Wednesday, January 30, 2008


The Bush Administration can best be described as opportunities lost. With the jackals nipping at his heels in these final months of his presidency, George Bush had the opportunity to raise the bar in the upcoming election, but failed to do so. As both Democratic and Republican candidates search for the magic button that will whisk them into the White House next fall, the President had a major opportunity to set the agenda for national debate. Like the fickle weather of month of March, he came into his presidency like a lion, but is going out like a lamb.

The President’s last State of the Union Address could have set the tone for national dialogue and might have even saved some semblance of a positive legacy. Instead, we simply got more of the same rhetoric that has fallen on deaf American ears. Lame duck office holders frequently have major opportunities to strike a tone that would move election debates into more positive territories. Instead, they usually end up with an attitude reminiscent of managers who throw in the towel as their fighters appear on the verge of defeat.

The President focused his speech on war, terrorism and recession. On all three fronts, the U.S has been fighting losing battles. A war that could have brought positive change to the Middle East has been disastrous due to lack of vision and gross mismanagement. If the President had just listened to the voices of our brave troops and of the people in Iraq, we might have been on the verge of peace, rather than catastrophe. If the President had listened to the cries of the people rather than the demands of mega corporations, terrorism might have been a mere footnote in the history books. If the President had listened to the opinions of more advanced thinking economists and environmentalists rather than the dinosaurs of corporate thinkers, perhaps we would now be buying alternative energy products and boosting our lagging economy. Perhaps that will be President Bush’s greatest legacy; he failed to listen to new voices.

President Bush represents all that is wrong about corporate economies that are more concerned with profit than creating a sustainable market system based upon sound economic, social and environmental principles. Bush represents the end of an era, perhaps even the end of an age. Think what would have happened if the President placed a real challenge before those seeking to stroll the rose garden.

Is it possible that the President could have actually molded the presidential race in his own image? Having failed in so many areas, he could have actually shaped both domestic and foreign policy for the next decade. Rather than try to merely justify what he has done, he could have proposed a set of sweeping policy and legislative proposals that would have to be addressed by political candidates. He could have proposed sweeping changes in environmental policy; challenged the scientific and technological communities to develop solutions to global warming; proposed sweeping health care reform; put forth a major revamp of our failing educational system; postulated real dialogue about immigration concerns; overhaul our foreign policy; taken a major stand on issues like Darfur, the Middle East, and China. So many opportunities were possible, but so many opportunities were lost.

In retrospect, President Bush did do the nation a great service. He showed us what was wrong with America. He showed us that when the people sleep, the government awakens. He showed us all that was wrong when you abandon your friends and allies in order to pursue a self-serving agenda. He showed us, once again, how our apathy leads to humanitarian tragedy. He showed us that the pursuit of wealth with disregard for the environment that provides that wealth is global suicide. He showed us that if we do not pay attention and become “comfortably numb,” we lose our freedoms and possibly the very planet that sustains and nourishes us. He showed us that corporate greed begets economic disaster and even threatens our very lives when we put profit over safety. He showed us that walls not only keep others out, they also keep us in.

Even though he garnered my vote in his first term, I will not miss President Bush. He has brought us to the brink of economic, environmental, social and foreign policy disaster. Perhaps it is a positive thing that he will leave as a lamb. But one thing is certain, the U.S. needs the return of a lion next fall; one that will see all that was done wrong, and take immediate steps to correct the errors of the past eight years.

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