Historians vs. George W. Bush





Mr. McElvaine teaches history at Millsaps College. He is the author of EVE'S SEED: BIOLOGY, THE SEXES AND THE COURSE OF HISTORY (McGraw-Hill).

 

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Editor's Note 12-5-05: This article was first published 19 months ago. It was referred to in an article by Richard Reeves on Dec. 2, attracting wide notice. Readers are encouraged to post fresh comments by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page. (FYI: To see the graphics displayed on this page in a larger format click here.)

Although his approval ratings have slipped somewhat in recent weeks, President George W. Bush still enjoys the overall support of nearly half of the American people. He does not, however, fare nearly so well among professional historians.

A recent informal, unscientific survey of historians conducted at my suggestion by George Mason University’s History News Network found that eight in ten historians responding rate the current presidency an overall failure.

Of 415 historians who expressed a view of President Bush’s administration to this point as a success or failure, 338 classified it as a failure and 77 as a success. (Moreover, it seems likely that at least eight of those who said it is a success were being sarcastic, since seven said Bush’s presidency is only the best since Clinton’s and one named Millard Fillmore.) Twelve percent of all the historians who responded rate the current presidency the worst in all of American history, not too far behind the 19 percent who see it at this point as an overall success.

Among the cautions that must be raised about the survey is just what “success” means. Some of the historians rightly pointed out that it would be hard to argue that the Bush presidency has not so far been a political success—or, for that matter that President Bush has not been remarkably successful in achieving his objectives in Congress. But those meanings of success are by no means incompatible with the assessment that the Bush presidency is a disaster. “His presidency has been remarkably successful,” one historian declared, “in its pursuit of disastrous policies.” “I think the Bush administration has been quite successful in achieving its political objectives,” another commented, “which makes it a disaster for us.”

Additionally, it is, of course, as one respondent rightly noted, “way too early to make a valid comparison (we need another 50 years).” And such an informal survey is plainly not scientifically reliable. Yet the results are so overwhelming and so different from the perceptions of the general public that an attempt to explain and assess their reactions merits our attention. It may be, as one pro-Bush historian said in his or her written response to the poll, “I suspect that this poll will tell us nothing about President Bush’s performance vis-à-vis his peer group, but may confirm what we already know about the current crop of history professors.” The liberal-left proclivities of much of the academic world are well documented, and some observers will dismiss the findings as the mere rantings of a disaffected professoriate. “If historians were the only voters,” another pro-Bush historian noted, “Mr. Gore would have carried 50 states.” It is plain that many liberal academics have the same visceral reaction against the second President Bush that many conservatives did against his immediate predecessor.

Yet it seems clear that a similar survey taken during the presidency of Bush’s father would not have yielded results nearly as condemnatory. And, for all the distaste liberal historians had for Ronald Reagan, relatively few would have rated his administration as worse than that of Richard Nixon. Yet today 57 percent of all the historians who participated in the survey (and 70 percent of those who see the Bush presidency as a failure) either name someone prior to Nixon or say that Bush’s presidency is the worst ever, meaning that they rate it as worse than the two presidencies in the past half century that liberals have most loved to hate, those of Nixon and Reagan. One who made the comparison with Nixon explicit wrote, “Indeed, Bush puts Nixon into a more favorable light. He has trashed the image and reputation of the United States throughout the world; he has offended many of our previously close allies; he has burdened future generations with incredible debt; he has created an unnecessary war to further his domestic political objectives; he has suborned the civil rights of our citizens; he has destroyed previous environmental efforts by government in favor of his coterie of exploiters; he has surrounded himself with a cabal ideological adventurers . . . .”

Why should the views of historians on the current president matter?

I do not share the view of another respondent that “until we have gained access to the archival record of this president, we [historians] are no better at evaluating it than any other voter.” Academic historians, no matter their ideological bias, have some expertise in assessing what makes for a successful or unsuccessful presidency; we have a long-term perspective in which to view the actions of a current chief executive. Accordingly, the depth of the negative assessment that so many historians make of George W. Bush is something of which the public should be aware. Their comments make clear that such historians would readily agree with conclusion that then-Democratic presidential hopeful Richard Gephardt pronounced a few months ago: the presidency of George W. Bush is “a miserable failure.”

The past presidencies most commonly linked with the current administration include all of those that are usually rated as the worst in the nation’s history: Nixon, Harding, Hoover, Buchanan, Coolidge, Andrew Johnson, Grant, and McKinley. The only president who appeared prominently on both the favorable and unfavorable lists was Ronald Reagan. Forty-seven historians said Bush is the best president since Reagan, while 38 said he is the worst since Reagan. Almost all of the historians who rate the Bush presidency a success are Reagan admirers. Indeed, no other president (leaving aside the presumably mostly tongue-in-cheek mentions of Clinton) was named by more than four of the historians who took a favorable view of the current presidency.

Ronald Reagan clearly has become the sort of polarizing figure that Franklin Roosevelt was for an earlier generation—or, perhaps a better way to understand the phenomenon is that Reagan has become the personification of the pole opposite to Roosevelt. That polarization is evident in historians’ evaluations of George W. Bush’s presidency. “If one believes Bush is a ‘good’ president (or great),” one poll respondent noted, he or she “would necessarily also believe Reagan to be a pretty good president.” They also tend to despise Roosevelt. “There is no indication,” one historian said of Bush, “that he has advisors who are closet communist traitors as FDR had. Based on his record to date, history is likely to judge him as one of America’s greatest presidents, in the tradition of Washington and Lincoln.”

The thought that anyone could rate the incumbent president with Washington and Lincoln is enough to induce apoplexy in a substantial majority of historians. Among the many offenses they enumerate in their indictment of Bush is that he is, as one of them put it, “well on his way to destroying the entire (and entirely successful) structures of international cooperation and regulated, humane capitalism and social welfare that have been built up since the early 1930s.” “Bush is now in a position,” Another historian said, “to ‘roll back the New Deal,’ guided by Tom DeLay.”

Several charges against the Bush administration arose repeatedly in the comments of historians who responded to the survey. Among them were: the doctrine of pre-emptive war, crony capitalism/being “completely in bed with certain corporate interests,” bankruptcy/fiscal irresponsibility, military adventurism, trampling of civil liberties, and anti-environmental policies.

***

The reasons stated by some of the historians for their choice of the presidency that they believe Bush’s to be the worst since are worth repeating. The following are representative examples for each of the presidents named most frequently:

REAGAN: “I think the presidency of George W. Bush has been generally a failure and I consider his presidency so far to have been the most disastrous since that of Ronald Reagan--because of the unconscionable military aggression and spending (especially the Iraq War), the damage done to the welfare of the poor while the corporate rich get richer, and the backwards religious fundamentalism permeating this administration. I strongly disliked and distrusted Reagan and think that George W. is even worse.”

NIXON: “Actually, I think [Bush’s] presidency may exceed the disaster that was Nixon. He has systematically lied to the American public about almost every policy that his administration promotes.” Bush uses “doublespeak” to “dress up policies that condone or aid attacks by polluters and exploiters of the environment . . . with names like the ‘Forest Restoration Act’ (which encourages the cutting down of forests).”

HOOVER: “I would say GW is our worst president since Herbert Hoover. He is moving to bankrupt the federal government on the eve of the retirement of the baby boom generation, and he has brought America’s reputation in the world to its lowest point in the entire history of the United States.”

COOLIDGE: “I think his presidency has been an unmitigated disaster for the environment, for international relations, for health care, and for working Americans. He’s on a par with Coolidge!”

HARDING: “Oil, money and politics again combine in ways not flattering to the integrity of the office. Both men also have a tendency to mangle the English language yet get their points across to ordinary Americans. [Yet] the comparison does Harding something of a disservice.”

McKINLEY: “Bush is perhaps the first president [since McKinley] to be entirely in the ‘hip pocket’ of big business, engage in major external conquest for reasons other than national security, AND be the puppet of his political handler. McKinley had Mark Hanna; Bush has Karl Rove. No wonder McKinley is Rove’s favorite historical president (precedent?).”

GRANT: “He ranks with U.S. Grant as the worst. His oil interests and Cheney’s corporate Haliburton contracts smack of the same corruption found under Grant.”

“While Grant did serve in the army (more than once), Bush went AWOL from the National Guard. That means that Grant is automatically more honest than Bush, since Grant did not send people into places that he himself consciously avoided. . . . Grant did not attempt to invade another country without a declaration of war; Bush thinks that his powers in this respect are unlimited.”

ANDREW JOHNSON: “I consider his presidency so far to have been the most disastrous since that of Andrew Johnson. It has been a sellout of fundamental democratic (and Republican) principles. There are many examples, but the most recent would be his successful efforts to insert provisions in spending bills which directly controvert measures voted down by both houses of Congress.”

BUCHANAN: “Buchanan can be said to have made the Civil War inevitable or to have made the war last longer by his pusillanimity or, possibly, treason.” “Buchanan allowed a war to evolve, but that war addressed a real set of national issues. Mr. Bush started a war . . . for what reason?”

***

EVER: The second most common response from historians, trailing only Nixon, was that the current presidency is the worst in American history. A few examples will serve to provide the flavor of such condemnations. “Although previous presidents have led the nation into ill-advised wars, no predecessor managed to turn America into an unprovoked aggressor. No predecessor so thoroughly managed to confirm the impressions of those who already hated America. No predecessor so effectively convinced such a wide range of world opinion that America is an imperialist threat to world peace. I don 't think that you can do much worse than that.”

“Bush is horrendous; there is no comparison with previous presidents, most of whom have been bad.”

“He is blatantly a puppet for corporate interests, who care only about their own greed and have no sense of civic responsibility or community service. He lies, constantly and often, seemingly without control, and he lied about his invasion into a sovereign country, again for corporate interests; many people have died and been maimed, and that has been lied about too. He grandstands and mugs in a shameful manner, befitting a snake oil salesman, not a statesman. He does not think, process, or speak well, and is emotionally immature due to, among other things, his lack of recovery from substance abuse. The term is "dry drunk". He is an abject embarrassment/pariah overseas; the rest of the world hates him . . . . . He is, by far, the most irresponsible, unethical, inexcusable occupant of our formerly highest office in the land that there has ever been.”

“George W. Bush's presidency is the pernicious enemy of American freedom, compassion, and community; of world peace; and of life itself as it has evolved for millennia on large sections of the planet. The worst president ever? Let history judge him.”

“This president is unique in his failures.”

And then there was this split ballot, comparing the George W. Bush presidencies failures in distinct areas. The George W. Bush presidency is the worst since:

“In terms of economic damage, Reagan.

In terms of imperialism, T Roosevelt.

In terms of dishonesty in government, Nixon.

In terms of affable incompetence, Harding.

In terms of corruption, Grant.

In terms of general lassitude and cluelessness, Coolidge.

In terms of personal dishonesty, Clinton.

In terms of religious arrogance, Wilson.”

***

My own answer to the question was based on astonishment that so many people still support a president who has:

  • Presided over the loss of approximately three million American jobs in his first two-and-a-half years in office, the worst record since Herbert Hoover.
  • Overseen an economy in which the stock market suffered its worst decline in the first two years of any administration since Hoover’s.
  • Taken, in the wake of the terrorist attacks two years ago, the greatest worldwide outpouring of goodwill the United States has enjoyed at least since World War II and squandered it by insisting on pursuing a foolish go-it-almost-alone invasion of Iraq, thereby transforming almost universal support for the United States into worldwide condemnation. (One historian made this point particularly well: “After inadvertently gaining the sympathies of the world 's citizens when terrorists attacked New York and Washington, Bush has deliberately turned the country into the most hated in the world by a policy of breaking all major international agreements, declaring it our right to invade any country that we wish, proving that he’ll manipulate facts to justify anything he wishes to do, and bull-headedly charging into a quagmire.”)
  • Misled (to use the most charitable word and interpretation) the American public about weapons of mass destruction and supposed ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq and so into a war that has plainly (and entirely predictably) made us less secure, caused a boom in the recruitment of terrorists, is killing American military personnel needlessly, and is threatening to suck up all our available military forces and be a bottomless pit for the money of American taxpayers for years to come.
  • Failed to follow through in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and Al Qaeda are regrouping, once more increasing the threat to our people.
  • Insulted and ridiculed other nations and international organizations and now has to go, hat in hand, to those nations and organizations begging for their assistance.
  • Completely miscalculated or failed to plan for the personnel and monetary needs in Iraq after the war, so that he sought and obtained an $87 billion appropriation for Iraq, a sizable chunk of which is going, without competitive bidding to Haliburton, the company formerly headed by his vice president.
  • Inherited an annual federal budget surplus of $230 billion and transformed it into a $500+ billion deficit in less than three years. This negative turnaround of three-quarters of a trillion dollars is totally without precedent in our history. The ballooning deficit for fiscal 2004 is rapidly approaching twice the dollar size of the previous record deficit, $290 billion, set in 1992, the last year of the administration of President Bush’s father and, at almost 5 percent of GDP, is closing in on the percentage record set by Ronald Reagan in 1986.
  • Cut taxes three times, sharply reducing the burden on the rich, reclassified money obtained through stock ownership as more deserving than money earned through work. The idea that dividend income should not be taxed—what might accurately be termed the unearned income tax credit—can be stated succinctly: “If you had to work for your money, we’ll tax it; if you didn’t have to work for it, you can keep it all.”
  • Severely curtailed the very American freedoms that our military people are supposed to be fighting to defend. (“The Patriot Act,” one of the historians noted, “is the worst since the Alien and Sedition Acts under John Adams.”)
  • Called upon American armed service people, including Reserve forces, to sacrifice for ever-lengthening tours of duty in a hostile and dangerous environment while he rewards the rich at home with lower taxes and legislative giveaways and gives lucrative no-bid contracts to American corporations linked with the administration.
  • Given an opportunity to begin to change the consumption-oriented values of the nation after September 11, 2001, when people were prepared to make a sacrifice for the common good, called instead of Americans to ‘sacrifice’ by going out and buying things.
  • Proclaimed himself to be a conservative while maintaining that big government should be able to run roughshod over the Bill of Rights, and that the government must have all sorts of secrets from the people, but the people can be allowed no privacy from the government. (As one of the historians said, “this is not a conservative administration; it is a reckless and arrogant one, beholden to a mix of right-wing ideologues, neo-con fanatics, and social Darwinian elitists.”)

My assessment is that George W. Bush’s record on running up debt to burden our children is the worst since Ronald Reagan; his record on government surveillance of citizens is the worst since Richard Nixon; his record on foreign-military policy has gotten us into the worst foreign mess we’ve been in since Lyndon Johnson sank us into Vietnam; his economic record is the worst since Herbert Hoover; his record of tax favoritism for the rich is the worst since Calvin Coolidge; his record of trampling on civil liberties is the worst since Woodrow Wilson. How far back in our history would we need to go to find a presidency as disastrous for this country as that of George W. Bush has been thus far? My own vote went to the administration of James Buchanan, who warmed the president’s chair while the union disintegrated in 1860-61.

Who has been the biggest beneficiary of the horrible terrorism that struck our nation in September of 2001? The answer to that question should be obvious to anyone who considers where the popularity ratings and reelection prospects of a president with the record outlined above would be had he not been able to wrap himself in the flag, take advantage of the American people’s patriotism, and make himself synonymous with “the United States of America” for the past two years.

That abuse of the patriotism and trust of the American people is even worse than everything else this president has done and that fact alone might be sufficient to explain the depth of the hostility with which so many historians view George W. Bush. Contrary to the conservative stereotype of academics as anti-American, the reasons that many historians cited for seeing the Bush presidency as a disaster revolve around their perception that he is undermining traditional American practices and values. As one patriotic historian put it, “I think his presidency has been the worst disaster to hit the United States and is bringing our beloved country to financial, economic, and social disaster.”

Some voters may judge such assessments to be wrong, but they are assessments informed by historical knowledge and the electorate ought to have them available to take into consideration during this election year.



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More Comments:


Jim Balter - 6/12/2009

Oh, I said it in the subject line. Nevermind.


Jim Balter - 6/12/2009

> Mr. Sherlock comes along and says "Enough."

Weird ... I could have sworn that, when I originally wrote that. I said "Mr. Sherlock comes along *a year later* ..."


Jackie Kapaun - 9/4/2008

I, for one, am glad that the scholarly historians quoted in this article don't run our country! This article clearly illustrates how our own personal ideology colors our perception and our documentation of people and events. As historians, wouldn't you agree that your purpose is to record facts - all the facts? Record the facts without your personal bias?
The beauty of this country is that every four years we get to choose a side to have a turn at running our government. I can't see how either side has been overwhelmingly successful during their four years. It seems to me that we view most of what occurs in big government very simplistically. George W. Bush didn't start the decline of how our allies and adversaries view us. That started the first time we told someone "no" or "stop that" or we felt compelled to act as police in some conflict. Our economic woes with the burst of the technology bubble - and before that any other bubble - wasn't caused by George W. Bush. Jimmy Carter didn't cause the high gas prices of the '70s.
We are all so quick to blame and yet so slow to accept responsibility. At least, right or wrong, George W. Bush didn't make his decisions based on the results of the latest poll. I'd rather have a leader who makes decisions based on what he feels is right within the confines of the Constitution of The United States, and, no on the latest whim of the last group of people to answer questions.

I am certain there may be grammatical errors in my post. I am not an English professor. I do believe all my words are spelled correctly and I do believe you can read and interpret correctly my sentences with the grammar used.


Bill Hutto - 7/13/2008

Undermining basic values, not sure about that, but Bush has ruined the country, unless you want to ignore the deaths of over 4000 of our men and women---------and for what??????
Why are we not going after the real culprit of 9/11?


Old Sarg - 4/16/2008

None of this matters. No one will be impeached, no laws were broken and no government friends or insiders became rich off our nations actions in this war against terror. Your type are simply dogs. Hiding behind your walls biting at the heels of men as we walk by. You can whine and live in the past and dram of the demise of this nation but this nation is stronger than what you may think. Sit in your little office and chase your little dreams of Neocons and government badmen hiding in the shadows. You are a nobody in this life. Ha!


Old Sarg - 4/16/2008

Such a good judge of others. Too bad you come across as a shrill whiner.


Old Sarg - 4/16/2008

Sorry guys. This article simply make you all look like you are a joke. This is really sad.


John Williams - 4/13/2008

should stick to his penchant for regurgitating liberal talking points and leave the real history to historians.

Has Bush made mistakes? No doubt. But the talking points memo Mr. McIlvane includes in his "analysis" is more indicative of a political operative than an objective observer.


