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Competence, please

December 02, 2007|By ROBERT GARY

How should the Bush presidency be understood overall? I would say President Destructo-Quicko is about right. To be fair, he never destroyed the copper wiring in the White House, nor did he break the pipes, and he did not dig up the lawn - those who say that he did these things are, in my view, operating from strictly partisan motives. All he destroyed was the country, his party and the office of the presidency.

No president is ever really going to be trusted again. The country has a ruined currency mostly as a result of spending $2 trillion on a war in Iraq that at its very best could be called a frivolous folly. Don Quixote de la Mancha would be considered a steely-eyed realist if compared to George W. Bush, the ultimate charger of windmills.

The war was originally touted as a self-financing venture because the costs would be paid for by Iraq oil. So where's the oil? The first big lie told by President Bush was the uranium in Niger story. That got us into the war.

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Then there was the story about the oil paying for the costs of reconstruction and pacification. That cost us our currency, which is now trading at a 26-year low against the pound sterling. The price of oil is not high because there's less supply or greater demand. The price of oil is high because the dollar is weakening against world currencies, gold, and other commodities.

Foreign central bankers feel that the U.S. may soon have to monetize its fiscal problem - i.e. print paper money to pay for entitlements and social services and debt interest. Governments rarely ruin their currency on purpose - it happens when they are cornered by their own poor policy choices and outright lies. The lies, like the vanishing Iraqi oil, just seep back into the sandy desert of broken promises and tumbling tumbleweed. Meanwhile, we are stuck with the bill.

The GOP is in shambles because there's been plenty of leadership, but all of it in the wrong direction. The man wanted an Office of Faith-Based Programs in the White House. He wanted to kill or almost kill stem cell research. He wanted a bunch of wars that had no visible endgame that made any sense. He wanted an immigration policy that would have legalized 12 million undocumented persons who are within our borders because they were able to hide in a truck or walk across a boundary line.

How could we let this happen? Why was Bush re-elected? The problem in America is not that we don't get what we deserve - it's that we do! The country will take 50 years to heal from the destructo-quicko presidency of George W. Bush. It will require re-building the middle class - giving them a stake in what government does - real programs with real benefits focused on the middle class. Republicans are part of the problem because they want to do their own thing instead of wanting to do the right thing. Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and George Bush have trained the GOP to just go after their own thing and let the chips fall where they may. The bully-boy approach worked for them for eight years and they see no reason to change. But the country does.

What we need is a lot of good, high-paying jobs - which means some sort of Department for American Industry, sort of like MITI in Japan. We need to re-capture manufacturing jobs, not just a few - a whole bunch. This requires a concerted effort, not toward globalism, cosmopolitanism, free-trade purism, one-worldism, or multinationalism, but rather toward putting the interests of the American middle class first and foremost in everything we do, in foreign policy and international trade.

It is OK for American politicians to serve the interests of Americans first. This is something that we just don't seem to get. Milton Freidman, and later Alan Green-span, have taught us to be a nation of free-trade purists who will sacrifice our own well-being for an abstract, pie-in-the-sky academic idea that does not work and that is clearly way past its sell-by date.

After the elephants have their parade, someone has to clean up in their path. The GOP's best hope is that Hillary will wear herself out trying to get America back on its feet, and then, in 2012, the GOP will come back tanned, rested and ready to rock and roll. Little do they realize that government, in the right hands, can create real benefits for working Americans - not the poorest of the poor, not the richest of the rich, just the rest of us. Hillary promises to be competent. That would be a breath of fresh air in the White House.

Robert Gary is a Hagerstown resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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