[Mb-civic] End of the Bush Era - E. J. Dionne - Washington Post
swiggard at comcast.net
Tue Sep 13 04:01:24 PDT 2005
End of the Bush Era
By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005; Page A27
The Bush Era is over. The sooner politicians in both parties realize
that, the better for them -- and the country.
Recent months, and especially the past two weeks, have brought home to a
steadily growing majority of Americans the truth that President Bush's
government doesn't work. His policies are failing, his approach to
leadership is detached and self-indulgent, his way of politics has
produced a divided, angry and dysfunctional public square. We dare not
go on like this.
The Bush Era did not begin when he took office, or even with the
terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It began on Sept. 14, 2001, when
Bush declared at the World Trade Center site: "I can hear you. The rest
of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down
will hear all of us soon." Bush was, indeed, skilled in identifying
enemies and rallying a nation already disposed to action. He failed to
realize after Sept. 11 that it was not we who were lucky to have him as
a leader, but he who was lucky to be president of a great country that
understood the importance of standing together in the face of a grave
foreign threat. Very nearly all of us rallied behind him.
If Bush had understood that his central task was to forge national
unity, as he seemed to shortly after Sept. 11, the country would never
have become so polarized. Instead, Bush put patriotism to the service of
narrowly ideological policies and an extreme partisanship. He pushed for
more tax cuts for his wealthiest supporters and shamelessly used
relatively modest details in the bill creating a Department of Homeland
Security as partisan cudgels in the 2002 elections.
He invoked our national anger over terrorism to win support for a war in
Iraq. But he failed to pay heed to those who warned that the United
States would need many more troops and careful planning to see the job
through. The president assumed things would turn out fine, on the basis
of wildly optimistic assumptions. Careful policymaking and thinking
through potential flaws in your approach are not his administration's
And so the Bush Era ended definitively on Sept. 2, the day Bush first
toured the Gulf Coast States after Hurricane Katrina. There was no magic
moment with a bullhorn. The utter failure of federal relief efforts had
by then penetrated the country's consciousness. Yesterday's resignation
of FEMA Director Michael Brown put an exclamation point on the failure.
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