I hardly ever write about politics, because I find it inane, annoying, and, too often, depressing. But I've been watching with interest Bush's poll numbers sinking, then rising a little, then sinking some more, and I've started to think more than I like to about what it all means.
Assuming, of course, that it actually means something and isn't merely meaningless.
Do you think that Bush's low approval ratings are a reflection that most people wish that he were not in office -- that he had lost in 2000 or 2004? I do not think so. I wonder how I would answer a pollster, should I ever be contacted by one. I can only imagine the kinds of questions they ask, but my tendency to agree or disagree with the executive actions of this President (for whom I voted twice -- yikes!) varies so widely, and has many shadings.
If I were asked if I agree with Bush's handling of Iraq, I would probably answer, "No." I never was in favor of invading Iraq. I believe that revolutionary changes in the structure of a country's government should be organic in nature, not from the outside in. So, was Saddam Hussein a giant, evil bastard-man? Of course. Does anyone deserve to live under such tyranny? On one hand, no -- no one, especially a nation's children, deserves that sort of oppression. But, on the other, people must fight for their own freedom -- not have it foisted upon them from a distant country with whom they have no natural ties. In terms of ethnicity, religion, culture, etc., it is difficult to find two nations more dissimilar than the U.S. and Iraq.
But, do I think that the whole Iraq War was some sort of evil collusion between the Bush Administration and profiteering corporations, begun only to enrich a few at the cost of precious human lives and unimaginable human suffering? No. I do believe that George W. Bush is sincere when he says that the endeavor to bring democracy to (read: force democracy onto) the people of Iraq is, in his view, a worthy humanitarian enterprise to spread "God's gift of freedom" to the world. I just think that he is sincerely wrong. No, he is not wrong that human liberty is a gift from the Creator, but, until a nation of peoples recognizes that and comes to understand the true nature of the Father, it is futile to drive home that idea at the point of a gun.
Implicit in a question from a poll taker regarding the President's handling of Iraq is the question: Do you wish that it were Al Gore or John Kerry in office handling this quagmire instead? To which I would answer, "Aieee! No!" I am by no means convinced that, had Al Gore been president instead of GWB, we would have stayed out of Iraq. I am absolutely certain that, had John Kerry been in office, we would have no better exit strategy than we now possess. Plus, we would have had all the other yucky stuff that a presidency from either of those two would have brought.
What might be another question from a pollster? Maybe something about Bush's Social Security plan? Well, I think that Bush's proposal to allow personal, private, "opt-out" accounts was both timely and necessary. Social Security is going to bankrupt, if not my generation, then my daughter's. The program needs to be addressed and solved (preferrably dissolved), but Bush met with a Congress whose heads are determined to be beneath the sand on this one. So, I guess I disapprove of his Social Security proposal only in as much as it did nothing. Good intentions pave the road to you-know-where, and I'm rather disheartened that he seems to have dropped it as a pressure point.
How about Bush's stand on education? Well, I think that there should be no Federal Government involvement in education, including on the university level (excepting, of course, veterans, to whom I think everything should be given, bless their hearts), but especially in K-12 education. Of course, I'm a radical on this topic, as I think that public education should be dismantled on all levels of government sponsorship, post haste. But, "No Child Left Behind" is particularly heinous, since it intrudes the Federal Government's nose into local control of education, its putrid odor of uselessness perfumed with the sickly stench of doing something. I do not know about you, but I really hate it most of the time when the gov'ment thinks it needs to do something. So, he'd get a check in the "No" box from me on that one.
What about Bush's picks for the Supreme Court? Ah, now there is a topic on which I can give the Prez my full approbation. In fact, that is the one "voter issue" that really won him my vote, twice. I mean, tax cuts are very nice, and they have helped our single-income family very well, but, when the world falls away, it is the matters of life and death, of holiness and vileness, that will have counted most. And America is on the fast-track to abomination for its disgusting allowance of prenatal infanticide. So, yes, I want the Supreme Court revolutionized, and that never would have happened with Gore or Kerry, so it was important to elect a pro-life president who would in turn nominate Constitutional constructionists to the highest court in the land. He seems to be doing very well on that point, so, yay GW!
