War on Terror

Democrats Want Trump To Be More Like Bush…So He Could Actually Accomplish His Agenda?

Many of the underlying sentiments that made the statist post-9/11 bipartisan consensus possible are still in Washington, ready to be exploited.

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Thomas Hawk/flickr

A majority of Democrats—51 percent—now have a favorable view of former president George W. Bush, according to a recent poll. And in the wake of the truck attack in New York City, some in Democratic leadership are seized by the same curious nostalgia.

"When terrorism has struck us in the past, presidents have brought us together," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted, along with a photo of Bush with a firefighter at Ground Zero, shortly after 9-11. "It's a shame this president can't."

But it's not a shame.

What Democrats are really saying is that they hate President Trump so much that Bush, who during his presidency was even compared to Hitler, elicits fond memories.

It also brings the disconnect between the rhetoric lawmakers deploy and the policies they pursue in stark relief.

Even as they stuck to the typical partisan script to attack Bush during his presidency, Democrats supported such policy failures as the Iraq War, the PATRIOT Act, and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, when there was an opportunity to stop them.

Whatever authentic momentary feelings of national unity post-9/11 that Bush might have stirred in people, they weren't worth the terrible policy outcomes.

Bush's conciliatory rhetoric simply provided cover for Democrats to support illiberal policies in the name of "national security" while pretending to maintain a distance from him in their own rehetoric.

President Trump, on the other hand, doesn't take that tack. He spent the aftermath of the NYC terror attack the same way he spends a lot of his time in the public eye, sniping at his perceived enemies and making bombastic statements that rile up his and the oppostition's base.

Trump doesn't try to mask the ugliness of his policy proposals in the flowery language of unity and higher purpose.

His unwillingness or inability to dress up the talk is a positive development: were he more adept at it, it would only help to form the kind of bipartisan consensus under which such policies would get broad approval without much, if any, substantive debate.

While Bush took care in his rhetoric not to blame all of Islam for 9/11 nor to stray from the ideal of America as a nation of immigrants, this was not reflected in many of the broadly supported policies unrolled in the aftermath.

In the sixteen years since 9/11, both parties have supported an increasingly expansive war on terror that is waged in Muslim countries around the world and, through surveillance and other measures, is also waged against Americans themselves.

And as the Migration Policy Institute noted on the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the immigration landscape transformed dramatically in the decade since—policy was viewed primarily "through the lens of national security." Stricter immigration controls of all kinds enjoyed broad bipartisan support.

At the same time, the consensus after the 9/11 attacks did not include any substantive interest in comprehensive immigration reform. It did, however, extend to mass surveillance and a global war on terror, much of which was solidified during the Obama presidency.

Eleven of the Democratic senators who voted for the PATRIOT Act in 2002 are still in office, including Schumer, the minority leader, who also voted in favor of the Iraq War and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.

Since 9/11, terrorist attacks have become decentralized—far less deadly, their mundane targets and tactics make them relatively more common. While the odds of an American being killed in a terror attack are still overwhelmingly long, the political class is just as susceptible to policy-making as emotional reaction as ever before.

Trump, like his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton, suggested on the campaign trail "closing that internet up in some way" in response to what was perceived to be radicalization online. There is bipartisan eagerness in imposing more controls on the internet and internet companies in the name of national security.

Trump's unwillingness or inability to tone his rhetoric down to take advantage of that eagerness to advance his own agenda should be a welcome development to any skeptic of the policies wrought by the war on terror so far.

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  1. A majority of Democrats?51 percent?now have a favorable view of former president George W. Bush, according to a recent poll.

    I can’t wait to see what future president is going to make history treat Trump with nostalgia.

    1. It will be any future Republican President.

      1. Jesus Christ gets the Republican nomination.
        Democrats: “He’s literally the Taliban. At least Trump wasn’t a religious zealot”

        1. “You said ‘turn the other cheek’, but you don’t support free flavored lube for cisgendered lesbian queers? Hypocrite!”

