Ever since I started Muttroxia, I’ve been wanting to do a post about the things I like about the Bush administration. I suppose it was part of an effort to seem non-partisan, or objective or something like that. Problem was, every time I sat down to write, I couldn’t come up with much. It was going to be a top 10, but I ended up with only four. And since one of them (#4) was a unanimous decision by 300 million Americans, it’s not really all that amazing. And they all have asterisks. Oh well, when you’re grading Worst President Ever, there’s not a lot to work with.
The things I like fall under two broad themes.
Economics: These folks believe in the power of the free market. To a large degree, so do I. They often put it places it doesn’t belong (Social Security, Health Savings Accounts), but sometimes it goes somewhere I like.
1) No Child Left Behind – Without accountability, it is foolish to hope for change. Hoping for A while rewarding for B does not work. Bush deserves credit for bring market forces to bear in the educational system, and installing a system where performance is rewarded. There are major major problems with the implementation and details (not enough money, testing standards that don’t take gifted or special needs students into account, no real option for students or schools that just failed) — but the idea has merit, and to some degree, this is the pain that is needed to get to a better place in the future.
2) Market-based trading of pollution emissions – Again, there is plenty of room to argue about how exactly this program was implemented. Nevertheless, bringing market forces into the area of environmental pollution is a great idea. As far as I know, it has been proven over and over to produce the best results the quickest, and do it in a way consonant with both democracy and capitalism.
Black and White foreign policy: These folks believe in good and evil. They believe that some societies are just bad, and deserve to be treated like dirt. They should not be negotiated with, they should not be given the same status as mature democracies, etc. Many times, this leads to huge foreign policy mistakes (Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, etc.), but if I happen to agree with the judgement, it’s refreshing not to have the President pretending that these societies are every bit as good as everyone else, just different. That’s simply not true, and we all know it.
3) Calling out the Palestinians – There’s never been a shadow of a doubt that the Arab world is the bad guy in the Arab/Israeli conflict. No one with an ounce of perspective can claim otherwise. The line from Yasir Arafat, who invented modern terrorism, to Osama Bin Laden is self-evident. To his credit, Bush did not treat Arafat like a hero or diplomat or peace monger. His stance was very clear, that until Palestine cleaned up it’s act, there’s nothing to talk about. Despite the recent triumph of Hamas at the polls, there have been any number of positive developments since he took this stance.
4) Taking out the Taliban – Yes, he let Osama get away. Yes, he invented a war in Iraq, and let Al Queda flourish. But at least for a couple months, he did what any sane person would have done. Al Queda, through the Taliban, ran Afghanistan. We took ’em out. They were evil, and we dumped them. Too bad we didn’t follow through, but at least the start was right.