It is probably too early to truly grade W and rank him among his peers. Time will tell if his policies were somewhat effective or total garbage. If you are going to grade a President, you need to take a more inclusive look and not just talk about his various failings. Also the “what if” discussion in that grading is incredibly important such as, “What if President Bush had not gone after Saddam Hussein – what would the world be like?”
It is also difficult to grade individual events because they are so intertwined (Libya, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Al Qaida, Palestine, Syria are all different variations of the same problem). That said – here are my thoughts on the 19 things that GW did (or didn’t do):
9/11 – Bush got an A for this. Massive aid to NYC (that the Dem Senators asked for but he said yes immediately), spoke to nation well and told them not to overreact. Was calm and reassuring in a time of near panic. Reorganized airport security quite quickly. Reorganized CIA/FBI, et. al. to get them to work together (probably give him a B/C on that since he could have done more). Told Americans to do EXACTLY what was needed – go shop and get on with your lives. By the way, Mr. Clinton gets an F for this since it was under his watch that these guys were recruited, the plan was established, the people were brought in, individuals were trained to operate planes. The intelligence network was messed up and Clinton took steps to make it WORSE. Check out how bad things were that GW inherited before condemning him on this issue. . Many of our current problems with terrorism are because Clinton did such a lousy job! According to that article, Clinton passed on going after Osama Bin Laden (OBL) 16 times and yet some cite that Bush hasn’t been able to find OBL as him doing a bad job. We were handed OBL by the Sudanese and we turned them down and were happy they sent him to Afghanistan!
Anthrax – W gets an A for the reaction to the various attacks. The fact that they didn’t catch the guy and execute him before he died was more of an issue of our legal system and burden of proof (something we don’t apply to foreign terrorists thankfully).
Afghanistan invasion – A – decisive and complete. Called on the leaders to hand over OBL and when they didn’t he overran the country in a matter of days. Tremendous statement to the world on our ability to extend our power.
Afghanistan occupation – D – some would say he gets an F here but that isn’t fair. A lot of good things have happened along with a lot of bad. In general women have more rights and religious persecution isn’t quite so bad. The President that we selected is still in power (and alive) but the insurgents are stronger now (I have seen rumors that this is because Russia doing to us what we did to them in the 80s) and political calm is not in place. There is no reason to believe that the current President could step down and there would be a smooth and orderly transition to a new President. W can’t get better than a D here because it hasn’t gone better but giving him less is not a fair assessment of what has gone well.
Al Qaida – C – he got most of the leaders save for 2. The problem is that in order to prevent the regrowing of terrorist organizations it takes more than capturing people but re-educating people and giving them a reason not to hate. He pretty much has these guys neutralized as a world player in about 6 months until the Iraqi resistance aligned with them. Which leads to the next one.
Preventing terrorism – C – no attacks at home which he gets an A for but the reason there are no attacks at home is that the terrorists are much more likely to have little skirmishes in Iraq and Israel so he really just transfered the problem over there and he probably has created more reasons to be a terrorist in his term than even Clinton did. So he effectively protected America but the world at large is worse off by his actions. Also, he gave terrorist sponsors a real wake up call in his actions with Afghanistan – don’t mess with the US.
More on this topic later!
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