Eric Foner - 2/18/2008

This is such a specious argument. Most spying on the citizens since Nixon?? Last I read was LBJ, Bobby Kennedy, et.al. spying on all sorts of rabble rousers; but Nixon?
You all seem to forget when talking about the deficit that the House of Representatives has the power of the purse according to the US Constitution. All but one of Reagan's budgets was considered 'dead on arrival' after being presented to the Congress. Reagan wanted to slow the growth of social spending while increasing defense. Increased tax revenues from a country coming out of recession would offset any disparities. Alas, the Democrats wouldn't have any of that.
Bush, with Republicans in control of both houses, has been a disaster on the budget, it's true; two wars, totally ill-advised prescription drug plan, etc. But it seems that federal deficits are always laid at the feet of the president in power. A majority of the federal budget is FIXED by law and cannot be reduced. Pork barrel spending by congress barely gets passing mention.
In the final analysis, Bush's war against Islamofacism will seem prescient. His ratings will surely go up, just like Reagan's did, and more importantly, just like Nixon's did; to the point that when Nixon died in 1994, he was revered as a statesman, and Watergate was a minor footnote.
Stop trying to rank sitting presidents!!!


maggie e. winslett - 1/1/2008

You are so very correct in your commits.

Not only is he burring the history he is preparing to rewrite it for the future at his soon to be constructed presidential library on the campus of S.M.U.


The library is to include his years as president but it is to include a special section on the George Bush philosophy on how government needs to be conducted.

Apparently, King George believes he is such a stellar example of how the government should be conducted that he wants to lay out the master plan for the future!

Maybe we need a topic titled master ego v.s. government by the people.


maggie e. winslett - 1/1/2008


I wonder, after this most tragic year regarding "King George" if you still feel the same way.

I personally still think the topic was of great use in making many people consider who they will vote for this time around.

We need desperately to think hard about the candidates. We need to look at their HISTORY of living candate during their time on planet earth. Just how informed are they on foreign and domestic policy. ...instead of what their LAST NAME might be. That will only be of interest if we are trying to trace their family history.

We do not need presidents elected by LAST NAME (as in a KING George) We need presidents elected by significant life style, devotion to political history, not raising hell with drugs and Jack Denials in Texas. History needs to consider in the candidate’s background.

We simple do not have any “History” to consider about a living human other than the years they have spent on earth.

They are Not dead YET sir!

Thank the Lord; I was in classes that understood the meaning of history applied to my currant life…

Thank you to ALL of my past professors!

They left me with a curiosity of checking the private and public backgrounds of the individuals I vote for.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Treason is a "high crime" by any normal definition, however one might choose to classify lying under oath about oral sex. So why aren't the traitors in Washington impeached already ? Mr. Fallai's hypothesis to explain recent American political history -which might be summarized as "Republicans are ignorant hypocrites"- is incomplete without a discussion of the associated corollary: Democrats are spineless wafflers. And it is a bit of a stretch to impeach members of the Republican Administration for actions consistent with or at least predictable under policies which many congressional Democrats ratified.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Hold your offense, please, Mr. Galle. I was being perhaps inappropriately ironic, but if you read what I actually said the reference was to the "new improved" guards, who I assume are now helping to fix the problem which Rumsfeld and his policies created at Abu Ghraib.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

To Chris Pettit:

I don't think we are in fundamental disagreement but there are perhaps important differences in emphasis.

I would agree that America’s national political system is fundamentally flawed. I think John McCain, a leader of campaign finance reform, is one of a small minority of politicians genuinely trying to address the problem (to little avail, so far, I freely admit).

I find your remarks "out of date" in that they do not seem to reflect the sea-change that has occurred under the new Cheney-Rumsfeld regime. In that sense, at least, you remind me of Nader. If you don't see that the current presidential administration is drastically worse than the norm in America, I have a whole lot of more recent books to recommend to you. A good one to start with would be John Dean's "Worse than Watergate".


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. CP,

I could not agree more re the "undereducated ignorance" of most Americans concerning world affairs. Having also lived abroad for some years, I can assure you that non-Americans are also not as well educated or informed as they ought to be as members of the global community (although the Americans' knowledge generally ranks near the bottom of industrialized countries in basic areas such as science and geography).

There is nothing at all "elitist" about wanting people in democratic countries to be more informed and aware of the world around them. America is already going to pay a high price for allowing the Bush approach of "ignorance by design" to go relatively unchecked for so long, and, furthermore, leaders worse than Bush are quite imaginable (e.g. "co-president" Cheney whose corporate crimes pale beside what might happen if he had sole control of the levers of power). Al Qaeda or some such group is bound to strike the U.S. again some day in some fashion, and the rest of us aren't nearly as well prepared as we should be for both that scenario and the likely attempts to capitalize thereon by the "Dr. Strangeloves" most of whom are not as inexperienced and blunder-prone as Bush, as feeble-minded as Ashcroft or as transparently predictable as Wolfowitz.

Having rejected most of the recent "exposé" books on the Bush Administration's foreign policy, because they lack proper documentation (there are already more than enough unsubstantiated rants available; here on HNN for example), I have found the following of some use (all published during the historically critical years 2002-03):

Prestowitz, "Rogue Nation"
Newhouse, "Imperial America"
Telhami, "The Stakes"
Zakaria, "Future of Freedom"

PKC


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Yes, but G. W. Bush never was "one of their own", and his Cs in college History are proving to be fairly valid predictors of his apathy, sloppiness and mediocre performance as President. Would that his "eagerness" on Iraq had been truly based on a desire to "finish" what was "left undone in 1991" and not just on an arrogant assumption that shortsightedness (which won America the war in 1991 and then lost it the peace) would somehow "work" in 2002-03 (e.g. at the ballot box in 2004; as Bush made clear to Woodward, he doesn't care much about what kind of world he leaves behind him) if only it were accompanied this time by more unilateral bluster, more stubborn refusal to listen to outside advice, more unwillingness to admit mistakes or change course, and better soundbite management.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This wide-ranging analysis is interesting but largely descriptive rather than analytical. In particular, this is an instance where (as another HNN article this week puts it ) the “intersection” of the “personal” and the “historical” is critical to understanding what is going on.

Unlike many politicians whose publicly stated goals are more dramatic than their actions, Bush's tongue-twisted "affability" pales compared to his radical and unAmerican actions. Career diplomats and career military officers of all political persuasions are upset at his Administration’s deep disregard for their long-established knowledge and experience. Accomplished business leaders are uneasy with the President's cavalier attitude towards fiscal prudence and his hypocritical weakening of free trade policies. Scientists are outraged at his deliberate attempts to slash science funding and warp future research towards pre-formed poll-driven unscientific conclusions.

Historians are also not immune from personal outrage at unprecedented and unwarranted governmental attacks on their profession:

In November of 2001, George W. Bush "issued an executive order...virtually gutting the 1978 Presidential Records Act....In essence Bush was repealing an act of Congress and imposing a new law by executive fiat...[As a result]... presidential scholarship as it now exists will largely end. As the Association of American Libraries has noted, many of the best-known works about the American presidency would not have been possible had Bush’s order been in effect...Bush and Cheney assumed office planning to take total and absolute control of executive branch information. They will decide what the public should know and when, if ever.”

- John W. Dean, “Worse than Watergate” pp. 90-92.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Clearly, professor McElvaine is not writing here to try to convince diehard Bushies of the error of their ways, let alone offer himself as a target for a fusillade of formulaic, tangential and inquisitional-style questions. Somewhere though, there are hardened criminals who need to be interrogated by someone of Todd Galle's vigor.
Mr. Galle, Uncle Sam wants you... to join the new, improved intelligence staff at Abu Ghraib. You may wish to act quickly, before it is razed to the ground and the "bad apples" covering up their knowledge and instigation of its former techniques are imprisoned themselves.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Nicely done, Chris Pettit, but perhaps a tad out of date. And, can you take on "ignorance by design" (John Dean's characterization of our current chief pretzel-conquerer) as well as just garden variety ignorance ?

I also wonder whether you have thought much about path-dependency, lesser evils, lost opportunities and counterfactuals, for example: John McCain winning South Carolina, or voting against the Iraq war resolution.

For some reason reading your piece reminds me of the KPD in the Reichstag of 1933. Maybe that is unfair, but really now, don't you think Ralph Nader would make a great senator ? As long as we are pursuing fantasy ideals here, make that a senator from Texas, please.


Jim Balter - 12/20/2006

Funny how thoroughly that "smug confidence" has been borne out. As I said long ago, it was no more "smug" than is our expectation that the sun will rise tomorrow; it was simply a rational inference from available evidence.


Thomas Michael Cannon - 9/24/2006

I have been saying that Bushie is the worst President we have ever had since the middle of 2002. So to see that a majority of today's historians are already saying that his Presidency is the worst is no surprize to me. All of his actions since this article was printed have only confirmed my views more.


joesph p glass - 4/19/2006

this kind of article, which starts with a lie- his approval rating is in the 30's. Dear sir, your math is waaay off by assuming most Americans support the lies and propaganda thrown at us. Realize their are still people out here reading that don't just buy a lie blindly, they research. something you should have done.


Lance Diduck - 4/14/2006

Elections came to Palestine, and they elected Hamas. Iraqis were liberated from Saddam, and delivered to local militias -- if they didn't end up in Abu Grahib. Our Alaskan fishing ports have plenty of anti-terrorism measures in place to protect against unexpected bad guys lurking there, but expected levee breaches are allowed to occur, because the cronies placed in FEMA were too busy primping.

One could just as easily come up with figures on how Hitler achieved low unemployment, and how he saved Germany from all those evil internationalists that came into vogue after the Great War. He even kept Germany safe from Communism, well, at least until the Soviets launched a counteroffensive. He was popularly elected and enjoyed high poll numbers, even when the bombs rained down in retaliation of Germany's aggression policies. After all, this aggression wasn’t unilateral -- they counted Mussolini and Stalin among the coalition of the willing. And really, poll numbers outside Germany didn't count, because only Germany knew what was good for pure Germans.
But few are claiming that Hitler was good for Germany overall. Conversely, one could elaborate Lincoln indiscretions: that he led America into a preventable ruinous war and suspended constitutionally protected rights. Indeed the rich could buy their way out of the war without pretense. But few argue that Lincoln was bad for America. Lincoln’s war kept America united, and settled the slavery question once and for all. It justified, even in the minds of the participants, the sacrifices made. It showed the world that when America said "individual liberties for all men" they really meant it, and made America that enduring symbol to the world -- until now. Few WW2 era Germans knew what the point of their war was, even if the early victories did make them feel good about themselves after the humiliation of the Versailles Treaty. "Deutsches Lebensraum" is hardly an Ideal that will serve as a beacon to the world, not like "individual liberties for all" which is how Lincoln eventually cast his generation's conflict, and that is why he is considered routinely among the world great leaders.
This is the point of historical perspective -- evaluating the policies of leaders in context, and how they cast the struggles of their age. For every generation fights, and every generation relies on their leaders to define just what they are fighting for.
"Make War to Prevent Terror" -- can you have a better non-sequitor?


cliff d west - 3/26/2006

Could you provide a link informing us where this brain dead republican candidate is located?


Daniel Sauerwein - 2/8/2006

Let's not forget that many polls have come out showing that a vast majority of academics hate Bush and are Democrats. So, it can therefore be argued that if another Republican were in office, the same results would occur.


Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 2/8/2006

than what do historians think of George W. Bush, is the question of what happened to pervert the entire profession into an army of leftist dummies? I can find no "diversity" of opinion whatever on this board, which speaks badly for its posters and quite well for the president. I notice national unemployment just fell to a new low of 4.7%... Fifty million Iraqis and Afghans have been liberated. Elections have come to Lebanon and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Palestine, as well as Iraq, etc., etc. The kleptocracy at Turtle Bay has been outed. The Bush program at home and abroad has been a stunning success, in fact, which is why he was reelected by 3.6 million votes.


The Republican - 1/19/2006

where the hell are you getting your information you goddamned red neck! how can you say that half of the american people like what he has done. I guess what you're saying is that we like to not have jobs and we like education cuts and so on.....you're a dick! just like bush. I'll beat the crap out of you for thinking like that! ass hole!


Lorraine Paul - 12/19/2005

I haven't found one person here who is prepared to state that there is only one country in the world that has been found guilty of terrorism in a world court. That country is the United States of America. Whether you agree or disagree with that verdict is irrelevant.

Further, I fail to see how after dropping a bomb which was known to, at the least, have blown both the arms from a child, the US and its allies could continue their 'shock and awe' exercise!

Many joining in on this discussion argue as though all this is merely an intellectual exercise and the most eloquent and erudite must inevitably be proven to be in the right. We are talking about children, mothers, old people dying. All because they live in the 'wrong' country. Where is the passion and anger against these crimes? Or is anger and compassion only reserved for the deaths of those who died on US soil.

As historians some of you make very good neo-cons.


Lorraine Paul - 12/19/2005

I hate to tell you this but we have compulsory voting in Australia. Therefore, a vast majority front-up on election day. To my disgust Bush's glove-puppet, aka Australian Prime Minister John Howard, was narrowly re-elected last year. However, when the institutions people trust let them down it isn't fair to call those same people 'idiots'. Instead heap shame upon those who betrayed that trust! I don't blame the American people for voting for Bush - twice. I blame the public opinion manipulators and the vast machinery they control and employ.

It is hard enough to keep one's equilibrium here where flag-waving and jingoism is often greeted with suspicion and embarrassment. It must be so much harder living in a country where programmes like "Jessica Simpson and (insert husband's name)'s Tour of Duty", are applauded and admired.

It sometimes seems as though Americans have been waving that flag so often and for so long that the waving has become more important than the flag itself.

Three years ago most of my friends in the US turned against me when I asked them to look for less simplistic reasons for 'why they hate us' than those put forward by Bush. It would be interesting to ask them how they feel today about his presidency.


Jennifer Kent - 12/14/2005

bush, in a speech today: "leaving iraq would be a continuation of the mistakes that led to sept. 11" --


Wake up, wake up! The war on Iraq is what constitutes terrorism.


Jennifer Kent - 12/13/2005

"What I've really learned from this article is not that historians think Bush is a failure (I already suspected that), but that many, if not most, American citizens think Bush is an okay president. The conclusion: the anti-Bush historians have failed to "enlighten" the public."


You fail to realize that the majority of the public are total idiots. In order to complete an election, a MAJORITY of Americans need to vote. So if the majority of Americans vote for a total idiot, the majority of Americans ARE the total idiots. See the logic?


Real DCC - 11/22/2005

I wonder what the Bush backers are writing now. It is probably something along the lines of charging the historians in this survey as aiding alQaeda.

Or, perhaps they hope this article is no longer available, for it seems the general population has caught up with the historians.


Jim Balter - 11/7/2005

If IN FACT Bush is the worst President in history, then we would expect OBJECTIVE historians to vote against him; those who voted for him would have done so for reasons other than an objective evaluation. Therefore, any balancing or taking people's votes into account would skew the results in Bush's favor.

In order to establish an objective set of voters, we would have to evaluate them on some INDEPENDENT basis, not correlated with the issue they are voting on.


Jim Balter - 11/7/2005

"I'd like to see the average rating from historians who voted for Bush versus those who didn't. And please don't use the excuse that it's irrelevant. If it is, then there wouldn't be any harm in revealing this, would there?"

So please post your medical history here. If it's irrelevant, there wouldn't be any harm in revealing this, would there?

"So humor me."

And how, prey tell, is that to be done?


Jim Balter - 11/7/2005

"-Bush has reduced the tax burden on the rich

This is objectively false."

If this were true, then Bush would have failed on his own terms. It's interesting when Republicans insist that they haven't done what they want to do.


Jim Balter - 11/7/2005

Indeed. To be consistent, Mr. Lindgren would have to insist that a panel evaluating Hitler would have to be balanced in their opinions of Nazism. And a panel evaluating Darwin would have to be balanced in their opinions about whether evolution has occurred. This is a notion of "objectivity" that negates the role of fact and evidence on the views of objective observers.


Jim Balter - 11/7/2005

What if George Bush turns out to be the second coming of Jesus Christ? Mature professionals like Mr. Rivers recognize such possibilities.


Jim Balter - 11/7/2005

Mr. Sherlock comes along and says "Enough." My immediate thought is: "What a jackass."


Eric Zuesse - 10/24/2005

An important fallacy in James Lindgren's comment is:

He assumes that a historian's "objectivity" would cause there to be no correlation bewtween the way the given historian votes and this historian's ratings of U.S. Presidents. Lindgren assumes that if the historian is "objective," then that historian would have no greater tendency to score Bush highly if he voted for Bush than if he did not, and that the historian would have no greater tendency to score Bush poorly if he voted against Bush than if he did not.

In other words, Mr. Lindgren assumes that an "objective" historian won't, at all--not even just slightly--tend to vote for or against a given candidate on the basis of whether or not he approves of that candidate and his policies.

Lindgren thus exhibits an outrageously false concept of "objectivity" and of what it means to be a social "scientist."

I am not saying that Lindgren's view of "science" is uncommon; I am merely pointing out how obviously false it is.

The fact that this false view of "science" is common does not mean that it is true, but only that the current stage of development of the philosophy of science is so crude that such an absurdly false view of "science" remains common today.

Obviously, a social scientist who disapproves of a given President's performance will therefore be *both* more likely to vote against him on that account *and* to score his performance in office low on that same account.

Indeed, for a social "scientist" to believe, as does Mr. Lindgren, that in order for him to be "objective" he must not tend to vote for candidates whom he approves of, nor to vote against candidates he disapproves of, the social "scientist" would have to possess a very warped concept of "science" and of "objectivity," so that he would be neither scientific nor objective.

This false view of "science" has vast ramifications; it greatly retards the development of authentically scientific history, and of authentically scientific other social sciences.


Richard Paco Jones - 9/25/2005

fast forward to september 24, 2005

everybody should know, by now, that sept. 11 was a result of our (xtian west) refusal to withdraw troops stationed in islamia (since the 1920's) -- in violation of dearly-held muslim beliefs

bush, in a speech today: "leaving iraq would be a continuation of the mistakes that led to sept. 11"


Jim Balter - 9/7/2005

I didn't say anything about "proof", or anything like it. I said "indirect affirmation" -- perhaps you should check the meaning of that last word in a dictionary. The person affirming something could be completely wrong. But someone unable to offer a reasoned rebuttal to a claim suggests that they lack a rational basis for disagreement, which suggests that somewhere in the recesses of their mind an affirmation lurks.


