Bush 43: Lack of knowledge caused failures

Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a large national healthcare firm, has worked extensively with hospitals across the nation regarding cost containment and insurance. He was also the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia.

I respected Bush 41, a traditional Republican who believed in balanced budgets. In the wake of his passing, a major Southern newspaper published my column on Bush Senior. In it, I made a number of negative comments about Junior and Iraq.
The fact is that Bush 43 had one of the character flaws that is now sinking Trump. He went into situations knowing little about the details and, therefore, failed miserably (for example, his ill-conceived invasion of Iraq).
Korea has been a disaster for President Trump, a narcissist with a track record of alternately bullying or charming people into doing what he wants, lying as much as needs to along the way. Although he knows virtually nothing about foreign policy, and refuses to learn per many reports, Trump thought he could pull off the same NYC developer bravado with Kim, but he lost. Kim got international recognition while continuing to build nuclear bombs; we got nothing.
As opposed to the current occupant of the White House, who the public views as a disaster (per various polls), W had both successes and failures.
W’s greatest asset was his likability. As is often said, he was the kind of Texas good old boy that you would like to have a beer with and talk about football.
Immediately after 9-11, his positive leadership qualities came out. His actions and words of consolation in the months afterwards gave a shocked nation hope. He was also wise enough not to say that America was at war with all of Islam. A declaration of war against all Muslims was exactly what the terrorists wanted.
Under W, Congress passed TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program). The market crash was very bad, but there is little doubt that it would have been much worse had Bush 43 not pushed it through a reticent Congress.
As opposed to his father, W fought to contain the AIDS epidemic. Once again, he convinced Congress to act and by doing so saved countless lives in numerous nations.
Like many Americans, my wife and I are on Medicare, including Part D (prescription drugs), which was proposed by W. Despite its budgetary cost and its quirks, it is a vital and popular program.
Because there were Mexican-Americans in his family, W had a much deeper understanding of the immigration issue than other Republicans. Although the right wing of the GOP scuttled his immigration proposal, this nation would have been infinitely better off if it had gotten through Congress.
Unfortunately, W’s successes were outweighed by his failures. W did not understand the Middle East and that mistake, still affecting us today, was very costly in lives and treasure. He pushed his intelligence agencies to confirm his preconceived notions, which they unfortunately did, providing incorrect information that Iraq was acquiring uranium.
W had unrealistic expectations from the start due to his lack of knowledge in foreign affairs, similar to Trump. Based on poor advice from his Vice President, “Chicken Hawk” Chaney, W believed that we would be greeted as selfless heroes and that Iraq would quickly, magically transform into a model democracy (analogous to Trump believing North Korea would denuclearize). W failed to understand how the war would proceed, indicating “Mission Accomplished” on May 1, 2003 when it was obviously far from over.
Per the Watson Institute/Brown University (3-18): “Over 480,000 have died (in Iraq-Afghanistan) due to direct war violence, and several times as many indirectly,” with about half coming in Iraq. Of that number, over 8,000 were US military and contractors.
Brown also indicated that the direct cost of “the post-9/11 wars will total more than $5.6 trillion.” Plus, since the wars were (and still are) financed via domestic and foreign debt, the interest cost will be another $8 trillion. About half of the total is directly due to Iraq.
Partly due to the war, W moved the nation from a balanced budget to tremendous debt, a trend that continues to this day under supposedly conservative Trump. Somehow, the GOP went from the traditional party of fiscal responsibility to the “cut taxes and spend” party, losing its soul in the process.
Further, the greatest stock market crash since 1929 happened on W’s watch, something conveniently ignored by right wingers when they talk about Obama creating debt to pull us out of the Great Recession. W’s fiscal policies (i.e. housing) clearly contributed to bringing us close to having another Great Depression.
In summary, W accomplished some positive things and had strong values. He should be admired for them. However, history will no doubt come down on him for his role in Iraq and the market crash.
As opposed to what many believe (due to current day hyper-partisanship), all Presidents have pros and cons. Good people can, and often do, make horrible, inexcusable mistakes.
However, not all Presidents are good. Some have more cons than others, as we continue to learn every day with our current President.

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