Thursday, November 11, 2004

LBJ or Dutch?

The Moose muses on the Bush legacy.

As the President enters his second term, it's time to ponder his legacy. The Moose has no crystal ball, but it doesn't take a Nostradamus to figure out that the President will be primary judged on how successful he was on the war on terror.

So far, in his favor is that we have not suffered a second attack on the homeland. This was probably a significant factor in his victory. The so-called "security moms" were apparently very real. If you told most Americans in the days after 9/11 that we would not be hit at home in the next three years they would have been astonished. Yes, Osama is still on the loose. But he dropped a video on us not a bomb.

All of this could change in a matter of moments. We don't know whether our safety is due to the destruction of Osama's network or merely because the terrorists operate on a different schedule than our election cycle. However, if we avoid terrorism at home for the next four years, then any fair minded Moose would have to concede that Bush was successful on the homefront.

But, homeland defense is not the only front in the war against terror. The other big component is Bush's transformation of the Islamic world. And that is where the legacy could become much more problematic. Iraq has become a mess. It could improve. Or it could become a bloody quagmire. Iraq could become a model of democracy for the Middle East. Or, it could become a failed state or an Iranian client state.

Increasingly, Donald Rumsfeld bears a strange resemblance to Robert Strange McNamara. Rumsfeld and the Bushies were truly guilty of gross negligence in their failure to provide sufficient troop levels and post-war planning. Now our nation is paying the price in blood and treasure. Today, on Veterans Day, we honor the sacrifices or our troops.

In short, Bush could become a Reagan-like conqueror of an evil empire or he could become another Texan leaving with the nation mired in a foreign mess. The Moose is soft on LBJ - at least that Texan had a progressive, even heroic, domestic legacy. Whatever happens in the war, W. will never be able to say that.

Although the President talks about a legacy involving tax and social security reform, that really won't matter much unless the war goes well. All the rest is commentary.
-- Posted at 7:30 AM | Link to this post | Email this post