This president doesn’t trust American ingenuity

Published 4:15 pm Wednesday, June 4, 2008

President George Bush continues his opposition to any efforts to reduce greenhouse gases to try to slow, or reverse, the trend towards global warming.

By his actions, this president is saying something fundamental about his belief in his fellow Americans. He is saying he doesn’t trust this nation’s people, its scientists and its business people to come up with viable solutions to this problem that threatens to destroy the Earth.

All this president expects of his fellow Americans is that they can’t meet the challenge. Perhaps what he really is saying is that he is incapable of even facing the challenge.

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Personally, I think his actions speak more about his own abilities, his own expectations of himself, his own lack of willingness to rise to the challenge. I believe that Americans, when given a challenge and lead by someone capable of facing the challenge, will rise to any occasion, including this one.

The president’s latest signal of his low expectations of his fellow Americans when faced with this crisis is to threaten to veto a bill now being debated in the U.S. Senate that would require sharp reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases.

He bases his opposition on his statement that trying to reduce greenhouse gases by as much as the bill calls for will cost the American economy more than $1 trillion. Of course, he doesn’t bother to say where his estimate comes from. Likely it is a figure he snatched out of thin air, as he does so many other claims, to try to frighten us.

Significantly, he doesn’t bother to estimate how much it will cost the American economy to not try to battle global warming costs such as more intense hurricanes and other storms fed by heat; drought, such as that bedeviling Georgia and Florida, caused by higher temperatures; crops losses; higher air conditioning bills, etc., etc.

This president has proven over and over again he has no imagination, except for one that finds only doom and gloom whenever there is a challenge, especially a challenge that he can’t fight with bullets and bombs.

What we need now is the twin of the man who was the bane of conservatives because he faced challenges, came up with solutions and succeeded. I’m talking about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, of course. He was at one and the same time the most loved and the most hated president in American history.

He was loved for his solutions that brought us out of a the major economic depression in our recent history, and hated for those same solutions because they were humane and gave value to the human dignity of working men and women, which some people — the robber barons who, through their excesses, brought on the depression — would like to have kept ground under their heels.

FDR believed in American industrial might and enabled that might to become the powerhouse that fueled the defeat of our enemies in World War II.

That kind of vision and optimism is needed now as we face probably the greatest threat the Earth has ever faced — the changing of climates worldwide, threatening to destroy species of all kinds, perhaps even threatening our ability to survive on this planet.

President Bush lacks vision, leadership and other qualities that could help us face these challenges. Like Herbert Hoover, who preceded FDR in the White House, he is stuck in the mud of those things that don’t work and won’t work to begin to resolve the crisis we now face.

Whether or not whoever replaces him will have the vision to do any better remains to be seen. Campaigns are not blueprints for governance, no matter what the candidates may say. A look at this president’s failed “compassionate conservatism” that promised bipartisan efforts during his campaign is a good example of how little campaigns actually mean.

What counts is leadership and that can be demonstrated only after a president has assumed office. Leadership means persuading others to go along with solutions he proposes, or at least coming to a workable compromise involving those proposed solutions.

We can only hope that whoever replaces George Bush is better able to lead than he has been, has a better vision of this nation than he has and actually trusts his fellow Americans to be part of the solution and not simply expect them to continue to be part of the problem.