As we survey the wreckage of President Obama’s first year in office, one thing is clear: it’s all George Bush’s fault. The Obama administration has not confronted an obstacle yet that they have not blamed on the 43rd president – including the loss Tuesday of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat.
While political analysts from coast to coast credited Massachusetts voters with effectively repudiating Obamacare (and polling showed this to be the number one issue with Bay State voters), the White House was taking a hard look at the shocking upset and placing the Democrats’ loss – squarely at the feet of G.W. Bush!
Republican Scott Brown’s remarkable victory in the bluest of our blue states is, of course, not the only thing the White House has blamed on Obama’s predecessor. The financial crisis, losing the Olympics to Brazil, inadequate airport screening, the mess in Afghanistan, the Florida orange freeze (no--scrap that one), the problems surrounding the closing of Guantanamo, sky-high unemployment, the embarrassment of an unearned Nobel Peace Prize, our poor relations with Russia, North Korea, Iran et al – all have been laid at the feet of Mr. Bush.
To some degree, this blame game is reasonable, and understandable. The Obama team inherited a mess, for sure. Also, given 43rd’s low popularity ratings when he left office, bashing the former president (like bashing banks) is an endlessly popular activity for this now not-so-popular president.
Still, some of the items added to Bush’s tabs -- including the Brown bruising -- are absurd. For instance, the president’s casual -- and tone-deaf -- initial response to the near-terrorist attack on Christmas Day has been explained as deliberate. Obama’s handlers insist they were trying to avoid the “scare tactics” that they say were the hallmark of the Bush-Cheney squad, and that led to heinous human rights violations. In other words, President Obama’s dismissive and inadequate comments issued in between putts in Hawaii were… George Bush’s fault! Puhleeze...give the people some credit.
In year two of their administration, the Obama team may have to find another whipping boy if things continue to go wrong. Americans will likely tire of Obama’s buck-passing, and indeed there will be some events that the most ardent Bush-o-phobes cannot credibly link to G.W. Here, for instance, are five likely developments that I don’t believe can reasonably be laid at the feet of the 43rd president:
1) George Bush did not create the earthquake that destroyed Port-au-Prince. (I think we are on solid ground here, so to speak.) Obama can, however, pin what will undoubtedly be a messy clean-up effort on G.W. who, along with Bill Clinton, has volunteered to help raise relief money for the stricken country. As lawlessness and disease become the heartbreaking second and third wave of misery in Haiti, a desperate Obama administration will make Bush and Clinton the fall-guys for our inability to magically fix Haiti’s problems. It will be noted, and ignored by many, that Haiti is just about the most corrupt country in the world, in thrall to Chavez and Castro, and that its poverty was already the worst in the hemisphere—having nothing to do with G.W. Bush.
2) George Bush did not create the health care bill. The disliked legislation has become an enormous millstone around the neck of Democrats, and it is entirely Obama’s handiwork. It has become a grab-bag of possibly unconstitutional favors to one group after another and a financial pit that will never be filled. Despite continued haranguing by the President, the ever-sensible American people – and most obviously the voters in Massachusetts -- know this is a disaster. Assuming that the Democrats are successful in passing some sort of watered-down bill, we will witness ongoing wrangling over attempts to cut Medicare spending, efforts to penalize those who do not sign up for insurance, small businesses struggling to pay for workers’ coverage, and increasing delays in accessing doctors and health facilities as millions of Americans jump to take advantage of free medical care.
3) George Bush is not to blame for Obama’s anti-business bias. Industry, under attack by this administration, may well continue uncertain and distracted, leading decision-makers to defer hiring. Though the decennial Census will temporarily boost hiring this spring by more than one million workers, and though the stimulus bill will kick in more forcefully in coming months, job growth may disappoint. Neither the government nor the consumer can provide the spending surge we need to put people back to work; a robust private sector is essential. Unhappily, this president, weaned on community organizing, views business as the enemy. His emboldened associates at the Justice Department, EPA, Interior Department and elsewhere are socking businesses with increased regulations, investigations and fees, undermining business leaders just when their confidence needs boosting.
4) It will not be George Bush’ s fault that the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his associates turns into a circus. Despite the best efforts of NYC Police Commissioner Kelly and his ranks, and despite an estimated cost of $215 million in the first year alone, there is no doubt that the absurd decision to try these terrorists in our most targeted urban center will prove a nightmare. Let us hope that the only attacks emanating from the trial are only verbal.
5) It is not because of George Bush that the despots running Iran, North Korea and Venezuela continue to resist President Obama’s overtures. Though our new leader has unclenched his fist, and delivered any number of stirring speeches, our relations with these nations will not improve. These countries face ruined economies and restless populations; they need a foil – a predicament all too familiar to President Obama.
I know David Letterman, who popularized such lists, always comes up with a nice round Top Ten—not a measly five. Since many might argue that it was the Bush administration’s poor handling of Iraq, the economy and a host of other challenges that swept in the most liberal administration in a generation, finding ten things that we can’t blame on Bush might have taken us into the next election cycle.
Liz Peek is a financial columnist and frequent Fox Forum contributor. For more visit LizPeek.com.