In today’s CNN Politics section, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist comments on the Bush legacy related to the fight against AIDS in Africa. Follow the link below for the article. My post takes issue with Mr. Frist’s assertion that this is Bush’s legacy.
Indeed, Bush’s commitment to fighting AIDS is commendable. But our president does not get to be a single issue person; he does not get a pass for doing well on one thing, for having a single success. We do not hire for this position based on a singular commitment or skill. It is one of the most demanding jobs in the world, period.
I do not wish Mr. Bush ill, but neither will I turn a blind eye to his myriad failures as president. It appears that Mr. Frist is willing to do so in announcing the Bush legacy of healing.
In fact, if Mr. Frist wishes to focus on achievements in Africa, where was Mr. Bush, and where were the other leaders of the free world, in preventing genocide and heinous atrocities in Rwanda and Congo? Where was he in attempts to create sustainable agriculture and self-sufficiency in food production. Yes, there was a lot to be done in Africa, and Mr. Bush helped. But please, let’s not nominate him for sainthood just yet.
However, outside Africa, I fear that the Bush presidency will be judged harshly, and appropriately.
For engaging in a war in Iraq based on false premises (possibly known to be false at the time), with no strategy for conclusion, with the loss of more than four thousand American lives and nearly 100,000 Iraqi lives, and at a cost of hundreds of billion dollars.
For presiding over the greatest collapse in the economy since the Great Depression. For delaying any response to that collapse until thousands of Americans had lost substantial portions of their life’s savings. For finally responding to that collapse with a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card for those CEOs and firms that mismanaged their way into it.
For crafting a War on Terror that included such Machiavellian tactics as warrantless wiretapping of domestic telephone calls between US citizens, torture of suspected terrorists, incarceration of suspected terrorists without due process, access to counsel, or filing of charges.
And for populating his cabinet with some of the most corrupt and incompetent staff this nation has ever seen. The otherwise admirable loyalty Mr. Bush showed toward Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Gonzales was misplaced.
Yes, Mr. Frist, there will be a legacy. I daresay, though, that Mr. Bush’s admirable commitment to fighting AIDS will sadly be a footnote to an otherwise miserable performance.