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Bush Exits


Partisan blather aside, let's take a no spin look at President Bush's two biggest legacy items: the terror war and the economy.

Bush leaves office with a 34 percent approval rating, according to a recent Gallup poll. That ties him with Jimmy Carter's approval rating when he left office in 1981, not exactly a place you want to be. However, the war on terror issue is still being defined and will likely help Bush when history is written down the line.

Immediately after the attack on 9/11, Muslim jihadists had a big wind at their backs. We saw TV images of Muslims dancing in the streets as the great Satan America was humbled by al-Qaida. Almost instantly, the invincibility of the United States was challenged and the physical safety of Americans, at risk. It was very possible that further attacks were close.

Moving quickly, the Bush administration reorganized the FBI into a terror-fighting organization and toppled the Taliban in Afghanistan, disrupting al-Qaida's command and control. Those successful tactics blunted a number of active terror plots and resulted in the capture of a number of al-Qaida big shots, all of whom broke under coerced interrogation. The information they gave up allowed the Bush administration to further damage the terrorist infrastructure.

Then came Iraq, an operation designed to cleanse the Muslim world of the huge terrorist enabler Saddam Hussein. The price of that war is still being debated, but what honest people don't dispute is that the al-Qaida foot soldiers who invaded Iraq hoping to defeat the U.S. military were eventually decimated. The price for America in Iraq has been enormous, but al-Qaida has also paid big.

Today, the terror threat still exists, but is no longer centralized and has lost most of its momentum. In short, the United States is winning the shooting war, and President Bush should get credit for that.

On the economic front, however, the picture is different.

The dramatic rise in oil prices last spring was artificially driven by greedy speculators, some of whom worked out of brokerage houses like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. The oil company chieftains quickly realized they could make billions raising their prices to reflect the upward price speculation and did so with gusto. Thus, millions of consumer dollars were diverted to gas bills instead of other obligations. That lighted the fuse of the recession.

At the same time, banks were making risky home loans to unqualified consumers. The banks then sold many of those loans to quick-buck artists at places like Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers. When consumers began to default because money became tight, panic ensued and the recession roared in.

Where was President Bush while all this was happening? He continued to put forth that the economy was fundamentally strong when it was not. That is on the president. If his economic advisers misled him, he should have said so. But Bush is leaving office with no credible explanation for the collapse.

The Democratic Congress also stood by and did nothing to protect the folks. Last July, Congressman Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told the world Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were "in good shape going forward."

A few weeks later those mortgage entities collapsed. Frank is now blaming the Republicans, but he is being flat-out dishonest in not taking any responsibility.

Like a sports team that loses big, the head coach is the main guy. After Iraq and the wobbling economy, the folks lost confidence in President Bush, and Barack Obama capitalized on that.

The truth is that the Bush administration did very well in protecting us against terrorist killers — but not so well in protecting us against Wall Street greed heads.

Veteran TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor" and author of the book "Who's Looking Out For You?" To find out more about Bill O'Reilly, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at This column originates on the Web site



3 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... Partisan blather aside, and you would be as quiet as death... I have to tell you, and all who think the war on terror may reflect well on Mr. Bush; that wasting resources we have not got making enemies we did not need, and  did not have before, who will be ours for life might really shine bright in some weird anti world not yet discovered by mankind... And what are the chances of that happening??? I know the guy is a clown, but I would kiss his bum good bye if he would leave office even a moment sooner....And that is so easy to say because what are the chances of that???He might not be Barney Fife; but without money that is exactly what he would have been, just another nobody looking for a position of respect to have some respect....It happens all the time, that people with nothing to recommend them, nothing of qualities, heroism, intelligence, humanity, or achievement seek out office to satisfy their longing for power and respect....I would ask people like that, if self respect is not sufficient, what level of respect would be???Mr. Bush will never be taken seriously even by the very few kind enough to show him some deference... He was a joke, and a bad one...May be he would like some company on the veranda... Have you considered joining him???Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sun Jan 18, 2009 5:54 PM
...just a few example of spin from Mr. NoSpin himself...
'However, the war on terror issue IS STILL BEING DEFINEDand will likely help Bush when history is written down the line.'
It was VERY POSSIBLE that further attacks were close...
The price of that war IS STILL BEING DEBATED but what honest people don't dispute is that the al-Qaida foot soldiers who invaded Iraq hoping to defeat the U.S. military were eventually decimated...

...just because you use a qualifier before you spin doesnt make it any less spun...

you, sir, have used up all your mojo ..please exit to the right...

Comment: #2
Posted by: william coleman
Tue Jan 20, 2009 4:00 AM
Re: william coleman;...The war on terror is being defined, but I will guarantee that we are not fighting that, and instead are fighting for capitalism, and the immorallity that comes with it...The fight for democracy is like democracy itself; and defensive...Why we are on the other side of the globe has a meaning missed by most; that of defending America/capitalist interests... Look at what it means to those people: that we will take what is theirs, and corrupt them, make them neglect their duties to their religion, and draw them away from their fellows by all the little idols of wealth and power and sex that pull us from our faith...The government cannot defend the people because it is so zealous in defending capital abroad... The people cannnot afford the taxes laid on it...The rich simply refuse to pay for the damage they do, or for their own defense... Capital seeks greener pastures to pollute, and expects to have a market here... And all is supported by credit from the Chinese, and their managed economy...We cannot admit the thing does not work...In fact, it never did work, and only the great public wealth of this country made It, Capitalist Republicanism work... It does not work...We need democracy, and we need to defend democracy at home, and keep our wealthy from making enemies for us abroad...Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Jan 21, 2009 4:01 AM
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