Sometimes a political figure becomes so hated that he can't do anything right in the eyes of his enemies. President Bush has achieved this rare and exalted status. His critics are so blinded by animus that the internal consistency of their attacks on him no longer matters. For them, Bush is the double-bind president.
If he stumbles over his words, he is an embarrassing idiot. If he manages to cut taxes or wage a war against Saddam Hussein with bipartisan support, he is a manipulative genius.
If he hasn't been able to capture Osama bin Laden, he is endangering U.S. security. If he catches bin Laden, it is only a ploy to influence the elections.
If he ignores U.N. resolutions, he is a dangerous unilateralist. If he takes U.N. resolutions on Iraq seriously, he is a dangerous unilateralist. If he doesn't get France to agree to his Iraq policy, he is ignoring important international actors. If he supports multiparty talks on North Korea, he is not doing enough to ignore important international actors.
If he bombed Iraq, he should have bombed Saudi Arabia instead, and if he had bombed Saudi Arabia, he should have bombed Iran, and if he had bombed all three, he shouldn't have bombed anyone at all. If he imposes a U.S. occupation on Iraq, he is fomenting Iraqi resistance by making the United States seem an imperial power. If he ends the U.S. occupation, he is cutting and running.
If he warns of a terror attack, he is playing alarmist politics. If he doesn't warn of a terror attack, he is dangerously asleep at the switch. If he says we're safer, he's lying, and if he doesn't say we're safer, he's implicitly admitting that he has failed in his core duty as commander in chief.
If he adopts a doctrine of pre-emption, he is unacceptably remaking American national-security policy. If the United States suffers a terror attack on his watch, he should have pre-empted it. If he signs a far-reaching anti-terror law, he is abridging civil liberties. If the United States suffers another terror attack on his watch, he should have had a more vigorous anti-terror law.
Bush's economy hasn't created new jobs. If it has created new jobs, they aren't well-paying jobs. If they are well-paying jobs, there is still income inequality in America.
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