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Oglesby: Push to torpedo Bush presidency led to 2008 results

POSTED: December 23, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Saxby Chambliss' election denied the Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate, at least for now. Before continuing, my friend Wyc Orr was right when he wrote "never is a dangerous word." A better word I should have thought of using would have been "seldom."

Of course, some important, good-for-the country legislation has passed that otherwise would have failed because of filibuster-proofing. I look upon his examples as exceptions that prove the rule. He apparently considers them foolproof. Actually, few differences exist between our respective intents.

As promised, let's begin an analysis of the presidential race and what it portends. Several factors contributed:

(1) the 2000 election and aftermath;

(2) with few notable exceptions a deliberate, sustained, systematic effort to destroy Bush's presidency rather than bipartisanship to make it and our country succeed;

(3) Barack Obama's super rhetorical skills motivating hordes of idealistic but naturally inexperienced young people who responded to simplistic slogans advocating an actually undefined "change;"

(4) The unexpected collapse of the economy, and;

(5) several miscellaneous factors such as tactical mistakes in the Iraqi war, Bush's cowboy and McCain's maverick images, single issue voters, the GOP right wing, Obama's breaking his pledge to accept public financing and a fundraising apparatus that produced more than $600 million, and, sadly, racism from many fronts

The root goes all the way back to George W. Bush's 2000 election. Heeding the old saw "repeat a lie enough and most people will take it as truth," Democrats did just that. They still claim he stole that election, even after an independent, bipartisan journalistic team that included legal advisers from both sides of the aisle spent months counting all Florida ballots.

They found that Bush actually won Florida by an even greater margin than the one that went to the court. The very week of this writing, I read a letter to the editor still claiming he stole that election.

Ample evidence exists for a reasonable, objective person to conclude the strategy became to destroy the Bush presidency. He then could be the symbolic target for future presidential and congressional candidates to attack.

For example, he had promised to fix Social Security and called for introduction of a bill to debate. Democratic senators refused to introduce one and called for him to submit one.

Bush did a comprehensive job, not only extending the life of the trust fund but also fixing the program to stand on its own. Democrats immediately demanded a key element, allowing workers under a given age to voluntarily put a percentage of their FICA tax into private sector accounts, be taken completely off the debate table.

Bush responded that it should remain on the table with all other issues, including those Democrats raised. It could be removed as a result of negotiations and debate. No dice. The plan died and the ultimate cost to the taxpayers zoomed.

This was hailed as a Bush political defeat, weakening his presidency. How does any objective analyst believe this represents bipartisan solving of vital problems?

Bush got a second "honeymoon" period after 9-11. That ended a couple of years later with the Iraqi invasion. Good intelligence or bad, it indicated Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. U.N. weapons inspectors had inventoried ingredient supplies.

Only a couple of weeks before the invasion, international inspectors told the U.N. that Iraq could or would not account for these supplies. Other intelligence, reconfirmed again this year, showed convoys taking materials across the Syrian border and hiding at least conventional weapons and explosives in caches around the country.

It came out that key Democratic congressional leaders who first claimed they had been left out in the dark actually had been briefed and knew of these intelligence reports. Yet the oft-repeated destroy-mantra became Bush lied to get us into the war.

No president of either party wants war. Letters to the editor the week of this writing declared just that. It has been repeated so much that many people take it as fact. We'll continue next time.

Ted Oglesby is retired opinion page editor. Reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears biweekly.



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