November 12th, 2009

(no subject)

Daniel Larison replies to a recent post by Caroline Glick:
But at least you always knew that Bush loved America and that he loved Americans. You knew that he valued America’s allies even if he didn’t always do right by them. You knew that his values were American values.

You can’t say any of that about his successor. ~Caroline Glick
Yes, this is what you would expect from Glick (or from anyone, for that matter, who thinks that the last two years of Bush’s foreign policy were his worst), but it’s offensive all the same. As tempting and easy as it would be to turn this formulation around on one of the worst Presidents of all time, I don’t assume that Bush did any of the things he did because he didn’t have “American values” or didn’t love his country. I don’t assume that he trashed our relations with Europe, Turkey and Russia because he wanted America to be isolated or because he loathed these other nations. It is certainly true that he harmed American interests, weakened American power, wrecked our fiscal house and isolated us from many of our allies and potential partners, but the world is full of stories of people who harm that which they love. Bush’s problem wasn’t that he didn’t love America. The problem was that he had no idea what he was doing and substituted ideological fantasies in place of understanding.

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It may be that Obama will prove to be a poor President, and he could inaugurate policies that will fail as spectacularly as Bush’s did, but we would not be able to conclude from this that he did not love his country or share American values. If we could conclude such things from what politicians do, surely the man who launched aggressive wars, and who sanctioned illegal, arbitrary detention, illegal wiretapping and torture would not come out looking very good at all.