Despite nearly eight years to reconsider their view, some Republicans still cling to the belief that President George W. Bush was a good president.
From time to time here at TAC, we mention that while Obama betrays the constitution, Bush did as well. Every time, some Republicans are quick to defend W’s legacy, or at the very least differentiate him from Obama. Some even ask us, in all honesty, how he violated the Constitution.
I can empathize with those who defend Bush, because I used to be one of them. I was young when the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks occurred. Seeing the country temporarily united, unlike anytime in recent history, left a strong impression on me. As a mainstream Republican for most of my childhood and young adulthood, I defended Bush’s presidency, from the beginning of the Iraq War through the end of his second term. I even put his photo up as my Facebook profile picture for a while and wrote blog posts defending him.
I literally was that guy.
But the problem is that the person I defended was not the actual man who presided in the Oval Office. From my limited perspective growing up in a very blue state, Bush’s political enemies were also enemies of the freedoms I held dear, and in error I thought that meant he was a friend of liberty.
However, back in the real world, the actual Bush little resembled this image. Rather than a proponent of limited government or defender of the Constitution, he (along with the Republican Party as a whole) paved the way for much of what Republicans hate most about Obama’s administration.
LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR OBAMA
- We can begin with the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare.
The (unconstitutional) idea that the federal government should control our medical care did not just fall out of the sky the day Obama took office. The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act (Medicare, Part D) was passed in 2003 by a Republican-controlled House, and Senate, and signed into law by President Bush. It was the largest expansion of federal government involvement in healthcare since the 1960s (the notorious individual mandate in Obamacare was also first conceived by Republicans, according to Dale Steinreich).
- Then there’s No Child Left Behind, the brainchild of a George W. Bush proposal.
Texas Congressman and former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul wrote that “During my time in Congress I heard nothing but complaints about this law from teachers, administrators, and, most importantly, students and parents. Most of the complaints concerned No Child Left Behind’s testing requirements, which encouraged educators to ‘teach to the test.’”
While the law was not a mere Republican piece of legislation, as it was co-authorized by Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy and received bipartisan support, it led us to Common Core, curriculum developed by a panel of “education experts” which the feds are trying to implement as a national curriculum through what are essentially bribes to the states in the form of additional education funding if they place Common Core’s curriculum in their schools.
As with medicine, the Constitution gives the feds zero authority in these matters.
- Next, there’s the vast NSA spying program on American citizens, a program a federal judge even referred to as “almost Orwellian.”
That, too, started under Bush. Nor can we neglect the Patriot Act which, despite its name, was unpatriotic, unconstitutional, and paved the way for the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, a law that deprives Americans of rights held dear by freedom lovers in Western Civilization for centuries.
- And we can’t forget one of our favorite federal agencies to hate, the TSA.
The agency has been groping its way into the hearts of American fliers everywhere ever since its creation during Bush’s presidency, a mere two months after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. I trust none of you require any further explanation of what’s wrong with them. If you’ve flown a plane in the last fourteen years, you’ve experienced the horrors yourself.
TIME TO LET GO
Those who defend Bush need to accept that the perception they’ve been given of the man, either by his own press or that of his enemies, is a flawed and deceptive one. Although one might debate his intentions (it is hard to know what lurks in a man’s heart), his intent is irrelevant to the discussion at hand.
As a president, he did not adhere to the Constitution.
Instead, his actions are what made much of Obama’s worst constitutional violations possible. This, and not intent (or party affiliation), is what matters when determining a good president from a bad one. His defenders need to realize that by supporting his administration they are unwittingly undermining the very freedoms they erroneously believe he championed.
Because of this, it is impossible to defend both the Constitution and George W. Bush’s presidency.
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