Thursday, April 06, 2006

Would Someone Please Defend Bush?

So it’s official. In a story first reported in today’s New York Sun (and since picked up by just about every news agency), Scooter Libby has implicated Bush as the man who pushed the red button on the leak of CIA Agent Valerie Plame’s identity to NY Times reporter Judith Miller.

Ouch.

Needless to say, with a 36% approval rating, George W. is not at the top of the public’s list of favorite people. On my personal list, for example, he falls somewhere between the Cat Lady (NY animal rights woman who stands outside grocery stores screaming “stop having kids – you’re killing out animals!” at pregnant women) and Collin Farell (the man throws phones at people’s heads!). In other words, though I don’t quite think Bush is Satan-spawn (notice the blatant the lack of Hitler references), I’m none too pleased with him.

But here’s my problem—neither is anyone else I know. Everyone I talk with seems to share my sense of indignation at Bush’s sneaky dodging of Congress (and, cough, the LAW) to wiretap phones. And my friends are all equally appalled by his condescending smile, shoulder shrug, and reference to terrorism every time a reporter asks him about it. Now I enjoy a good bash fest as much as anyone, but surrounded by so many like-minded folk has started to make me a little concerned. Is there an argument from the other side? Do ALL 36% who approve of him live in Alabama? Why have I not heard a single argument (political pundits excepted) in Bush’s favor?

Hence my plea – would someone please defend Bush?

19 Comments:

At 4/06/2006 06:17:00 PM,

I dont know if this means anything, but "www.indefenseofbush.com" is an unused URL. Maybe someone on this thread will buy it, and use it as a forum to accumulate all Bush defenses.

 
At 4/06/2006 06:44:00 PM,

Do ALL 36% who approve of him live in Alabama? 

I live in Alabama (raised here). I don't think all 36% are here.

 
At 4/06/2006 06:52:00 PM,

I can defend the wiretapping a little better now that I have an whopping hour's worth of in-class discussion on executive powers under my belt:

Bush's contravention of FISA was justified under the constitution based on implicit congressional approval. The FISA act, passed in 1978, said you can’t intercept phone calls unless you go get a warrant. It also provided that if we were at war, there would be a period where the president could spy without a warrant for a period of time and then he could go back and get hindsight approval.

Fast forward to 9/11. Congress passes a resolution saying that Bush can take any and all actions necessary to prosecute (for lack of a better phrase) "the war on terror." The argument in support of Bush's use of wiretaps is based on the use of force resolution. In other words, it says he can basically do anything against those who aided in the attacks. Bush could argue that his spying on the enemy is a natural incident of this resolution and therefore approved by congress.

 
At 4/06/2006 07:01:00 PM,

Princess Pam...

If I understand what she's getting at, I think what Janelle is asking for is some reasonable discussion on the issues, for us to quit the bashing for a few seconds and think about the big picture here.

I realize blogs provide the sweet anonymity necessary for people to spew forth what they will without much consequence, but come on. I get enough of the sloganeering in the media.

In other words, if you're going give me ridiculous partisan blather, at least be clever or funny or something.

 
At 4/06/2006 10:39:00 PM,

I have fewer scruples than Chris.

LYMA was a victim of a "drive-by ad hominem" comment.

So it's cleaned up now.

Back to actual dialogue, per request.

 
At 4/07/2006 08:16:00 AM,

I feel about like Janelle does about President Bush, I'll tell you what I do like about him though, he is the first president that I can remember that seems like he is actually trying to talk to us when he gives a speech. That is why there are so many soundbites of his slips of the tounge, he's not just reading a bullet proof speech that a team of writers prepared, so at least he seems sincere (unless this is just all part of a plan to make me think he is sincere, but we were asked to defend the man, right?). You gotta love"fool me once shame on you, fool me again... I won't get fooled again."

