Democratic Underground

Presidents Do Matter
September 24, 2001
by Dave Conroy

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The title of this article seems obvious, until you realize that we had a whole election where everyone pretended Presidents didn't matter. Ralph Nader and his supporters said that Gore and Bush were so close there was no difference. Bush supporters said that being President was easy if you had good advisors. The press, from what they chose to cover, obviously felt it did not matter. Even many Gore supporters felt that his Supreme Court appointments were what mattered. I belived that too until his convention speech. We now know differently.

George Bush will be the most powerful President since Truman if war is declared. If it isn't he will still have powers that would make Nixon envious. We will have an imperial presidency. The White House knows that to get something passed in Congress all it has to do is say it will fight terrorism. Everyday for the next three years, and maybe the next seven years, we will have a conservative Republican president with vast powers.

He is also the most unprepared President since at least JFK, and probably Truman. We were fortunate indeed that both JFK and Truman grew into their jobs. The last week has not done alot to assuage the legitimate fears of those who believe Bush to be a callow man unprepared for the leadership of a great nation.

Worse yet are the priorities of those around him. Despite the fact that this is obviously going to be a long and costly war there is talk of increasing the tax cut with a capital gains tax cut. The missile defense system which would have been useless is full steam ahead. All of this would be different with a President Gore.

Regardless of what happens in the months and years ahead we must never again be lulled into the idea that Presidents don't matter. They do, and the terrorists proved that. As an American, I hope and pray that Bush will grow into his job. I hope and pray that we have heard the end of talks of crusades. I hope we have seen the end of "star wars" and useless infringements on civil liberties.

I pray that we will see a different President Bush - one that sees the immorality in having the poor and middle class bear the entire burden of the war. A president that uses the great powers he has been given to lead our nation to victory. One who makes us worthy of victory. One who tells the likes of Falwell and Robertson that there is no place for rhetoric such as theirs. One who tells us all that we have to bear any burden and pay any price to keep our nation free and diverse.

In 1992, I voted my hopes and not my fears. Despite a mixed record, it turned out pretty well. In 1996, I voted for Clinton again and knew what I was getting. In 2000, I began as a Gore voter due to fear of what Bush would do. I ended up voting for a man I thought would fight for us, and one I felt was an honorable and decent man who would make me proud to be a Democrat. We won that election, but had it stolen from us.

Mr. Bush is the only President we have, as Molly Ivins would say. Let us hope he becomes a Truman, and not a Quayle. If not it will be a long three to seven years, and there are plenty of people to blame for that. Presidents matter. Those of us who forgot got the wake up call to end all wake up calls. We must never forget this lesson.