Thursday, June 12, 2003

What Bush has done right

Via Matthew Yglesias, I see that Paul Muller at Heretical Ideas has a challenge for liberals:
So here's my challenge -- if you are a proprietor of a Democratic blog, and primarily post on how the GOP is the great evil, comment to me on one thing that the GOP has done that's good. And, if you are feeling adventurous, post something on your actual site that does the same thing. Maybe a local Congressman or Senator has done something good for the area you live in. Perhaps a bill has been supported that you agree with. Maybe you actually *gasp* like the policy someone has. Whatever it is, let's hear it.

Yglesias generally declines to join in, but I will say that one of the Bush administration's achievements is very well worth pointing out:

It has very successfully kept in check the elements within the right who would make the war on terror into a war with Islam, and who are inclined to vent their rage on anyone of Arab descent.

The Bush team has been quick to put out any fires that have cropped up in this regard. In the wake of Sept. 11, it has squelched anti-Muslim rhetoric from the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and its Justice Department in fact has vigorously pursued hate crimes against people perceived to be Muslim or Arab. (Of course, Republicans in Congress continue to hold up hate-crimes legislation in the Senate that might bolster this effort, but that's another story.)

Thus, even though it has created, through the establishment of military tribunals and "enemy combatant" status, the machinery that might effect another mass internment of an ethnic population similar to the Nikkei internment of World War II, it has so far successfully resisted the kind of hysteria and scapegoating that could make such a nightmare reoccur.

I think the administration deserves a great deal of credit for this. It may have perfectly pragmatic purposes in doing so -- after all, conflating the War on Terror into a War on Islam would be disastrous militarily, especially when you consider the tenuous position of people like Pakistan's General Musharraf; besides, the Republicans have made a point of courting Arab-American votes over the past decade, and a number of prominent Arab-Americans in fact are working for this administration -- but it has clearly done the right thing, and so far done it well.

I don't have any compunction about pointing this up because (a) I think credit is due where it's earned and (b) I think it's an important position for the adminstration to take, and I'm very glad they're taking it.

Moreover, it is perhaps the lone genuine achievement by this administration in an otherwise barren wasteland of political and national disaster. There are very few other things the Bush people have done right. The remainder is a litany of incompetence, arrogance, bullying, cowardice, mendacity, and ruthlessness. This ranges from the theft of the 2000 election to the asleep-at-the-wheel routine that brought us Sept. 11, from the wholesale class warfare it has opened on the working class and poor (concomitant with the open looting of the national weal by the rich) to the clearly false pretenses under which it convinced the nation to wage war upon another sovereign nation that had not attacked us.

My dismay with the Bush administration is not based on my admitted personal dislike of both the man and his team. Had this administration shown even an ounce of competence beyond that which I've mentioned, I would be more than willing to acknowledge it. I might not be happy about it, but I value competence above politics when it comes to public servants.

Instead, we've been facing one national disaster after another with this man at the helm. He is himself a disaster unparalleled in the annals of the presidency. He must go.

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