Wednesday, March 14, 2007

One of the things I hated about Bill Clinton (but gave him credit for) was how he was able to spin so much to his advantage... time after time, on issue after issue, he was able to turn the tables on his critics, making them look bad and himself good. The budget showdown with Gingrich? Gingrich came away looking like a spoiled brat, complaining that he didn't get to sit up front on Air Force One. McVeigh? Clinton tagged the entire right side with blame. Clinton abused his power and solicited sex from an intern and lied about it under oath? Ken Starr got portrayed as a sex-crazed prosecutor run amok.

Boy, did I hate that. I kept wishing that the American people would wake up and blow away the smoke, that we would see through the lies and distortions put out by Clinton and his merry band of enablers (Lanny Davis, Mike McCurry, Joe Lockhart, David Kendall, Hillary).

But the public never caught on (or, perhaps, they did and just didn't care)... and as a result, Clinton was able to do so much that was harmful to this country.

And now we have the opposite, as put forth by Joseph Bottum in yesterday's WSJ: Bush is the polar opposite of Clinton: right on the issues, but too incompetent to ever pull it off.

The firings of 8 US Attorneys? Right on the merits, but handled incompetently. Abu Ghraib? Much ado of very little, made much worse by Bush's incompetence. A handful of corporate scandals? Made much worse by Bush's incompetence. The damage from Katrina? Compounded by Bush's incompetence. Social Security reform? Made radioactive by Bush's incompetence. The whole Plame kerfuffle? Made possible by Bush's incompetence. Problems at Walter Reed? Exacerbated by Bush's incompetence. Nominating Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court? Textbook case of Bush's incompetence.

The sad fact is that I can't think of too many things that the Bush Administration has handled in an efficient competent manner... way too many issues have been screwed up by the Bush Administration. They didn't handle the buildup to invading Iraq well (too much time wasted trying to persuade our 'allies' to support us and too much emphasis on the WMDs). They've given Iran years in which to further develop nuclear weapons. They haven't handled immigration reform properly (why insult the base?). They screwed up education reform (they didn't need to throw billions more at the NEA in order to push throw accountability standards).

It's a shame. A shame that so much promise and potential has been wasted. A shame that instead of making a real dent in fighting terrorism and their state sponsors we've been bogged down in Iraq. A shame that the federal budget has skyrocketed. A shame that, as good and resilient as our economy has been, we haven't enjoyed but a fraction of what we could have had. A shame that we have but a fraction of the conservative judges on the bench that we could have had.

And a shame that the Democrats didn't nominate someone not named John Kerry...