President Obama’s speech on accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2009 has generally been reviewed in the US with much glow about its rhetorical heights and appreciation of its depth of thought. I did not watch Obama give this speech. Instead, I turned to the text which I could read at my leisure and without the speechifying fireworks that Obama has clearly mastered.
Although I seem stuck in a reflexive backward glance towards the eight disastrous years of Bush II whenever I evaluate Obama. I am still amazed at the enormous moral and practical abyss we fell through in those years. Obama brushing his teeth in the morning is reassuring in contrast. Nevertheless, it is worth looking a bit more closely at what Obama did and did not say here. Much has been said of his straight forward assertion that violence is necessary and even useful in a world inhabited by human beings who seem almost genetically predisposed to killing each other off. And, with the invocation of Martin Luther King and the discussion of just war theory, he covers well worn territory, though it is cheering to have a sitting US President talk in this fashion. Continue reading →
Since my entry this morning I have been thinking more about the Presidency and Bush. My knowledge of 19th century Presidents is a but spotty. Certainly the names Buchanan, Pierce, Johnson and Grant pop to mind as less than top of the heap.
But, for the modern era, post WW2, Bush is clearly the worst, most destructive President.
In the international sphere, we will be digging out from the morass of his crazed policies for a decade. This will most prominently feature the disaster of Iraq. A particularly problematic consequence of Bush’s policies is the increased militarization of our foreign and domestic security strategies.
On the home front, we have the staggering debt, degradation of civil rights and government practices, and lost time dealing with health care, infrastructure, income inequality, education, housing and more. I do not particularly hold him responsible for the global economic meltdown. That is really the result of a global infatuation for ” free markets” in which both US parties and numerous others worldwide have indulged themselves for more than three decades.