41 and 43 Explained

This was written in March of 2003 when it became
apparent that the Bush Administration was going to
rush headlong into Iraq, thereby bypassing the home
of Osama bin Ladin, and get there before the United
Nations could raise a big fuss. This is when our 
Secretary of State was fed silly info to persuade the
world that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass
destruction. Powel and the American public did not
know at the time that the data was seriously flawed.
Only intimates in Bush's inner circle knew this. I have
elsewhere suggested why I think Bush was
 so determined to get us to war
. Until his inner circles 
talk we can only speculate.
Even as I sent this in for publication I fretted that it
might be too oblique for a lot of people to follow.
The numbers I assigned were based on the order
each President took office. I used their numbers 
rather than their names because reports had it
that the Father Bush and Son Bush had taken to 
calling themselves 41 and 43 which represented
their respective place on the list of Presidents. 
Thus the presidents I refer to by number are as 

36 Lyndon Johnson
37 Richard Nixon
38 Gerald Ford
39 Jimmy Carter
40 Ronald Reagan
41George Herbert Walker Bush
42 Bill Clinton
43 George Walker Bush
43 and 41

John Wayne may have starred in the Sands of Iwo Jima but he sure as hell never fought there and his real name wasn't John, it was Marion. I just
thought that 43 (that's the 43rd President George W Bush) should be told that in case he never heard it from 41 (the 41st President George HW Bush). 

43 learned much at his father's knees sometimes by following in his footsteps sometimes by taking a different path. I'm a little troubled by some of the lessons he seems to have learned.

41 came from Tom Browkaw's "greatest generation." 43 came from what Ann Coulter (the liberal despising columnist) describes as the "least-great generation." 41 was a flyer and a war hero in WWII. 43 followed 41 into the cockpit but only after enjoying his college deferment from the draft. 43 didn't serve in Vietnam but flew for the Texas Air Guard. Missing the call-up to active duty was an unlucky break.

43 didn't just follow 41's footsteps into the Presidency. Both were wildcatters. These are the storied men who gamble by drilling for oil. They
were both successful. 41 found oil. 43 found millionaire investors.

43 picked up 41's love of baseball and used his investor's money to buy a part interest in a professional baseball team.

1. ) 43 learned from 41 that the public hates taxes. However, unlike 41, when 43 said "read my lips" he meant it, even if the result was deficit spending.

2. ) 43 learned from 41 that the new God-fearing Republican Party distrusts liberals and moderates. 41 never could shake the Party's suspicion that he
was a closet liberal. 43 became a fervent, Israel supporting, conservative Christian. Rather than keep a tight reign on Israel, like 41 did, 43 has given Israel a blank check.

3.) As a Presidential candidate 43 seemed to take a page from 41's book when he told voters that a humble America would find more favor with the world than an arrogant America. This wasn't surprising since 41 had been America's Ambassador to the United Nations.

Avoiding quagmires is easier when you have friends. 41 knew this and built a huge alliance for the first Gulf War. 43, on the other hand, has a clever Defense Secretary who has insulted our allies with relish. Faced with a small coalition going into the Gulf 43 has taken to calling his Father's old ambassador post an irrelevancy.

4.) 43 learned the dangerous lesson from 41 that America had gotten over Vietnam. I say "dangerous" because, it may not have occurred to 43 that
while we've gotten over Vietnam we could still stumble into another such quagmire.

5.) 41 failed to teach 43 the important lesson learned by President 36, that we can't afford a "guns and butter" policy. During 36's tenure, guns, (the war
in Vietnam) and, butter (the war on poverty) bankrupted America. 41 called this "voodoo economics." 6.) But President 40 practiced voodoo economics and was very popular despite the vast debt he built up. 43 is sticking with voodoo

So today 43 faces the prospect of going to war in a few weeks while the weather is with us and the world is against us. 7.)If we win quickly, catch all of Hussein's flying monkeys and lock them up, find a grateful Iraqi
population willing to set their ancient hatreds aside while we police them it could a great triumph for American foreign policy.

8.) Of course, if we get stuck in a terrorist's playground for a decade and become desperate, paranoid and vengeful like the Israelis it will be a fiasco. It will be especially bad if every terrorist we kill is replaced by two more (which is what happened in Ancient Greece whenever some hero chopped off one of the heads of the terrible Hydra).

