Friday, October 17, 2008

Bush is the new FDR

From the 20 October 2008 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

Let’s take a step back and ponder a presidential legacy.

George W Bush’s presidency is, without a doubt, one of the most liberal in American history. Under his watch the role of government has been redefined. It has become much larger and more intrusive. The many things he’s done are completely Unconstitutional and, therefore, completely illegal.

Here’s a president who, facing an economic nightmare, has unleashed unprecedented amounts of government intervention in our free-market systems, all in an effort to calm the fears of our citizens and reinvigorate financial development. What his administration has done has forever changed our economic landscape, infusing socialism into our capitalist markets.

He’s the same man who years ago used a bloody attack on our soil to further the interests of his administration. Using the deceased as martyrs to pump up our feelings of fear, revenge, and nationalism, he took us into a war that was unrelated to the attack, a warzone that in the years preceding was off-limits to us due to the antiwar sentiment shared by most Americans.

Bush used that same attack on our home front to legitimize federal efforts to squash the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments. He initiated a domestic spying program in which our government could eavesdrop on its own citizens, mark them as enemies of the state and detain them indefinitely through the suspension of writ of Habeas Corpus.

Bush, rightfully so, has been derided for all of this and his presidency has been labeled as one of the worst ever. I’m glad that people feel this way and understand the damage he has done to our great nation. But, on the other hand, I can’t help but look at that commonly-held disdain for Bush with a lot of cynicism, finding some dark humor in the mass hypocrisy. You see, everything that I’ve written here about George Bush could easily have been written to a “t” about Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He, too, was guilty of all of the above, yet he’s always been put on a pedestal and worshipped as one of our greatest presidents. It could be argued, quite easily, that his reign was a lot worse than Bush’s.

FDR, like Bush, faced an economic disaster of historic proportions while in office. And he, too, bailed-out the economy by putting billions of dollars into the market by instituting a wide variety of programs and giveaways that most Americans would call socialist or communist. Remember, he introduced means to control prices by subsidizing crops, he employed hundreds of thousands through the Civilian Conservation Corps, Tennessee Valley Authority and other such government employment, he pushed the National industrial Recovery Act as a means to dictate how competition should occur, he introduced two still-standing Securities Acts and he brought to us the granddaddy of all public giveaways (Social Security). Unlike Bush’s methods, FDR’s bailouts moved from the bottom up, rather than the top down. But, just like Bush’s plans, all of them showed promise for a short-term rescue but were saddled with painful long-term implications that subsequent generations would have to struggle with.

FDR, like Bush, used an attack against America to pull us into an unrelated and unpopular war. Bush, for years, eyed Iraq as place to take our troops, but found Americans to be strongly opposed. Roosevelt, for years, was intent on intervening in the European conflicts, but antiwar and isolationist sentiments were far too powerful in the States. Both men got what they wanted, although it took unbelievable tragedy. Bush was able to make people believe that Iraq was somehow connected to the 9/11 terror attacks and found Congress and our people suddenly (if only temporarily) amicable to an Iraq war. FDR was able to use the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (which he allowed to occur) to get people interested in joining the foray into the completely unrelated European Theatre. Somehow, both men successfully duped the nation into war.

FDR, like Bush, also used the war to cast aside the rights of the individual. Just as our government now uses the Patriot Act to jail people without following standard procedures, it did the same under FDR’s watch, but worse. The US interned, detained or excluded over 300,000 Japanese-Americans (men, women, and children) branding them all as enemies of the state, regardless of guilt or innocence.

As you can see, the presidencies of Bush and FDR share some eerie similarities. Their only difference: Bush is hated while FDR is revered. It’s too bad history works in such odd ways because, truth be told, FDR deserves the same treatment as Bush. His presidency was no better than Bush’s and - looking at Constitutional principles - it could be considered a whole lot worse.

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