 
At 4/07/2006 09:11:00 AM,

Not to get TOO technical here BUT according to the Washington Post, Bush didn't authorize the Plame leak, rather he authorized the release of information (incorrect in hindsight)concering Iraq's WMD program in order to discredit her husband, Joe Wilson, who was claiming there was no such program (or something to that effect).
This looks more like an attempt to gain public opinion for the war rather than an overt attempt to "out" Plame. I'll have to defer to smarter Constitutional law scholars as to whether this was "legal". Of course, if this was as nefarious a plot as initially believed, it would have grave consequences, but alas, this too will blow over like Katrina, wire-tapping etc...
(BTW this is in no way an endorsement of the Prez, just thought we ought to have the facts, as they are known now, straight)

 
At 4/07/2006 10:27:00 AM,

The economy has gotten better and better during the President's tenure. Also, employment has dropped significantly over the last 8 years. Some point at the debt, but when you take into account what our debt level is compared to the national GDP its really not that bad.

 
At 4/07/2006 10:29:00 AM,

Also, I'll take the chance I might get redacted:

The Daily Show, SNL, Late Show, Tonight Show, Late Late Show, Colby Report, etc. have all had one heck of run over the last 7 years.

 
At 4/07/2006 10:38:00 AM,

Very good point about the mock-news shows.

I have to say I did thoroughly enjoy the Daily Show the day after Cheney shot Harry Whittington.

Jon Stewart: "Yesterday, the Vice-President shot an 86-year-old man in the face. You don't even have to add anything to make that funny!"

 
At 4/07/2006 10:43:00 AM,

Janelle-

I agree that the Bush-bashing-bandwagon is more trendy than sushi bars on K street. With record deficits, an expanded federal government, civil liberty violations, and several misspeaks, there's fodder for everybody's fire - regardless of party affiliation.

Charles is right to point out that Bush didn't overtly authorize the release of Valerie Plame Wilson's name. In fact, it's unlikely that his alleged authorization had much to do with Wilson at all - at least not directly. As far as I understand, Bush authorized the release/leak of classified materials to bolster his incresingly unpopular WMD justification for invading Iraq.

In general, I think Bush gets an unfair share of the blame for "his" programs. He is not a legislator. The notorious "No Child Left Behind" and Medicare bills were passed by Congress (the Medicare bill through a controversial parliamentarian procedure). The PATRIOT Act was approved by the Senate 99-1. The open-ended "Use of Force" law was passed unanimously by both the House and the Senate.

Domestic wiretapping is a different story (talk to Richard Nixon). However, in addition to FISA's war-time provision, the "Commander-in-Chief" clause of Section 2, Article II is sufficient justification for serious actions (just ask Americans who lived under the reign of Lincoln).

What I'm trying to say is that it's hardly the case that Bush is single-handedly responsible for everything for which he is blamed.

Also, I hear he is a really congenial person who is deceivingly intelligent and politically astute. He has been elected President twice.

Oh yeah, and if you're a conservative, you have to like John Roberts and Sam Alito (that's why my Dad voted for him).

 
At 4/07/2006 11:13:00 AM,

Charles and Doug-

Thanks for the correction.

Here's another question: does anyone think there's an argument to made for Bush authorizing the leak? I mean, could he be ascribed with some more noble motive than just plain-old saving face?

I'm not usually one for absolutes. Though it's illegal to leak classified information, I could see it serving some sort of higher purpose (for those of you who watch West Wing, a situation like this is currently being played out in the Tobey story-line). But to leak things (that were potentially harmful to people) just to ease embarassment? That seems petty. There's got to be more to it then that, right?

 
At 4/07/2006 11:39:00 AM,

One issue is whether it is in fact illegal for the President to leak information. He may have the right to declassify information although traditionally the agency who the information "belongs" to is in on the procedure. In the fact, Chris has just informed me that the WP says the President has the "unquestionable authority to approve the disclosure of secret CIA information to reporters...".
The real issue seems to be the political rather than legal fallout. The Bush administration has been vociferous in finding people who leak sensitive information. It reminds me quite a bit of OJ looking for the "real killer".

