader with only a few deaths on our part.and on and on.So just stop taking credit for what Clinton did and start showing your President some respect and give him credit for making Haliburton and KBR the most sucsessful bank robbers in history.

Posted by: john john on December 28, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo: I would prefer that whatever unkind judgements and punishments that are to be meted out to W. Bush and his henchpersons be done in the present. History may be unkind to them, but that has nothing to do with justice.

Seconded.

Posted by: shortstop on December 28, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

I third it.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 28, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

If Satan were to save a few souls and send them to Heaven, it would improve his reputation.

Posted by: Devil's Advocate on December 28, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't "section9" change his moniker to "section8?"

Posted by: anonymous on December 28, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Not to ignore the last sad hit to the Bush/Rice foreign policy:
U.S. Brokered Bhutto's Return to Pakistan
White House Would Back Her as Prime Minister While Musharraf Held Presidency
By Robin Wright and Glenn Kessler
Friday, December 28, 2007; A01

For Benazir Bhutto, the decision to return to Pakistan was sealed during a telephone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just a week before Bhutto flew home in October. The call culminated more than a year of secret diplomacy -- and came only when it became clear that the heir to Pakistan's most powerful political dynasty was the only one who could bail out Washington's key ally in the battle against terrorism....

The poor woman believed them.

Posted by: Mike on December 28, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

section8: History savages the weak, and is kind to the strong. Liberals do not understand this. That is why they lose wars. . . . After all, who is history kinder to, the liberals who said there would be no bloodbath when we retreated from Indochina, or to General Giap?

Nixon lost Vietnam.

Please to cite where "liberals" (must be more than one or two here and there - must show liberals as a whole said this, which means tens of thousands of quotes) of significance publicly stated taht "there would be no bloodbath" upon withdrawal from Vietnam.

section8 = section9 = lying idiot

Posted by: anonymous on December 28, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

White House Would Back Her as Prime Minister While Musharraf Held Presidency

In other words, Bush signed her death warrant while pretending to be supporting democracy.

Posted by: anonymous on December 28, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't "section9" change his moniker to "section8?"

No kidding. Or maybe the nimrod is "insane plus 1"?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 28, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I'm curious to know when Ms Bumiller thinks the dynamic duo are going to begin this awesome task. Maybe they're waiting til the first week of January 2009, so they can spring it on us and have it all wrapped up by January 20th?


Posted by: gypsy howell on December 28, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

gypsy howell: I'm curious to know when Ms Bumiller thinks the dynamic duo are going to begin this awesome task.

Right after Bush gets finished chopping Condi's wood.

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Posted by: anonymous on December 28, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

section8: After all, it was Harry Reid, the Leader of the Senate, who insisted that the war was "lost", and wanted to throw in the towel to Al Qaeda.

Tell us what Bush has won in Iraq, Don Pardo!

George has won nada, section8, nahhh-duh!

But he's lost over 3000 American lives and countless innocent Iraqi lives!

That's what cowardly bullies like Georgie do - they talk big but can't deliver when it counts and they always try to make someone else (like our men and women in uniform) pay for their own failures.

Posted by: anonymous on December 28, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Can't criticize a black woman benefiting from affirmative action. Isn't PC. Might put the whole theory of affirmative action into question.

Posted by: Luther on December 28, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

"Ah, but history is never written by liberals, is it?"

Yes, dear, it is. Did you have a point to make?

"History will write that the Democrats wanted to retreat from Iraq when Al Qaeda ran a bombing campaign in 2006."

ROFL.... No, dear, it won't, for the simple reason that al Qaeda in Iraq is pretty much a non-factor and always has been.

"George Bush and Condi Rice both held their nerve; and gave David Petraeus the time he needed to win his war."

Dear heart, the war has not even remotely been won. By its own stated goals, "the surge" has been a complete and total failure.

"No, Mr. Benen, history will be much kinder to Mr. Bush and Dr. Rice than you can begin to imagine, and savage to the Democrats."

No, dear, it won't, I'm afraid. But do feel free to continue to live in that little fantasy world of yours. I'm sure you feel so much better there than in the real world.

"After all, it was Harry Reid, the Leader of the Senate, who insisted that the war was 'lost', and wanted to throw in the towel to Al Qaeda."

Dear heart, we're occupying Iraq, remember? There's nobody there to "throw in the towel" to. Do try to keep up.

"After all, who is history kinder to, the liberals who said there would be no bloodbath when we retreated from Indochina, or to General Giap?"

Neither, dear. Thanks for coming by. We don't get enough insane posters here.

Posted by: PaulB on December 28, 2007 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

How about this for unlikely: "If Elisabeth Bumiller won a Pulitzer Prize it would significantly improve her reputation."

...Of course, as it is, a lot of the people who do win Pulitzers are really dumb. So she is, sadly, in the running, however much of a typist and cheerleader for the Bush administration she undoubtedly is.

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