Pedro Cruz - 7/16/2005

G.W.Bush has undermined the basic American value of "competence in office." He raised incompetence in office to a new level during the nine months preceding 9-11 by deliberately ignoring credible and persistent evidence that his country would be attacked by airplanes being flown into buildings. He neglected his responsibility to protect his country from foreign enemies so that he could have a justification for pursuing his personal goal: deposing Mr. Hussein. Sadly, how he has managed to remain in office in spite of his incompetence is a testament to the ignorance and gullibility of a majority of Americans.


j l dunbar - 7/5/2005

a divided nation split destructively between secular and value neonazis with schiavo and right wing zealots demanding we kidnap brain dead women with rhetoric of 'err on side of life' while we hear headlines of dead wrong and speeches stating it was 'worth it' to murder 1760 soldiers serving 3 tours in a war concocted with false intelligence.

and now priorities set for supreme court installation that will further divide usa and possibly a set up for bolton to be axe man for un reform as information that rove leaked cia agents name becomes available.

i cant think of a more divisive america. while downing street memos may not be impeachable it shows how reprehensible bush is. imagine 59M americans voting for a twice convicted drunk?

history will provide the answers that libs already aware of. when you begin a lie you usually end the same way.


Shannon Jacobs - 6/5/2005

Amusing spin. When, pray tell, will Dubya actually become responsible for anything? The disastrous results cannot be postponed forever, though so far they have managed to stave off total collapse by borrowing from our dear friends Japan, Saudi Arabia, and China. China? Actually, the Saudis are probably worse as friends, but in any case, with friends like that, who needs enemies?

By the way, your poor spelling is rather rude. Remember this is an intelligent and informed audience. Actually, your own "content" makes the point germane, since your mumbling appears to be ad hominem attacks mostly directed at the intelligence of the authors.


Shannon Jacobs - 6/5/2005

My first degree includes history, and I've continued to read quite a bit of it over the years. I have already seen excerpts of this document a number of times.

I've always considered myself an informed voter, but in 2000, while I certainly was not going to vote for Dubya against the well-qualified Al Gore, I did not regard Dubya as being capable of the disastrous performance he has delivered. Actually, I could not have conceived that any one person could be responsible for so much damage to the once mighty nation.

I think the bizarre (s)election of 2000 should have been mentioned as an aspect of the political ruthlessness and hypocrisy of BushCo. The damage it did to the system was enormous, and probably contributed greatly to their secret fortress mentality. Also, I don't think sufficient attention was given to Dubya's marginal participation in the decision processes. Dubya basically acts as a sock puppet for Cheney and Rove.

I was still hopeful until the election of 2004. However, whether or not the election was manipulated, it is clear that far too many voters are too far gone in their ignorance or are actually fanatical Busheviks of various stripes. All things have a time, and America is reaching the end of hers.


James Lindgren - 5/26/2005

I just posted below on the measurement problem you raise. In part, I wrote:

"The political split I find in rating recent presidents means that it is likely that the HNN study merely tells us what the political orientation of their pool is.

"This is a measurement issue. You may think you are measuring GW Bush, but you are really measuring the politics of the panel surveyed. I am not saying that, if someone were to do a representative study of historians, they wouldn't find Bush a failure (given the political makeup of the profession, they probably would); what I am saying is that this result would be determined by the politics of the raters, not GW Bush's successes or failures.

"In rating presidents, one should either politically balance panels or measure the politics of the raters and assess their impact on the ratings -- or both (the informal HNN survey does neither). Otherwise, you are not measuring what you think you are measuring."


James Lindgren - 5/26/2005

I just blogged this at the Volokh Conspiracy:

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2005_05_22-2005_05_28.shtml#1117123917

The new HNN rating of presidents.--

The History News Network has published the results of an informal survey of historians and found George Bush to be a failure (tip to Instapundit).

With Steve Calabresi, in 2000 I wrote up the results of a survey of politically balanced panels of historians, political scientists, and law professors for the Wall Street Journal, an article in Constitutional Commentary, and a chapter in Presidential Leadership (a Wall Street Journal book edited by James Taranto and Leonard Leo).

One thing became clear to me: for recent presidents, such as Bill Clinton, any ratings reflect more the political makeup of the rating panel than judgments about the president being rated.

I replicated this study this year for a revised version of Presidential Leadership due out this fall (we added economists this time).

The political split I find in rating recent presidents means that it is likely that the HNN study merely tells us what the political orientation of their pool is.

This is a measurement issue. You may think you are measuring GW Bush, but you are really measuring the politics of the panel surveyed. I am not saying that, if someone were to do a representative study of historians, they wouldn't find Bush a failure (given the political makeup of the profession, they probably would); what I am saying is that this result would be determined by the politics of the raters, not GW Bush's successes or failures.

In rating presidents, one should either politically balance panels or measure the politics of the raters and assess their impact on the ratings -- or both (the informal HNN survey does neither). Otherwise, you are not measuring what you think you are measuring.

Our new 2005 study should be released in the early fall as part of a revised version of Presidential Leadership. Sorry, I can't release the results. You'll have to wait another few months to learn how a politically balanced panel of historians rate GW Bush.


Ricardo Luis Rodriguez - 5/26/2005

Historians, of all people, should be the first ones to jump up and state what the source of their wisdom is-the perspective that passage of time imparts. Instead, when it comes to Bush, they get their hair all up in a twist, cast their source of wisdom to the wind, and bloviate indignantly about this or that.
Historians may take solace in the fact that in regards to recognition of present merit they are no worse than Art critics, Literary critics, or any other "Academy types". Academy types have all lauded now forgotten "geniuses", while their contemporaneous luminaries are better seen after the passage of time.


Ricardo Luis Rodriguez - 5/26/2005

By your standards, the UN's lack of action in Rwanda and and Serbia were exemplar as they watched massacres unfold. Perhaps we shouldn't have attacked Nazi Germany given all those innocent civilians obliterated by aerial bombing of Dresden, Berlin, Frankfurt, etc. No, we are not perfect, and we have killed many innocents, but I give the Iraqui electorate more credence than you as to wether they think our intervention was worth it.
As to the Geneva convention... It is a treaty dictating conduct between warring armies as defined by the treaty itself. The mujahedeen violate all provisions of what a standing army is, except that they carry weapons. By their own conduct they abrogate all protections of the Geneva convention. We are not fighting an army following Geneva convention rules, I do not see why we should follow Geneva convention rules. As a matter of fact, the penalty for flouting Geneva convention rules is the implied threat of experiencing the full horror of war at its most savage. We already are at the receiving end of such carnage(witness the live beheadings, deliberate targeting of civilians, burning and parading of mutilated corpses), I see no problem with ou present relatively restrained response.


Doug Mitchell Rivers - 5/26/2005

What is most noticeable about the tsunami of Bush-hate comments by the so-called historians on this site is the childish emotionalism and lack of professionalism. The book is clearly out on Bush. If he has initiated a wave of democracy in the mideast that makes the world a significantly better place in which to live, then that will be major plus. If he "saves" social security, another. What if history looks back and takes (ahem) a broader view of the last half of the 20th century to present than our leftist-sound-bite profs, and sees that Bush did a fairly good job of maintaining the economy - post Clinton techno-bubble? A good job overseas and at home would seem to add up to a successful presdiency. Not saying this has been nailed down yet, but a more thoughtful analysis, it seems to be, would have to recognize the possibilities.
Clearly some grounding in the disciplines of history does not automatically confer thoughtful perspective and maturity of outlook.


John E Torbett - 5/26/2005

The quotations listed by Mr. McElvaine in his article and the related comments show a level of ignorance that is astonishing. There are so many fallacies repeated by these people I don't know where to start but here goes.

-Worst job loss in first 2 1/2 years since Hoover

How can historians be ignorant of the fact that the economy was in recession on Januay 23, 2001, (so says the National Bureau of Economic Research), the NASDAQ was down over 50% from its March 2000 high, dot com companies were burning through capital received from venture capitalists and Wall Street at an unprecedented rate, literally hundreds of public corporations were fraudulently overstating their earnings (Enron, World Com, AOL, Global Crossing, Tyco, Xerox, etc. all had to restate earnings dating back to the 1990's), Wall Street allowed its massive conflicts of interest to color its stock analysis, approximately 1.5 million of the jobs lost in Bush's first term were lost by December 2001 (two months into the first fiscal year of Bush's Presidency and before any of his tax cuts had even taken effect), a significant majority of the job losses were created during the worst stock market bubble in American history and would have been lost no matter who occupied the White House because most dot com's formed in the 1990's never earned a dime. Some economists estimate that just short of 1 million jobs were lost as a direct result of 9/11 (the planning and preparation for which began in the February 2000). Additionally, there have been well over a hundred thousand jobs lost as a direct result of NAFTA and other trade agreements entered into by the Clinton Administration. These agreements were hailed by Clinton sycophants as an essential part of his legacy. Well, in the words of Ward Churchill, those chickens have come home to roost becasue the impact of his predecessor's policies is being felt now. Bush didn't have anything to do with it.

Finally, correlation is not the same thing as causation. There are many statments by historians which dogmatically conclude Bush was responsible for job losses, but I didn't see a single fact supporting those conclusions. As a matter of fact, Bush's tax cuts ameliorated the impact of the recession. You don't have to take my word for it, Alan Greenspan attested to this fact before Congress several times. Total household wealth in the USA is currently at the highest level it has ever been. Home ownership is now at the highest level ever in the history of this country. Unemployment is below the historical average since WWII, inflation is significantly below the historical average since WWII, etc. etc. You may be historians, but you sure aren't economists.

-Bush has reduced the tax burden on the rich

This is objectively false. The percentage of total income tax revenue paid to the government by the top 20% of income tax payers has increased since Bush' tax cuts took effect. The marginal rates went down for all individual income tax payers. The argument that the tax cuts only helped the rich is nothing more than a talking point intended to inflame class envy amongst those ignorant enough to believe it (aka the Democratic base).

- Foreign Policy and our Allies

Our economy also suffered from the complete foreign policy mess that Bush inherited from Clinton. Terrorism against the US had been metasticizing for ten years without any opposition save a few missles lobbed at Sudanese aspirin factories. Our close allies that you historians are so concerned about were on the dole from Saddam. French politicians in Chirac's administration and journalists were being bribed with UN Oil for Food money while France was actively violating the UN sanction regime by selling Saddam arms. A German citizen was convicted in 1998 of having sold Saddam centrifuge equipment used to create weapons grade nuclear material. Russia also sold arms to Saddam and had its own politicians sucking from the teat of Saddam's oil money. These same European crooks were simultaneously arguing for an end to sanctions all together. I've got news for you geniuses, Mr. Chirac does not have our best interests at heart. He is a Gaulist and he wants to restablish French power on the world stage. He has intended to do this by creating a united European foreign policy (although that isn't looking too likely right now) and undermining the US at every turn. Why do you think he supported French oil contracts with Saddam and recently attempted to sell arms to China? Chirac is an antagonist and it's laughable that historians think that Bush had anything to do with that. He just decided that he wasn't going to be cowed by the French. Plus, anti-Americanism seems to have lost some of its potency as a political tool for Schroeder in Germany.

You historians worry about the increased hatred for America since Bush entered office, yet you conveniently forget about the ill will engendered by decades of support for dictatorial regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia etc. And no matter how badly you may want to pin it on the Bushes, that policy began with FDR's support of the House of Saud in the 1930's and was continued by every administration afterwards right through Clinton's eight years. Sandy Berger refused to allow a predator drone to fire on Bin Laden because he didn't want to kill a visiting Saudi prince for God's sake. Bush is the first Western politician who has had the guts to acknowledge that this cynical, realpolitik approach never achieved the stability that served as its justification. And, by the way, you conveneintly forget the anti-globalization riots in Seattle and Genoa which were almost exclusively directed against the US and its impact on the world economy. What about the huge anti-American demonstrations in Greece when Clinton visited there in 2000? We now have Walid Jumblatt, the leader of the Druze Christians in Lebanon, saying thank God for the invasion of Iraq which has given the Lebanese the courage to demand real democracy. You can deny it all you want, but when the very people who are engaging in the Cedar Revolution are explicitly giving Bush credit (as Jumblatt did in the Wash. Post recently) there isn't anything to argue about.

-worst stock market loss in first two years since Hoover

The stock market was in free fall when Bush entered office and 9/11 was the nail in its coffin. Just for comparison's sake, the NASDAQ fell 54% from its March 10, 2000 high to December 31, 2000. The NASDAQ fell 52% in Bush's first two years (1-23-01 through 1-22-03). However, the NASDAQ is still down from where it was when Bush entered office but the difference is that it was massively overvalued then and it isn't now. On January 1, 2001, the avg. PE Ratio for the NASDAQ was 36, now its 15 which is exactly the historical average for the NASDAQ.


- Bottom Line

Bush inherited a mess from Clinton and he has made the best of it. He has been far from perfect however. The irony is that the truly bad policies Bush has pursued are those that liberals advocated. Campaign finance reform is a joke and Bush should have vetoed it. No matter what the liberal whack jobs on the SCOTUS say, McCain Feingold is a blatant violation of the First Amendment. Not to mention the fact that it has resulted in even murkier financing of political entities by billionaires who son't have to disclose teir contributions. The steel tariffs were a joke, but they were championed by one of the pillars of the Democratice party, unions.

I just can't believe that teachers are either so ignorant or deluded by their hatred of Bush that they actually believe the nonsense they spouted off in this survey.


John E Torbett - 5/26/2005

The quotations listed by Mr. McElvaine in his article and the related comments show a level of ignorance that is astonishing. There are so many fallacies repeated by these people I don't know where to start but here goes.

-Worst job loss in first 2 1/2 years since Hoover

How can historians be ignorant of the fact that the economy was in recession on Januay 23, 2001, (so says the National Bureau of Economic Research), the NASDAQ was down over 50% from its March 2000 high, dot com companies were burning through capital received from venture capitalists and Wall Street at an unprecedented rate, literally hundreds of public corporations were fraudulently overstating their earnings (Enron, World Com, AOL, Global Crossing, Tyco, Xerox, etc. all had to restate earnings dating back to the 1990's), Wall Street allowed its massive conflicts of interest to color its stock analysis, approximately 1.5 million of the jobs lost in Bush's first term were lost by December 2001 (two months into the first fiscal year of Bush's Presidency and before any of his tax cuts had even taken effect), a significant majority of the job losses were created during the worst stock market bubble in American history and would have been lost no matter who occupied the White House because most dot com's formed in the 1990's never earned a dime. Some economists estimate that just short of 1 million jobs were lost as a direct result of 9/11 (the planning and preparation for which began in the February 2000). Additionally, there have been well over a hundred thousand jobs lost as a direct result of NAFTA and other trade agreements entered into by the Clinton Administration. These agreements were hailed by Clinton sycophants as an essential part of his legacy. Well, in the words of Ward Churchill, those chickens have come home to roost becasue the impact of his predecessor's policies is being felt now. Bush didn't have anything to do with it.

Finally, correlation is not the same thing as causation. There are many statments by historians which dogmatically conclude Bush was responsible for job losses, but I didn't see a single fact supporting those conclusions. As a matter of fact, Bush's tax cuts ameliorated the impact of the recession. You don't have to take my word for it, Alan Greenspan attested to this fact before Congress several times. Total household wealth in the USA is currently at the highest level it has ever been. Home ownership is now at the highest level ever in the history of this country. Unemployment is below the historical average since WWII, inflation is significantly below the historical average since WWII, etc. etc. You may be historians, but you sure aren't economists.

-Bush has reduced the tax burden on the rich

This is objectively false. The percentage of total income tax revenue paid to the government by the top 20% of income tax payers has increased since Bush' tax cuts took effect. The marginal rates went down for all individual income tax payers. The argument that the tax cuts only helped the rich is nothing more than a talking point intended to inflame class envy amongst those ignorant enough to believe it (aka the Democratic base).

- Foreign Policy and our Allies

Our economy also suffered from the complete foreign policy mess that Bush inherited from Clinton. Terrorism against the US had been metasticizing for ten years without any opposition save a few missles lobbed at Sudanese aspirin factories. Our close allies that you historians are so concerned about were on the dole from Saddam. French politicians in Chirac's administration and journalists were being bribed with UN Oil for Food money while France was actively violating the UN sanction regime by selling Saddam arms. A German citizen was convicted in 1998 of having sold Saddam centrifuge equipment used to create weapons grade nuclear material. Russia also sold arms to Saddam and had its own politicians sucking from the teat of Saddam's oil money. These same European crooks were simultaneously arguing for an end to sanctions all together. I've got news for you geniuses, Mr. Chirac does not have our best interests at heart. He is a Gaulist and he wants to restablish French power on the world stage. He has intended to do this by creating a united European foreign policy (although that isn't looking too likely right now) and undermining the US at every turn. Why do you think he supported French oil contracts with Saddam and recently attempted to sell arms to China? Chirac is an antagonist and it's laughable that historians think that Bush had anything to do with that. He just decided that he wasn't going to be cowed by the French. Plus, anti-Americanism seems to have lost some of its potency as a political tool for Schroeder in Germany.

You historians worry about the increased hatred for America since Bush entered office, yet you conveniently forget about the ill will engendered by decades of support for dictatorial regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia etc. And no matter how badly you may want to pin it on the Bushes, that policy began with FDR's support of the House of Saud in the 1930's and was continued by every administration afterwards right through Clinton's eight years. Sandy Berger refused to allow a predator drone to fire on Bin Laden because he didn't want to kill a visiting Saudi prince for God's sake. Bush is the first Western politician who has had the guts to acknowledge that this cynical, realpolitik approach never achieved the stability that served as its justification. And, by the way, you conveneintly forget the anti-globalization riots in Seattle and Genoa which were almost exclusively directed against the US and its impact on the world economy. What about the huge anti-American demonstrations in Greece when Clinton visited there in 2000? We now have Walid Jumblatt, the leader of the Druze Christians in Lebanon, saying thank God for the invasion of Iraq which has given the Lebanese the courage to demand real democracy. You can deny it all you want, but when the very people who are engaging in the Cedar Revolution are explicitly giving Bush credit (as Jumblatt did in the Wash. Post recently) there isn't anything to argue about.

-worst stock market loss in first two years since Hoover

The stock market was in free fall when Bush entered office and 9/11 was the nail in its coffin. Just for comparison's sake, the NASDAQ fell 54% from its March 10, 2000 high to December 31, 2000. The NASDAQ fell 52% in Bush's first two years (1-23-01 through 1-22-03). However, the NASDAQ is still down from where it was when Bush entered office but the difference is that it was massively overvalued then and it isn't now. On January 1, 2001, the avg. PE Ratio for the NASDAQ was 36, now its 15 which is exactly the historical average for the NASDAQ.


