|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
|Nothing Succeeds Like Success
Thursday, January 4th, 2007
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org|
|The White House says the capture of Osama bin Ladin is a “success that hasn’t occurred yet.” An unusual formulation, but entirely consistent with Bush administration policies. Indeed, Mr. Bush’s presidential career is an unbroken string of successes of the “haven't occurred yet” variety.
Take Iraq. Mr. Bush’s war of choice started nearly four years ago. Twenty-five thousand dead or maimed American troops and half a trillion dollars later, and we’ve got: A bloody Iraqi civil war, complete with ethnic cleansing, killing one thousand civilians every month. A new friendship between our enemy Iran and its former enemy Iraq, and a further destabilized Mid-East. Increased hatred of the U.S. throughout the world. An over-burdened, weakened, damaged and unhappy U.S. military that, in a recent Army Times poll, expressed its lack of support for the war. The recruiting and training of new generations of American-hating terrorists, who get field experience attacking our troops. A success, in short, so not occurring that it looks a lot like failure on a catastrophic scale.
Or the economy. We’ve got job creation rates below replacement levels, worsening income inequality, and half a decade of stagnant or declining incomes for the vast majority of Americans. Both household and government debt are at historic highs. The president who inherited a huge budget surplus and frittered it away now promises to balance the books – by 2012, four years after he leaves office. Mr. Bush’s economic stewardship has been a success for big corporations and the wealthiest individuals. Everyone else is still waiting.
And education. No Child Left Behind has accomplished its unstated objective, the shifting of some children’s behinds from public to charter schools. Too bad that recent studies show charter schools underperforming public schools by most important measures. U.S. school children continue to lag behind the rest of the developed world in reading, math, science, geography, and history. The administration’s Reading First program did nothing to boost reading skills, but success did occur for well-connected contractors, including the president’s brother, Neil Bush. Reading First poured hundreds of millions of federal dollars into their pockets. Chances are their math skills were good enough to count it.
The environment? Plenty of toxic new coal-fired power plants on the horizon. Aggressive plans for more oil drilling in national parks and pristine coastal regions. Huge tax incentives for big oil to find big new oil and gas fields. Automobile manufacturers continue to produce gas guzzlers with the government’s encouragement, bringing the big three ever closer to bankruptcy. Dependence on oil imported from countries that hate us has increased. Polar bears and penguins are drowning. Deforestation continues unchecked. Air and water quality has declined. Bush administration environmental policy is a success that is not occurring at all.
New Orleans is still a wreck. Afghanistan is a chaos, ditto Israel-Palestine, Lebanon, most of Africa. The Chinese are eating our lunch in Asia. The North Koreans join the Indians and Pakistanis in the nuclear weapons club, thumbing their noses at us all the while. Not just Osama, but Zawahiri and the anthrax mailer are still on the loose. Did we mention health care, the public housing shortage, the scandal of the nation’s prisons?
The Bush Presidency has already been called the worst in history by observers as diverse as liberal historian Sean Wilentz and conservative scholar Jeffrey Hart. They may be right. But with so many successes that haven’t occurred yet, shouldn’t we be grateful to Mr. Bush for giving us so very much to look forward to?
©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2006
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