Something that has intrigued me is how similar the two Bush presidencys have been, and yet how different their policies have been.
Both bushes have gone to war in Iraq. With Bush I(from here forward referred to as HW), you had a war in Iraq over the invasion of Kuwait. It was a fairly clear territorial war, and you had pretty solid worldwide support for it. Though the U.S., as always, bore the bulk of the military burden, there was plenty of financial and political support from around the world. Also, the war was quick and decisive, though that was mostly because it was about removing Saddam from Kuwait and because there was no occupation of a hostile territory.
With W's Iraq war, you've had two major allies(Great Britain and Australia), and a collection of small supporters. Neither the U.N., nor any other great power has supported it. The U.S. has supported an even greater portion of the burden for this war, and has taken many more casualties. And, we're not getting out in the foreseeable future if the candidates stated positions can be taken at face value.
HW had to contend with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the re-unification of Germany, and, as mentioned above, the invasion of Kuwait. I've not read anything about HW screwing up the first two, and I haven't seen any international problems arise from the events. There was also Somalia, but the fit didn't hit the shan until after HW left.
W, doesn't seem to have made many friends out there.
HW, faced with mounting deficits. passed a modest tax increase in 1990. Shortly after the war, the country entered a recessesion that lasted approximately 6 months. There was no serious stimulus tried(except, maybe, some interest rate cuts, I'm going from memory here). The economy had just begun to recover when Bush was defeated in 1992. On trade, HW was a fairly aggressive free-trader. He laid the framework for both NAFTA and GATT(Both of which were implemented by Clinton).
W, with a recession much earlier in his term, hit hard and quick with tax cuts. He also had several minor stimulus packages(I think I've gotten a check twice for having a kid, thanks ya'll!). He just recently extended(or made permanent) those same cuts. He has, on trade, been somewhat indifferent. Re-acquiring "Fast-Track" authority, he hasn't used it once that I can recall. He imposed tariffs on steel. I'm pretty sure there have been other small protectionist measures. The current economy continues in a sort of twilight zone where employment and growth look good, but the actual job market is rough, and the stock market is flat.
my big stupid point is that wasn't one of them
a good president. In each case, faced with vaguely similar circumstances, the two Bushes did different things. I understand that the circumstances weren't precisely the same, but I think this critique still holds. Is it possible for these two men to be a diametrically opposed in policy as they are, and still
both be bad presidents?