          1. And if he did, there’d be an article in Slate the next day on how free flavored lube is racist and promotes homophobia.

      2. It’s a great treadmill and tactic Democrats use. “God why can’t ‘X current Republican’ be reasonable like they used to be! They use to at least listen have some sense, not like now!!!”

        Then they say they miss Goldwater, where if someone had Goldwateresque views now they would be crucified by Democrats for that.

        1. I find it hilarious when lefties cite Goldwater. Or the “Reagan wouldn’t be welcome in today’s GOP!” line.

          If anybody thinks the praise for Bush is sincere, just remember that milquetoast Mitt Romney was literally Hitler.

          The praise for Bush is just concern trolling.

          1. When they drop the Reagan line, I like to say “When you say it that way, it sounds like they’ve improved quite a bit”

    2. “A majority of Democrats?51 percent?now have a favorable view of former president George W. Bush, according to a recent poll.”

      I keep asking this question, but considering the failure of the polls in 2016, we are taking THIS poll seriously, why exactly?

      1. Applying the margin of error from the election nationally, you’re still looking at about 50 or 49% approval. As far as the national popular vote goes, Clinton was projected by the polls to win by 3, maybe 4 points. She won by 2. There was somewhat greater error in a few Midwest states that enabled Trump to win combined with Florida (which was a tossup) and the states he was supposed to win.

    3. I can’t wait til Warren makes us pine for Obama.

      1. At least Bill Clinton understood that Oval Office mouth fucking is awesome.

        1. Speaking of which, I remember back when everyone’s private sex life was bobody’s business. Those were the days.

          1. Yeah, why won’t everyone just leave Harvey Weinstein alone? His private sex life is bobody’s business.

  2. Bush’s conciliatory rhetoric simply provided cover for Democrats to support illiberal policies in the name of “national security” while pretending to maintain a distance from him in their own [rhetoric].

    If Trump finally manages to shatter the illusion that central planners could be civil libertarians then it’s all worth it.

  3. No Ed. What they are really saying is Democrats like any Republican who is no longer a threat to hold office and attacks other Republicans. Wait until Trump leaves office and is no longer a threat to hold office and Democrats will suddenly decide how reasonable and great he is as a way to portray Republicans who are a threat to hold office as the crazy.

    This is an old move. It is kind of sad that you apparently are not aware of it.

    1. I’m half expecting Trump to be a Democrat by the end of his presidency, especially if they win the House and Senate (although they’re not winning the Senate). Trump will, of course, be welcome with open arms back to the Democrat party.

    2. “Why can’t they be more like Reagan?”

      “Why can’t they nominate someone reasonable like Romney?”

      1. Well put. IMO this has a lot to do w the implicitly antiTrump spech that Dub June Bug gave a cpl weeks ago also.
        Also for what its worth the consistent themes that Ive heard from my liberal friends re: Trump focus on Trump personally rather than his policies – both his abrasive, vulgar manner & his history of corruption. The response makes sense to me because Trump has no policies or political principles. during the election I was dismayed by the resemblance between trump & sanders in terms of actual policy prescriptions … trump would stop immigration & raise tariffs out of a hysterical xenophobic reactionary view; sanders would stop immigration & raise tariffs to “protect US workers” & to “fight globalization”. Both the men & their ideas were then & remain absurd on their face. But this is how bereft the American experiment is: the electorate is illiterate. Perhaps this was always the case. But with a Trump in office, making policy on 2am while taking a 2am shit, it is impossible to pretend that anything survives of American statecraft. tldr: the liberal complaint over trump is often a complaint over style

        1. trump would stop immigration & raise tariffs out of a hysterical xenophobic reactionary view; sanders would stop immigration & raise tariffs to “protect US workers” & to “fight globalization”

          When the Right does it, it’s because they’re Nazis.
          When the Left does it, it’s because they care so much about US workers.

    3. What they are really saying is Democrats like any Republican who is no longer a threat to hold office and attacks other Republicans.

      Winner.

