Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The New York Times's David Sanger mocks George W. Bush:

2006 Is So Yesterday - New York Times : BEFORE he retreated behind the fences of his ranch... President Bush made it clear that... he already regards his presidency as a big one in the sweep of American history. He insists that his real motive in conducting the war in Iraq is to democratize one of the least democratic corners of the earth. He regularly quotes Harry Truman... Churchillian echoes... never surrender... total victory, along with made-for-television imagery to drive home the message.

Mr. Bush, of course, is trying to give larger meaning to a war whose unpopularity dragged down his presidency last year. But at moments he often seems to also be talking directly to historians.... These days, you can almost hear this administration struggling to find its own combination of domestic and foreign programs - Supreme Court appointments and education initiatives, tinkering with domestic liberties in the name of facing down foreign enemies - that makes the difference between an F.D.R. and a Franklin Pierce.

What if Iraq in a few years is a muddle of its own, neither a great democratic success nor the battleground of a sectarian civil war? And is fighting Islamic radicalism really akin to fighting fascism and communism, as Mr. Bush insists? Even some of Mr. Bush's aides wonder if, in a few years, the battle against Al Qaeda might look more like the fight a century ago against anarchists who set off bombs and even managed to kill an American president and a host of European heads of state....

Clear victory helps a legacy, too.... As Mr. Bush's poll numbers began to fall last year, his aides clearly decided he couldn't afford the wait. So they put "victory" backdrops behind the president.... "It's ridiculous talk," John Dower, the historian who has chronicled war propaganda and written the definitive history of the American occupation of Japan. "People know what victory looks like," he said.... But what truly sets Mr. Dower off are Mr. Bush's comparisons between rebuilding Iraq and the postwar rebuilding of Japan....

Mr. Bush argues that authorizing domestic wiretaps without warrants was part of his inherent power as commander in chief. His defenders cited Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War. But as David Donald... notes, there was an uproar at the time.... "A lot of people believed it wasn't necessary for Lincoln to do these things, just as a lot of people think that about Bush," he said.

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