- Bottom Line

Bush inherited a mess from Clinton and he has made the best of it. He has been far from perfect however. The irony is that the truly bad policies Bush has pursued are those that liberals advocated. Campaign finance reform is a joke and Bush should have vetoed it. No matter what the liberal whack jobs on the SCOTUS say, McCain Feingold is a blatant violation of the First Amendment. Not to mention the fact that it has resulted in even murkier financing of political entities by billionaires who son't have to disclose teir contributions. The steel tariffs were a joke, but they were championed by one of the pillars of the Democratice party, unions.

I just can't believe that teachers are either so ignorant or deluded by their hatred of Bush that they actually believe the nonsense they spouted off in this survey.


Jim C. - 5/26/2005

I'd like to see the average rating from historians who voted for Bush versus those who didn't. And please don't use the excuse that it's irrelevant. If it is, then there wouldn't be any harm in revealing this, would there? So humor me.

Of course, if that data wasn't recorded, just go back and let us know the numbers of those historians that voted for Bush and those who didn't.

I expect some supercilious dismissal of the idea. The real reason for dismissing it would probably be that it would expose the blatant bias of these so-called historians.


Dylan Sherlock - 5/26/2005

One of the main charges levelled against President Bush by his critics is that he is offending America's foreign allies. As a citizen of Canada, one of the foremost (in being offended and in being an ally) I'd just like to say my piece.

The majority of governments in the world are ruled by incompetent, power hungry oligarchies who care about foreigners about as far as they can throw them. Canadians for example, have not gone to Iraq. Of course, we've since discovered that the former Prime Minister's (who made the decision) son-in-law had an oil deal with Saddam Hussien for billions of dollars. The current Prime Minster had a million dollars of Saddams money invested in a company he owned. We found that even if we did have the moral surety to help America build a stronger coalition in Iraq, we couldn't because our armed forces have been castrated by two decades of Liberal governments.

On the face of things, Canadians seemed very angry about the whole Iraq war thing, very anti-Bush and whatnot.

This is not a bad thing.

Bashing America is Canadians second favorite activity (first favorite since the hockey season was cancelled). In fact, from travelling the world, I've noticed that most people enjoy bashing America. It isn't a real measure of America's success or failure. Popular anti-Americanism is just a way to fit in for most people. It's a social activity. Very few stop to formulate an opinion, they just acquire one, compliments of the Naomi Klein pop-culture.

The big failures of Bush from a "I vist Michigan every year" standpoint are: limp-dick "faith-based initiatives", the Patriot Act(which I can sympathize with at least, a terrorist was caught at the border crossing coming from the city I was born in, most of the provisions in it seem very reasonable), the either incompetence or plain stupidity of the NCLB and the failure to moderate an increasingly polarized country.

If anything that I think history will remember Bush by, the last is the most important. During the last four years, Americans have become deeply split over his administration and over this war. While I agree with the war, the domestic "big-yet-small government" approach seems just a little silly. But that doesn't matter, 'cause I'm not an American. What does matter is the first superpower to ever have a real sense of decency is breaking down into this emmense unsustainable red-state/blue-state divide.

Good luck Bush. You'll need it. And so will America.


Dylan Sherlock - 5/26/2005

Enough.


Karl Hallowell - 5/26/2005

I'm not a fan of G. W. Bush. If he and his entire cabinet were to resign tomorrow, I wouldn't mind in the least. But let's keep things in perspective. Bush has deposed of two governments that were big trouble makers in the Middle East. His pre-war arguments and post-war followup were laughable and incompetent, but the wars were pretty competent and achieved the overthrow of these governments.

No significant terrorist attacks have occured on US soil since 9/11.

He failed to control spending and the magnitude of tax cuts seems unwise, but he is addressing Social Security which is probably one of the worst things to come out of the New Deal era. IMHO, we should just end the program and pay out such obligations as have accrued. Retirees these days are a lot richer (excluding Social Security) than they were in the 30's when the program was created. We aren't justified in forcing a couple hundred million people to enter and pay for a program when we really just need something that covers the neediest few percent.

People like Mr. McElvaine who talk of the "3 million" jobs lost by Bush or the decline in the stock market have no concept of what really happened. Yes, a third of the value of publically traded companies vanished over two years. Losing 3 million jobs is about the right speed for such an loss of wealth. The point? Who pumped the stock markets up to that point? It wasn't Bush. Plus the decline started (March 2000) more than six months prior to Bush getting reelected, and was nine months old by the time he actually entered office. I haven't been remotely impressed by Bush's economic incentives, but at least he kept Greenspan around.

Even now, the budget deficit, taxes, etc aren't a significant fraction of the US's GDP compared to other OECD countries. So saying we're on the "brink of bankruptcy" is highly misleading.

Finally, I find global opinion to be pretty worthless. The problem is that it comes and goes so easily. You can't keep it or use it for very long. He lost a lot when he backtracked on the harmful Kyoto treaty (too bad it got ratified anyway).


Karl Hallowell - 5/26/2005

Maybe there is a bit of 'self-selection' in that historians tend to be 'liberal'. On the other hand maybe one should ask which is the chicken, and which the egg; maybe sober assessment of history, and perhaps especially in the United States, leads smart people toward views that might be termed "liberal".

Presumbly if "liberal" was so correlated with "smart", then you would see similar dominance by the "liberal" ideology for say corporate executives as you see for historians. Self-interest goes a long ways to explaining things, IMHO.


Gonzalo Rodriguez - 5/26/2005

Mr. Petit, once again you demonstrate just how high of an opinion you have of yourself. Be careful not to scrape your nose against the ceiling, you might get hurt.


Rob G McPhee - 5/26/2005

Well of course they would have had similar result for Reagan. He unneccesarily escalated the Cold war by pushing long range weapons into western Europe, declared opposition to the USSR in no uncertain terms, and foolishly spent us into deficit for military reasons.

Everyone who was anyone knew that the USA/USSR Cold War would only be resolved once we clarified our differences and came to the negotiating table, and this "cowboy" president was doing nothing but pushing that time farther and farther away.

And he tried to cut taxes on the 70% income tax bracket to INCREASE government tax receipts from those same people. Obvious idiocy that has no possibility of working, because the economy is never affected or altered based on taxes. If you want to take in twice as much, just double taxes and you'll be there...

Oh, yes, all of the above was said during Reagan by various people, and all is obviously flawed in many significant ways. I could go on, but it seems unnecessary as very few believe any of the previous today.

Perhaps historians will do better once they gain the perspective of having the events of today be "historical".


R. Fogg - 5/24/2005

Let's just hope the worst of the damage caused by the Worst President Ever has already been inflicted.

I don't think America will be able to restore its good name in the eyes of the world until this Administration stands trial and answers for its crimes.


clarence willard swinney - 5/17/2005

I flip flip flopped more thn any President.BUSH WAFFLE HOUSE
“I say what I mean and mean what I say”
“ Promises made-Promises kept”
“When I make up my mind it stays made up”
“I do not take cues from anyone”
“You can’t say one thing and do another”
“Trust me I’m a straight shooter”
“I’m the commander, I don’t need to explain, I do not need to explain why I say
things”
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.Osama Bin Laden is my number one priority. (at least this week)
2. We need an Office of Strategic Influence (Next decade maybe)
3. I will follow the UN Resolution as long as it takes-10-27-02
10-31-02—The UN needs to act now
2-13-03—The UN needs to show courage (like I did during Vietnam.)
4. I am a strong believer in Fair Trade—(except steel and softwood lumber) (votes first)

Ed Crane—Co-Founder and President of The Cato Institute-“Everything this
Administration does is political”

5, We do not need for the Homeland Security Department to be a Cabinet position.
I made up my mind on it. Boston Globe—6-9-02 “Bush Flip Flop”
6. I will get Osama Bin Laden “Dead or Alive”—(go get em cowboy)—5-13-02-(“I don’t know where he is, I have no idea and I really don’t care.) (It’s not that important. It’s not out first priority”) (“I say what I mean”). (“When I make up my mind it stays made up”).
7. I will use the bully pulpit with OPEC. (Sic em bulldog my gas now 1.65 per gallon)
Supply went down and Prices went up and (“This is just the Free Market at Work”)
8. I will never apologize to the Chinese for “stealing our plane”. Please guys! Be nice.
Return our plane. “I regret it”
9. I mean what I say—“We can expect an attack”. Each month warning. When BOY?
10. Wash. Post-2-8-03—Bush seeking a promise from IRAN (Evil) for humanitarian help
in event a slaughter is done in Afghan. (Sounds like Reagan?)
11. NYT-1-23-03—Bush (Man of steel will) “rescinding” old policy and implementing a new policy that allows managed care organizations to limit and restrict coverage of emergency services for poor people on Medicaid. This was after criticizing HMO.s for refusal to allow treatment. If this is a Devout Christian I am Jesus Christ.
12. We will not negotiate with North Korea. Wash Post 1-16-03—Bush is now willing to consider agricultural and energy aid. (Hold on! This is EVIL of axis)
13.Individual investors who borrow money to buy dividend-paying stocks should be penalized. (Gosh! What did I say—I did not mean it) NYT 2-5-03
14. I mean what I say until yelling starts. Military pay increase of 2% then 4%.
Stars & Stripes-12-30-02—Bush asked Defense Dept. to lower the announced pay raise for the military from 3.7% to 2%. Finally got 4 in 2004 budget.

“I am tired of all the Lying and Deception”—Amen! Halleluiah! Then stop it Boy.




15.I mean what I say—I am the education president. Please. First budget increased by 1,5% which had averaged 7% increase per year over five years. (Sounds like Clinton were the educated educator to me.)
16.Wash Post-12-2-02—In June 2002 Bush promised 500 Million to fight mother-child transmission of Aids . In Aug he vetoed the first transfer of the 500 million. In 111 days since his promise 222,000 babies have been infected with Aids. (I wonder if Jesus Christ is tossing in his bed)

17.“Secretary O’Neill is doing a good job. The economy is improving. I have faith in him”. (Your faith lasts two weeks boy)

18.The Homeland Security Bio-Terrorism Bill is too expensive. I will veto it. An Ok is not a veto boy.
(I mean what I say” but maybe I will not this time.)

19. I do not approve of an Independent Investigation of 9-11. (“I mean what I say” but—yelling is too loud).

20.I am against international money laundering controls. (9-11—“I changed my steel mind”) They may catch daddy.

21.We will have major social security changes. Wash Post. 11-11-01—Andrew Card on Meet the Press on 11-10-02 “I am not sure we will reform it” This was a Centerpiece of his campaign..

22.-12-30-02—We will not tolerate a North Korean nuclear arsenal. (Act nice guys if you want our $$$)

23.We do not hit civilian targets(in Afghan). There is no evidence. (Red Cross building not civilian—Veterans Hospital is military—Warlord Party heading to Kabul to celebrate was armed with .22 rifles—Wedding Party was violent and firing in the air at our planes 20,000 feet above them)

24.Wash Posr-11-15-02—“If you are not happy with the administration’s policy toward Iraq at any given moment just wait a week or two. A new policy, more to your liking, is bound to appear”.

A. Go it alone week
B. Let us wait for UN week
C. “Regime change” is goal
D. remove wmd is goal
E. Secretary of State is nor speaking for the president
F. Attorney General is not speaking for the administration.
G. I am sick and tired of this waffling and waiting.


25.Steel Tariff—I really did not mean that much. I angered some people. Reduce it.
(When I make up my mind it stays made up)
26.Carbon Dioxide is a power plant pollutant I will control.. (Oh! It will be too costly to my energy contributors so forget it suckers—cough cough)
27.Reuters-6-26-02—‘I have confidence in the Palestinians when they understand we are saying they must make the right decisions”—“I can assure you we will not be putting money into a society which is not transparent and which is corrupt”.
(Was he referring to his administration? Sounds like it—transparent—corrupt)

28.I am against human cloning in any form. (well, not quite “any”)
29.“I knew nothing about dangers of 9-11”. Eight months later. “I knew a damn bunch (but I was too busy on Vacation and looking for more to blame on that President who stomped my dad. Darn it is tough being dumb, inarticulate and following such a brain and great success)
30.“I am in excellent physical condition.” (Darn, staying up till midnight in Paris zapped all my energy—Boy—try conditioning your mind))
31.I am on top of everything. (Why did you say twice on TV—“I am not in control the Pentagon is running the War (Afghan)—You have a White House base—same as Al Qaeda. Only more secretive)
32.I will veto bill increasing benefits for disabled military retirees (Yep!He was war hero.. 6-20-02 in Wash Post. I do not change my mind. Until 2004 Budget).
33.-6-14-02—released 23,653 of ”cherry picked” Reagan papers after refusing to do it. “When I make up my mind it stays made up” Is this BOY real ?”
34.I mean what I say—‘I will provide 100 million to help preserve the Rain Forest”
35.Budgeted funds for his dad’s Crusader cannon then demanded that Congress kill the big sucker.
36. Airline Security is very important to me. Then, why did you fight so hard to keep guns out of cockpits?
37.Barred part-time Mexican and Canadian students from U.S. schools after 9-11. Then, after howls reversed his decision. “When I make up my mind”
38.Simon (candidate for Gov. of California). “He is a breath of fresh air.”
Bush sho hated that California Smog for he avoided Simon while in his presence.
39.“I will not engage in bailing out countries.” 30 billion to Brazil just a tip?
40.NY Times-Richard Stevenson-2-14-03—“Bush eases Ban on AIDS money to pro-abortion groups abroad.. What will he tell Falwell?
41.-March 6—“We will call for a UN Security Council vote.” Geo. Bush
March 13—“There may be no vote” Colin Powell
NY TIMES-“Bush promises to adopt peace plan”. The Guardian-“Bush reversed his previous insistence that the Middle East Peace effort must wait till after Iraq SLAUGHTERAMA
42.NY TIMES--Edmund L. Andrwews-2-26-03—Less than a month after President Bush proposed a radical overhaul and expansion of individual retirement and savings account the White House has abandoned their idea. (“When I make up my mind it stays made up”) (“Promises made promises kept”) (“I say what I mean and mean what I say”)
-------------WHO IN HECK IS IN CHARGE IN THIS WAFFLE HOUSE?------------

43. NY Times-Patrick e. Tyler-5-17-03—“In reversal, plan for Iraqi self rule by June 1 put off indefinitely. “When I make up my mind(scorched?) it stays made up”? Sho!
44.BIG WAFFLE—Washington Post-8-19-03-Dana Milbank & Bradley Graham—
“Bush revises view on combat in Iraq”.---May I on USS Desertion he said-- “Combat Operations are over”.. Now—“Actually, Major military operations continue because we still have combat operations going on”. Is this boy of scorched brain or what?
45. TEACH FOR AMERICA PROGRAM ZAPPED BY BUSH. I am pissed off. Big time. In 2000 campaign Bush promised President Wendy Koop to expand it. His aides asked President Wendy Koop to quadruple it. . On July 11,2003 she got a letter “We regret to inform you your application was not selected for funding”. Gone. Zapped totally. Bush is one of sorriest not just worst in history. Read TIME—8-17-03. Joe Klein article headed “WHO KILLED TEACH FOR AMERICA”? Sorry, but I am so furious I have difficulty writing. I do not like to curse but xxxxxxx.
45.OBL not priority or is he?
A 9-13-01—“The most important thing is for us to find Osama Bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him”.
B. 9-17-01—I want justice. Wanted :Dead or alive.”
C 12-28-01—“Listen awhileago I said to the american people our objective is more than Bin Laden—Press pool in chapel on ranch
D. 3-13-02 “I am truly not that concerned about him.”The New American 4-8-02
E. 3-13-02—“I don’t know where Bin Laden is. I have no idea and I really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.” Wow!
46. Bush told bob Woodward in his book “Bush War” that “he didn’t feel that sense of urgency” about Al Qaeda prior to 9-11”. No claims had great sense of urgency.

47.Nov 2003 Bush made highly touted speech about spreading democracy in the entire Middle East. NYT reported he backed away after it was denounced by Egypt Mubarak and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
48. 2-2-04 Budget Director Bolton-“we will not need additional funds for 04.”
5-5-04 Bush “I am requesting that Congress establish a 25 Billion contingency reserve ”
49. 3-9-04 Press Secretary McClellan-“Condoleeza Rice will not testify before 9-11 commission it is matter of principle.” President Bush on 3-30-94 “Dr. Rice will testify.”
50. 3-19-02 Ari Fleischer-“Creating a Cabinet Office will not solve the problem.”
6-6-02 President Bush “Tonight I ask the Congress to join me in creating a single permanent department securing the homeland of America.”
51. NYT 1-29-04 “Bush resists outside investigation on WMD intelligence failure.”
2-6-04 Bush “Today, by executive order, I am creating an independent commission, to look at American intelligence capabilities.”
52. Wash Post-1-19-04-“Bush opposes extension of time for 9-11 commission.”
CNN-2-4-04---“Bush supports time extension for 9-11 commission.”
53.NYTimes 2-26-04-Bush limits testimony to one hour.”
Spokesman McClellan-3-10-04 “Bush sets no time limit for testimony.”

54.Larry King Live 2-15-00 Bush says Gay Marriage is a state issue.
2-24-04-Bush “Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass, an amendment to our constitution defining andprot4cting marriage as a union of a man and woman as husband and wife.”
55. 3-6-03 Bush vows to have a UN vote no matter what 3-18-03-Wash Post-“Bush withdraws request for UN vote.”
56. Columbia Journalism Review—Bush vetoed Patients Bill Of Rights as Governor but boasted how he got it passed. Now, flip flop to double straddle. He touted the Texas law as super duper.
When a challenge to the Texas Law went before Supreme Court Bush joined with two HMO’s in opposing the law. Could it be because the HMO’s are Pioneers in his campaign. Doesn’t this man have any honor or integrity?

57.Remove troops from Korea. A proposal by Cheney. Bush on 3-13-02 “There is no question we have obligations around the world, which we will keep. There is a major obligation for the 37,000 troops in South Korea. It is an obligation that is an important obligation. I know it is important and we will keep that obligation.
US Newswire-8-19-04.

58. Speech in Michigan 8-16-04—“We have got to use our resources wisely, like water
It starts with keeping the Great Lakes water in the Great Lakes Basin.. My position is clear : we are never going to allow diversion of Great Lakes water.”
Per Associated Press in July 2001 Bush said “I want to talk to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien about piping Great Lakes water to the west and southwest. A lot of people don’t need the water, but when you head South and West, we do need it.”
AP 7-19-01—White House release 7-17-01 “remarks by the President in Roundtable interview with Foreign Press.

