Friday, January 06, 2006

Cheney's Legacy

Reading Thomas Friedman’s column in The New York Times today got me thinking about the legacy of the Bush-Cheney Whitehouse. To sum up Friedman’s column (since only TimesSelect subscribers can view it), he talks again about geo-green policy. I realize that it seems like he is being repetitive, but what else can a columnist do when no one seems to listen to the real problems we are facing.

In the column, Friedman criticizes Cheney’s energy policy, which was basically a handout to his cronies. It did nothing to decrease our dependence on foreign oil and nothing to stop the continuous flow of oil revenue to dangerous and oppressive regimes (Iran, Syria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Nigeria...). Although the Bush administration's tactics in the war on terror have been brave militarily, it has been weak on addressing the real causes of this war on terror.

I think when we look back on the Bush – Cheney legacy, we will see many policies like this one; policies that are popular but destructive in the long run. Another example of this is this administration's spending policy. They have chosen to give the country tax cuts while spending continues to rise. In fact, they call it a time of war, but refuse to adopt a fiscal policy that acknowledges this. Make no mistake, although the tax cuts seem great right now, we will be paying for all this spending for many generations.

The administration has also chosen to use the perpetual state of war we are in to drastically expand the strength of the executive. They make policy decisions without disclosing who was involved in the talks, they choose to spy on Americans without bothering to get a warrant, and they try their hardest to allow the worst treatment for detainees while trying to keep it a secret.

Bush and Cheney have also seriously hurt many of our alliances throughout the world. Although I don't think we should obsess over how the world sees us, I do think it is important that the policies that upset them should be good ones. Our decision to completely ignore the Kyoto Accords is a pretty big slap in the face. Our military decisions are often hypocritical; we bring out regime change in Iraq without UN approval, but we say our hands are tied in Darfur because the UN will not do anything.

It will take an incredible president in 2008 to put this country back on the right track and repair much of this damage (hopefully this time it will be a president that is strong and smart enough to make decisions without his or her vice president).