Monday, January 4, 2010

A Column of Self-Delusion

Pat Buchanan wrote a piece in the online edition of Human Events lamenting the passing decade, pinning on it the end of American exceptionalism. Here is a list of events Buchanan attributes to the decline of the past decade:

- a nearly 10% drop in our contribution to the global Gross Domestic Product
- the loss of a budget surplus
- high unemployment and underemployment
- a 1/4 to a 1/3 drop in the number of manufacturing jobs
- the drop in the value of a dollar against the Euro
- stagnant median income of American families
- the New England Patriots losing to the New York Giants, thus denying them a perfect season

Okay, so I made the last one up, but Buchanan could have easily blamed everything from the sinking of the Titanic to the fact his socks didn't match on what he sees as the cause of all of this. That's right, the masterminds of evil and utter incompetence: George W. Bush and the Republicans who backed him. The rest of the piece rips Bush and the GOP a new one and laments that we "brought it upon ourselves" by electing people like that.

It's gotten frightfully easy for people on the Left to lay the blame for everything bad that happened since 2001 at Bush's feet, but it's a rather simplistic conclusion. Bush screwed up plenty (Medicare Part B, anyone?), but a lot of the stuff attributed to him were not of his doing.

Take the response to Hurricane Katrina, for example. Buchanan points to it as proof that America lost it's "can-do attitude." If you focus on New Orleans alone, you'd get that impression. The problem is that Katrina hit other areas besides New Orleans and they actually showed the kind of spirit Buchanan says has been lost. It's a typical lie of omission that the Left takes as gospel truth.

As far as New Orleans is concerned, any delay in FEMA's response can be laid at the feet of then-Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco. Federal law requires that the Governor of a state give permission for FEMA or National Guard units from other states to enter the state. Bush talked to Blanco three days before Katrina made landfall, and Blanco declined help. Then Blanco did not submit the permission to the correct FEMA office, which caused further delays...and further destruction.

Having said that, the federal response after Katrina as it pertains to New Orleans was bungled, and that wasn't because of the loss of the "can-do attitude," but because of the lumbering incompetence of the federal government. That can be laid at the feet of George W. Bush. Other factors played a role in the continuing Katrina situation in New Orleans, but Bush has a hand in the aftermath. But to blame the entirety of problems in New Orleans on Bush is intellectually dishonest and far too easy to do. If you're going to bash Bush, bash him on what he actually did or didn't do, not on what you believe he did or didn't do.

Although Buchanan (and many of his fans) believe him to be a "real conservative" based on his rhetoric, it can't be overlooked that his Human Events piece is an example of just how Leftist he has become.

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