59. Cheney in Elko, Nevada 8-14-04 “Kerry recommended sensitivity for terrorists. No war was ever won by sensitivity”. Interview with Hugh Hewitt—8-12-04—“From the standpoint of the shrine (Najah), obviously it is a sensitive area, and we are very much aware of it’s sensitivity.” The Daily Howler-8-17-04
60. NYTimes-8-31-04---
April 13,2004—“Can you ever win the war on terror? Of course you can.”
July 19,2004----“I have a clear vision and a strategy to win the war on terror.”
August 30,2004—“I don’t think you can win the war on terror”
“I say what I Mean and Mean what I say”
“When I make up my mind it stays made up.”
IS THIS PERSON SANE?
61. March 5,2000—on CBS Face the Nation—Independent group attacking his opponent John McCain---Bush said: ‘That is what freedom of speech is all about. People have the right to do what they want to do, under the-under the First Amendment in America.

August 23,2004 Bush said: “the practice of independent groups to run smear ads is bad for the system. They should be banned.”
From Media Matters 8-27-04 TRUST ME—I SAY WHAT I MEAN AND MEAN WHAT I SAY sho nuff

62.BIGGIE WAFFLE—8-28-04 Interview Bush said “I don’t think we can win it (war on error) but I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world-let’s put it that way.” Bush said innumerable times “we will win the war on terror”. Many times. www.permalink 8-31-04
Does this person understand anything he says?
63. What a Jerk! Signs Bill today (3-21-05) which stops removal of Life Support for 41 year old lady. Yet, Signed law in Texas to allow removal of Life-Support due to big hospital costs.
Clarence Swinney-political historian-burlington nc www.cwswinney@netzero.net

Super List—172 Waffles—www.compassiongate.com





Some D Dude - 2/24/2005

"do not for a moment believe Al Gore would have crashed the economy by slashing taxes on the rich (which is the real cause of the deficit, not spending). Nor do I believe he would have reversed environmental protections, supported pseudo-science, proposed a Constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage..."

Is this for real? Did Terry McAuliffe write this?

The econ is crashed? Try reading a newspaper. You're clueless. As for the deficit, IT'S THE FIFTH HIGHEST, not the highest. So please don't lie when making a point. And the tax cuts only shave off about 5% or less of what the govt. will take in over 10 years. Hardly a cause for concern, eh? Also, what about when you pay more in taxes you get more of a cut don't you understand?

What enviro protections have been rolled back? Go read Gregg Easterbrook of The New Republic. He intensely disagrees.

Gay Marriage Amendment. Sorry, but Bill Clinton ended the gay marriage dream when he signed the Def. of Marriage Act.

Pseudo-science? Like what? Is Bush practicing Alchemy or something? Perhaps physiognomy? Just wondering.


Some D Dude - 2/24/2005

"What the hell explains these attitudes, which look so ridiculous in retrospect? I wish I knew. One thing I can say: I am confident that this poll of historians will look asinine in turn within 20 years."

Dude, the poll is bogus. No reputable HISTORIAN would give his thoughts on how the PRESENT will be interpreted by FUTURE generations.

Also, this is all the feckless Left has left: just lie about anything the right does, then when the right questions/attacks back, the Left holds up their collective nose and merely responds: Just what we thought. You're too stupid to understand.


Steve Herman - 12/3/2004

It is extremely difficult to understand how a person with the intellect, abilities, character, and personal history of George W. Bush is today President.

This is pure conjecture, but I think a meeting or meetings were held back in 1992-93 after Clinton took office to lay out the strategy to gain control once and for all and under any and all circumstances.

The original plan was to run Jeb Bush in 2000. George W. was then considered an after-thought, back-up plan, or something along those lines. Back in 1992-93, both were politically neophytes, never having run for any office of any type and with a total of 0 years in public service between them. Strangely, however, or perhaps not so strangely, both decided to make thier first bid for elective office in this time-span.

Jeb does seem to have some intellectual abilities, some charisma, and is generall quite well-spoken. It is quite easy to see how those wanting to take over permanent control of the government could see that by getting Jeb elected twice governor of some state (generally considered the minimum criteria necessary for a credible candidate) and with his natural name recognition, he would serve quite nicely to do their bidding.

However something happened. Jeb lost in his first race for governor of Florida. The back-up, George W. won his race as governor or Texas. Jeb won the next race, and George W. was reelected. Coming into 2000, GW, their back-up, was the only option that met the minimal criteria to be viewed as a credible candidate for the Presidency.

It should be understood that their was no actual Republican Presidential primary in 2000. GW was given at least 20 million well before the Iowa caucuses. Whatever happened in Iowa and New Hampshire, no candidate could possible compete against GW and his money in the sudden onset of primaries across a vast swath of states in what is known as Super Tuesday. The money made GW a lock before the primaries ever began, money that had never previously accrued to a candidate until after he had proven his electoral viabilty as a presidential candidate.

Securing the sanitization of his military records and whatever other records that may have existed, careful handling and coaching of the candidate, the use of sophisticated tactics greatly refined in the last election, and surviving a scare when some records did come to light, those wishing to take permanent control over the government have now succeeded in twice electing a person who is essentially an unknown mediocrity to the highest office in the land.

What does this mean? It means that those who initiated this strategy have taken over permanent control of the US government.


Steve Herman - 12/3/2004

Bush appears to me to be someone who was essentially picked by moneyed interests to do their bidding. Unless someone comes into the office with convictions and goals, maticulously tailoring his life and presence toward one day attaining the highest office and working toward achieving them, I do not see how that person can be evaluated in the historical sense.

Bush is simply a person who's led a mediocre, mostly private, priveleged life, and is and will continue to be a mediocre president.


david james bobalik - 11/5/2004

After reading many of your posts on George W. Bush I would like to state a view things I found troubling in my own personal investigation of Bush supporters.
I set out on a quest to collect reasons they support him based on the improvements he has made in the lives of United States citizens during his four years. I collected zero. Usually there was a referance made to his being trustworthy and the proliferation of the opposition. I then began to mention Bush programs, such as the education reform of President Bush, No One Get Left Behind, as though I were in support of it myself. They would then begin to shoot it down themselves choosing their words carefully.
I am still in search of these reasons. I can list a few reasons as to why I should not have voted for George Bush.
1) The idea of privatizing health care to start. Individuals investing into their own Social Security so that the only people who will ever collect social security are those who do not need it. When do we institute such a plan? How about the people who have already worked for 30 years unaware of such a reform, is there going to be a period of time where US citizens continue paying Social security for retirees as well as their own private social security accounts. These are the same people who are going to have to pay back billions in debt of the two wars we are fighting now. Also what about those who made a good wage during prime earning years thirty years ago but their earnings pale to the cost of living of today? I had lived three years in Thailand and saw a country where there is no social security, senior citizens are taken care of by granddaughters working as prostitutes in major cities, and if you think we that far away from such atrocities in the USA think again, our poverty rate already exceeds Thailand's 12.7 % to 12.5%

2) Totally eliminating any sense of international support for the united States outside of The United States. I recently read a poll where his approval rating ranks between 3 and 6% in Europe's four major non-English speaking countries, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain. He has created this feeling abroad of American arrogance which now unfortunately is all to true.

I have not even touched on Iraq, which was a major misnomer of justice, and has Arabs mentioning Bush as a terrorist and murderer. Actually in terms of percentages , more Iraqis have died during our military occupation of the country than during the Hussein regime. We make mention of his mistreatment of the Kurds however support Turkey, who has commited similar atrocities against them. But such is the case with this adminstration, say anything in order to give a reason or excuse to try and justify your own selfish means to an end. Also having lived with a Lebanese family in a city called Zahle, I can tell you American people are respected greatly there, but our Government is criticized. While I relaize there is some bias amongst Arabs concerning their homeland policies, they are however stuppored by the ignorance and naivity of the American public. Bush stated that there was a strong connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, which is totally untrue. He declared Iraq a hotbed of terrorism however any educated person who has researched at all, knows that Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen are all far more dangerous places in relation to terrorism. He spoke of Iraq's crimes against hmanity, but the Syrian army violated UN Sanctions as peace keeping forces in Lebanon, stealing water and resources that went to the support of military and terrosit groups, but nothing was done.

3) Finally amongst supporters there is no stability in there reasoning, they support him for his stance as a Christian, which I also do for being Christian, but they claim Jimmy Carter was a horrible President. If you support Bush as a Christian how could you criticize Carter who had most likely the strongest christian faith of any President.

I would like to end by saying I believe that your assessment of Geroge Bush as horrible President does not go far enough, most of the men you mention, with the exception of McKinley, and Coolidge inherited many problems, Grant( reconstruction), Buchanan ( Civil unrest), Nixon ( Vietnam), Reagan ( Iran and an unstable economy), Hoover( The Great Depression). While your point is noted about their shortcomings, Bush inherited a strong economy, high levels of international good will and feelings toward the US, no miltary conflict, and has us on the brink of bankruptcy, and has the whole world at odds with us. I think we need to look back to rule of Czar Nicholas II in Russia to find a worse leader than Bush, amongst major world powers. Maybe there is some magic man behind the scenes with magical powers over his wife, or maybe when they chained Rasputin and threw him in the river he once again averted death and is really Donald Rumsfeld, as outlandish a possiblity as that is, it is far more likely than George Bush rescuing our rapidly declining country during his second term.


Andrew Warner - 10/30/2004

As an admirer of all things American and keen student of your history, I cannot fail to agree that GW Bush has been the most atrocious President in recent times. The most apt comparison to Bush is, to my mind, Calvin Coolidge. Bush like Coolidge has enough personal honesty to keep him straight (unlike Nixon) but not enough political honesty to use the powers of his office for the good of his country. Bush constantly throws around the word freedom like a grenade, coming out with statements such as “Bin Laden hates our freedoms”. Bush with the Patriot Act, the invasion of Iraq, the rejection of international treaties, economic incompetence and his stifling of dissent is the greatest threat to American democracy since Nixon.
The intellectual dishonesty by a President towards his people, is perhaps Bush’s greatest betrayal of the American people. Bin Laden hates America for proping up the Saudi regime, bolstering Israel and what he sees as the humiliation of the Islamic world. Bin Laden isn’t a threat to the fundamental freedoms of the American people, anymore than the IRA were a threat to democracy in my own country. Bush has by his unwarranted invasion of Iraq and his complete lack of political courage in actually attacking the causes of fundamental Islamic militancy, acted as the greatest recruiting sergeant in history for terrorism.
If Bush had shown the foresight, intelligence and courage displayed by Truman with the Marshall Plan and led the world (which in the wake of 9/11 was totally behind America) to destroy the grievances which have radicalised the Muslim world AND used US power to seek and destroy Al-Qaeda and the Taliban totally, he would have been entitled to rank amongst the great US presidents. Bush is at bottom a man like Harding who has been elevated (corruptly) to a place far beyond his abilities and unlike his father doesn’t have the experience or brain power to distinguish between bad advice and good. Complexity is not a vice, and Bush just doesn’t have the brains to deal with the problems of a complex world. The Oval Office needs to be filled by men of ability and character, Bush may have character (of a simplistic sort) but without ability it means nothing.


Cline Edwin Hall - 9/28/2004

I find the article on historians and George W. Bush very interesting. While I agree on some of the statements about the weakness of the Bush administration, it seems that it was one-sided. I appreciate the sampling of comments made by the 83% who were critical of Bush, but where are the comments of the 19% of those who support Bush? There were none. Instead, there was a long list of susposed mistakes of Bush. Historians and journalists should be balanced and fair but I did not find any balance in this article. Perhaps the article was intended to be anti-Bush, but if that is true why even mention the 19%.


Robert Standish Norris - 9/27/2004

I don't think there is any question that he is the worst president in American history. Let him tell you what he has done.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS PRESIDENT:

I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.

I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.

I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.

I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.

I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12 month period.

I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12 month period.

I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.

In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.

I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.

I set the record for most campaign fundraising trips by a U.S. President.

I am the all-time U.S. and world record holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations. My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. history, Enron.

My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision.

I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution. More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip offs in history.

I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.

I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.

I changed the U..S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.

I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any President in U.S. history.

I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government.

I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history.

I am the first President in U.S. history to have the
United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.

I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law.

I refused to allow inspectors access to U.S. "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.

I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election.

I set the record for fewest number of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.

I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one year period. After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.

I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.

I have set the all time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.

I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, preemptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens, and the world community.

I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families in war time.

In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq, then blamed the lies on our British friends.

I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.

I am supporting development of a nuclear "Bunker Buster," a WMD (Weapon of Mass Destruction).

I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein to justice.


jerry s craft - 9/22/2004

I found your article re the lack of real substance in the
U.S. history texts that our high school juniors are using
to bring back memories of my own teaching career. When I
began teaching 12th grade civics at Glendora H.S. (in
Southern California) in the early '60s, the adopted text
was written by Eastern academics who had no knowledge of
California's interesting and unique civics history. As a
result, I taught the program using scrounged resource ma-
terial, etc. Hopefully I was able to make a contribu-tion to my students' understanding of how government op-
erated, and of their responsibilities as future citizens.
It distresses me to learn than reportedly a large number
of teachers given this important assignment are neither
academically nor emotionally prepared.


maggie e. winslett - 9/22/2004

Folks who lived in Dallas and attended the local "social events" in the 70-80's cannot forget the stories of CRAZY George Bush running around Midland in his little RED SILK CHINESE SHOES. Yes I know that was during His so-called youth...(He was in His 30-40’s) He was an adult. I am still having trouble, even today, as He addressed the United Nations, believing we are about to put Him BACK in office. Out of ALL the Strong, Smart, devoted leaders we have in the WHOLE COUNTRY is He really the one we want to go down in HISTORY as an eight year Republican President leading us through the only time period in our Nation's history that we were ATTACKED on our own soil? In truth it makes Me want to cry that we have so many of our blessed and beautiful youth dieing because we have a spoiled rich kid as president. Mygosh! Is he really THE BEST OUR COUNTRY CAN DO? What about the real leaders, people who actually STUDIED History and GOVERNMENT!!! Who really have 20-30 years of KNOWLEDGE about world polices. What will the history books write about His early life...He grew-up rich, He coasted through private schools, He partied His way through College, He drank heavy, took lots of drugs, ran a couple of oil companies in the ground, became a MINORITY owner in His beloved Ranger Baseball Team...and then some very RICH TEXANS decided to cash in on His Birth Name and run Him for Governor of Texas. Because, that is just what took place. Now how in Hell does that background make a human the BEST PERSON TO LEAD OUR COUNTRY, are we crazy? What the Hell will History say about a group of U.S. voters in the year 2004 who were so stupid that they gave the White House to guy who has that kind of past? I mean shame on us for falling for Him the FIRST TIME. But twice...not me, my vote is going for a man who actually PLANNED a life for leadership. A man who worked His whole life to lead people and who really studied HISTORY and public service? Yes I changed sides and became a Democrat...My Parents would roll over in their grave if they knew. I'm 53 and have been a Republican all my life but I've got to be a good American first. God rest the sheep that vote for Bush for the second time. I refuse to vote for a man with a love for Drugs and Jack Daniels, slow thinking but fast talking, bubba baseball, AND RED CHINESE SILK SHOES. What were we thinking???


Maarja Krusten - 9/20/2004

If you click on the link about Dr. McElvaine's May 2004 poll, you will see that he then wrote:

"Why should the views of historians on the current president matter?

I do not share the view of another respondent that 'until we have gained access to the archival record of this president, we [historians] are no better at evaluating it than any other voter.' Academic historians, no matter their ideological bias, have some expertise in assessing what makes for a successful or unsuccessful presidency; we have a long-term perspective in which to view the actions of a current chief executive. Accordingly, the depth of the negative assessment that so many historians make of George W. Bush is something of which the public should be aware. Their comments make clear that such historians would readily agree with conclusion that then-Democratic presidential hopeful Richard Gephardt pronounced a few months ago: the presidency of George W. Bush is “a miserable failure.' "

While historians, like members of the general public, can assess the post-decisional aspects of the incumbent administration, right now we mostly must rely on Bob Woodward's books and on the assurances of people in government about what is going on behind the scenes. Some of the policy decisions would seem to indicate that options were not aired out as fully as officials have implied. (That reflects my historian side more than my voting record, which has been mostly but not exclusively Republican -- I am part of the shrinking group, a centrist.) Of course, officials are going to tell us that there is vigorous pre-decisional debate and careful consideration of options, but is that really the case? The evidence, if it exists, is in the as yet unavailable archival record.

Occasionally, some primary source materials emerge through leaks to newspapers or the work of a commission. But we are in the dark, by and large, as to pre-decisional processes, an area the Bush administration has protected from view very strongly and may continue to do so after he leaves office. Still, as someone who has worked both as an archivist specializing in presidential records and as an historian, I would not dismiss the importance of access to the archival record in assessing a Presidency.

Dr. McElvaine writes that the assessment of Bush by historians "is something of which the public should be aware." Unfortunately, I don't believe the public cares much what historians think. It has almost no exposure to it, in any event.

In his September 11, 2004 column in the New York Times, "Ruling Class War," David Brooks argued that CEOs and business leaders are "spreadsheet people" who admire Bush's clarity and values and who tend to support Republicans. Brooks said historians and academics are "paragraph people" who focus on nuance and are drawn to Kerry and the Democrats. (A letter writer later added another class, "PowerPoint or bullet-point people," who "traffic in the meaningless business-speak of the management consultant, language that eschews equally the nuance and hard numbers of reality.")

Joe Klein noted in TIME last week that many voters like the fact that Bush seems to believe what he says even if it doesn't always match reality. Historians are supposed to traffic in reality. In this year's campaign, how often have you seen political appeals based on empirical evidence rather than emotion? Since neither Bush nor Kerry has directly addressed many of the hard issues facing the nation, why then should voters care what historians think? And if they did care, where would they read the type of critical analysis necessary to understand historians' views? They are not reading HNN, that's for sure.

If they were, what would they see? Peter Clarke elsewhere has pointed out correctly that HNN is not a site for historians, rather a site for political opinion with occasional historical overtones. Would any undecided voter be likely to be influenced by what is posted on HNN? Probably not, due to the tone of many of the messages. In a site supposedly focused on critical analysis, it is amusing to see how many of you fling mud at opposing viewpoints, demonize each other, and fail to give credit for any thought by opponents. If you guys handled family issues the way you do divergent viewpoint on HNN, you'd end up divorced from your spouses and estranged from your children! (Surely you are not at home the old fashioned "autocrats of the breakfast table!") And I'd hate to see how much turmoil you'd have in the workplace if you insulted colleagues the way you do each other here. Funny to watch actually and to try to figure out why the one upmanship and mud slinging is supposed to be appealing to readers! In a year where many members of the public say they are put off by negative campaigning, it is fascinating to see how often its tactics are replicated here on HNN's boards.



