Over the weekend the family and I spent a night in a hotel room in Qingdao. I always enjoy that as I get to watch the BBC World on TV rather than just clips on the internet. I'm also glad my 11 year old son loves to watch it with me. Off topic, if you need to know what news source to view:
* FOX News: If you want to know what town no longer hosts a Nativity creche
* CNN News: If you want to know the latest on Paris Hilton or other celebrities
* NPR: If you want to know what evil things the United States is up to.
* BBC World Service: If you want to know pretty much what is going on in the world
Anyhow, the BBC broadcast a debate from the Intelligence Squared series with the issue, 'Bush 43 is the worst president of the last 50 years'. The debate is available on You Tube or the audio is available here. I really recommend you take the time to listen to it. I have had issues with the Bush presidency, but there seems to be an irrational derangement syndrome that comes over many people that I think is unfortunate.
The debate covered a broad spectrum of policies the Bush administration has been declared guilty of. Probably one of the issues that stirs a lot of passion from many on the left (after the invasion of Iraq) is the issue of civil liberties abuses and threats to the Constitution. The following clip is an interesting rebuttal to these charges. The clip also shows what happens when accusations are just thrown about without serious analysis as panel member Simon Jenkins discovers...to his public embarrassment.
The proof to the resolved issue is found in the audience poll. The audience is polled on the issue before and after the debate with the following results:
BUSH 43 IS THE WORST PRESIDENT OF THE LAST 50 YEARS
Moderator: John Donvan
For the motion: Simon Jenkins and Jacob Weisberg
Against the motion: William Kristol and Karl Rove
Before the debate: -------------After the debate:
For the motion: 65% -----------For the motion: 68%
Against the motion: 17% -------Against the motion: 27%
Undecided: 18% -----------------Undecided: 5%
Those against the motion were declared the winner and I was not surprised. Those undecided voters moved mostly against the notion when presented with a rational defense. I found I had some of my opinions changed by the debate as well. If honest, I was not immune to the sweeping tide of anti-Bush sentiment that is so popular today. It was good to see an intelligent defense of many of the Bush policies of the last 8 years. You may not agree with the policies, but you can at least see that they were not made behind some evil smoke screen...as so often is portrayed.
Part of the debate focused on closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center which many shout loudly needs to be done. The reality is, however, that the hundreds of detainees there are not going to be released on to the street. So where do they go?
President-Elect Obama admitted to George Stephanapoulos in an interview this week that closing Guantanamo Bay is not going to be as easy as he first thought. I don't blame Obama for the admission but see it as a smart man that realizes the campaign rhetoric he delivered during the last few months will increasingly come into conflict with the responsibilities he will have as President to keep the American people safe in a post-9/11 world.
Is Bush 43 the best president of the last 50 years? Probably not.
Is Bush 43 the worst president of the last 50 years? Certainly not.