I just discovered a brilliant oped – unfortunately I am a little more than five years late. In January 2002, former Bush (the first) and Reagan (the only) aide, James Pinkerton wrote a piece criticizing George W. Bush after his “axis of evil” speech. Critiquing Bush at that time of 90% approval ratings wasn’t all that common – especially among Republicans. But Pinkerton wrote a brilliant and ultimately prophetic oped about Bush’s cowboy instinct to go it alone:
The United States must fight against the “axis of evil,” declared George Bush in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. But the question is will we fight alone?
The last time we fought an axis, we had allies. That alliance helped win World War II, and another alliance helped keep the peace in the decades since. But now, as America engages in a new worldwide war, the president seems eager to go it alone.
I’m sure that around the White House at the time the piece was viewed as all pieces critical of the president were viewed – with arrogant disdain and an eye roll or two. For at that moment the president was untouchable and no matter where you worked at the White House at that time, whether in domestic policy as I did or in the National Security Council, we all knew we were right. The temerity of someone like Pinkerton!
Now, of course, things look just a little bit different and Pinkerton still right:
Six decades ago, Franklin Roosevelt thought ahead, beyond winning the war, to winning the peace. On Tuesday night, Bush talked only of war.