M L Thompson - 9/3/2004

With all due respect, Mr. Galle, I find more disturbing in your comment as a historian your advocacy that Abu Graihb should be destroyed. As a prison, it should be shut down, certainly. But the notion that the U.S. has the final say over what "history" the site should represent and how, as President Bush implies, reflects the same hypocrisy and disregard toward an international world view, diplomacy, or national self-determination which this administration took on in order to invade Iraq in the first place. Bush may believe that destroying Abu Graihb will erase the shame of the American military, but he is mistaken. For Iraquis and the rest of the world, the site is now symbolic of both Hussein's torture and that of the U.S., and no monument recasting that history-- short of that of repessive regimes, but we're freedom fighters, right?--can change that.


Virginia Elaine Gelms - 8/31/2004

Your comment that, "the intellectual poverty of [Mr. Galle's] disagreement serves indirectly as affirmation," is a logical fallacy.

The truth of Mr. Galle's conclusion does not depend on the (lack of) strength of his argument.

Suppose it is raining and a fool says, "The sky is dark. Therefore, it must be raining." Clearly, his argument is flawed, but that doesn't prove that his conclusion is false.


d c - 8/31/2004

M Fallia, agreed!

Half of all Americans are so apathetic and just love to live in ignorance. I really don't think the media or the administration can be blamed for this. The truth is out there and it's so easy to access, especially now with the internet and various publications. The thing is, some people really don't care and just live their pathetic lives engrossed in trash t.v. or video games, or else they don't even bother to vote! Meanwhile in the rest of the world, thousand of innocent people are dying and all of these apathetic americans have blood on their hands and don't even know it.

Mr. T.M. Akashi, I'm sure your book is very informative, unfortunately, the people who really should read it never will.


Bob Gipson Bailey - 8/27/2004

It would be interesting to know how the many historians who made up this article voted in the last election. I am willing to bet that probably 99% voted for Gore and could have written this same opinion before Bush ever took office.
Wisdom I respect, academia I question. Sadly it seems tht often the two never meet.


Thomas John Tucker - 8/22/2004

I have two things to say in reply to your post:

(1) You can't possibly believe that if the public disagrees with historians, then the historians must be out of touch. That's like saying that if I think I'm having a heart attack and the doctor says I'm just having heart burn, then the doctor must be out of touch. Clearly, the opinions of experts must be given at least as much weight as the opinions of non-experts.

(2) The public doesn't like Bush that much either. They may not think he's the worst ever, but his approval ratings are poor.

Listen, if you're spending a lot of time on the HNN, you should have the intelligence to understand that, all political beliefs aside, many of Bush's policies have failed. Just admit it and get over it. There have been bad Democratic presidents and bad Republican presidents. Bush is a bad Republican president. Just admit it. You don't have to vote for Kerry, but at least take enough of a step into reality to admit that Bush hasn't been that great.


Thomas Lyndon Wheeler - 8/17/2004

Of course the article doesn't violate HNN's rules about the use of vulgar, obscene, or abusive language.

I don't really think the poll WILL look foolish 'soon enough'; back in the '80s some of us protested that Reagan's invention of "facts" (remember the claim that the contras were the moral equivalent of the founding fathers? that trees cause most air pollution? that ketchup is a vegetable?), preferential tax treatment for the rich, and his benign-SOUNDING speechifying over policies disastrous to the economy, the environment and the unity of the country would lead to terrible results.

Since that time, look at what's happened: we had a pardon, by his VP, of people who were involved in illegal activities on Reagan's watch; a worsening of the gap between rich and poor; a severing of the safety net for the poor and middle class while that for the rich and incorporated grows steadily stronger; more adventurist wars; an increase in the deficit and national debt - snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as it seems; a worsening environment faced with stout denial by the current administration...

I wonder what you fellas think would constitute appropriate modes of speech for discussing someone you believe earnestly to be tearing the country down.

But this is actually all distraction; the true central question is what we can do to replace him in November!


Thomas Lyndon Wheeler - 8/17/2004

Maybe there is a bit of 'self-selection' in that historians tend to be 'liberal'. On the other hand maybe one should ask which is the chicken, and which the egg; maybe sober assessment of history, and perhaps especially in the United States, leads smart people toward views that might be termed "liberal".

Meanwhile, whatever the risks of assessing a President's effectiveness inside the 20 or 50 year mark, such assessment is a necessity; else what would one base one's vote on, in a re-election attempt?


Thomas Lyndon Wheeler - 8/17/2004

Have you ever noticed the way that some people lead off an "argument" with words that are really long and official-sounding, and then descend into colloquialism and swearing - -

and never once in all their writing actually say anything about the article they're objecting to?

Please go through this fella's posting and see what substance of any kind he puts forth to contest the historians' assessment...


Tom M Akashi - 7/31/2004

"A lot of this country is really freakin' stupid. I know how that sounds, but how can you explain this otherwise?"

A dentist once told me that if people like their dentist, then they think he is doing a good job. That explains why the public thinks George W is doing a good job, they look at that face and listen to him and think he's a cute 12 year old kid who they take a liking to. I call it the "Likeability Factor" which also explains why so many Americans think Reagan was a good president. They public found him just darn likeable. Historians (most) have the unfortunate habit of discounting likeability in their overall assessment.

"If my understanding of history is correct, the masses more often than not, allow oppression, even enjoy oppression in the name of security and stability."

A news reporter asked a Serb when was it that the public started to turn against Milosevic. He replied, once Milosevic started loosing. I think that is very telling about the human race, that we will overlook atrocities and abuses until it stops working and we start to loose. Bush's poll numbers looked great when we were winning, but now with 900+ US soldiers dead and thousands maimed or severly wounded, and no clear resolution in sight, the public is beginning wonder if we are still winning. But of course, Bush puts on his puppy dog smile and says "We've turned the corner."

We need to help educate the people. A book you might find interesting is 100 Thoughts - Life, Politics, Science and Religion by T.M. Akashi http://www.brightmorningpress.com


Jonathan P. Scoll - 7/27/2004

While it is all well and good to rate George Bush, a parlor game any number can play, the real question seems to me is: how did such a man even reach the presidency? The answer to that may be more disturbing, in terms of its implications for this country's future, than the man and his policies themselves.


Austin K. Williams - 7/19/2004

What a wonderful post. Some things always make sounds when they fall. Pretension and hubris come to mind.


miLky white - 7/14/2004

who the worst president ever was, and here's their response:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=worst+president+ever

i don't think it's a googLe bomb either


Andrew Michael Hurd - 6/21/2004

Don't try to historically analyze things that are under twenty years old - the positive and negative implications of a presidency are often not seen for at least that long.

But I'm assuming that many of these historians weren't even trying to draw accurate historical comparisons, and were instead letting their own political beliefs trickle into their "analysis." Yet another reason to wait twenty years to analyze a presidency's successes and failures - personal resentment and party ties are often broken down and the true nature of the presidency shines through.

I find your poll a bit like saying, "In a study of 500 people who tend to be conservative, 430 said that they wouldn't vote for John Kerry, and believe that he would be a bad president."


Jim Balter - 6/20/2004

> Don't be a jackass Mr. Balter. No one, except perhaps you, is smugly confident that the sun will rise in the morning; we all take that for granted.

First you attribute smug confidence to historians, then when I offer an analogy based on the absence of smugness in our reasonable expectation that the sun will rise, you affirm my point as if disaffirming it, and throw your "smugly" spitball at me, too. Heehaw!

> For instance, I am an incredibly bright person and I oppose the war in Iraq, therefore the war in Iraq must be wrong and it will undoubtedly fail or else I am not as bright as I think I am and my opposition to the war may be flawed.

You call me a jackass, but I submit that only a jackass would offer up such an absurd and dishonest caricature.


Jim Balter - 6/20/2004

> Next, you are now expected to offer an answer in response.

It's always a fair response to point out that a fallacy was committed.


Jim Balter - 6/20/2004

> Don't be a jackass Mr. Balter.

The jackass is the one who writes like that.


Michael V Rosenberg - 6/12/2004

I'm surprised that historians would bypass FDR's willingness to incarcerate Americans of Japanese ancestry during WW II, which is, for my money, the most flagrant single willful governmental violation of human rights in the US in the last 100 years.


Kenneth Stephen Ebert - 6/7/2004

I'm particularly troubled by your claim, "...violence does not justify violence...and there is no self defense argument under any credible legal standard."

Applying your standard, I could promise you that I am going to do you physical violence should we ever cross paths, and there is nothing you can do about it except wait for my attack. Just who is responsible for your safety, and how are they going to provide you with protection? Then I'd ask the same questions as they pertain to nation states.

I'm not a historian, but I've learned enough in my lifetime to know that acts of violence certainly do justify retaliatory acts of violence. Should the United States have just turned the other cheek, or perhaps surrendered, following the attack on Pearl Harbor?

I just asked to point out the absurdity of your position since you did not see fit to acknowledge that the motivations of the actors can provide valid moral and legal justification for acts of violence.


Matt K. Murphy - 5/25/2004

I don't agree that the comments in this article violate the HNN code of conduct, but I can't remember the last time I read such abusive language from people who are supposed to know better! It's unreal. Please see my comment below. You're right: This sort of poll will look foolish soon enough, but by then our anointed preservers of history will be busily savaging ANOTHER Republican president.

I have a strong suspicion that a poll taken during the Reagan years would have produced similar results; historians are crazy if they think they can look evenhanded while spewing this kind of vitriol about a president whose term isn't even yet completed! History has undergone some revisions with regard to Reagan as his record -- and the results of his policies -- have been re-examined, and the judgment of history regarding Bush should rely on the unknown resolutions of current issues; i.e., whether Iraq forms a free and stable government.

My hunch is that you're on the right side. Keep the faith.


Matt K. Murphy - 5/25/2004

Wow. Thanks for sharing, Prof McElvaine. Even a lifelong Republican like myself was startled at the level of sheer acrimonious bombast hurled at this president by your fellow historians, who are putatively trained to examine evidence evenhandedly. I simply goggle at the stupefying things that otherwise intelligent people repeatedly say about this president; it's like watching the onset of a mass psychosis. The unquestioning acceptance of spurious cliches (which many of the aforementioned historians would doubtlessly be highly skeptical of if they were looking 100 years into the past instead of examining the present) is simply unbelievable: you cite, for example, the repeated invocation of special treatment for Halliburton -- i.e. no competitive bidding -- even though the Clinton administration repeatedly awarded contracts to Halliburton in an analogous fashion; similarly, there is complaining about the administration's plan to cut down certain trees in national forests, even though there is ample evidence that old and rotting wood leads to forest fires.

Every time I read something like this that confirms the insane leftism of academic elites, I keep flashing back to Malcolm Muggeridge's essay on the great liberal death wish, with Muggeridge's reminiscences about how his liberal British colleagues in journalism and academia consistently took an attitude that anything injurious to Britain was automatically to be applauded; that Hitler was bad but an understandable manifestation of the Treaty of Versailles and thus it was morally improper to condemn him; that any attempt to rearm Britain against a looming Nazi threat was a "rush to war"; that the ramshackle League of Nations and international goodwill could be trusted to keep the peace; that Stalin's Soviet Union was a new utopia. I remember Orwell's comment that many British intellectuals floated a theory that American troops arriving in Britain to prepare for the Continetal invasion were really there to occupy Britain, an attitude that caused Orwell to remark that some things are so stupid that only intellectuals will believe them (Orwell also got the idea for the Ministry of Peace and Truth in "1984" from the BBC, which was spewing left-wing nonsense even back then).

I think of how, after the war, the French Communist party -- which ridicuously inflated the number of its members killed in the Resistance -- became the most popular political party among French intellectuals and made its leader, Maurice Thorez -- who collaborated with the Nazis -- into a cult figure. I remember the comment made by Paul Samuelson -- a Nobel laureate in economics, for Pete's sake -- that the Soviet command economy had proved to be a powerful engine for economic growth, and Lester Thurow's comment in 1989 (!) that the Soviet Union had made enormous economic strides in recent years, and John Kenneth Galbraith's 1984 comment that the Soviet economy was distinguishable from America's in that it made full use of its manpower. I think of the large number of historians who believe, even after the decoding of the Venona cables, that Alger Hiss was innocent. I remember a poll the sociologist Paul Hollander sent to Canadian intellectuals in the last 1980s, asking them who they considered to be the most evil person of the 20th Century: Adolf Hitler came in first, Ronald Reagan came in second.

What the hell explains these attitudes, which look so ridiculous in retrospect? I wish I knew. One thing I can say: I am confident that this poll of historians will look asinine in turn within 20 years.


Mattie n/a Stich - 5/24/2004

Mr. Davidson:
So much crap...so little time!


Mattie n/a Stich - 5/24/2004

what's dumbfoundingly shocking is that so many Americans placed any confidence in this misadministration. Yes, some things make a noise when they fall, others...don't but their foul smell is greater than any noise.


Ben H. Severance - 5/24/2004

Mr. Ciconni,

I'm not sure what you're trying to tell me. I've not been able to access the websites you refer to.

BHS


Ben H. Severance - 5/24/2004

Don't be a jackass Mr. Balter. No one, except perhaps you, is smugly confident that the sun will rise in the morning; we all take that for granted. The smug confidence I'm referring to comes from a refusal to accept any conclusion that does not fit into a predisposed way of thinking. For instance, I am an incredibly bright person and I oppose the war in Iraq, therefore the war in Iraq must be wrong and it will undoubtedly fail or else I am not as bright as I think I am and my opposition to the war may be flawed.

In the future, try offering comments that move beyond your "smug" one-liners.


Andrew Ciconni Ciconni - 5/24/2004

For me, the pursuit of history has been intellectually humbling. I often assert my views aggressively and sometimes arrogantly, but in the end I can never be completely sure of my position, and am frequently "enlightened" by the insights of non-professionals.

Andrew Ciconni
http://www.spamfilterinfo.com">http://www.spamfilterinfo.com


Jonathan Dresner - 5/24/2004

Mr. Weiss,

I've looked back over the article, and I don't see anything which even approaches a violation of the vulgarity and civility limits on HNN discourse. I suppose the one-sidedness of the result might be seen as "piling on" but, without scaring you, I've seen much worse on these discussion boards.

And my years of experience with history and historians suggests to me that the only thing "history" will probably prove is that things change. Take, for example, Ronald Reagan, whose reputation now is as almost as good (and as bifurcated) as FDR's used to be, for many of the same reasons (and some much less convincing ones). FDR is getting more complicated and harder to love; Reagan will find a more interesting and nuanced balance point somewhere closer to human, as well.

Bush? Well, since we'll never actually get access to the records that would allow a full reckoning of his sins and triumphs, at least not this century, we'll just have to muddle through.


Jonathan Dresner - 5/24/2004

Well, there's always the "born again" route. Or, if they had a solid congressional majority, impeach and look like hypocrites (it worked for the Republicans).

Seriously, though, you're both right: the Democratic party has not offered principled objections to the Iraq war, but tactical ones, and that doesn't really make for high-minded debating.


Steven Heise - 5/23/2004

I believe that Mr. Clarke has touched on the crux of the problem for the Democrats. The vast majority of them have voted on bills which have allowed for the Republican administration's recent machinations with constitutional law and international politics.

Because they have backed themselves into a corner with thier voting record, we find that while the Democrats are more than willing to speak out on matters concerning Bush's war, they are caught in a conundrum concerning how to best overshadow their their prior support to the war, while attacking its mis-management. Some have taken the route of John Kerry and claimed that they were duped into it (which weakens the argument by Dems, or liberals in general, that President Bush is an intellectual midget), while others are focusing exclusivly now on the corruption exposed in Abu Gharib and the Haliburton/KBR bids. Unfortunately for those looking to see Bush impeached, or Rumsfeld fired though, this strategy, and their prior record in following blindly to war, this makes it politically impossible for Democrats to bring out articles of impeachment without looking like a bunch of hypocrites.


Ralph W. Weiss, Sr. - 5/23/2004

Thank you for letting me comment. I just read the above article. History will prove how far off base these people are! I suppose that this great country of ours allows the abusive and degrading remarks such as most of these people used. Yet it is surprising that the rules HNN imposes on those of us who want to comment, strictly forbids use of some of these terms, words and phrases these "history professors" used in degrading and humiliating our Great President! Ralph W. Weiss, Sr.


micah knapp - 5/22/2004

Mr. Dresner,

I appreciate your insight and learn from such dialogue.

While it may turn out to be a valuable piece of work in the years to come, I think it may also be misinterpreted, even misquoted by many. i.e. all historians, as opposed to historians connected with the HNN poll. Of course, this too is a struggle, like poll self-selection, that may never be eliminated. In other words, there will always be people who misinterpret and misquote statistics.

I also find that statistics, more often than not, reflect the bias' of certain groups. I presently live and work as an American History teacher in Shanghai, China. I read statistics everyday in the local newspapers both Chinese and English.

I am sure that you are aware of the issue at hand here. In studying Chinese language and modern history over the past three years, I have come to notice how very good the CCP is at tweaking statistics and crunching numbers for selfish gain in addition to their utilizing statistics to promote their the Party agenda both nationally and internationally. Perhaps this has caused me to be overly skeptical of statistics.

In hashing it out in this manner, I have come to realize that I would be more easily swayed by a more qualitative and analytical academic argument, rather than statistical analysis. While it may be good information for an statistician or someone more easily convinced by numbers and graphs, the Liberal Arts student moves on to other more 'pressing' arguments.

Thanks,
mk


Jonathan Dresner - 5/22/2004

Mr. Knapp,

I gave up a long time ago trying to keep score in exchanges like the above, but I have consistently found that a reasonably cool response is much more likely to get the discussion back on track than responding in kind (and sometimes they even apologize). It's my experience, and you can take it for what it's worth.

Regarding the larger subject at hand, I was under the impression that the hypothesis of the poll, based on anecdotal evidence such as public rhetoric, was that Bush was a polarizing figure, and the "best since/worst since" form was a way of measuring that polarization as well as giving it some qualitative specificity.

415 responses is a really good return rate: I haven't taken statistics, so I can't replicate the calculations, but that's a lot of respondents for a niche site like this. Even national polls are considered statistically valid with fewer than two thousand respondents, and this is a poll of historians, a significantly smaller population. [By the way, I freely admit to my students and colleagues that history is a social science, though as someone once said, it's the science of things that happen once. Nonetheless, the thesis-hypothesis-evidence-analysis model is entirely consonant with historical methods, though our standards of proof are often more humanistic/qualitative than quantitative.] The question of poll validity based on self-selection is one which the entire polling industry is struggling: as phone call screening and do-no-call-lists pare down the respondent rate of "push" surveys, their validity is declining (thought they hate to admit it) and the validity of self-selected surveys is increasing as the internet permits broader contacts of more carefully defined groups. In other words "scientific" surveys, if they ever truly existed, are increasingly mythical and new methods of analysis have to take that into account.