Deciding whether to attack now or later is a decision a wildcatter might relish. It's too bad for 43 that there are no millionaires in sight. 41 got his friends to pay for the last Gulf War but 43 can't even bribe anyone to help us. The Turks turned down thirty billion dollars which, by coincidence, is the total deficit that the fifty states are currently facing. If 43 takes us to war he'd better strike oil. 9.) If he doesn't he'll be a one term President like his Dad.

John Wayne, made it look so easy.

Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at www.snowbizz.com
41 and 43 Explained (written in March of 2006 looking back)


1. )  I've always thought that the first Bush's willingness to raise taxes was as heroic as his "read my lips" statement was foolish. He helped put an end to a deficit so that when the 1990's computer economy boom took off America under a Democrat, Bill Clinton, actually got rid of a terrible, menacing deficit. Later Republicans dangerously took this remarkable economy to mean that deficits weren't that big a deal.

2. ) Unlike the Son, the Father had a sophisticated understanding of the Middle East. When he went to war in Iraq he had an indisputable pretext. He pulled together a genuine coalition including the middle eastern neighbors of Iraq. Finally he did not push the war any farther than practicable even though he urged Shiites to their own slaughter when he left Saddam Hussein in place.

Among other things he also kept a fairly tight ring on Israel whereas his Son ultimately gave carte blanch to Ariel Sharon to do whatever he felt he had to . Sharon was the same man who swaggered next into the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem resulting in the Second Intifada and perhaps ultimately the election of Hamas once honest contested elections were finally held. 


3.)  The joke about George HW Bush when he was running for president was that he had the best resume of any candidate. He had been among other things a Congressman the Director of the CIA and the Ambassador to the United Nations. If anyone had an appreciation for the value of taking the higher ground it was the Father. This quality is sadly lacking in the son whose Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld relished ridiculing our allies who disagreed with us. 

4.)  To me this is most ironic. In many ways Bush seniors greatest claim to fame was setting aside our fears of repeating the quagmire that was Vietnam. After three years in Iraq when very little promise remains other than what the Pentagon has now taken to calling "the Long War," and military recruiting has fallen on hard times its hard to see the US being willing to commit its troops anywhere any time soon no matter how necessary new problems might be.

5.)  President 36 was Lyndon Johnson who attempted to fight an extremely expensive war in Vietnam at the same time he drove up spending on his much maligned "war on poverty." This resulted in "stagflation." No growth and inflation which made everything terribly expensive especially for people who didn't have unions to drive up their wages.

6.)  President 40 Ronald Reagan didn't always ignore the deficit. He determined that a deficit might make sense if he drove it up in an attempt to strangle the economy of our enemy of 50 years the Soviet Union. Time has proven his gamble to have been a good one. Fortunately, the 1990's saw a computer revolution which allowed the economy to rebound from the deficit. Now the Bush Administration is refusing to pay for the war he opted to pursue but because of short term politics he is going to have it paid off by the children of the next generation so that he can keep up his popularity with a busy economy while he is President. Reagan, before he drove up the deficit, once gave a good little speech in which he told Americans that their debt if measured in one dollar bills stacked one on top of the other were measured they would reach the moon and beyond.   
        Because of our war in Iraq we face a new fifty year war the consequences so far not only threaten the economy but the very constitution that defines what this nation is.

7.)  If we win quickly. We did but because we didn't make plans for anything after the war and because Bush's administration was not willing to raise taxes to pay for the recovery we are spending even more money to put together a nation which sadly we might actually have been able to cement back together had we not done things on the cheap.

8.)  This prediction wasn't mine alone but it has certainly come true. Had we confined our activities to Afghanistan where the real 9/11 mastermind hid we could have dealt a death blow by capturing or killing him. We sent the bulk of our army to Iraq instead so that bin Ladin could be a cheerleader while we decided to ask corrupt locals to go after bin Ladin. 

9.)  This is perhaps the strangest observation and the most forlorn prediction. We were told that the Iraq war would be paid for with Iraq's vast oil wealth. But three years later Iraq is producing no more oil for the world market than it did just before the war. So George Bush didn't end up striking any more oil than he did when he became a Texas oilman. However, his Texas buddies have gotten vast new contracts to manage the Iraq war thus vindicating the practice of taking the son of a president under their wings back in the 1980's.

And despite a lot of discouraging news Bush managed to get himself reelected anyway. He's got his Dad beat. He's a two term President.......so far with almost three years to go its not going well for him or the American people or the Iraqi people. If I were a trader on Wall Street I'd suggest buying terrorist stocks.