What would I say on Bush's handling of the threat of terrorism in general? Well, I'm very tense about such things as eavesdropping on citizens' conversations and even parts of the Patriot Act. They just smell bad to the libertarian within. On the other hand, I think that we need to be vigilant in finding terrorist enemies at home and abroad, and I think that GWB is doing the best he can. I guess that gets back to my conviction that he is a sincere man in the most difficult job. I do not see him as evil, though some of the actions of his administration have been morally questionable. So I wonder, would I give a pollster a "No" on that, or a "Yes"? I might have to go with a "No," even though I would wish to further clarify my position. Of course, a pollster does not have room for shadings and qualifications.
What about GWB's stance on health care? Well, the prescription drug benefit added to Medicare was annoying, but the gray-haired mafia has a stranglehold on the politicos. I really liked what Bush was declaring about health care recently. He was stating that what we need is less third-party payment in health care, not more. He averred, correctly in my view, that third-party payment takes away individual initiative to take control of one's health, and it has essentially eliminated competition. I am so impressed that the President would take such a controversial and reasoned stance, one that the majority of Americans does not want to hear. That news story was dropped pretty quickly, probably because the President was making too much sense. His ideas on the healthcare savings accounts are wonderful. Our family has one through Jason's work, and it has been a boon to us. The drawback is that, currently, you have to decide before the next year how much money you would like to put aside in your savings account. If you do not use all the money you've put aside, you lose it at the end of the year. This is completely lame. It works if you know (as we did) that you're having a baby in the next year. But it fails to consider that often the most burdensome of medical bills comes unexpectedly. You cannot really ask yourself at the beginning of the year, "Hmmm ... Am I going to get hit by a truck this year?" Bush has proposed amending the healthcare savings accounts to roll over every year, kind of like your 401(k) account, allowing you to acculmulate money tax-free for medical expenses both foreseen and unforeseen. This makes a lot of sense, and it could greatly help alleviate the Medicare burden in the future, as the geriatric generation could use up their own money before digging into the productive younger generation's pockets. So, I think, overall, he'd get a "Yes" from me on his healthcare ideas. Though, again, it's great to dream big, but he needs the persuasive powers to convince Congress to adopt these proposals.
Plus, he has never vetoed anything. Anything! He needs to look up and read a biography of Grover Cleveland -- here's one I can recommend -- and exercise that beautiful, little executive power -- just on principle, for crying out loud.
So, would the President of the United States, George Walker Bush, get an overall thumbs-up or thumbs-down from this private citizen? I think that I would regretfully have to give him a very close thumbs-down. Gosh, I wouldn't want his job for anything in the world (except to use the bully pulpit to harangue Congress -- I love the idea of a bully pulpit!). What tough decisions he is faced with! But, I think that the war in Iraq was such a misstep, such a grievous idea, so poorly executed, costing so much in economic terms, let alone the human terms that can never be measured, that it is overshadowing a presidency that I might otherwise find rather benign, or even positive. I just expected more from a Christian, which I think has been the stumbling block often of GWB's Administration. I cannot see a disciple of Christ's going to war for any but the most dire of reasons. And, the world that lives to mock the Son of God and those who try to live in the Way, finds endless glee in a perceived hypocrisy of a professing Christian's initiating war. And, to tell truth, they are essentially correct. We are called to be the peacemakers, and the Iraq War is far from an example of making peace. But, am I glad that he is there, rather than the schmucks he ran against? Yes, yes I am.
Of course, I would rather have had someone else altogether run for and win the presidency (like Walter Williams -- now that would get my heart a-thumpin' -- and not just because he is so good looking!). We just do not get the best of men running for that job anymore. It is embarassing that this country, of which I am so proud and grateful to be a citizen, cannot put forth better candidates. It seems like it is always a choice between Tweedlebad and Tweedleworse, where each candidate has particular parts of the Constitution that he likes, but neither really cares too much for the whole. And that is a shame.