We can quibble about analysis, but this is a remarkably good piece of social science data collection, particularly for a bunch of historians, and an historical record that will be of inestimable value (in other words, I don't know how useful it'll be, but I think there'll be something useful in it) in the years ahead.


micah knapp - 5/22/2004

M Falli;

Agreed. Well, all except the "H" in Jesus Christ.

I don't think that it would make any difference, either Republican or Democrat or Libertarian. Given the circumstances, humanity would rush to crown whomever offers the better package, so long as [s]he ensured them of their protection--ensured them of their personal peace and affluence.

If my understanding of history is correct, the masses more often than not, allow oppression, even enjoy oppression in the name of security and stability.

Octavius, Hitler, Sen. McCarthy, Reagan, Clinton, Bush, or Harrison Ford...it's easy to say that it wouldn't matter who they are or what team they are on. The majority of humanity continues making the same mistakes. Albeit, while laughing our asses off.

mk


micah knapp - 5/22/2004

And so history repeats itself. I think we agree on more than we might admit. I must confess, we are both good at stereotypes and sweeping generalizations.

Allow me to wax personal for a moment.

I guess I have suffered from stereotypes and sweeping generalizations for so long that I have become good at forming them.

Yes. I hated and ignored history in High School and the early stages of college, mainly because all my history teachers didn't think I would amount to anything. I guess everyone gave up on me before ever giving me a chance--as I see it, this is mainly due to stereotypes and generalizations.

So I formed my own with regard to history teachers/professors.

Suddenly, I met one history professor who was different. This changed everything. He actually took history seriously and he took me seriously. And thus began my love of the study of history.

Regarding perfection. I wouldn't expect anyone to be able to reach such an unreality. In this case however, civility befits us, and I am no prima donna.

mk


micah knapp - 5/22/2004

Mr. Dresner,

I appreciate your honesty. I also agree with your response.

I think that "historians whose time was spent on 'gallup poles'" is rather tame compared to being labeled a "horny, fat, racist" et al. This is a little more than unnecessary in the context of a discussion thread hosted by HNN and occupied by scholars. Aggressive and satyrical, perhaps allowed; brash and immature, preferrably not.

I will try to do better on my part.

Also, your comment on empirical evidence is well said, I must clarify my position somewhat however. I do concure with your understanding of empirical, even so, I cannot bring myself to see how statistics compiled on such an issue can be separated from scientific rigor.

Obviously, there is the an implied hypothesis that says Bush does not "fare nearly so well among professional historians." And so to validate this hypothesis, a survey is drawn up and administered to a select group of historians at George Mason University's HNN only, in an effort to draw out and test its logical or empirical efficacy. Accordingly, such such a study should result in the establishment of a theory. In this case, according to the statistics gathered, the conclusive theory is claimed is that historians are against Bush and consdier him the worst president ever.

Of course, we are historians, not scientists so we cannot give away that we have borrowed scientific methodology. :)

I would go even further to say that this above mentioned theory is inadequate. Based on the limited pool of historians surveyed, the hypothesis needs to be adjusted and a more cogent theory (based on this masked scientific study) should state clearly, "HNN Historians are against Bush and believe he is the worst president ever."

mk


Stephen Sylvester Smith - 5/22/2004

Really, Mr. micah knapp.
Cointelpro. I will not subscribe to the rape, murder and torture of women and children by fat, murderous, racist thugs who hide behind our military's uniforms or the hopelessly corrupted chickenhawks who hide behind our American flag. This is dishonorable to the people who serve, risk and die for America with honor. we have a generation that chose to ignore history. Since we have over two bilion more human beings living on this planet, the results will be more severe.Only the arrogance of the "generation x" culture could be decieved by cointelpro or the likes of Mr. Bush. You may call me uncivil if you wish but I am no prima donna.


micah knapp - 5/22/2004

"And just what answer did you offer to the contentions made?"

Ok class, open your textbooks to Debate 101.
First, I read the article which stated stated certain contentions based on an informal, unscientific survey.

Secondly, in answer to the contention of this article that implies an informal, unscientific survey as a valid empirical base, I stated the contention that "my love of the study of history was not sparked by scholarly historians whose time was spent on 'gallup' poles."

Next, you are now expected to offer an answer in response. Please avoid attacks on character. Instead, it is more civilized to offer a valid and logical argument in answer to my contention, which was in response to the article based on the implied contention and so on.

Allow me to explain, I read a contention, I answer, making a contention of my own, and then you respond with a reasonable answer in either the form of an affirmative or negative contention.

Note: Attacks on character imply an appeal to emotions rather than the intellect. This is often times driven by yet another emotion called insecurity. This would be clearly identified as an ad hominem attack.

Please note class, that there is a difference between the contention that is first brought to the table for discussion/debate and the answer that if given in response.

In this case, the response was clearly an "attack on the opponents character." Come on, you can't be serious in calling me horny or fat or dumb or racist?!

Of course, if you get your reasoning backwards, then you end up with the shallow response that tries to turn the ad hominem attack around.

Wherease, in this case, my contention is clearly stated in my original post. I read the article and my first contention was clearly communicated: "my love of the study of history was not sparked by scholarly historians whose time was spent on 'gallup' poles."

A few suggestions: Perhaps you may wish to defend gallup poles or this survey in particular or you may want to breakdown the validity of my understanding/love of history. Another approach may be to call into question the intellect of whatever kind of historians have influenced me since I was clearly not influenced by 'gallup pole' historians.

But please don't insult my intelligence by calling me horny. That won't help your argument in the least.


Jonathan Dresner - 5/22/2004

Please don't. Yes, Smith's response was uncivil, but then your postings in this thread haven't been all that nice, either.

For the record, though, empirical evidence does not mean, or imply, scientific rigor. It merely means that the evidence exists, it is real.


Jim Balter - 5/22/2004

> marked by an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made.

And just what answer did you offer to the contentions made? "scholarly historians whose time was spent on 'gallup' poles [sic]" is a textbook example of an ad hominem argument. Sheesh.


Jim Balter - 5/21/2004

The internment was also a means of robbing many Americans of their homes and wealth. Mr. Severance's fabrications here say a lot, as do his scare quoted oppression and his excusing it as long as it is "targeted" and not applied to "most" Americans.

And Mr. Dehler plays fast and loose with language and history when he accuses FDR of being the worst president in re civil rights on the basis of the arguably worst *instance* of civil rights abuse. If that is truly his criterion, then his concern about judging Bush's presidency before its completion is hypocritical, unless he is arguing that we don't yet know just how much worse it might end up.


Jim Balter - 5/21/2004

> the smug confidence of many historians that it will, or already has, failed notwithstanding

This is like talking about the smug confidence we have that the sun will come up tomorrow because, after all, it might not.


Jim Balter - 5/21/2004

You disagree but offer no basis for the disagreement, no rebuttal to any point made. The intellectual poverty of your disagreement serves indirectly as affirmation.


M Fallai - 5/21/2004

Thank you for laying out the case from people who know what they are talking about, who have the perspective of having studied history.

Why is it that the vast majority of educated people who follow current events, despise Bush, and it's the ignorant ones, the ones who only watch Fox News or don't follow the news at all, who like Bush because, "He makes me feel safe! he stands up to the terrorists!"

A lot of this country is really freakin' stupid. I know how that sounds, but how can you explain this otherwise? Look at what has happened on his watch. But because he's a Republican, well, it's OK. If a Democrat (like, oh, CLINTON) had this kind of track record, he'd be impeached and convicted already.

(you didn't even get into the Plame affair when citing all the failures of Bush. That was TREASON committed in the Vice President's office)

But, Clinton is a bad guy even though his administration stopped the Millennium bomb plot, caught and jailed the WTC bombers, presided over an enormous budget surplus, actually paid down the debt, everyone had good paying jobs, and there was peace and prosperity.

But oh my god! He got a blow job! This man must be punished!

Jesus H. Christ. Orwell is bitterly laughing his ass off, wherever he is now.


micah knapp - 5/21/2004

Oops...I forgot something.

According to a formal and scientific study, Military Family Resource Center compiled a 2002 Demographics Study which states, "Nearly 80 percent (78.8%) of Active Duty personnel are 35 years of age of younger, while one-fifth (21.3%) are over 35 years of age."

The same study breaks this 80% down into 31.7% between the ages of 26 and 35, and 47.1% between the ages of 18 and 25. I believe this includes both x'ers and y'ers.

I guess (based on the tone of your response), the present Iraqi quagmire (and I do believe it to be a quagmire) is one way to eliminate the "smug, dumb, fat, racist and horny" generation x'ers.

More to come....


micah knapp - 5/21/2004

(1) Quoting from "What rules govern discussion boards?" I would like to draw attention to Rule Number five: "Please be civil. No ad hominem attacks."

(2) ad hominem according to Webster...1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect; 2 : marked by an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made.

(3) "Clearly based on empirical edvedence" implies a formal and scientific study which is clearly not the intent of the McElvaine in this article.

Tag. Your it.


c b - 5/21/2004

Contending that there is no signficant difference between the current administration and the Democratic Party is bizarre to me.

I do not for a moment believe Al Gore would have crashed the economy by slashing taxes on the rich (which is the real cause of the deficit, not spending). Nor do I believe he would have reversed environmental protections, supported pseudo-science, proposed a Constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage, tried to outlaw stem-cell research, launch an invasion on the basis of flimsy intelligence and without support of the UN.

I could go on and on. The point is that these differences are not "marginal."


Stephen Sylvester Smith - 5/21/2004

"Postmodern predisposition"?
This imformation is clearly based on empirical edvedence which we did not have easy access to during the human slaughter of the Vietnam era because we did not have the internet. Despite this, "generation x" has grown to be smug, dumb, fat, racist and horny. Perfectly programmed sheep begging to be sheared and slaughtered with dire consequences for humanity. The chickenhawks have tears coming out of thier eyes from laughing so hard all the way to the bank.


micah knapp - 5/21/2004

These words come to mind: "A recent informal, unscientific survey of historians conducted at my suggestion..."

Maybe it is just my postmodern predisposition, or just the fact that my origins are rooted in generation x. One thing I know for sure is that my love of the study of history was not sparked by scholarly historians whose time was spent on 'gallup' poles.

mk


Jonathan Dresner - 5/21/2004

Messrs. Dehler and Severance,

I'm not sure what level of study I'd have to reach to qualify as an "expert" but I've read and written about the internment quite a bit.

"Protection" was never cited as a reason for the internment. It was a military security measure based on racism ("can they be trusted?") and not a whole lot more. The supposed factual basis for the decision was, in fact, fabricated by a notoriously racist general, and there was substantial lobbying by white interests who faced significant economic competition from Japanese immigrants, particularly in the California agriculture industry.


Paul stitch - 5/20/2004

Indeed Mr. Davidson, allowing for your gramatically incorrect comment, to what "crap" are you referring ? The essay cites numerous "facts." Do you suggest that historians should teach other than fact to the children ?


Ben H. Severance - 5/20/2004

I am not an authority on FDR's internment policy, therefore I have no proof for my assertion. I mentioned it only as an alternative way of looking at something that at first glance is a terrible injustice. In any event, this apology for FDR developed through informal conversations with other scholars, some of whom compared it to President Jackson's Indian Removal policy, an instance where the president did believe that sending the Cherokee to Oklahoma was in the tribe's best interest (as well as the white Georgians).

My area is the Civil War, and I too would be interested in seeing what a Gallup Poll would have revealed. Lincoln's approval numbers may well have fluctuated wildly depending on the battlefield situation. As for what today's historians might have thought about the Civil War, had they lived through it, I can only conjecture that, on purely military grounds, many of them would probably have clamored to let the South go in early 1862 after such blood-lettings as Shiloh and McClellan's Seven Days debacle. But many would no doubt like to think of themselves as good abolitionists, so on the matter of slavery and freedom, they may have pushed for a harder war. Anyway, it does make for an interesting counter-factual discussion.


S. L. Bard - 5/20/2004

I'd like to lay on a sunny hillside somewhere and listen to all of you debate current events. The intellectual discourse I find in your discussions is so enlivening yet sadly lacking in the rest of everyday life.

Please, gentlemen, keep up the good fight, whatever your persuasion. It reminds and affirms for me what is noble and good in human kind.


Alamaine Ratliff - 5/20/2004

Interesting that the historians would upbraid one of their own. After all, George did get his BA from Yale as a history major, no?

The interesting thing about this -- assuming his degree was in that field and it is still valid (wondering if they can revoke his degree for failing to rememberate) -- is he may just be doing what comes natchuhlly, using history. There was a saying some time ago about those who don't study it are condemned to repeat it. BUT: not all history was wrong and it may have served George well by going back and reviewing the history of errors to make attempts at completing past events with new outcomes by NOT repeating those errors. But, there is the assumption that people of today will allow some of the things that worked then but won't work now. Ergo, we find out that successes of the past may be errors today. But that don't stop that dog from hunting; it just might be rabbit season ... or duck season ...
A proof of my position is his eagerness to go back into Iraqiaqia and try to finish what might have been left undone in 1991. What was unworkable then might have been possible now. Unresolved conflicts are a burden on some peoples' minds; and we have a collection of retreads in this adminstration who are getting their chances at resolving their obsessions and compulsions with Hussein just to see who's sane. But, alas, times change and situations do as well. New times require new faces. Unfortunately, the contagonists wrote their history before having lived it and they have a whole new set of unrealised expectations expectorating back in their faces by not being able to adequately judge the winds' directions. And what a slimy mess they've got now!
Thus, their attempt -- in this case -- at trying to recapture and redefine the past without the pesky mistakes is not working out. Going back to the old neighbourhood just doesn't arouse the same fellings. Overwhelming the Iriaiaqian military didn't work. Sanctions didn't work. Occasional bombings didn't work (although they were mighty regular between 1991 and 2001). So, the only option left that wasn't expected to work the first time around (classified as a mistake) was to invade. And now? What's next? Trying to round up all of those deserters and surrenderers from 1991 might be one option. Rekindling the fires of revolution from back then might be another. Sending Rumsfeld back to visit with his old bud Hussein might have worked.
What would Reagan have done? Nixon? How many more other ways can the ghosts and ghouls of the past be revived to provide guidance for today? What other historical events have been replayed and played again as boardgames for which plans are being made to revisit history to revise the failing grades, much like retaking a course ... but in the real world, the last grade received is the one that counts.


chris l pettit - 5/20/2004

I apologise for allowing my perceptions to cloud my interpretation of what you said.

I think we are in agreement fundamentally...and usually seem to be which is why I was surprised at the objections you raised. While I do not share your enthusiasm on McCain, I will grant that he seems to be a decent individual who is at least trying to make progress. My beef with him would be with some of his ideologies and questionable stances...but I will grant he is better than most in many areas.

I do believe that you misinterpret my views on the American public situation. I do think that the current Administration is totally at odds with what most of Americans want and deserve. That being said...I see Kerry and the Democratic party as no different...or so marginally different as to be irrelevant. The democratic platform continues the oppression and self interested nationalistic arguments of the superiority of Americans in the world and this will not do. The American people are so undereducated as to be ignorant of most of the rest of the world and international legal structure. The difference between our education and awareness and those of other nations is astonishin when one sets foot in other countries.

By the way...Dean's book is fantastic and I like a lot of it. Please apologise if my text list came off as arrogant in any way. I was merely trying to demonstrate my background and admirations and offer some sources...not to try and look self righteous. I greatly respect your views and find them refreshing. Any reading you can recommend that I have not read would be fantastic. Please never hesitate to suggest some!

with regards

CP


Stephen Sylvester Smith - 5/20/2004

Indeed Mr. Davidson.
What would you call the wonderful decline of our country's mainstream education standards? We have a President who is abusive to the english language, profits from our sancioned destruction and declares war on trees.


Stephen Sylvester Smith - 5/20/2004

Indeed Mr. Davidson.
What would you call the wonderful decline of our country's mainstream education standards? We have a President who is abusive to the english language, profits from our sancioned destruction and declares war on trees.


Marillyn Millett - 5/20/2004

I often wonder what would have happened if you were to substitute Bill Clinton's name for every spurious act committed by George W.'s administration. What if Bill Clinton had gotten a blank check from Congress to invade Iraq based on "faulty intelligence?" And then asked Congress almost $200 billion to fund it after the fact? And if a huge chunk of that money went to a corporation with Clinton/Gore ties? And the result was world condemnation, the inflammation of Al Qaeda and thousands of Americans killed and maimed. And if Bill Clinton had pushed for a Constitutional amendment based on his cultural beliefs? Talk about impeachment - that would have been the grand slam impeachment of all times! I therefore believe that George W. has been successful at snatching Reagan's title as The Teflon President Extraordinaire.


T D - 5/20/2004

You've done your homework, that now makes 12 Americans that know and understand the truths.


Gregory Dehler - 5/20/2004

I would have to see some proof of the notion that the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII was done to protect them in order to buy into that explanation. Otherwise, I will stick to my assertion that it was the most egregious violation of civil rights. As for Lincoln, I dragged him in because he was such a polarizing figure during the Civil War. I wish we had Gallup numbers throughout the Civil War to see where his approval ratings were. I doubt they would have been better than Bush's recent numbers. I wonder what today's historians would have thought had they lived during the Civil War. I am not trying to defend Bush per se, but I believe that the comments McElvaine quotes of other historians are lacking in a sense of proportion. I also wanted to raise the question of where do we draw the line between the excusable and inexcusable?


Ralph E. Luker - 5/20/2004

To which crap do you refer, Mr. Davidson?


marc davidson - 5/20/2004

You teach this crap to our children? If we have to rely on you to record history people of the future won't have any idea what actualy happened.


Ben H. Severance - 5/19/2004

The Patriot Act, like its predecessors under Wilson and Adams are egregious violations of civil liberties, but all three instances have been badly overblown by critics. In neither case was the fabric of democracy jeopardized and in all cases the "oppression" was temporary and targeted--most Americans never suffered a loss of freedom at all.

As for FDR and the Japanese-Americans, might not his measures actually have been the most expedient course of action? Had the Japanese-Americans not been interned, then west coast vigilantes, motivated by a patriotic-racist fervor, would likely have descended upon them, killing many and destroying property. FDR and the state governors (assuming they wouldn't have been party to the persecution) would then have been forced to use the military against their own citizenry (the white mob that is), a circumstance that would have resulted in martial law and suppression of civil liberties anyway. The fact that an internment occurred is less an indictment of FDR, who responded pragmatically, than a testament to the irrational cruelty of many Americans.

