Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Intelligent criticism...or not

Today's op-ed (article here) hits it right on. President Bush the Younger has been one of the more-criticized presidents; author William McGurn summarizes the chief criticisms (mostly by the press, commented upon by liberal bloggers) and (gasp!) their common unfoundedness.

  • First: the Bush tax cuts.
In the first three years of his administration, the president signed into law a series of tax cuts. They helped families...small businesses...put the death tax on the road to extinction.

Critics attacked on all fronts. The tax cuts were unfair because they only helped the rich. They would blow out the deficit, and do nothing for the economy. And when the economy began to improve, the focus shifted to a "jobless recovery."

We now know that "jobless recovery" in fact produced the longest period of consecutive job growth in our history. We now know that the tax cuts that were supposed to blow a hole in the federal budget deficit actually contributed to economic growth that has in turn yielded record tax revenues. As for unfairness, we also know that if the Democrats have their way and allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, a family of four with $60,000 in earnings in 2007 would see their taxes go up by about $1,800. So who's being stubborn?

  • Second: ESC research (for some background on the science of this, browse my posts on stem cells).
In July 2001, Mr. Bush announced a reasonable compromise. The solution was that the federal government would support embryonic stem cell research, but would not support the creation of life just to destroy it.

For more than six years, the critics have reacted by suggesting America was regressing into a new Dark Ages...The science reporter for ABC News put it this way: "We talk to a lot of scientists who believe nothing will change until the next inauguration in 2009."

Well, we didn't have to wait until 2009 for something to change. Last November, scientists discovered a way to reprogram adult skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells. In other words, we now have the potential to cultivate adult cells with the same pluripotent qualities that make embryonic cells so valuable -- and without having to destroy human life. That sure sounds like a welcome development. So let me ask: How many stories or editorials have you read giving the president his due?

  • And finally: Iraq. Yes, the surge IS working...see below.
...For a man said to resist unpleasant truths, the president acted boldly...Granted, it would have been better had it come earlier. But it was a tough thing to do, he did it -- and he did it knowing full well that the critics would jump all over him.

...A cable TV host went on a rant declaring "the plan fails militarily, the plan fails symbolically, the plan fails politically." Columnists and commentators either hedged their bets or predicted disaster ahead, with allusions to Vietnam sprinkled in for good measure.

Yet the surge went ahead. In Anbar Province, Marines were sent in to take advantage of a popular Sunni revolt against al Qaeda -- and by April the capital city of Ramadi was being taken back from the terrorists. By September, U.S. and Iraqi forces were clearing out Baquba, a one-time al Qaeda town in Diyala Province. And though Gen. David Petraeus says that the gains can still be reversed, sectarian killings are down, civilian deaths are down, and the people of Baghdad are getting a taste of normal life. Surely the president deserves a little credit here.

Hmmm...he can't do anything right, eh? Riiight.

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