Monday, November 07, 2005

Responding to Responses on OpinionJournal

Many excellent comments have already been made regarding my post which showcased today. I addressed all of those, but now I wish to address the reader responses on the OpinionJournal website:
Bush's Third Big Accomplishment
Lyle Martin - Morehead City, N.C.

Make that three "major actions" that President Bush made in his first term. You name two. The third is toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan in just a few weeks--something the Soviets couldn't do in years of intense fighting.

That was a large oversight on my part, though I should note that I was primarily concerned with issues that led to intense disagreement and debate in the United States. Almost everybody is satisfied with the response the US had in Afghanistan, and with the toppling of the Taliban.
Have I Got a Deal for You
Bill Earls - Middletown, Conn.

Have I got a deal for Mr. Goldish--some swampland in Florida, one of the fastest-growing states in the country; and after that, I can sell you--cheap--the most important bridge connecting Manhattan with Brooklyn. Please send me lots of money real quick.

I assume we will discover in a few decades or less whether or not I am correct in my assessment. I feel I've stated a solid case for optimism; clearly, you disagree.
No Celebrations
Luke Visconti - New Brunswick, N.J.

The psychopathically rigid Limbaugh inspired prattle that has masqueraded as "patriotism" over the last 10 years or so is wearing very thin.

"Celebrate" 2,000 deaths? As a veteran, I watched the anti-war crowd very carefully because I'm just about ready to join them. Nobody is "celebrating" lives wasted in a war that we rushed into because of bad data.

Though I've addressed this in the other post, I'll repeat what I said there: As a response to your point about the anti-war crowd: I was in fact referring to a small minority of the left; however, much of the crowd that is demanding the US pull out of Iraq right away seemed to fit into this category. Most Democrats recognize that to pull out now would be foolish and destructive; this crowd does not. The "anti-war" crowd itself is only a small group - I was not referring to most Democrats. I'd also note that this war was hardly rushed into, and even if it was "bad data", it's quite simple to make the case that one must act on the information they have.
It Takes More Than Optimism
K. Vijayakumar - Bangalore, India

Ezzie Goldfish's soothsaying with its underpinning optimism may sooth the nerves of a beleaguered president. But optimism does not a successful presidency make! Mr. Goldfish says that if the president acts against Syria (or Iran, for that matter), the already changing Middle East will learn democracy even faster and if he gets the pork cut from budget allocations, the elephantine deficits will vanish. If the real world can so easily be manipulated, there will not be any losers in this world.

Goldish, not Goldfish. The elephantine deficits you speak of have already been reduced by about $100 billion; and there is reason to believe action against Syria is in the offing - unless it shapes up, in which case it would be unneccessary. Either way, neither of these issues require intense manipulation.
They Need Him
Bill Breuer - Malverne, N.Y.

The president owns the next three State of the Union addresses, the power to appoint and the power to veto. The loyal opposition is not loyal and offers no solutions. Unless the president intends to abandon his oath of office, the next three years will be Dubya's excellent adventure. The politicians will need him more than he'll need them.

Excellent points all. The "no solutions" is probably the most important one: Until the Democrats offer alternatives to the problems they claim exist (whether real or perceived), they will be unable to gain much ground in any branch of government.
Here's to Four More Years of Frustration
David Govett - Davis, Calif.

How this wonderful country could spawn so many ostensibly intelligent, privileged people intent on subverting America's Founding principles and economy is beyond comprehension. We will elect a Mr. Bush every four years to frustrate their plans.

Heh. (Sorry, Glenn...)
No 'Ifs' About Bush's Presidency Crumbling
George Colombo - Winter Springs, Fla.

In attempting to make a case in support of Mr. Bush, Mr. Goldish uses the word "if" repeatedly in a few short paragraphs. Well, Mr. Goldish, I'm willing to stipulate that "if" Mr. Bush does everything you suggest, then his presidency has a chance at not being seen as a complete failure. But let's look at just one of your examples. You say, "if the president does begin cutting pork from the budget, the already decreasing deficit could disappear." True enough, but this is a president who has not used his veto power even once! How likely is it, then, that he will suddenly transform himself into a courageous deficit buster?

You also note that "if...the people and politicians of this country can support the president...this country will be far better off." That's a pretty big "if" when you consider the fact that Mr. Bush's job approval is stuck at approximately the level of Richard Nixon's during Watergate and shows no signs of rebounding any time soon.

