Wednesday, June 15, 2005

reasons to like Bush

1. Immigration policy
2. No Child Left Behind
3. Good relationship with Russia (may fall off the list if Putin keeps up his current shenanigans)
4. More minorities in the cabinet than anyone before

There may be more ... Here's a scary thought: is Bush as much of a moderate as Clinton was? I'm thinking about welfare reform, strong support for the death penalty, PR-based church attendance, bombing Iraq and Sudan, NAFTA (NAFTA was much more ambitious than CAFTA)--all the things Clinton did to win over the center that people on the left generally took in stride, knowing he had their best interests at heart. But did he?
Why do both sides seem so much angrier now? My theory: 9/11 polarized the country, for reasons I'm not entirely sure of. Any thoughts? (ha! I write this as if it will actually be read ...)

Update: Kevin Drum analyzes why Clinton was a moderate with broad appeal and yet so despised by a sector of the population--his answer: the wingnuts. The more the wingnuts hated on Clinton, the more popular he became. That is one piece of the puzzle that is the wingnuts' general disconnect from reality.

Publius follows up with his take on the culture wars meme. "He was hated not so much for his personal characteristics or his policies, but because of what he was perceived to represent," namely, the Sixties.


girlfriend said...

One thing is certain--the country is far more polarized these days than it was when Clinton was in office. But why? 9/11 may be partially to blame, but so might the worse economic state, the Iraq war, inflation, our soured relationships with the international community, and a host of other things. one idea might be the historian's theory of war--basically, that wartime is a sort of pressure cooker, bringing a lot of extremities within a society to the surface. This war on terror, as diffuse as it is, is still a war; top that with the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and you have a society which is stretching itself beyond its means in a host of ways (which is what happens in wars) thus exacerbating issues that might be abated if we were taking better care of ourselves. It's like a worn out body being more prone to infection than a healthy one.
But as far as Bush being as much of a moderate, if not more, than Clinton--what do you mean by moderate? In a lot of ways, I think both Bush and Clinton have thrown those traditional designations out the window, and they don't do much good anyway. So what if Clinton went to Kosovo and Bush raised the funding for the NEA? Politics is not only policies, but the climate and tone that a certain leadership takes. As much as I disagree with Bush, I'd find him a lot easier to live with if he didn't seem so secretive and holier-than-thou in his decision-making. A good deal of Clinton's appeal was his charm and his late-night-college-cram leadership style.

Yave said...

You made some good points. I like your weakened body analogy. Also, I didn't really flesh out what I was thinking; I was more just trying to spark a dialogue. But the things you cite--"the worse economic state, the Iraq war, inflation, our soured relationships with the international community"--I would say are all directly or indirectly a result of 9/11 or a result of our national response to 9/11. Would I rather have had Clinton at the helm after 9/11 than Bush? Undoubtedly. But my point is that 9/11 brought out into sharp relief trends that were already there--principally the culture wars. People on both sides of the spectrum felt there was more at stake, and fought harder for what they believed, thereby further alienating their ideological opponents. I don't know how different this would be under Clinton, although his charisma and talent for compromise might have made a difference. But don't forget how much conservatives hated Clinton. To many of the people in power now and the voters who put them there, Clinton was the antiChrist.