Victoria Lee

Some would indulge themselves with fanciful ruminations (ridiculous reflections) of a President McCain (or, “anyone but Obama”) having presided over our country for the last three-and-a-half years. These would be the same folks who deny Bush’s nonchalance and imprudence prior to and during our financial crisis. They meanwhile cosset contempt for Obama’s improvements to our country’s economic woes, refusing to acknowledge that our situation today is much improved. They admonish anyone who continues to blame Bush for our state of affairs (as if this fades with time) simultaneously insisting that Obama should have achieved full recovery by now.

What would McCain have done for our country during this recession? Despite his 2000 post-non-nomination parsimony toward Bush, McCain eventually supported most of Bush’s endeavors and he surely wouldn’t have implemented radical changes had he won the 2008 round. It would have been business-as-usual without endeavor either to correct (admitting to) Bush's previous failings or to generate new measures to counter them. McCain would have never thought to stimulate the economy, nor would he have enacted legislation encouraging middle-class stability and growth (as did Obama with his small business tax cuts and hiring incentives, to name only two examples). Rather, that his penchant for pettiness and triviality rules his work ethic is evidenced in his vitriolic resentment of Obama; he was tantamount in the across-the-board Republican refusal to work with Democrats in 2009 and has led the Senate filibuster schemes ever since.

McCain would have undoubtedly continued to push the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan insisting that, despite the outrage over their being an illegitimate response to 9/11, the U.S. could win them. McCain’s sense of war-hero valor outweighs his common sense and it is doubtful that he would have switched gears by seeking terrorist retribution from Bin Laden, al-Qaida or the Taliban directly. Along that same vein, he would likely have favored a full-blown Libyan war-effort in order to remove Ghaddafi from power.

McCain would have no more returned from the “temporary” Bush tax-cuts upon their expiration than he would consider reinstating previous rates for those select few not fully impacted by the recession. The deficit would continue to soar – not for investing in our country, but due to the high cost of multiple convoluted wars. McCain would never have allowed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (in his untarnished, impenetrable military) and, well, health-care reform would have remained at its antiquated standstill. I can think of only one positive (albeit minor) consequence under McCain: There would not have been a Senate filibuster over the budget and, thus, the country’s credit rating would not have been reduced. (And, that the country’s sentiment would have been all-the-more supportive of anyone non-Republican after such a long, deplorable run.)

I would prefer to ponder that there had never been a G.W. era for which to compensate in the first place. (Let us not forget how close that first election was, with Gore winning the national popular vote and losing the electoral vote by a scant five.) While the financial crisis was probably inevitable, I don’t think that it would have been nearly as drastic or devastating had Gore been at the helm. Rather than being the full-blown “crisis” that it was under Bush, it would quite possibly only have been a “predicament” under Gore. Now, for a couple of whimsical ‘what-ifs’. …

First, the budget surplus, made available under Clinton, would probably still exist or (at the least) Gore would have had the reasonability to continue to spend wisely. But, alas, with Bush’s failure of frugality, it only took him a few months to rack up permanent deficits, spending haphazardly on unjustified wars under his guise of rose-colored glory glasses. Gore would surely have taken a more reserved and observant stance – not blaming an entire country for a group of flawed citizens – thus, averting wars (along with the casualties and huge monetary expense) and maintaining his predecessor’s keen eye on the bottom line.

Second, Gore would have met the financial predicament head-on rather than, like Bush, exacerbating the catastrophe under a haze of ignorance. Gore would not have endorsed tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy (under the façade of “fairness”) and, aware of the extreme financial impact on the middle class, Gore would have invested that cash into stimulating the economy. Where Bush fostered irresponsible spending and credit overindulgence (taking the stance that it would all just blow over), Gore would have procured the necessary corrective legislative measures to resolve the deregulation nightmare. I know that I can’t hold Bush entirely culpable – after all, he did have that War on Terror with which to contend – but Gore would have, most certainly, maintained an element of focus and taken appropriate corrective measures with both insight and forethought.

The only downside to this scenario is that having Gore in office throughout this mess would have probably made any Democrat less welcome to the vast majority thereafter. Thus, no Obama, under whose leadership we are able to view today through the eyes of potential opportunity rather than through those of the past’s complete and utter pessimism.

So, the next time a Republican starts hollerin’ about Obama’s spending, offer a kindly reminder that it was Bush who steamrolled the deficit. When a conservative fixes on Obama’s over-investing in the economy, gracefully reference that he’s not spending that cash abroad by sending our troops into hell’s fire. When a Tea Partier gets to a-rantin’ an’ a-ravin’ about such absurdities as “class warfare” and “the redistribution of wealth” because Obama dares to return a minute population to its once acceptable tax-rate (after a temporary cut?), gently comfort and console (or cajole), noting that the Tea Party would have no significance or relevance (continued cajoling) were it not for Obama running in the first place. And, the next time anyone moans that Obama hasn’t “fixed” the economy already, tenderly soothe with the image of McCain peacefully resting on his laurels in his Senate seat (that is, when he chooses to attend).

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