My last post earned me some flack. I should have expected it, as whenever someone lends a word of support for our last president or criticizes the criticism of him it is often akin to siding with a villain of sorts. Its inconceivable to some that one might actually defend the man, our former commander in chief, George W. Bush. To be sure, it is a formidable task to do so. The list of problems with his presidency is daunting and even his former supporters shudder at the long timeline of embarrassments that composed his time in office.
We owe a great deal of our current problems as a nation to Mr. Bush. It is without great question that he was an objectively bad president. However, while he was in office (and even after he left) there was a degree of hysterical, reckless and extreme criticism of Mr. Bush. Even the more outspoken and moderately inclined among us often held our tongues when he was characterized as a “terrorist” or as “Hitler” because, well, who could or would defend the man? While the criticisms were perhaps understandable, they were often wrong and they did harm to the overall dialogue about Mr. Bush. They confused the real and proper criticisms that could have been made about his awful presidency with ones that were prima facie ridiculous. This was deemed “Bush derangement syndrome” by Charles Krauthammer. It existed then and the central thesis in my last commentary was that it certainly exists in spades now. In no way am I the only or first one to point this out. The rampant populist screams against Obama are perhaps worse, and perhaps with less cause and less righteousness. However, the people calling Bush a terrorist were wrong, and so are the people speaking with similar recklessness and blind hatred about Obama. For those seeking an honest dialogue and criticism, and for those who think that extremist, simplistic and often just factually inaccurate statements should be called out as such…the demand for accuracy has to be done on both sides. We have to hold everyone accountable to the facts, basic reason and decorum. Every time we fail to do so we see a tangible degradation in the quality of our national dialogue and as a result we will get the government we deserve.
Leaders who know how to incite, not inspire. Leaders that know politics, but not policy. Leaders who cannot lead.