What Ross Douthat Overlooks About Bush's Failures

Ross Douthat of the NY Times made a case that Bush's Iraq war failure brought on the resurgence of Liberals, but he's omitting a key ingredient.

(A reporter asks Henry Paulson, 'what blame the Bush administration should take' over the financial meltdown on 09/15/08)

Ross Douthat of the NY Times makes the case that Bush's Iraq war failures brought on the resurgence of liberals in his newest op-ed:

History is too contingent to say that had there been no Iraq invasion in 2003, there would be no Democratic majority in 2012. (It’s easy enough to imagine counterfactuals that might have put Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.) But the Democratic majority that we do have is a majority that the Iraq war created: its energy and strategies, its leadership and policy goals, and even its cultural advantages were forged in the backlash against George W. Bush’s Middle East policies.

All those now-apologetic liberals who supported the war in 2003 are a big part of this story, because without their hawkishness there would have been no antiwar rebellion on the left — no Michael Moore and Howard Dean, no Daily Kos and all its “netroots” imitators.This rebellion divided the Democrats, but it also energized them.

His piece goes on to name many other Bush failures which he says led us to the Obama Era. Not all of his points are invalid---I agree that the Iraq war galvanized the left for sure, but he either carelessly or deliberately left out a very important failure that happened under Bush's watch, can you see it?

The Bush White House’s “compassionate conservatism” was the last major Republican attempt to claim the political center — to balance traditional conservative goals on taxes and entitlement reform with more bipartisan appeals on education, health care, immigration and poverty. And as long as the Republican Party was successfully hovering near the middle, the Democrats had to hover there as well.

But once Bush’s foreign policy credibility collapsed, his domestic political capital collapsed as well: moderates stopped working with him, conservatives rebelled, and the White House’s planned second-term agenda — Social Security reform, tax and health care reform, immigration overhaul — never happened.

This collapse, and the Republican Party’s failure to recover from it, enabled the Democrats to not only seize the center but push it leftward, and advance far bolder proposals than either Al Gore or John Kerry had dared to offer. The Iraq war didn’t just make Obama possible — it made Obamacare possible as well.

He's omitting a key ingredient of Bush's epic failure scope----the global financial meltdown. Many conservatives do the same thing. To refresh Ross's memory, McCain took the lead in the 2008 general election after he named Sarah Palin to the ticket on Aug. 29, 2008. On August 30th, Obama had an eight point lead 50-42 in the Gallup poll and on September 1, the RNC started their convention. On September 2, the lead was cut to four points and then after Sarah Palin gave her speech on September 3rd, the next day the McCain ticket jumped out to a three point lead. A five point turnaround overnight. This lead continued until news started to leak out that the US economy was in dire straits. For McCain to take the lead in September for ten straight days that late in an election cycle was not an easy feat to accomplish especially since as Douthat asserts---George Bush had screwed the pooch really bad. If not for the financial collapse would McCain and Palin have been able to steal the 2008 election away from Obama and Biden? I know I was very nervous during those ten days. I met up with Paul Krugman after the election was over for a lunch in Santa Monica and he voiced some of the same thoughts I had about that period of time also.

Why did Ross fail to include the $700 billion ask by Henry Paulson as a major failure of the Bush administration? Might it be that the only thing the GOP has left to hang its hat on is the economy and conservatives will do anything they can to omit that from the lexicon of George Bush?

About John Amato

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.