Offering a preview of what he’ll be spending the rest of his career doing, Karl Rove appeared before an audience last night to “argue that his former boss is not the worst president of the past 50 years.”
He appeared at a formal debate on New York City’s notoriously liberal Upper West Side as the most famous, and infamous, member of a four-member panel there to hash out the outgoing president’s legacy.
“I’m going to make an appeal to the open-minded people of the Upper West Side,” Mr. Rove said during his opening statement to the sold-out theater of 700.
As if to underline the fact that the debate was all just a bit of light entertainment, joining Rove on the pro-Bush squad was Bill Kristol, one of the very few people in the country whose lack of credibility approaches Rove’s.
The most heated moments came during the debate over Mr. Bush’s biggest decision — the 2003 invasion of Iraq. [...]
Even Mr. Kristol said that Mr. Bush has done “a horrible job of explaining what he’s done and what the choices were.”
But he and Mr. Rove both maintained that while the initial occupation was mismanaged, the surge of troops begun in 2007 has placed the U.S. on the cusp of victory in Iraq.
“We’ve won the war,” Mr. Kristol said.
I suppose if one redefines “won” as “completely failed to produce any of the positive effects I previously insisted would be forthcoming, but avoided the very worst imaginable outcome,” then Kristol’s is a plausible statement. Here in the world of words with agreed-upon meanings, however, there is simply no defensible calculus by which the Iraq war can be judged to have been a success for U.S. foreign policy.
No matter how often and hard Bush’s supporters try argue that Bush was a good president who has been misunderstood and mistreated, the facts conspire to show that, no, he’s actually a very, very bad president. Case in point, the Boston Globe reports that, anticipating the report of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, President-elect Obama “plans to appoint a new White House official to coordinate efforts to prevent terrorists from obtaining nuclear or biological weapons.”
Naming a top deputy whose sole mission is to oversee the government’s wide-ranging efforts to ensure such an attack never happens would mark a significant break with the Bush administration, which in resisting such a post has maintained that US efforts to reduce nuclear stockpiles and safeguard deadly pathogens are adequate.
A law requiring the position, passed by Congress more than a year ago and signed into law by President Bush, has been ignored for more than 15 months, in part because Bush opposes giving the Senate the power to confirm the official.
I don’t think we could ask for a clearer illustration of the Bush administration’s perverse priorities and basic governing incompetence. When making specious arguments in favor of a stupid war, Bush and his cronies couldn’t talk enough about the threat of nuclear and biological weapons. But when it comes to taking real, practical steps toward protecting Americans from WMD proliferation, Bush considers that less important than protecting the prerogatives of the executive branch against congressional trespass.