William Kristol, the conservative publisher of The Weekly Standard, said of Mr. Bush: "I do think people think he could have showed stronger leadership." But Mr. Kristol expressed doubt that the hurricane would have much lasting effect on the president's personal and political fortunes, because "people are capable of saying, 'The president kind of screwed this one up, but I still basically agree with him.'"
Mr. Kristol added, "I think the Clinton administration would have done a better job in handling Hurricane Katrina, but I'm also glad Bush is president and not a Democrat."
Shorter (well, not really shorter) Bill Kristol: OK, Bush is kind of incompetent and didn't really do a good job at all with the hurricane and everything, but . . . Democrats still suck! Nyaaahh!
This does beg the question, though -- what does Bill Kristol, diehard conservative who is to the smug shit-eating grin what Miles Davis was to the trumpet, think Bush is good at? He clearly doesn't think Bush did a good job handling the hurricane-relief efforts. He evidently isn't too stoked about how Bush's team is managing the war, either, judging by his belief that Bush "drove us into a ditch" with respect to Iraq. Budget and spending issues? Nope, Kristol hasn't been too keen on how Bush handles those either, as evidenced by the criticisms his Weekly Standard magazine has made of Bush's rampant spending. As far as anyone can tell from the above quote, Kristol's admiration for Bush revolves around one aspect and one aspect only: He's not a Democrat.
What's so bad about Democrats, anyway? Let's compare Kristol's hero Bush to his Democratic predecessor on the three above criteria. On the subject of hurricane relief, Kristol came right out and admitted that Clinton would've done a better job, so there's one W for Clinton right there. Fiscal management, well that one's really simple: Clinton balanced the budget and gave us big-ass surpluses to boot, while Bush acts like he deserves a ticker-tape parade when the '05 budget deficit turns out to be only $420 billion. Score another one for Clinton. As for war-waging, well, Clinton oversaw the liberation of Kosovo without losing a single American soldier, and the former Yugoslavia is now a more-or-less functional democracy where only 3,300 U.S. troops remain; Bush, meanwhile, "drove us into a ditch" in Iraq. Looks like Clinton wins that one, too, for a final score of 3-0.
But in Bill Kristol's world, George W. Bush waxes Clinton's ass in the critical "Is He A Republican?" category, which is worth four points. (He's probably also got a category for "Blowjobs Received From Interns," but Bush has already won and we know Kristol would never try to run up the score like that.)
Look, Clinton had his faults ? nobody is prepared to concede that quicker than I am ? but since I'm conceding that, it's time for the Republicans to concede something else: Dude got stuff done. Balancing the budget? There you go. A hundred thousand new cops on the streets? Bam. Kick-ass economy, successful military intervention in the Balkans, reforming welfare? Check, check, and check. Not all of his ideas were perfect (or perfectly executed), and certainly his private life contains some indiscretions that nobody, Democratic or Republican, is proud of. But when it came to the business of running the country, making policy decisions, making sure that governmental actions worked for the betterment of the American people. Billy boy kicked ass. Make fun of his "I feel your pain" mantra all you want, but the simple fact is he did care about how well the American people did and what government could do to have an impact on that, and it shows in his legacy.
Meanwhile, even a Bush Kool-Aid drinker as august as Bill Kristol admits that Bush "is a strong president . . . but he has never really focused on the importance of good execution." Wha . . . ? That's like saying "Drew Weatherford is an awesome quarterback, he just sucks at passing." Look, every president has grand ideas and ambitions; that's pretty much how you get elected president in the first place. How you execute those ideas, though, is what separates the historical greats from the washouts, and whether he knows it or not, Kristol has just stumbled upon something that we nasty liberals have suspected for some time now: Bush just can't be bothered with the execution.
But he's a Republican, not a Democrat, ergo he is awesome, Q.E.D., period, end of sentence.
I mean, really, that's pretty much what Kristol is saying, isn't it? Am I missing something here?