Is Barack Obama George W. Bush?

For eight years, possibly with the exception of the week following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the left labeled George W. Bush everything from a monkey to a traitor.  The left made the case that beyond being a war hawk and a reckless cowboy, Bush was also an idiot.  He was an idiot for his careless foreign policy, his endless invasions of tribal Arab countries, his reckless financial policies, and his stumbling speeches.  Now that Barack Obama has adopted many of Bush's foreign policies and exceeded him in economic irresponsibility, is Obama the same as Bush?

Excepting the issues of abortion and gays in the military, there has been very little practical difference in the politics of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, from immigration (both have espoused amnesty) to the Bush Tax Cuts to the Patriot Act.  There was a time when liberals like Rosie O'Donnell equated the Patriot Act with Apartheid, when blacks in South Africa were forbidden the right to an attorney by white government officials.  Yet Obama, our first black president, has extended and expanded Bush's Orwellian Patriot Act.  President Obama's ambitious agenda far exceeds the privacy fears liberals had regarding Bush -- Obama supports regulating the internet and expanding the national security state.

On the issue of foreign policy, Obama has not diverged at all from the Bush Doctrine -- the same Bush Doctrine that made the entire primetime lineup on MSNBC foam at the mouth.  Obama has doubled down in Afghanistan, where, under his leadership, more U.S. soldiers have been killed than during the near-decade under George W. Bush's presidency.  In Iraq, the war of choice, President Obama declared in August 2010 that the last full combat brigade had departed.  But 25 American troops have been killed in Iraq since then, and our military base and embassy in Iraq are among the largest in the world.  In fact, 50,000 troops remain there.  Finally, President Obama has also launched new military operations, famously in Libya in 2011 and not so famously in Somalia in late 2009.

Our current president has also mirrored Bush by not following through on his promise to close Guantánamo Bay.  Candidate Obama pledged throughout his campaign and in his first interview after winning the election that he would do so.  However, now in 2011, not only have these promises not been fulfilled, but Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, is being tried by a military tribunal, not by a civilian court.  The left banged their chests in self-righteous indignation, howling that Gitmo is unconstitutional, undemocratic, torturous, and treasonous.  They stopped at nothing to label George Bush Hitleresque, the embodiment of evil, and they constantly claimed that we would face the death of our Republic due to torture at Gitmo.  Lo and behold, the left's Prince of Peace has strayed from his sheep and continued the policy which, according to Senator Obama in 2007, "compromised our most precious values."

In President Bush's speech on the invasion of Iraq and President Obama's speech on the air assault on Libya, both presidents emphasized the same key elements.  For example, regarding the need for allies in the region, President Obama used the term "international effort."  Years prior, President Bush had coined the term "coalition forces" and "coalition of the willing."  Both discussed a dictator who assaulted and slew his own people.  Both spoke of their desire to present legitimate governments to the people of fractured nations that represent them, and both spoke of their reluctance to use military action.

Perhaps the American left did not vilify George Bush because of those policies.  Perhaps the American left viewed him as a dunce not for what he said, but how he said it.  It is no secret that President Bush exuded a sense of confidence that could be thought of as arrogant, especially after his high approval ratings post-9/11.  As Mark Twain once said, "It is wonderful to observe the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces."  If George Bush's policies themselves did not make the left think that he was obtuse, it must have been his flaws in speech.

President George Bush will never be remembered positively for his vernacular or his pronunciation of the word "nuclear."  "Bushisms" include his "Brownie, you're doin' a heck of a job"; "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"; and "Mission accomplished," just to name a few.  Certainly there have been calendars, books, news show segments, and other satirical slights dedicated to the poor education of George Bush.  Yet President Obama is not without his missteps: "57 states"; "UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right?  It's the Post Office that's always having problems" (this while discussing how a federal takeover of health care is a good thing); and "On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes...and I see many of them in the audience here today" -- once again, just to name a few.

Is it the negative attention the media focused on George Bush that did it?  The fact that Bush is a Republican?  Or maybe that he is from Texas and not Chicago?  Is Barack Obama incapable of being cast as an idiot because he is urbane, or black, or plays basketball instead of goes bowling?  Or is it possible that the American left are hypocritical for their current defense of policies that they themselves once deemed supportable only by president of subhuman intellect?  After spending a decade depicting George Bush as a monkey, they must either depict President Obama in the same light or eat crow and acknowledge George Bush as a man of at least modest intelligence and the author of a doctrine that his successor would faithfully follow.

Commentators on the left do not have to flip into being in love with our 43rd president, but they ought to pay the man some respect and be able to disagree with him without demonizing him.  After all, the left cannot have its cake and eat it, too.

