Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Real Appeasers: Bush and Company

George W. Bush went to a foreign land to launch a political attack against the Democrats. Any number of news sources have broken the story. Here's Think Progress commenting on a CNN story:
While delivering an address before the Israeli parliament commemorating the 60th anniversary of Israel, President Bush said that Sen. Barack Obama and Democrats favor a policy of appeasement toward terrorists. CNN reports that Bush was comparing Obama to “other U.S. leaders back in the run-up to World War II who appeased the Nazis.”

In his speech, Bush said, “As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

The guy who called himself a uniter, not a divider, has broken every bipartisan rule of the last seventy years. The Decider in Chief has led us into a war we did not need in Iraq and failed to prosecute effectively the war in Afghanistan. He is now itching to start a third war to cover up his incompetence. It's too bad there isn't someone at the White House who puts up a new mirror every time a president tries to blame someone else for his blunders; by now the White House would have a thousand images of Bush pointing back at himself. Personally, given his behavior in recent days, I don't think Bush cares anymore. His arrogant and useless behavior will continue until January. The American people should have impeached Bush four years and ten months ago when it not only became obvious that there were no WMDs in Iraq but when it became obvious that the White House had deliberately lied about the evidence. Republicans in Congress failed to apply the US Constitution to a law-breaking president. Sorry, but I would call that appeasement.

Here's the Merriam-Webster definition of 'appease' that applies here: "pacify, conciliate: esp : to buy off (an aggressor) by concessions usu. at the sacrifice of principles." The Republican leaders of Congress in the last eight years have had no principles. If Bush wanted something, no matter how wrong it was, torture, multiple wars, privatization contracts for cronies, the Republicans appeased him.

But the reality gets even worse. In America, there are good responsible businesses and there are bad businesses that are not only greedy but bad for America's democracy and America's long term interests. Bush and his Republican friends in Congress have appeased the worst of American business. I'm talking about guys who could care less about their workers, their customers or their neighbors. Bush and Cheney have both appeased the most anti-social corporations in America: the Enrons, the Halliburtons, the Blackwaters and so on.

The way I see it appeasement is turning your back on the most urgent problems of our era. Those two oil guys, Bush and Cheney, have turned their backs on doing anything about the energy problem. We've known for thirty years that we have a problem. We've known for the last ten years that the problem is getting worse. And Bush and Cheney are too busy appeasing the oil and coal companies to think about tomorrow. Appeasement is about procrastination. It is about putting off until tomorrow what you know has to be done today.

When it comes to global warming, Bush finally admits there's a problem, after seven long years. And his solution? More studies, vague goals, more procrastination. More appeasement of the worst of American business. Time is running out and Bush will end up wasting eight years.

Some may say appeasement is only about foreign policy threats. In other words, don't give in to foreign aggression. But Bush ran away from his foreign policy obligation to pursue Osama bin Laden and instead pursued a personal obsession about Iraq (McCain isn't far behind. He still obsesses about Vietnam). Seven years later, Osama bin Laden is still free. The sad truth is that appeasement is more often a Republican buzz word to cover up incompetence, corruption and flawed policies.

The reality is that Bush has done enormous harm to our national interests. He has alienated our allies and created new enemies. He has refused to talk when diplomacy could have had real value. During the Cold War, diplomacy saved this country from all-out nuclear war with the Soviet Union. And the Soviet Union eventually fell. But the president has done harm in other areas. Above all else, Bush has damaged our economy, making it more difficult to pursue any number of policies. Bush has even outsourced a certain percentage of our national defense requirements to companies in foreign countries. Outsourcing undermines American jobs and American know-how and in a time of crisis it could jeopardize our national defense. Heavy dependence on foreign oil and a lack of a sound energy policy also puts our nation at risk.

Bush's failed presidency and leadership have much to do with perpetuating the worst of American business because—it can't be said often enough—the worst players around are willing to pay for political favors. We used to call it bribery and corruption. The leaders of the Republican Party now call it 'free speech' and 'campaign contributions' even as they exploit every loophole in the law and then more.

Here's a little dose of reality: if elected, John McCain will not be as bad as George W. Bush. He will give us less nonsense. His wars might be more competently fought. His social policies might not be as draconian. His tax policies will not be as ruinous. He may slow down the outsourcing of jobs overseas a touch. And his fantasies will not be as onerous. But our country does not need a little less of George W. Bush. We need a clean break. And we need to put behind us the hysterical claims of right wing Republican politicians in Congress. Look, there's nothing wrong with a little flag waving—we do it every Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Veterans Day. But what is it with right wing politicians and their flag pins while their business friends show what they think of patriotism by overcharging the Pentagon, making shoddy products and putting their obscene profits in offshore accounts? I think most Americans are getting tired of the disconnect.

We need a Washington that belongs to all the people again and not just the loud and the few. The next president is going to have to pay as much attention to Appalachia as New Orleans, as much attention to children as seniors, as much attention to small towns as big cities, as much attention to small businesses as major corporations. Those companies that create the most quality jobs in America should get lots of attention. We're at a point where big business needs to rejoin America and turn its back on the most anti-social elements of the business community.

George W. Bush will go down as the most failed president in American history. He has turned his back repeatedly on opportunities to reform his behavior. I don't know who John McCain really is. Suffice to say that John McCain has three positions for every issue, loves his lobbyists and loves telling TV pundits what they want to hear before going off and doing something else. Americans need much more than that. Hillary Clinton, for one, would make a fine president. But I believe Barack Obama would be a better one. He's a pragmatist, and like John Edwards, he understands the times. Like many of us, he sees what's coming and knows that if we are to have a future, we need to move on.

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