Nevertheless, if Bush embodies just such an individual, very few of the lugubrious by-products of a nearly eight-year reign of error – most notably, initiating ill-planned wars leading to thousands of dead, most of whom have been U.S. soldiers or Iraqi and Afghan civilians – shouldn't come as any surprise.
Of course, what many may have certainly found surprising is the mindless fiscal irresponsibility -- once considered synonymous with the Democratic Party -- which has characterized the Bush era. In the year 2000, after an eight year run of responsible fiscal conduct, the Clinton-Gore Administration managed to erase a multi-billion dollar federal budget deficit amassed over decades of imprudent financial management by mostly Republican administrations. As a result, upon exiting the White House in January, 2001, the Clinton-Gore Administration handed Bush a $123 billion federal budget surplus.
During the Bush era, largely through his dispersal of billions in federal revenue through lopsided tax cuts, skyrocketing military spending, and little in the way of reduced federal spending, the U.S. economy is now saddled with trillions of dollars in red ink, leaving not just the Clinton-Gore budget surplus little more than a distant memory, but also leaving future generations a colossal mountain of debt.
As Bush's gaffes, miscues, and the impact of his managerial incompetence further took hold, America's disillusion over its president's ever more obvious duplicitous nature deepened. The endless corruption, tawdry scandals, naked incompetence, mounting war dead, high gas prices and quirky economy have now coalesced to become America's long overdue wake up call. The "it's a good thing Bush was elected," mantra has now been channeled into a serious debate over whether this president will go down as the worst in U.S. history.
Might the election of a "measured policy wonk" in 2000 have prevented this? Who knows? Yet, in midst of Bush's woeful performance, Gore -- having completed a breathtaking, year long assemblage of a virtuous axis consisting of an Oscar, an Emmy and Nobel Prize -- finds his image as flawed loser continuing to be promulgated. To offer an example, scarcely one day after Gore won the Nobel award, the opening sentence of a New York Post article on the subject disingenuously reported: "Gore won his first election in 11 years."
Considering the Post's political pedigree, that article's premise -- expressed with every bit of the canard one might expect from a Rupert Murdoch-owned New York tabloid -- comes as no surprise. As long as there are bitter fruit, Gore will continue to be marginalized by the same types who somehow can't manage to find any fault at all in George W. Bush. However, sour grapes certainly don't annul the fact that while Al Gore's year of living splendidly goes on, the majority of Americans continue to count the days until the end of the Bush era.
Under a different set of circumstances, America could well be into the seventh year of a Gore Administration. Were that so, perhaps this nation would now be enjoying the respect and admiration of a world that sees America as an evolved, progressive and enlightened society bent on using its vast resources to help elevate the status of mankind. Perhaps it would understand that any so-called "war on terror" initiated by Gore would have been thought out in a way that leads to light at the end of the tunnel rather than a nightmarish endeavor with "no end in sight."
The reality, however, is that barring the unforeseen, for the remaining 14 months of his presidency, both America and the world are stuck with Bush. Thus, for most run-of-the-mill Americans "Are we better off as a nation under President Bush?" may be the most important question of the day.
However, as the countdown to the end of the Bush-era goes on, the question of: "Would this nation be as bad off under President Gore?" is perhaps more compelling.
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