George W. Bush, 9/11, Iraq, Katrina—How Did We Go So Wrong?

Maybe we need a new way of selecting a president.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

I commend to your attention a new article on Vanity Fair's website that tries to explain how so much could go wrong in so few years. In less than 8 years, the Bush White House managed to accomplish the following: 

The threat of 9/11 ignored. The threat of Iraq hyped and manipulated. Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. Hurricane Katrina. The shredding of civil liberties. The rise of Iran. Global warming. Economic disaster. How did one two-term presidency go so wrong?

To this long list I would add a monstrously useless expenditure of human life and taxpayers' limited resources (to wit, the war in Iraq, implied in the Vanity Fair headline but not spelled out) and the decimation of America's financial watchdog system designed to prevent the kind of economic mess we're now experiencing.

One wonders, in retrospect, how the American public could have so misjudged this man to have elected him not once but twice. How is it that voters, seeing the mismanaged war launched and excessive spending well on its way by the end of Mr. Bush's first term, could have voted him back into office for another four years of waste and abuse of office? Blame could be placed, in part, on the Democratic Party for nominating Sen. John Kerry to run against Mr. Bush in 2004. Kerry was a terrible candidate, but good judgment and political acumen were hardly required to discern that Kerry would have made a far better president than the one who won reelection. In fact if he had won in '04, chances are we would have been out of Iraq by now, and much of the mortgage and housing crisis that rocked Wall Street and the global economy would not have taken place.

If America was so spellbound by what I always viewed as the GOP's gross manipulation of the terror issue, I would go so far as to say we need to revisit how we elect our presidents. Something in our system is going seriously wrong. 9/11 was a horrible event. Still, Americans should have been able to see through Republicans' fear-driven '04 campaign to recognize the danger was more imagined than real.