Friday, March 03, 2006

Reaction to the Open Letter


That word was used more than once in reaction to my open letter to President Bush, and it's about the best word I can use to sum up my view of those responses.

The Impolitic - my long-time friendly rival and blogmother - notes a bit of sadness, but also hope, at the news. I assure you: though it may have been difficult to write, it was also remarkably cathartic. Also, in comments here, Kathy of Stone Soup Musings expresses no joy at this development, given what it says about the state of the country. We may all lose in the short-term, but I am hopeful that we will win in the end.

The Midwestern Progressive exerpted the letter in his regular "Fine Lines" feature, which displays the craft of the written word in the blogosphere. I'm honored, Mid. Truly.

The Mayor of Simpleton, a new venue for blog friend Kevin McKague, says some very kind things about my return to the 'sphere and seems to have been fired up at my thoughts on the president's job performance. I have not known him to engage in habitual profanity, so a "DAMN" from him suggests that maybe he liked the post. [/understatement]

Lest my left-leaning friends have all the fun, Cardinal Martini expresses support and confesses that he has been thinking along similar lines for a while. And he's right: we do need more moderate Republicans. Once upon a time, I detested moderates like Lincoln Chafee. Now, I think I understand his position a little better. It's about time that the term RINO became a badge of honor.

If there are any of the above that you don't read regularly, you should. All are solid daily reads.

Lastly, and most importantly, thank you all for a warmer welcome back than I could have imagined. It's good to be here again.

MORE: Cardinal Martini posts an astute comment that may as well express my own thoughts on the matter. So, I'm promoting it in full to the main post:

There was a time when my lefty college friends would criticize Bush for the dumb things he does -- he falls off his bike, or misspeaks, or has a weird expression on his face -- and I would defend him.

There was a time when they would criticize him because he's religious, and against gay marriage, and against abortion, and I would tell them that I don't agree with him on those issues. I'd tell them I voted for Bush because he is strong on national security.

And now they criticize him about the aftermath of the war, about his saying he didn't know the levees would break, about the Ports deal. And I really can't defend him any longer. Even when he makes a good decision or holds a defensible position, he refuses to defend it, and he refuses to explain it.

When was the last time he told us his thoughts about what is going on in Iraq? Is there ethnic cleansing? Is there a civil war?

He told us no one anticipated the levees' failure in New Orleans. Well, a videotape seems to say otherwise. Response? None.

Was the Dubai Ports World transaction a good one? I thought so, and apparently the president thought so. But he and his administration have been totally inept at selling it, and now because he can't farking mount a verbal defense of it, the ports deal will probably be stopped.

Again and again and again, he won't explain himself, he won't talk about what is going on. I'm not naive; I never romanticized him. But I expected more from him than this.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Coming Home...

Posted to the top of the page until the end of today. See below for more new content as it becomes available.

It is not without some trepidation that I write this entry.

I have been away for the better part of two months. I have had my reasons, which will become clear shortly. The time has flown and, dear readers (if you're still there), I have missed you all.

I set blogging aside for a while for mental health reasons. I'm being somewhat facetious, of course. Nevertheless, I found increasingly that the blogosphere as a whole tended to drive me to anger. In the last year, the medium has grown shriller by leaps and bounds. More noise, less thought. I had to disengage - even from the blogs I enjoy - in order to refocus and find some inner tranquility.

It helped immensely. I found other interests and hobbies. I started reading as I did before law school. (There is - and ever will be - something profoundly satisfying about the tactile experience of holding a book that electronic media will never adequately replace.) Also, I found that my blood pressure dropped significantly. (For a Type A person like me, you take lifestyle improvements like these where you can.)

Additionally, I had more time to devote to finding a permanent job while taking on some contract work. If you're someone who follows financial news, there is an excellent chance you have heard of the case I am working on. I am acting as local counsel and otherwise playing an exceptionally small role in the litigation. That's all I can really say about that.

I stayed away, fully acknowledging that I might choose never to return. Stepping away from the blog had been exceptionally liberating. Something would really have to push me in order to get me to return.

Something did. The hiatus ends today.

An Open Letter to the President

President George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I quit.

While history may yet bear you out in Iraq and Afghanistan, I am left without any remaining confidence in your ability to adminster the domestic affairs of this great nation. This is a failure on your part in both substance and style. Your administration, to this country's detriment, has spent money like the largest band of drunken sailors this world has ever known. The only skill your executive personnel decisions have demonstrated is that of hiring people capable of making losing arguments in support of even winning policy choices.

But for your two confirmed Supreme Court nominees, both of whom I supported, this term would be an unmitigated disaster. This description is particularly apt in light of today's news of your pre-Katrina briefings.

This administration has had a fundamental failure to admit its shortcomings. Fortress Bush has stonewalled on every issue, from those as significant as Katrina to those as inconsequential as your vice president's hunting accident. Somewhere along the way, the adminstration lost all credibility, not just with its adversaries, but also with all but its blindest supporters.

As I noted, your administration has exhibited failures of style and substance. Even if your remaining supporters are correct and you never foresaw the levee breaches (but only their potential overtopping) and this really is all old news, that will make little difference to the people affected by the storm. But, if the accusations are substantially correct and you did know the extent of the impending destruction, then you really have supplanted Richard Nixon as the worst modern president. Incompetence resulting in the deaths of civilians that might otherwise have been prevented in some cases might not amount to an impeachable offense, but it may well add up to a damnable one.

What is more, if this AP report really is trumped up, then you have to do better than, "Don't read too much into a single briefing." That you have not cleaned house in the Office of the White House Press Secretary only speaks to your blind loyalty to your personnel and your tin ear to what the country hears your administration saying.

As a result, I'm out. While my arguments may parallel your policies from time to time in the future, I can't say that I approve of the job you are doing as president. The execution of things you have done right has been mostly poor and the articulations of your administration's rationales have been worse.

This is not a decision I take lightly. Indeed, I have wrestled with it for the last six months or so. This deliberative process has led me at times to question whether I was abandoning my principles. In fact, you have abandoned them. It led me to wonder whether I would leave my party, when it was you who have in many respects failed in its leadership.

I voted for you. Twice. And yet, I have no qualms about saying that your lame duck period, in my eyes, begins today. Please, just sit tight for the next three years.

Here's hoping Senator McCain can do a better job in the White House after 2008. Please try not to burn the place down before then.


The Bostonian Exile