      Everything the Left says is merely rhetoric to protect and increase Leftist power. Post modern marxists don’t believe in truth, they believe in power.

  4. If Trump was more like Bush he would be pro-immigration and pro-free-trade.

    1. Trump is basically 90s Bill Clinton without the free trade.

  5. So, what you are saying is that Trump is the most transparent president in decades?

    1. It’s hard to argue that this isn’t true, mostly because his administration leaks like a sieve, journalists are actually diong their jobs now because Trump is a meanie to them, and Trump himself projects all of his thoughts to the world through Twitter.

    2. Pretty much.

    3. That’s what I like about him. He’s just another asshole politician. Just without the pretense.

  6. “Geez, other than on foreign policy, we pushed Bush around like he was in Chess Club and we were the Football Team. Why can’t Trump be more like that?”

  7. Bush was Literally Hitler, but TRUMP IS LITERALLY HUTLER!!!OMG!!!!DIARREAH!

    1. Bush was Hitler but Trump is like double Hitler!!

      1. UltraHitler

      2. It grows exponentially. So. Hitler^2

      3. DoublePlus Hitler

  8. Considering that George W. Bush was essentially a southern Democrat in the tradition of Lyndon Johnson, it really shouldn’t be surprising that Democrats are nostalgic for him.

    George W. Bush initiated a huge expansion of entitlement programs by way of the prescription drug benefit, much like Lyndon Johnson’s expansion of entitlement programs by way of the Great Society.

    George W. Bush doubled down on spreading democracy at the point of a gun, much like the way Lyndon Johnson doubled down in Vietnam.

    Reason once printed the image of Barack Obama’s face having morphed into the likeness of George W. Bush, but it was always the other way around. When the southern strategy really started paying off for the Republicans, it brought a ton of former Democrats into the Reagan coalition, but their ideas didn’t really change much–and George W. Bush reflected that. He was a southern Democrat in all but name.

    Pragmatism sold short for neoconservatism. Fiscal conservatism sold short, full stop.

    Trump’s pragmatism drives neoconservatives up the freaking wall. It is extremely Reaganesque. Trump’s refusal to dive head first into Syria and work through proxies instead is very much like Reagan refusing to leap into the civil war in Lebanon–and Democrat neocons like Hillary Clinton and Republican neocons like McCain hate him for it.

    That Trump’s pragmatic policy has been wildly successful in routing ISIS just makes them angrier.

    1. Bush is a northeastern republicrat like his daddy and his brother. Don’t ler the accent fool you. His one saving grace is that he at least tried to reform entitlements. Medicare part D was going to happen given the public demands and the big wood the dems get for all welfare.

      1. I showed you the ways Bush was like a southern Democrat, and it has nothing to do with his accent.

        Incidentally, being a Republican a la Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan was about opposing the New Deal and Great Society entitlement programs, on the one hand, and being pragmatic on foreign policy, on the other, especially in the face of communism.

        Trump represents a return to Reagan’s pragmatism on foreign policy.

        1. I don’t disagree with what you say in general, but NAS is right that all the ways in which W is “like a southern Democrat” are also ways in which W is like a Rockefeller Republican, which is what HW was, and what I think the Democrats are really expressing nostalgia for – New England aristocrat Republicans who agreed with the post-War “liberal consensus.”

          1. Yup. Find some daylight between susan collins and bush. I dare you.

    2. “When the southern strategy really started paying off for the Republicans”
      This was always nonsense. Democrat legerdemain about Republican stalking horses created to deflect any real reflection our feelings of culpability about their incredibly racist history.

    3. Actually a very astute analysis Ken. Thanks for the post.

  9. I think the first step in looking at Trump rationally is to separate what he says from what he does.

    In the minds of progressives, social justice warriors, et. al. that’s a hard thing to do! So much of what they’re about is signaling, projecting an image. When there’s a horrific shooting in a church, in a progressive’s mind, taking the confederate flag down from over the capitol is a genuinely pertinent response!!! In their mind’s, that’s how the world works. What the government says and how it’s said is far more important than what politicians actually do.

