But even in crisis, President Bush showed visionary leadership. Conservatives cringe when they think about “too big to fail” and the TARP bailout. Unwilling to look below the mediated surface of Bush Derangement Syndrome, conservatives believe the move in the fall of 2008 was reckless and corporate cronyism at its worst.
In reality, the action demonstrated prudence that could teach us many lessons today. The TARP bailout had two stipulations largely ignored by commentators: 1) all funds loaned to banks must be paid back and 2) all funds must be paid back to tax payers with interest.
Those two conservative principals worked well and today all TARP funds have been paid back with interest. If such principals were applied to more of the federal budget, our current fiscal crisis could be more easily resolved. President Obama campaigned for re-election on the success of the auto bailout. The renewed economic strength of the auto industry is certainly a matter of great interest but President Obama did not lead the auto bailout. President Bush did.
Here again, the bailout adheres to fiscally conservative principals requiring the pay back of loaned funds. Where are the principals of paying back those we owe when a crisis passes today?
Correction #4: President Bush positively impacted the world with a vision of human freedom
Anti-Bush partisans suggest an irrevocable global alienation resulting from the Bush presidency. Yet, while he was in office, democratic elections around the world found more than 300 million people electing the more conservative pro-Bush leader over the more antagonistic figure. Whether in France, Canada, Germany, or South Korea, democratic publics rallied to the Bush ally rather than the Bush rival. Stephen Harper in Canada remains one of the most conservative politicians in the world and has elevated the stature of his nation on the global stage.
On the continent of Africa, the president’s strong efforts against deadly malaria and AIDS elevated his popularity toward 80%. Even in some Muslim countries of Africa, Bush is considered a hero. The tens of millions of people adoring this president for good work done there illustrates what might be possible in a world less affected by American and European reactionary media.
While the world rose with angry defiance against the Iraq war and American unilateralism, President Bush sent troops to the African nation of Liberia to remove the bloodthirsty tyrant Charles Taylor. This action was decisive in installing the continent’s first female president educated at an American university — Harvard. Bush’s diplomacy ultimately severed the genocidally-victimized south Sudan from its brutal northern neighbor. The Sudanese leader implemented genocides in the south and western regions of the nation killing more than 2 million Africans. Democratic revolutions as diverse as the Ukraine, Georgia, and Lebanon brought flesh to the president’s public words about human freedom.
These corrections are but a small part of a larger public struggle to recover the moral political compass of our nation. As long as one set of reactionary partisans bunkered in the academy, journalism, and Hollywood are allowed to dictate a simple model of good and evil delineated by the sides of the political aisle, the nation will continue to divide itself in an increasingly bitter public sphere.
All Americans should take an interest in the accurate recognition of President Bush’s good work. Failing to do so will not appease the angry partisans who brought us to 2013, it will feed them and encourage them.
Originally published at The American Thinker.
About the Author: Ben Voth is the chair of communication studies and director of debate at Southern Methodist University. He is currently working on a book entitled, "Death as text: The Rhetoric of Genocide."
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