George W. Bush has taught me an important lesson about the American presidency. I used to believe that the U.S. president was only a figurehead. U.S. politics consists of so much fighting and posturing that decisions simply can’t be made. The president maintains the face of the government by being a media puppet, while the real workings of our political system work themselves out due to momentum.
I don’t believe this any more.
George’s thought process while in office bears an unfortunate resemblance to a typical, but sad, characteristic of human nature: think of yourself first, and then think of yourself. I am amazed at the number of self-serving bad decisions that have spewed forth from the White House.
The Kyoto Treaty
The Kyoto treaty was a wonderful example of a missed opportunity to re-invigorate our economy. Government funds could be used as seed money for entire industries built around finding new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Trade agreements could be set up between the U.S. and other countries. The race to invent new, clean technology could give Americans a New Cause, like the space race did in the’60’s. But George likes oil. Oil has made George a rich man. By refusing to see the business opportunities made possible by signing this treaty Bush has done two things: he has managed to help make a few inadaptable companies richer at the expense of the U.S. economy, and he has thumbed his nose at the rest of the world, providing even more reason for other nations to resent the U.S.
The Missile Defense System
George is scared shitless of getting blown up. So am I. There are lots of little pissed-off nations run by crazy little generals that would love to become nuclear powers. During the arms race of the ‘80’s, the U.S. and Russia amassed huge stockpiles of planet-destroying weapons. But neither side was run by a crazy general, and nobody pressed the button. Most crazy generals wouldn’t hesitate to launch a nuclear strike; after all, what good is a weapon you don’t use? And, you can be sure that the U.S., with its long history of pissing off crazy generals, would be a key target.
So George’s fear is real, and I applaud him for trying to come up with a solution. But once again, George has thumbed his nose at the rest of the world by ignoring the ABM treaty. Instead, George should have extended an olive branch to the United Nations and proposed a global missile defense system that could protect all nations against attack. Let’s face it, when a nuclear weapon detonates, we’re all down wind.
The U.S. Does Not Live in Isolation
These two examples demonstrate my primary fear of the Big W. He’s living in the past. He thinks that the U.S. is an island and can do what it wants without affecting the rest of the world. Wrong, Big W. The world is too connected in this global economy. We’ve got to realize that we’re all living on the same ball of mud. There’s no getting off, so we better get along.