Friday, January 28, 2011

Pursue excellence

(APPLES AND ORANGES, POTS AND KETTLES: Thoughts from several friends)

People who know me and who have read my columns over the last decade know that I was not ever a fan of "compassionate conservative" George W. Bush, who had a lot more in common with old-line "hawkish" liberals (Henry Wallace and Zbigniew Brzezinski come to mind) than with any sort of real conservative. I did (and do) defend him against people who portray him as an idiot, stupid, or incompetent. He made a lot of mistakes, but he did not usually deserve the venom expended on him - the ad hominem attacks. But it meant that no error of his could or would go unreported and uncondemned by the mainstream media.

Now we have who one friend calls "the First Citizen," in office now for 24 months - at the mid-point of his first term. There are lots of reasons that I am not a fan of the present incumbent of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Race is not one of them - I've served under black (and hispanic, and women) commanders - any one of which would have made a better president, regardless of their politics, than the current First Citizen. It is not because he was born (or not) in Hawai'i - Robert Kyosaki is also a son of Hawai'i - and would be (is) a good leader). It is not even because he claims Chicago as his hometown - I am sure that there are many good people who live in Chicago, even if I've not met any personally. It is not even because he is a lawyer (or at least played one in a college - I understand he is not licensed): I know almost a handful of lawyers whom I like, respect, and trust. It is not because he is a disciple of that hateful and hating advocate of black liberation theology, Jeremiah Wright; I've supported people of a wide range of denominations and sects for political office - including those who claim none.

No, I am not a fan of the First Citizen for very specific reasons which have nothing to do with his races or color, his adopted culture or hometown or alma mater, his religion, or all these other things. I am not a fan - and was not a fan when he was just another senator running for president - because of his upbringing, his experience, and his political beliefs and policies. Today, I must add to that list, his actions in the White House. He had demonstrated an incredible lack of qualifications - more than just birthplace. He has demonstrated all the traits that are wrong in any leader. Or for that matter, any manager.

He is both arrogant and subservient - and always to the wrong person at the wrong time. His is both a die-hard and a compromiser, again always at the wrong time and wrong place. He displays a memorable lack of knowledge, even about subjects which are officially within his area of expertise, such as the Constitution. He lies. He is both greedy and addicted to conspicuous consumption. His ego exceeds that of any past president - and they are, by and large, an egotistical lot.

If you believe that I am being unfairly critical of the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, answer these questions:

If George W. Bush had been the first President to need a teleprompter installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said this is more proof of how inept he is on his own and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?

If George W. Bush had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take Laura Bush to a play in NYC, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had reduced your retirement plan's holdings of GM stock by 90% and given the unions a majority stake in GM, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive and incorrectly formatted DVDs, when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have thought this embarrassingly narcissistic and tacky?

If George W. Bush had ordered the bust of Winston Churchill, a gift years ago from the United Kingdom, shipped back to the United Kingdom with no explanation, would you have thought it rude and ill-mannered?

If George W. Bush had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had visited Austria and made reference to the non-existent "Austrian language," would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?

If George W. Bush had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current in their income taxes (and not because they were opposed to taxes), would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had stated that there were 57 states in the United States , would you have said that he is clueless?

If George W. Bush would have flown all the way to Denmark to make a five minute speech about how the Olympics would benefit him walking out his front door in Texas, would you have thought he was a self important, conceded, egotistical jerk?

If George W. Bush had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to "Cinco de Cuatro" in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again, would you have winced in embarrassment?

If George W. Bush had misspelled the word "advice" would you have hammered him for it for years like Dan Quayle and potatoe as proof of what a dunce he is?

If George W. Bush had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on Earth Day, would you have concluded he's a hypocrite?

If George W. Bush's administration had approved Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually get what happened on 9-11?

If George W Bush had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans, would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?

If George W. Bush had created the position of 32 Czars who report directly to him, bypassing the House and Senate on much of what is happening in America, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had told the nation that Democrats would have to ride in the back seat in bipartisan efforts to fix the economy, would you have cheered him on?

If George W. Bush had proposed to double the national debt, which had taken decades to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved? If George W. Bush had then proposed to double the debt again within 10 years, would you have approved?

So, tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and impressive? Can't think of anything? Don't worry. He did this all in under a year (don't get me started on 2010) -- but don't worry, you still have two more years to come up with an answer.

George W. Bush was not a good president - his "conservative" credentials were tarnished from his first year in office. He did some good things, and a lot of bad things... in fact, many people understand that most (if not all) of the mistakes that the Obama administration has made in this 24 months since Obama took office are really the fault of George W. Bush: He made sure to point that out in the recent State of the Union address, reminding us that this economic crisis began ten years ago: January 20, 2001.

As a friend wrote a few months ago: "Of course, ... It's all George Bush's fault.

"George Bush, who doesn't have a vote in congress and who no longer occupies the White House, is to blame for it all.

"He broke Obama's promise to put all bills on the White House web site for five days before signing them.

"He broke Obama's promise to have the congressional health care negotiations broadcast live on C-SPAN.

"He broke Obama's promise to end earmarks.

"He broke Obama's promise to keep unemployment from rising above 8 percent.

"He broke Obama's promise to close the detention center at Guantanamo in the first year.

"He broke Obama's promise to make peace with direct, no precondition talks with America 's most hate-filled enemies during his first year in office, ushering in a new era of global cooperation.

"He broke Obama's promise to end the hiring of former lobbyists into high White House jobs.

"He broke Obama's promise to end no-compete contracts with the government.

"He broke Obama's promise to disclose the names of all attendees at closed White House meetings.

"He broke Obama's promise for a new era of bipartisan cooperation in all matters.

"He broke Obama's promise to have chosen a home church to attend Sunday services with his family by Easter of last year [2009].

"Yes. it's all George Bush's fault. President Obama is nothing more than a puppet in the never-ending, failed Bush administration.

"If only George Bush wasn't still in charge, all of President Obama's problems would be solved. His promises would have been kept, the economy would be back on track, Iran would have stopped its work on developing a nuclear bomb and would be negotiating a peace treaty with Israel . North Korea would have ended its tyrannical regime, and integrity would have been restored to the federal government. ...

"If only George Bush wasn't still in charge, we'd have real change by now.

"All the broken promises, all the failed legislation and delay (health care reform, immigration reform) is not President Obama's fault or the fault of the Democrat-controlled Congress. It's all George Bush's fault. ...

"Need more proof?

"You might recall that when Scott Brown won ... election to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts , capturing 'the Ted Kennedy seat,' President Obama said that Brown's victory was the result of the same voter anger that propelled Obama into office in 2008. People were still angry about George Bush and the policies of the past 10 years. and they wanted change. Yes, according to the president, the voter rebellion in Massachusetts ... was George Bush's fault. Therefore, in retaliation, they elected a Republican to the Ted Kennedy seat, ending a half-century of domination by Democrats.
It is all George Bush's fault.

"Will the failed administration of George Bush ever end, and the time for hope and change ever arrive?"

Well, here it is, the first month of 2011, and now the pundits are telling us that the current occupant is still the front-runner in the election of 2012, and getting more popular all the time. Two well-delivered and well-written speeches and he is suddenly the best thing since Ronald Reagan... For some of us. For some of US. What now?

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