Rehabilitating George W. Bush #2

Posted by Richard D North under Rehab for Bush on 27 May 2009

Alright, I admit it, Mr Bush’s reputation remains low. But it is fascinating to watch President Obama follow George W’s most controversial policies – the ones for which he is most reviled.

Perhaps the best summary of Mr Obama’s capitulation to Bushery comes from the FT’s Clive Crook. (Why Obama owes Bush an apology, FT, 25 May, 2009.) Mr Crook insists that Obama is better than Mr Bush: more determined to be open and to strike a better balance between security and civil rights. But the list of policies in which Mr Obama is more or less following his predecessor is long.

The article didn’t discuss how Mr Obama is quite Bushite in his Afghanistan policies. But we had these examples:

(1) Guantanamo is scheduled to close, but many of its remaining inmates will remain incarcerated and perhaps on grounds which wouldn’t do for any other criminals or combatants.

(2) Waterboarding is outlawed but its practitioners not condemned and the possibility of tough interrogation left tantalising open. (Meanwhile, it is being noted elsewhere that waterboarding was used on very few people, though repeatedly, was probably well-targeted and has long been abandoned.)

(3) Mr Obama has come round to the Bushite understanding that special military commissions are the only way to try certain terrorist suspects.

In short, whilst it is easy to criticise Mr Bush’s tone, his decisions – which matter rather more – were not awful and not easily improved-upon.

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