    This gets them in a lot of trouble when they can’t tell the difference between signaling and reality–Exhibit One being Trump winning the last election. How can our signaling not be the reality? It must be Russian meddling!

    Meanwhile, how many articles have you read about the ceasefire agreement Trump negotiated with Putin (on behalf of Hezbollah, the Iranian Revolutionary Army, and Assad) being instrumental in focusing both Putin’s allies and our own on fighting ISIS in Syria–instead of each other? Do people think ISIS was defeated by accident?

  10. I used to think that the press had problems comprehending that Trump was using Putin like Reagan might have used Pinochet, but it’s more than that. I think they’re just completely incapable of perceiving reality and speech as two separate things. What Trump said about Putin is more important to them than whether Trump used Putin to defeat ISIS!!!

    They cannot tell the differences–including the magnitudes of their relative importance–between what a president tweets and what he does.

    TDS be damned! Not being able to tell the difference between fantasy and reality is schizophrenia.

    1. Trump simply refuses to criticize anybody who says good things about him. Why do you think he’s spent most of his time going after other Republicans? If BLM started saying how awesome Trump is he’d probably sign a reparations bill.
      While Trump refuses to criticize Putin and it’s pretty ridiculous, the actions of his administration have been arguably more confrontational with Russia than Obama’s. His actions have been more aggressive against Russia than Obama’s.

      Trump is an immature blithering idiot who can’t keep his mouth shut and hurts his own cause, but at least it keeps the media distracted from all of the important things, many of which his appointees are getting right.

      1. Whom he criticizes and what he says is relatively insignificant compared to what he does.

        He campaigned on collaborating with Putin against ISIS in Syria, which is why our intelligence services and neocons like John McCain went after him.

        When he got into office, he collaborated with Putin against ISIS in Syria.

        Yeah, that means Assad probably won’t lose power, and it means that the CIA, NSA, and others in Pentagon don’t have as much on their plate as they did before. That impacts their budgets, among other things. No soup for you!

        Oh, well. I guess they’ll just have to settle for the defeat of ISIS.

        1. This separation of what he does and what he says is one thing that bothers me about Reason and libertarians in general.

          I get the evidence that he is a blithering idiot, but Trump being a broken clock that is right 20 times per day doesn’t add up.

          1. They can’t see when he’s right, in part, because they can’t tell the difference between his policies and his tweets.

            That’s only slightly exaggerated.

            I’m not sure they can tell the difference between Trump tweeting that NFL athletes should be ashamed of themselves for kneeling during the anthem and Trump throwing people in prison for exercising their free speech rights–and, yeah, we libertarians are supposed to be the ones pointing out those differences to everyone else.

            He’s made a lot of good decisions. More than I expected! If you ignore his tweets and tantrums in the media . . . and why not do that if they’re irrelevant? It’s not like they’re making their money selling advertising over there.

            1. So far, Trump has actually been less abusive towards the press than Obama. Trump says mean words and tries to embarrass them and even sometimes makes empty threats. He has yet to label a reporter co-conspirator for espionage and be caught stealing AP phone records, as Obama had. The WH Press Corps basically functioned as his press secretary, yet he still went after them using sneaky government force.

            2. It’s been nice. I went into expecting things to be bad, and so far some things have been not bad. That’s about as much of a win as my belief system tends to get.

          2. libertarians in general.

            I don’t know what libertarians you are talking to. Libertarians seem to be the only ones making that distinction. I don’t know about Reason, I haven’t been following that closely lately. And I don’t know if Trump is an idiot or not, but he sure is blithering, whatever else he is.

            1. You can say it…

              just like Ken “He’s made a lot of good decisions. More than I expected!”

              As Ken rightly points out, Trump tweeting and Trump doing tend to be different. I suspect many people cannot admit the good things Trump has done because of the tweeting.