The unfortunate reality is that this is a failed presidency, crumbling under its own incompetence and hubris. I admire your loyalty, Mr. Goldish, but I think it is horribly misplaced in a man who has done so much damage to our country.

As I've noted, I find the pork issue the most troubling. On the other hand, even without it the deficit has been decreasing nicely, thanks to the tax revenues which have come about due to the President's tax cuts.

Regarding his support, one must remember that he does not need it to carry out almost any policy - Republicans control both the House and Senate. Support would only make it far easier, and allow more Americans to recognize the positives, rather than the negative rhetoric, that has come about due to his policies. I fail to see the incompetence or damage you speak of - much the same was said after he implemented the tax cuts, yet that has been quite successful. Time will show your statements to be misplaced.
No Death Celebrations
Matthew Goggins - The Bronx, N.Y.

I've been bullish on President Bush for five years now, so I agree with and appreciate Mr. Goldish's appraisal of the president's prospects and potential legacy.

However, I would like to quibble with a remark Mr. Goldish makes in passing at the beginning of his piece.

He refers to the "antiwar crowd celebrating" the occasion of the 2,000th American military fatality in Iraq.

I don't know how many people were celebrating the death count, but I would be very surprised if it were more than a small minority of anti-war Americans. It detracts from Mr. Goldish's otherwise sharp column to resort to what can only be fairly described as a cheap shot.

There are valid reasons to be against an aggressive strategy in Iraq and elsewhere. Mr. Goldish and I strongly disagree with those reasons, but we shouldn't allow ourselves to unfairly denigrate anti-war arguments or the people who make them.

This is the commenter I responded to on my blog - a solid point, and I addressed this both there and above.
Forcing Freedom on the Muslim World
Steven Platzer - Chicago

Why do conservatives like Mr. Goldish, and presumably other supporters of the Bush administration's interventions in Iraq, think that democracy is something which can be imposed on other peoples? They do so, apparently, due to a belief that democracy is not only the highest form of human political order, but one to which all humans naturally incline, and that if given a chance to move in that direction, they undoubtedly will.

Now I have absolutely no problem with this way of thinking as an ideal and one to which we should contribute whatever we can. My problem, however, is with the radically ahistorical world view that seems to go along with it in the case of American conservatives. Perhaps this is because our nation does not really have a pre-modern history like the rest of the world does. We have of course had to struggle throughout our history with numerous problems impeding the progress of our democratization, and in all honesty, it should be acknowledged by conservatives that we still have a long way to go before the democratic promise of America is adequately realized. This doesn't mean that we haven't come a long way. In my own life I have seen a great deal of progress towards a fuller and more desirable democracy in this country. Yet we have a long way still to go and nobody should pretend otherwise.

But in other parts of the world, notably the Muslim Middle East, there are still many kinds of problems that have to be internally resolved before the kind of democratization we would like to see takes place. So at the same time that we do what we can to help democracy take root and flourish in that part of the world, we should be mindful of the need to do nothing which might make that transformation even harder to happen by exacerbating those historically bequeathed problem. And that, I would suggest, is what the Bush administration has failed to pay proper attention to. Our intentions may be good, but as many have observed, the path to hell is often paved by other people's good intentions.

Were it in our power to wave a wand and turn Iraq into a fully functioning democracy, I would fully endorse the efforts exerted by the Bush administration. But as everyday seems to make ever more clear, not only does such a wand not exist, but a great deal of what we are doing is not only not making things better but making many worse. The tragedy is that because the leaders of the current administration refuse to acknowledge this, they may very well be impeding a realization of the very ends they proudly proclaim.

I disagree: Your points are valid, but often, democracy is needed to fix the problems. The Wall Street Journal, in its "Good News from Iraq" (picked up from Arthur Chrenkoff), points out the many changes in Iraqi society for the better that have come about since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. While democracy is not the fix-it for everything, or even a number of them, it definitely does help fix a large percentage of issues - whether directly or indirectly.
More Support Than the President Realizes
James Lewelling - Green Valley, Ariz.

I agree with what you have said. Please see that Gearge W. is made aware of his support.

Well, I'd be happy to take an advisor job if he has any openings. And if there's great pay and benefits - we've got a baby on the way.

In all seriousness, thank you very much.

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