Monday, September 12, 2005

George W. Bush Just Doesn't Get The Government Thing

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

-- Preamble to the United States Constitution

In his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Bush closed with the following sentence after discussing the effects of Hurricane Katrina: “In all that lies before us, may God watch over the United States of America.”

This small phrase, which he repeats constantly, says everything you need to know about why America has been in steep decline since the day George W. Bush took office.

The framers of our Constitution understood that the primary purpose of government is to provide for common defense and protection of all Americans, to join us as a people and to unify us under one umbrella of basic security. The president's failure to understand this and his core belief that the common welfare is best protected by religious institutions, private charities and, of course, a benevolent God, is yet another in a long list of reasons he is simply unqualified to be President of the United States.

George W. Bush doesn't believe in government as the primary vehicle we have to ensure the common good and to protect our citizens. He sees government as something to be diminished to its smallest possible incarnation – to, as Republican thought-leader Grover Norquist, of Americans for Tax Reform says, “..reduce it to the size where I can drown it in the bathtub."

Aside from what many of us suspect is an intellectual deficit that should have disqualified him from his current job, this, more than anything else, typifies why Bush is such an awful president.

Having a president who does not believe in the role and ability of government to make peoples' lives better, is a bit like having a CEO of Starbucks who thinks coffee is bad for you. It makes no sense and it dooms the organization to failure and a total absence of coherent leadership.

Bill Clinton understood this. So did Jimmy Carter. Ronald Reagan did not and George W. Bush most assuredly does not.

We have seen this most recently in the Bush administration's appointment of people to the top levels of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) who have no qualifications whatsoever to be in those jobs. Again, we have a president who doesn't view governmental agencies as a tangible and vital part of securing the common good. Rather, important functions like FEMA are seen as places to put your friends, contributors and political allies as a reward for helping you secure a very focused political agenda.

This is a point we need to make when we Democrats make our next run at the White House in 2008. Our party needs to frame the dialog on what government is supposed to be and make the election be about that very subject. And we need to use Bush's horribly incompetent response to Hurricane Katrina as an extreme example of how government ought
not be viewed and loudly raise the specter of what a Republican-led nation means in terms of having leadership that does not give a damn about its people.

By doing that, we can prevent an unqualified presidential candidate like George W. Bush from every fooling some of the American people into making this mistake again.