Here is the problem as I see it:
- George W. Bush’s ascension to office was a divisive event. Moreover, his lip service to being a uniter has fallen far behind the reality of his being a divider. The ‘if you not for my policies you’re against me’ rhetoric serves little practical purpose other than angering people and making it harder to get them to get onboard with legitimate policy decisions..
- He’s acted like the election gave him a mandate to do whatever he wanted.
- He has expected the public to follow him lock step, ala the WWII Greatest Generation™, which it has not. There are reasons for that:
- He engaged in a War of Choice in Iraq.
There are legitimate questions, debates which Mr. Bush seems never to have engaged in, about both the necessity and desirableness of conducting a preemptive invasion of another country.
Did invading Iraq further the War on Terror™, the compelling reason for using armed force? That’s certainly a legitimate question.
- He lied about the reasons we invaded Iraq.
This act alone divided the country far more than anything Michael Moore could ever do.
- He did not bring the public into the debate.
If the invasion was to free Iraqis from a brutal dictator and bring them democracy, he should have said so and embraced the public debate on that issue.
Instead, he went for the expedient and short-term reasoning, which he always seems to do, and wonders why people aren’t behind him.
- He doesn’t grasp the complexities of the issues.
This is not WWII where Japan attacked us and we attacked them in retaliation. This is a very different time. Armed conflict will only go so far in advancing the rightness of the anti-terror cause.
A leader must grasp the complexities of the situation to be effective. What we get from Mr. Bush is an unclear rationale for preemptively invading Iraq, an unclear plan for post-invasion Iraq, and Afghanistan shoved onto the back burner and left alone to get back to growing poppies.
The roots of terror are in poverty, disaffection, and perceived injustices, be they real or imaginary. Killing terrorists may be a necessary thing, but it is an unworkable solution to the ultimate problem. Kill one and there will be another to take his or her place. There aren’t enough bullets in the world to solve the problem this way.
- His cronies have challenged the patriotism of people who disagreed with his policies.
And he has allowed this to continue. As a result, much of the good will of the post 9/11 era has eroded. This ‘if you say anything bad about the president’ mentality, is not only divisive in its own right, but it shirks the debate necessary in free societies when they resort to armed conflict.
- Neither Michael Moore or the media is the problem and the reality of media coverage has greatly changed since WWII. 24 hour news channels changed the landscape of political discourse and the public’s entry into that discourse. The resulting democratization of news and discourse leaves the government with much less control over news reporting of events that it would not like to see covered. Someone with a camera will almost certainly show up when an event, good or bad, honorable or embarrassing happens.
Airing news 24 hours necessarily means that there has to be something on 24 hours a day. The question is, has the public’s conception about what is news and how it gets reported changed with the times. Things is, public debate about such things has failed to keep pace with the changing nature of news and information gathering a decimation.