Ryan James Girdusky writes from New York City.  He has been published in the Christian Science Monitor and World Net Daily.  He is a frequent contributor on the radio show "Living Truth with Gina Loudon."
For eight years, possibly with the exception of the week following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the left labeled George W. Bush everything from a monkey to a traitor.  The left made the case that beyond being a war hawk and a reckless cowboy, Bush was also an idiot.  He was an idiot for his careless foreign policy, his endless invasions of tribal Arab countries, his reckless financial policies, and his stumbling speeches.  Now that Barack Obama has adopted many of Bush's foreign policies and exceeded him in economic irresponsibility, is Obama the same as Bush?

Excepting the issues of abortion and gays in the military, there has been very little practical difference in the politics of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, from immigration (both have espoused amnesty) to the Bush Tax Cuts to the Patriot Act.  There was a time when liberals like Rosie O'Donnell equated the Patriot Act with Apartheid, when blacks in South Africa were forbidden the right to an attorney by white government officials.  Yet Obama, our first black president, has extended and expanded Bush's Orwellian Patriot Act.  President Obama's ambitious agenda far exceeds the privacy fears liberals had regarding Bush -- Obama supports regulating the internet and expanding the national security state.

On the issue of foreign policy, Obama has not diverged at all from the Bush Doctrine -- the same Bush Doctrine that made the entire primetime lineup on MSNBC foam at the mouth.  Obama has doubled down in Afghanistan, where, under his leadership, more U.S. soldiers have been killed than during the near-decade under George W. Bush's presidency.  In Iraq, the war of choice, President Obama declared in August 2010 that the last full combat brigade had departed.  But 25 American troops have been killed in Iraq since then, and our military base and embassy in Iraq are among the largest in the world.  In fact, 50,000 troops remain there.  Finally, President Obama has also launched new military operations, famously in Libya in 2011 and not so famously in Somalia in late 2009.

Our current president has also mirrored Bush by not following through on his promise to close Guantánamo Bay.  Candidate Obama pledged throughout his campaign and in his first interview after winning the election that he would do so.  However, now in 2011, not only have these promises not been fulfilled, but Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, is being tried by a military tribunal, not by a civilian court.  The left banged their chests in self-righteous indignation, howling that Gitmo is unconstitutional, undemocratic, torturous, and treasonous.  They stopped at nothing to label George Bush Hitleresque, the embodiment of evil, and they constantly claimed that we would face the death of our Republic due to torture at Gitmo.  Lo and behold, the left's Prince of Peace has strayed from his sheep and continued the policy which, according to Senator Obama in 2007, "compromised our most precious values."

In President Bush's speech on the invasion of Iraq and President Obama's speech on the air assault on Libya, both presidents emphasized the same key elements.  For example, regarding the need for allies in the region, President Obama used the term "international effort."  Years prior, President Bush had coined the term "coalition forces" and "coalition of the willing."  Both discussed a dictator who assaulted and slew his own people.  Both spoke of their desire to present legitimate governments to the people of fractured nations that represent them, and both spoke of their reluctance to use military action.

Perhaps the American left did not vilify George Bush because of those policies.  Perhaps the American left viewed him as a dunce not for what he said, but how he said it.  It is no secret that President Bush exuded a sense of confidence that could be thought of as arrogant, especially after his high approval ratings post-9/11.  As Mark Twain once said, "It is wonderful to observe the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces."  If George Bush's policies themselves did not make the left think that he was obtuse, it must have been his flaws in speech.

President George Bush will never be remembered positively for his vernacular or his pronunciation of the word "nuclear."  "Bushisms" include his "Brownie, you're doin' a heck of a job"; "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"; and "Mission accomplished," just to name a few.  Certainly there have been calendars, books, news show segments, and other satirical slights dedicated to the poor education of George Bush.  Yet President Obama is not without his missteps: "57 states"; "UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right?  It's the Post Office that's always having problems" (this while discussing how a federal takeover of health care is a good thing); and "On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes...and I see many of them in the audience here today" -- once again, just to name a few.

Is it the negative attention the media focused on George Bush that did it?  The fact that Bush is a Republican?  Or maybe that he is from Texas and not Chicago?  Is Barack Obama incapable of being cast as an idiot because he is urbane, or black, or plays basketball instead of goes bowling?  Or is it possible that the American left are hypocritical for their current defense of policies that they themselves once deemed supportable only by president of subhuman intellect?  After spending a decade depicting George Bush as a monkey, they must either depict President Obama in the same light or eat crow and acknowledge George Bush as a man of at least modest intelligence and the author of a doctrine that his successor would faithfully follow.

Commentators on the left do not have to flip into being in love with our 43rd president, but they ought to pay the man some respect and be able to disagree with him without demonizing him.  After all, the left cannot have its cake and eat it, too.

Ryan James Girdusky writes from New York City.  He has been published in the Christian Science Monitor and World Net Daily.  He is a frequent contributor on the radio show "Living Truth with Gina Loudon."