No Longer Leader of the Free World
Editor's Note: George W. Bush insists he's a great believer in democracy, at least the theoretical sort that he envisions in a Middle East pacified by Western power and willing to elect candidates favored by Washington. But he wasn't eager for all the votes to be counted in Florida in 2000, nor is he ready to change course because of the Democratic victory in 2006.
Bush seems to believe in a democracy as long as the people and their representatives bend to his will. In this guest essay, political analyst Brent Budowsky observes the tragedy of an American President who no longer is hailed as the "leader of the free world":
Had George Walker Bush begun his State of the Union speech with the words, "Ladies and Gentleman, I am taking my leave and retiring from the Presidency," there would have been tidal waves of standing ovations from the Congress across the United States to the far corners of the free world.
Instead, after a modest courtly bow to the first woman Speaker and the party that triumphed in the last election, the President continued his contempt for what Jefferson called the decent opinion of mankind.
Still, he escalates his war in Iraq, showing contempt for what the voters demanded in the election.
Still, he escalates his almost unbridled scorn and contempt for the very idea of diplomacy itself, refusing to negotiate, knowing only how to escalate.
Still, he shows his contempt for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the overwhelming majority of our commanders, ignoring and disrespecting their advice, forcing them to falsely applaud the words they privately so strongly disagree with.
Still, he shows his contempt for leaders and peoples throughout the free world who have publicly, privately, sadly, desperately and angrily pleaded with him to stop this disastrous policy he so obsessively escalates, again.
Still, he is the first American President since 1948 who has shown zero leadership and zero commitment to seeking a broader and truly comprehensive peace in the Middle East. The President in his speech on Jan. 23 had nothing to say about this.
Still, he falsely claims the unilateral powers to personally violate the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and laws of the land through secret actions and signing statements.
Still, he ridicules and demeans the Baker-Hamilton Commission through his actions and orders our troops into unwise missions that risk their lives on ventures our military leaders privately oppose.
Still, he stands isolated and out of touch with reality, virtually alone and disrespectful of good advice from every other quarter, incapable of any action except escalating the catastrophic mistakes that have caused catastrophic results.
His answer to 9/11 was to use 9/11 for partisan politics, to spread fear in the land to promote his unwise war.
Still, the President addresses the nation with false and sophmoric claims that lump together his disastrous war in Iraq with the war against terrorism he has neglected so dangerously, to pursue the Iraq War so disastrously.
Still, in the name of fighting terrorism, the President creates more terrorists. In the name of democracy, the President violates principles of democracy. In the name of what he calls the greatest ideological battle of our age, he remains the first American President in our history to justify what everyone throughout the free world calls torture.
Still, against enemies that murder children, that kill innocents in houses of worship, he is decimated in the battle of ideas, while the government we support decapitates prisoners in our custody, while cheering death squad supporters do primitive war whoops during executions done in the name of justice.
Beneath the bromides of bipartisanship and the cliches of consulting, the war continues with business as usual, the carnage and chaos spreads while the Presidents sends more battleships to the region.
This President demeans consultations with our allies through contempt for what they advice; demeans the concept of bipartisanship by deciding he will do what he wants no matter what Congress may say, no matter what advice its leaders may offer, no matter what laws they may pass, which he believes he is not obligated to faithfully execute.
Still, nothing has changed; it is business as usual for obsessive escalation of war.
Sadly, tragically, outrageously, the President of the United States is no longer the leader of the free world.
He is feared as much as our enemies.
He is hated and despised among growing numbers America's friends around the world, in ways that are extraordinary and unprecedented in the history of American Presidents.
He is creating a new generation of terrorists and performing a service to our enemies that he does not come close to understanding.
Let me propose one more time, the one action that our President should take to begin to set things right. He should name two former Presidents, Bill Clinton and George Herbert Walker Bush, on an extraordinary mission to seek peace in the Middle East, and between Iraq and her neighbors.
But this President won't do it, because peace is not his mission, diplomacy is not his mandate, leadership of the free world is not his concern.
This is why there will be celebrations and rejoicing from lovers of freedom and democracy everywhere, when this President finally takes his leave from office, and his successor begins the hard work of undoing the damage he has done to our country and our world.
Brent Budowsky was an aide to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen on intelligence issues, and served as Legislative Director to Rep. Bill Alexander when he was Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Leadership. Budowsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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