As for Lincoln, he was cautious and selective in using draconian measures. Qualified martial law in Maryland in 1861, until reasonable order was restored. Later, suspension of habeus corpus in a few mid-western states and specifically against Copperhead newspapers and politicians, such as Vallandingham who really was undermining the war effort. And Lincoln did reinstate the editors who General Burnside incarcerated. As for the 1864 election, some precinct controls were employed, but the republic was on the verge of imploding, so give Lincoln a break for ensuring that the war party prevailed. And give him credit for respecting the democratic process; he could have postponed or cancelled the election altogether. Thaddeus Stevens (a great champion of civil rights) understood that the revolutionary nature of the Civil War threw the libertarian aspects of the Constitution into abeyance. In other words, national survival trumps due process of the law, as well it should.

Presidents FDR and Lincoln agonized over their decisions, knowing full well how antithetical they were to America's cherished notions of freedom. I am not so sure that George Bush has had any similar misgivings about his recent conduct.


Ben H. Severance - 5/19/2004

I see your point. We have to make choices about what we emphasize in class and in our writing. We hope people find what we say to be edifying, but there are no guarantees.

I do observe an uncomfortable level of intellectual pride among historians. Because we have studied a topic more thoroughly, we ostensibly know more. And our training presumably makes us more qualified to analyze certain events. But I have found that an intelligent, well-read individual can assess history almost as well as an historian. And this is where we (or at least I) become frustrated, for our field of interest is one that many people find interesting to some degree or can relate to on a personal level. When a scientist speaks publicly about his speciality, the layman usually accepts without question. This is because a scientist is an "expert" in chemistry or physics or whatever, which is something most people don't naturally grasp. An historian (or an English professor or philosophy professor), however, is at best an "authority" on a subject, but never an "expert" for we can never know everything in the way a chemist theoretically can. Thus, though the public may respect our credentials, it feels perfectly free to dispute our findings and offer alternative explanations (something it rarely does with experts). And we are left wondering how and why they can think the way they do, yet understand how easily historical facts can be interpreted to prove virtually anything.

For me, the pursuit of history has been intellectually humbling. I often assert my views aggressively and sometimes arrogantly, but in the end I can never be completely sure of my position, and am frequently "enlightened" by the insights of non-professionals. So, I often simply pursue history simply for the pleasure of it and not as a mission to persuade anyone of anything.


chris l pettit - 5/19/2004

For the record I am not a fan of Nader's either...he has done the American people a great favor with his refusal to sell out over the years and continue to pursue the righting of corporate injustices...but he should not be a politician and should not be running for President...or Senate for that matter.

I am confused by the out of date comment. What is it about my comments that are incorrect or out of date? The lesser evils argument is absolutely irrelevant when it comes to legality and human rights that have been recognized as inalienable. One can argue this philosophically and morally, but not legally. And in the world we live in, the reason humanity came up with the legal system is because there was the need for an objective system to rule upon basic human rights and governing regulations while attempting to avoid political, philosophical, religious, and cultural bias. It may not be totally effective, due to organizational structure or corruption at times, but it is still the only legitimate basis to debate this point without bringing bias into the equation in some form.

Lost opportunities...there have been many which is why we must learn from history to be able to stop repeating it over and over again.

Frankly, I am surprised at the relative opposition to my statements. What I argue is universal, not outdated. Can it be applied in a simplistic manner by those without the capacity to view things in a multi-cultural and interdisciplinary manner? Absolutely...but that happens in any situation. THis is no reason to dumb down the doctrines and travel into the realm of black and whites...or one size fits all acadameia.

What does John McCain have to do with all of this? If he becomes VP under Kerry, how does this not confirm the fact that we no longer live in a duolopoly of any sort and that your vote means nothing when there is no real choice in the matter? This is where Nader is actually playing a role by showing the paucity and vulgarity of our current system of governance.

I guess I am just a bit riled by the suggestion that care for humanity and human rights is out of date. It is that sort of blindness and narrowsighted vision that will allow cycles of violence and conflict to continue.

We must throw off the nation-state veil and actually enter into the international system. It amazes me that individuals still are of the mind that globalization does not permeate every action we make. Anything we do has effects internationally...that cannot be helped. Nothing can be said to be truly "sovereign" territory anymore. The sooner we wake up and realise that the better.

I would recommend reading some CG Weeramantry, Einstein, Aristotle, Hugo Grotius, Averroes, Avicennes, Prof. David Cole, Prof. Richard Falk, MLK Jr, the Dalai Lama, Mattieu Ricard...and several others if you would like a list. THese individuals happen to be the most forward looking and brilliant of our history. We must learn to heed the fundamental tenets of what they are saying and proceed accordingly. This is not to say they are not fallible as are we all...but they seem to "get it" while the rest of us flounder in "ignorance" (Buddhist definition).

CP


Todd Christopher Galle - 5/19/2004

Mr. Clarke:

I am extremely offended that you would think that I would abuse any PW. Is it you position that if I disagree with your political philosopy, then I am capable of violating basic Human Rights? Is that your position? I am sorry, but I will not accept this. An apology should be offered, but I am not holding my breath, you haven't the courage.

Uncle Sam may have what is left if he needs it, vigor be damned, been there, done that and all. I could still probably qualify even with my eyesight. My language skills have lacked. Not much use speaking German in Iraq, unless one needs to translate the instructions on the recently discovered Sarin nerve gas shells. My MOS was different anyway.

Good to see that folks to the liberal side do not engage in a "fusillade [sic] of formulaic, tangential and inquistional-style questions...", unless it is a member of the Bush Administration on the receiving end, then Bob's Your Uncle, flail away.

As for Abu Graibh, destroy it. Period. I would also have photos on a wall surrounding the facility showing the castrations, murders, and mutilations recorded by the Hussein Regime. These should be then published in the major American newpapers.

I'll hold my breath on that.


Gregory Dehler - 5/19/2004

Instead of falling into the trap of judging Bush's presidency before it is over and well before we can really judge it in historical terms, I would prefer to focus on the issue of civil rights -- a subject for which Robert McElvaine says that Bush was the worst since Wilson. I would argue that the absolute worst president in American history in regards to civil rights was Franklin D. Roosevelt. His detainment of the Japense-Americans during World WarII far exceeds Wilson in WWI and Adams in 1798-1801. Maybe the only challenge to Roosevelt is Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. The suspension of Habeus Corpus, use of the military to supress the free (and dissenting) press, corruption in the war department, and tampering with the 1864 election, for example.

I cannot see how the Patriot Act is a rival to either of these two actions.

Am I alone in thinking this?


Jonathan Dresner - 5/19/2004

Well, really, we can't win.

If the American public disagrees with historians, then historians are out of touch. If the American public agrees with historians, clearly we have imposed our values on students and citizens....

If we make our political views clear, we are imposing our politics in our classrooms and abusing our authority. If we keep them to ourselves, we are irrelevant.....

I think we haven't failed, so much as we haven't tried very hard. That's why some of us write for public consumption, as well as our colleagues.


Ben H. Severance - 5/18/2004

Like the majority of scholars, I agree that George W. Bush has mostly failed as a president: huge deficits and reckless foreign policy, among other missteps. But, like most historians, I must qualify my statement because his presidency is not over (and may not be over until 2009). 1) It remains to be seen whether the nation-building in Iraq achieves anything worthwhile, the smug confidence of many historians that it will, or already has, failed notwithstanding. 2) Financial corruption does not especially bother me; it is a longstanding vice of all political-economies. Catch it when you can and punish if you can. 3) On the surface, the Patriot Act is antithetical to a free society, but it has not become the mechanism for a Red Scare that many observers thought it might be and it may well have thwarted follow-on 9/11 terror acts. This last assertion must await the release of Justice Department records. Anyway, I believe it was Congress (including Senator Kerry) and not President Bush who enacted this piece of obejectionable legislation.

What I've really learned from this article is not that historians think Bush is a failure (I already suspected that), but that many, if not most, American citizens think Bush is an okay president. The conclusion: the anti-Bush historians have failed to "enlighten" the public. Have they opted to focus on lecture topics that do not resonate with the student body? Do they write esoteric monographs that only a handful of scholars (and the authors' spouses) ever read? Do they prefer engaging in circular diatribes with each other (via such devices as the HNN or the usually boring annual conferences) instead of reaching out to the layman? Admittedly, I am more or less guilty on all three counts, but then I have not lambasted Bush with the same zeal as many of my colleagues.

Polls indicate that a majority of Americans are losing faith in the Bush presidency. This is probably due to the electorate's educated common sense and not the pedagogy of academia (although we can take comfort in the fact that our U.S. survey classes have hopefully struck a chord with a few students. Thus, indirectly, we have had a modicum of influence). Anyway, I think historians would do well to examine how they teach and write history, while also pointing out the mistakes of the nation's leadership.

P.S. I think Grant's presidency has been unfairly maligned by too many historians. He was a decent executive who conscientiously wrestled with an extremely challenging problem--Reconstruction in the South.


chris l pettit - 5/18/2004

First...how many innocent souls has the US killed in its terror attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Haiti, Cuba, El Salvador, etc? This is not to justify or defend any terror in any way, but merely to point out the absurdity in your position...violence does not justify violence...and there is no self defense argument under any credible legal standard. As for your legal and value questions, the Bush administration has undermined the Constitution and rule of law more than almost any administration in history. More on this in a minute.

The laughable comment on the UN COmmission of Human Rights - Syria has as much right to sit on the panel as the US. I find it highly amusing that anyone can condemn any nation for human rights failures and claim that the US has any right to speak on such an issue. It is hypocrisy at its worst. You are correct to claim that nations such as Syria have no right to be sitting on the HRC, but neither do the US or Israel. The problem is the basic nation-state philosophy of the UN and the fact that national self interest is used to determine international affairs, leading to those with the most power controlling the global community...the antithesis of how the UN is supposed to function. The vetoes of the Security Council have directly led to a greater problem by allowing the P5, particularly the US, to dictate their own self interests as the interests of the international community, with disatrous results. By the way...what about Security Council Resolution 1483...which the US pushed for vehemently...which reinforces the Geneva Conventions as well as the sovereignty of the Iraqi people? Kind of interesting we will use it when we need an additional "legal justification" but will ignore it otherwise.

To raise the issue...you fail to discuss the blatant war crimes under both international and US law that have been committed by the US military and are a result of policies and orders goven from high up the chain of command. War crimes charges cannot be charged against anyone unless you are willing to hold yourself to the same standards. or would you rather prefer "might makes right" reasoning, where he who has the guns makes the law and determines when it applies? If so...welcome to Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and every other oppressive regime that ever ruled on this planet...including the current US regime.

The Patriot Act - http://www.independent.org/tii/forums/031113ipfTrans.html
I would also encourage you to read anything written by Prof. David Cole on the subject, as he is probably the foremost authority on the dangers of the Patriot Act and has defended many individuals throughout the US held on draconian charges. Courts from California to New York have declared unconstitutional several parts of the act, and there are hundreds of cities that are standing up against its provisions. The Patriot Act brings the US closer to the Soviet Union than ever before. The Beatles tune "Back in the USSR" comes to mind.

As for your comment on the Administration running "roughshod" I think you may have a point since the First, Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendments were basically gone before Bush took office...he has just been blatant about the fact that they simply do not exist in reality any longer. Add that to the fact that the Second and Third Amendments are totally irrelevant in todays society (sorry gun lovers...you completely misinterpret the Second...although the ignorance is amusing at times when thousands aren't being killed because of it) The Tenth Amendment is the Federalist favorite that has just about been wiped out by the Commerce Clause, among other things...although some disturbed souls still think that states should have the right to deny fundamental human rights...like marriage and the right to family life (sorry...that is absolutely incorrect as well). So you are left with the 6th and 7th...which is kinda funny since they are subject to class and educational restrictions that are some of the first things you learn how to exploit in US law schools...and Ninth, which no one really remembers because it would be placed a little further down the list of importance since it is basically a "no contradiction" provision that everyone ignores (as I can demonstrate with the blatant US disregard for international law if you would like). In a strictly legal sense then, the Administration has not really run roughshod since it is hard to run over something that is non-existent to begin with. Although I suspect this also ties into your point about "American values"...

...which leads me to congratulate you on a good point regarding the determination of such "values." One thing I hated about the political exploitation of Tillman's death, and now the beheading, was all this BS about "American values." What values? Whose? Those of the government that completely disregards human rights, peace, and the right to dissent? The values of greed and individualistic self interest that leads to a fervent nationalism that is scary as hell due to the similarities to the flags and chants of Nazi Socialism? The belief that somehow Americans are better than everyone else due to the fact we live between a certain two imaginary lines drawn on a map and they don't? The belief that we can just ignore the poor and homeless and pretend not to see them by shutting ourselves in suburbia and gated neighborhoods? The values of those who run the education system and succeed in dumbing down our nation to the point that I can travel to South Africa or Sri Lanka and have people ask "What country in South Africa?" or "Where the hell is that?" respectively, while other nationals have intricate knowledge of the international community, world affairs, and world history? The values of those who think it ok to completely rape the environment and economies of the world and developing nations? The values of the Founding Fathers that are all but ignored today? The values enshrined in our Constitutional documents that have been torn asunder and basically swept aside even as the documents retain almost biblical status? Whose values? The values I see being protected are the ones that deny human rights, encourage ignorance, encourage exploitation and bigotry, encourage authoritarianism and the denial of freedom and true democracy, and the values that have caused our idealistic nation to become the most powerful and despotic in terms of global suffering and effects on the international community. i am thinking that this is not the way you wanted to go with the whole "values" comment, but the door was opened. i cannot express how encouraged I am to see governments in South America throwing off the yokes of neo-liberal free market oppression after 30 years of exploitation of the poorer populations. The defeat of the Indian government by those who would stop neo-liberal oppression there is encouraging. The defeat of the pro-US regime is encouraging in the Dominican Republic. Nelson Mandela and the international community continuing to condemn the US, UK, and Israel for their illegalities is a positive sign. North Korea and South Korea having dialogue despite the idiocy of US policy towards the North is encouraging. The condemnation of both the terrorist Palestinians and the state terrorism of the Israelis is great. If only there were those in the US ready to step up and harness the values that we should hold dear and hold our government to those standards to actually become a leader of the international community instead of the destroyer of it.

For the record...Carter helped start the whole current mess in the Middle East in the late 70's with his funding of terrorists to do our bidding (or so we hoped) versus the Soviets...Clinton's human rights record is almost if not as atrocious as Bush's, and Gore would have been the same piece of trash that Clinton was. I say this so that this does not turn into a silly partisan discussion that I often see in some of the prattling of "scholars" on this website. Lets keep it historical, theoretical and philosophical, thank you...I care not what your affiliation is and do not want you to think I criticize because of it. My critiques are strictly of a scholarly nature and will hopefully delve into factual or conceptual misunderstandings as opposed to worthless partisan slime. I hope we can both rise above that.

The Bush presidency is a failure...as will be the Kerry presidency...as was the Clinton presidency...as will be any presidency until we the US population get our collective heads out of our rear ends and actually become members of humanity instead of some sort of mega-deity of sorts.

What is the proper response to a suicide attack? To stop seeing history as a series of single points and realize that it is a neverending stream of causes and effects and that very rarely if ever is something not explainable. We could address the root causes of terror instead of invading nations on a whim. We could address our own oppression and hypocrisy. We could join the global community and create an international system that actually is effective. By the way...how about all the corruption that the US has contributed to the UN...including the Oil for Food Program? All nations acting in their self interests are going to exploit supposedly "global" programs for their own gains...this is the nation-state problem, not a bunch of "evil" governments...unless you include the US in those governments. Why did the US prevent the UN from stopping the genocide in Rwanda (with the French and Belgians)? Why is the US supporting a Chadian government that funds violent militias that massacre civilians in much the same fashion that the Sudanese government and its militias does? Why won't the US stop in Iraq and try to help the UN help the Sudanese? Because the Chadians and their terrorists are our "freedom fighters" helping fight the "war on terror" as we define it? THis is absurd! Freedom fighters and terrorists are the same thing...criminals who violate the sanctity of the basic human rights and values of others...values that we purport to uphold and support in our Constitutional framework. Should the corruption in the UN be investigated? Yes...and those responsible...including Americans...should be brought to face charges. Should US corruption and economic exploitation of the world through the World Bank, WTO and IMF be investigated and those responsible (ie the US government) be held accountable? Yes. If you answer no to this question after answering yes to the UN you become a hypocrite and lose all credibility. one cannot have it both ways. What you argue is a double edged sword. The consequences of your questions is that you are faced with a decision...continue on the nation-state path where self interest, corruption and greed dictates, and those with the power and military might make the rules and enforce them (ie global hegemony, Nazism, Soviet Totalitarianism, Islamic Fundamentalism, American Oppression etc)...or you sacrifice sovereignty in favor of a system that actually brings an international balance to the global community by mandating that narrow nation state self interest is not allowed to dictate international discussions.

The funny thing is that there is a system of international law in place and the legal system and practices are there...they just have to be utilized and acceded to. Of course if one is a rabid nationalist and "'Merican" one cannot comprehend these things since we are the Chosen Ones to lead the world and extoll our "virtue" upon it.

CP


Todd Christopher Galle - 5/18/2004

Several queries:

You state that the Patriot Act curtails basic American freedoms. How? Have you read this act? Is having a Federal Judge sign off on a warrant to search Library records a violation of basic freedoms? HOw? Indeed, have any such records been searched? Answer, NO. Details please.

Should a Nation-State allow its preceived security to be determined by a secondary party. The incompetence and fraud recently exposed in several UN programs beg the question. Should the US be held to account by the UN Commission of Human Rights headed by a Syria? If so why?

New information on the World Bank evidences massive fraud/incompetence in the hundred of billions of dollars (kind of like the US deficit criticised above). Is this the type of 'International Organization' we are supposed to better fund and support? Better yet, should the UN Oil for Food Scandal be examined as closely as the Iraq prison scandal. If not, why not, if so, in what regard?

Where has the administration run "roughnshod" over the Bill of Rights?

Last but not least, who in their right mind, could expect anybody, even the President of the United States, to "...change the consumption-oriented values of the nation after September 11, 2001...". Please. The only thing most Americans were thinking after 9/11 was returning the favor, not whether our consumer lifestyle upset our enemies. Indeed, even the 'rotten' economy brought on by the evil "BU$H" couldn't stop the spending spurring the present economy.

Even though the G.W.Bush presidency is not yet over, historians are ready to proclaim it a failure. So be it. I am glad though, that Historians are all agreed on the wonders of the Carter administration, the Clinton administration, and the Gore administration, (or how much better he would have been rather than the imbecile now in the White House), along with the evils of, well, anybody elected on the Republican ballot.

Final question: How is G.W.Bush undermining basic American values, which is easy to say. Proof is a different matter. Which values have been undermined, directly? Indirectly? What is the "Basic American" value response to a suicide attack? Which kills 3000 souls? Who determines 'basic American Values'?

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