Richard Cohen just can’t help it; he is, after all, a committed liberal and liberals are the most mean-spirited people I know, and I know lots of them.
But in my 17 and a half years as a resident of the Albuquerque area and reading Journal opinion columns, his piece, “Nothing keeps Bush up at night,” published on Wednesday in reference to President George W. Bush, has to rank near the top as the most mean-spirited and misleading of all.
To begin with, let’s try to put to rest once and for all the canard, repeated by Cohen and spread with great cynicism and glee by Democrats, most especially President Barack Obama, that “the U.S. economy … at the end of Bush’s presidency was the worst since the Great Depression.”
Cohen, a dedicated Obama acolyte, seems to have forgotten that Ronald Reagan inherited from Jimmy Carter an economy that featured inflation, unemployment and interest rates all well within double digits, not to mention lines at gasoline stations, “malaise,” sweaters and a boycotted Olympics. That was not nearly the case at the end of presidency of Bush 43.
In addition, Cohen might note that, unlike the current incumbent in the White House, Reagan did not waste years of precious time blaming his predecessor for his utter failure to re-invigorate the U.S. economy. He got down to work, and his policies resulted in one of the greatest and longest economic surges in U.S. history.
Like Reagan, Bush also did not blame President Bill Clinton for the recession that he inherited in 2000. And while Bush’s presidency did end in a recession, Cohen might remember that its chief cause was the twin banking and housing crises that were made all but inevitable by nearly four decades of government policies foisted upon the American people by liberal politicians, both Democrat and Republican.
Do the names “Fannie Mae” and “Freddie Mac” ring any bells for Cohen?
As for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we will have to wait for the judgment of history to learn whether U.S. involvement was ill-considered or not. Cohen has already decided.
Practically every U.S. president since the end of the 19th century has had to lead the U.S. in wars and all were rife with error and misjudgment; some were won, some not.
Cohen brings up, yet again, the issue of WMDs and whether Saddam Hussein had them. While no such weapons were found in Iraq, it should be remembered that Saddam had a record of using them against his own people and the Iranian Army, and that almost every Western government believed that he did indeed have them prior to the initiation of combat operations to remove him from power.
Maybe Cohen would spend his time more productively if he were to try to determine where those WMD came from and where they went.
Mr. Bush’s conduct of the Iraqi war left a lot to be desired but, after the surge, progress was made leading to the installation of what seemed liked a more democratic government in Baghdad. This progress was wasted by Obama when he negotiated a terrible Status of Forces Agreement with the new Iraqi government, an agreement which all but guaranteed that Iraq would fall into the orbit of Iran.
And while Obama consistently and vehemently opposed U.S. involvement before he became president, it should be noted that for all practical purposes he continued the Bush policies after becoming president.
Finally, Cohen’s derisive comments about Bush taking up painting as a hobby are beneath contempt. Maybe he would have a more positive attitude if Bush took up golf again, much like the current inhabitant of the White House, who, it should be noted, has yet to retire.