Tuesday, September 04, 2012

George Bush Did NOT Keep Us Safe

Over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf gets it exactly right; George W. Bush did NOT keep us safe:

One of the few times George W. Bush was mentioned at the Republican National Convention came during a speech by his brother, Jeb Bush, who said this about the last GOP president: "He is a man of integrity, courage, and honor, and during incredibly challenging times, he kept us safe."

I've heard that before about President Bush. It's something some conservatives tell themselves. But it's got to stop. Personally, I don't blame Bush or his administration for failing to prevent the September 11 terrorist attacks. I'd never say that it's their fault all those people died. Still, it happened on their watch. And there are things they could have done better to prevent it. So while their failures don't, in my judgment, justify anger at that aspect of their leadership, it's just bizarre to affirmatively argue that Bush's defining legacy was that he kept us safe.

Is there any bigger caveat to that statement than 9/11?

What people mean when they say he kept is safe seems to be that there wasn't another terrorist attack like 9/11. By that standard, he kept us no safer than Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama. And even leaving out 9/11, for reasons that are never explained, Bush was president during the anthrax attacks, the Beltway sniper incident, the Los Angeles airport shooting, the Mohammed Reza SUV incident, the Seattle Jewish Federation shooting, and the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina. Again, I don't blame Bush for the victims of those incidents, but to harken back to his tenure as a time when the president kept America safe is ahistorical.

There are, in addition, many of us who think that the War in Iraq made Americans less safe in various ways -- it certainly made the 4,488 Americans who died fighting there less safe, and with uncertain at best safety benefits to those of us back in the United States. The more you look at the evidence, the more you realize that, measured in total citizens killed, keeping Americans safe wasn't Bush's strength. My guess is that the talking point keeps getting trotted out as a vestige of the rally-around-the-president impulse that took hold after 9/11, and because conservatives still feel as though they have to say something positive about George W. Bush's tenure.

How about, "For all his failings, he tried his best."


boct said...

How about "He was best at his failings"

jb said...

Well put. Although I can't agree about the perspective on Iraq. This was a war cooked up on a doctrine of preemption pure and simple and it destroyed my concept of who we are as a nation. I grew up thinking that we were the good guys.. The ones who didn'tt start the fight but who sure would end it if you started it. I have no love for the middle east culture and am no bleeding heart..(every male member of my family has served in the armed forces going back to my grandfathers -Army , Navy, Marines) and I WAS a republican for 20+ years. The Bush administration fundamentally change how I look at today's America and what being a conservative is.