Prior to being elected President, Barack Obama came across as a real outsider hoping to bring change to a failing system personified in one man: then-President of the United States George W. Bush. Indeed, much of the criticism leveled against Bush was valid. He and the Congress had started long and costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at a time when America could ill afford to be spending such amounts, given the precarious state of its public finances. Bush had made compromises with treasured civil liberties by passing the invasive Patriot Act and indefinitely detaining suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Some of these suspects at Guantanamo Bay had been tortured by the American authorities. George W. Bush had been a combination of the worst traits of Republicans and Democrats; he had combined the aggressive militarism and nationalism of Republicans, hated by many people worldwide, with the free spending ways of the liberal Democrats, leading to the worst public finances this nation had ever seen (that is, before Barack Obama’s presidency). He gave Obama a mess that unfortunately has been further complicated by Obama instead of cleaned up. Indeed, while many admired George W. Bush’s personal decency, as far as policy was concerned, many began to see Bush’s policies for what they were: disasters.
Many of these things should be no mystery to anyone after Obama rightfully criticized Bush over and over again in the 2008 campaign. It has been noted by some writers that Obama’s policies have been very oddly a continuation of much of what Bush’s policies were while he was in office. Of course, there have been differences as one would hope to see between a “conservative” Republican and a far-left Democrat, but the similarities have been uncanny. Obama has continued Bush’s interventionist ways and has compiled a record of spending that matches his largess.
That is why it was no surprise to see Barack Obama get up and roundly praise the man whom he had routinely condemned to get elected. To see him chum around with the former Presidents both left and right showed what a sham his criticisms of Bush had been. Bush was transformed from the almost devilish figure he had been to Obama in his early days to a man of “compassion and generosity,” a real example (in Obama’s eyes) of what a leader should be. It is clear that Barack Obama has joined the “world’s most exclusive club” and has forgotten the very reasons why he wanted to be elected in the first place. It was also no surprise to see George W. Bush praised by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton in addition to Obama. Maybe this “conservative” President, this “Reaganite,” is a little more to the left than we had assumed. Maybe our current President is a little more of an insider and a statist than he appeared to be in order to get elected to the world’s most powerful office. Food for thought, at least.
F. Peter Brown is an Associate Editor at the Western Center for Journalism and Editor at the Sound Money Institute. Follow him on Twitter @FPBLibertarian .
Photo Credit: Dustin C. Oliver Creative Commons