 
At 4/07/2006 11:56:00 AM,

Howdy, y'all. This here's the prezdint speakin'.

Just kidding. Sure, I can defend Dubya, at least against the kinds of things you described in your post. Here goes:

1. Wiretaps. They appear to be legal. John Schmidt, the associate attorney general for Clinton said:
President Bush's post Deptember 11, 2001 authorization to the NSA to carry out electronic surveillance into private phone calls and e-mails is consistent is consisent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under prior
presidents.
 

No doubt, the man has a sort of irritating manner sometimes, but who doesn't? And verbal ability is overrated as a sign of intelligence. Remember, his SAT scores were higher than Kerry's.

My view is that he is a good man who is in over his head. If the election had gone the other way, the Daily Show would be making Eeyore and Deptuty Dog jokes about Kerry, and we would be asking if anybody would stick up for him.

And no, I don't live in Alabama, but I sometimes wish I did. Muscle Shoals and Perdido beach are awesome. 

Posted by Mark IV

 
At 4/07/2006 02:00:00 PM,

Bush's problem is that he does the right thing and then does it massively incompetently. I don't have problems with the wiretaps. But would it have been that  hard to have told congress? Did he really think it wouldn't eventually come out?

I was for the war, yet Bush appears to have ignored every bit of advice of the Generals (despite his claims to be just listening to them). He also did basically no PR in Europe. Not even a single trip by Bush to convince European leaders.

FEMA? 'nuff said. He originally was opposed to the congressional mandate of integration. When he saw he'd lose the vote he became in favor of it. Then he did the worlds most incompetent integration. Far worse than even what us pessimists about the integration feared.

Meyers? What more can be said.

I'll give Bush credit for this. He's better than the Democratic alternatives. (Which says something about those alternatives) He appointed probably one of the best Supreme Court nominees in my history: Roberts. Even Alito seems a solid pick.

But overall Bush does the right thing but then implements it with little thought of possible problems and with little management oversight nor requiring responsibility of those he manages. 

Posted by Clark

 
At 4/07/2006 03:04:00 PM,

"He's better than the Democratic alternatives."

If, by that, you mean John Kerry, I'll probably agree with you. But this is the president we're talking about here! We shouldn't have to say: "well, he's the least bad alternative, so I'm happy."

Somebody should do something about the ridiculous primary system we have that rewards the fringes. 

Posted by chris p.

 
At 4/07/2006 04:01:00 PM,

Here 's an article on McClellan's handling of the leak issue during a briefing today. According to him, this had nothing to do with bolstering White House's case for war. The leak, he said, was in the public's interest. 

Posted by janelle

 
At 4/07/2006 10:39:00 PM,

Actually, it's interesting that the Bush-authorized-leak story is already falling from the headlines. I had to search for the story on CNN.com and abcnews.com. I kind of expected more hooplah.

And for the record, is it self-evident that Libby is telling the truth?

Or if Libby did hear that Cheney said Bush authorized the declassification of certain info, who is to say that Cheney was telling the truth?

As for the wiretapping, I think that story has become very confused as to what the actual issue is. The NSA listened to phone calls between someone in the US and someone OUTSIDE the US; and these werent RANDOM individuals who were being listened to.

The media, however, has played the story as "Bush is listening to your conversation with your neighbor, where you tell your neighbor how to make pineapple upside down cake! how RUDE!"

 
At 4/08/2006 07:53:00 AM,

I don't claim, nor will i ever, to be politically savy or have any idea what I am talking about:) but if Libby lied in front of a grand jury, who is to say he is not lying now?

Also, my husband was mentioning how Bush has not backed up Libby with his usual "he's a dear loyal friend" speech like he usually does. Did Bush purposefully leak the information and he knew Libby was going to squeal?

Also- there actually is a town in Utah where bush has a 100% approval rating. There was an article about it in the newspaper a while back. Can't remember which one. NYT, WP, or WSJ.

 

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