Whatver happened to Dubya?

Looking back at an old article on Salon, I came across this gem:

“The big elephant sitting in the corner is that George W. Bush is simply unqualified for the job. He’s probably the least qualified person ever to be nominated by a major party … What is his accomplishment? That he’s no longer an obnoxious drunk?”

— President Reagan’s son Ron on President Bush’s son W, in the Washington Post.

Some would argue that Bush has proven this statement false (at 90% approval rating, apparently most people think he’s qualified). But I still don’t feel he’s doing anything particularly well. This axis of evil thing? Seems a little simplistic and short-sighted. This ‘you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists’, as black and white as anything, leaves no wiggle room and splits the world once again in two camps.

I once wrote in a college paper that American’s foreign policy throughout history could defined for the search for ‘The Enemy’, a single, identifiable force (country, ideology, action, group, etc) that the U.S. could rally behind. Britain, Spain, Europe, Germany, Communism, Terrorism, etc. Notably, these things are something to rail against, rather than to rail for – historically, US foreign policy is preventative/destructive rather than constructive. Even when speaking of what they want to do (sew democracy, etc), it is always combined with destroying something. It never appears particularly goodwilled.

In the 90’s, which has been called ‘a ten-year repreive from history’ by some (I think Kaplan coined it?), struck me as a newly complicated world, where no longer the US could galvanise itself and its allies against a common purpose. Instead, Europe continued vast strides towards a common purpose. The US simply floundered. Corporatism exploded like it never has before, government seemed more and more irrelevant as it was unable to have cohesive policy to just about anything. There were half-hearted attempts to find a common enemy (Iraq, N. Korea, etc), but nothing really stuck. Suddenly, and laughably, the US has a new target to rally together against. Sadly, the world seems to be being dragged into it.

Things that would seem to really help prevent terrorism (say, banning the sale of arms to all non-governmental groups, destroying biological warefare, promoting equality, etc), grey-area ideas, are not at all to be found. Militaristic, black-and-white ideas abound: increase military spending, increasing judicial and police powers, give freer reign to big industry, etc are everywhere right now.

I miss Dubya. While I was horrified he was president, I preferred him by far to President George W. Bush.