    2. I think they’re just completely incapable of perceiving reality and speech as two separate things.

      Speech is reality. That’s post modernism. Orwell knew what was coming.

      1984, Part 3, Chapter 3

  11. “Even as they stuck to the typical partisan script to attack Bush during his presidency, Democrats supported such policy failures as the Iraq War, the PATRIOT Act, and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, when there was an opportunity to stop them.”

    Of course they did. There’s nothing unusual about any of those 3 things from a Democratic policy perspective. There might have been Democratic opposition because a Republican was President, but it’s silly to believe that this was anything other than partisanship.

    1. I still have seen no convincing evidence to suggest Al Gore wouldn’t have also invaded Iraq, or at least killed Saddam. the Afghanistan War absolutely would have happened. Basically nobody opposed that at the time. Let’s not forget that both Clintons and Al Gore were convinced Saddam was trying to get WMDs right up until the Iraq War, and they bombed the shit out of them in 1998 for that exact reason.

      1. I still have seen no convincing evidence to suggest Al Gore wouldn’t have also invaded Iraq, or at least killed Saddam.

        ^ This.

        Gore campaigned on using the USA’s status as sole-remaining-superpower to “police the world” and usher in a new era of unilateral peacekeeping, going so far as to be critical of Clinton’s restraint toward Hussein.

        Bush campaigned on a “more humble foreign policy.”

        There are lessons in both of those.

    2. As I recall, much of the Patriot Act was preexixistibg wish list that had been pushed by the Clinton Adminstration. Theses were policies a significant portion of the political class were lioking for an excuse to put into law
      .

      1. Never let an American tragedy go to waste. There is always some kind of back-burner legislation that can be implemented in a knee-jerk fashion.

  12. Well, yea. Every Republican is a nazi until they get out of office. Then the next one is a total forreal nazi. //wereallymeanitthistime

  13. Can’t we just compromise and agree that they’re all Hitlers?

    1. Nah, we don’t have the pure strength of will.

  14. And as the Migration Policy Institute noted on the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the immigration landscape transformed dramatically in the decade since?policy was viewed primarily “through the lens of national security.” Stricter immigration controls of all kinds enjoyed broad bipartisan support.

    Pretty funny, although you didn’t mean it to be. A little research before posting would make you look a lot less stupid, Ed. Draw a trend line in immigration from 2002 through 2006 (before immigration dropped with the housing bubble popping/recession)

    That decade (at least the Bush part) was the decade of bipartisan efforts at amnesty for illegals. Not a decade of bipartisan support for immigration restrictions.

    1. And even with the decline after 2006, 2010 was still higher than 2002, 2001, and every year in the previous 95 years.

      1. edit: every year before 2001 in the previous 95 years

  15. Why wouldn’t liberals love George Bush. No Child Left Behind, expansion of entitlements, huge increases in social spending. A record any progressive would be proud to own.

  16. “Bush was pretty bad, but his dad wasn’t so bad and both are preferrable to what we have now”
    -common saying among Democrats right now

    I guess now they’re comfortable enough to openly support the unnecessary slaughter of people in the Middle East

    1. The only reason they were ever antiwar was because it was the other side that was doing it. Tribalism informs their every action.

  17. I’d like to ask Schumer if it hurt when he lost his capacity for shame, if he ever had one.

  18. Makes sense. George W. Bush was a RINO which is really a Democrat who plays Republican to get elected.

    He will go as one of the worst presidents along with Johnson, Wilson, FDR, JFK, Nixon, Carter, Booosh senior, Bill Clinton, W. Booosh, and Obama.

    1. No love for Nixon?

  19. Democrats still dislike Bush Jr. He lied us into 2 never-ending wars, ran up our national debt for no reason, and dropped the worst recession since the 1920’s in our laps. Even as a brain dead monkey, he made more sense than Trump… And that’s all you need to know.

    1. So mean words and incompetence are worse than destroying an entire region of the world and crushing our civil liberties. Got it

  20. The Dems want someone they can roll…..Trump’s no fun, he fights back.

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