Steven Hofman: Statement not fact

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Mike Lawrence (A different kind of presidential history, Aug. 28 Steamboat Today) showed little judgment or knowledge in repeating as fact a comment made at a Democratic National Convention event by former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke, "that the next president will begin the job with 'the worst opening day position in history.'"

As a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, I was at the same panel discussion in Denver as Mr. Lawrence. I drove from Steamboat that morning to join colleagues at several of the convention's events. Mr. Holbrooke's remarks, beyond the quote cited above, were partisan in the extreme, with countless lines of anti-Bush red meat for the largely Democratic crowd.

Ironically, the one Republican on the panel, former Congressman Vin Weber, received as much applause for his comments as any other panel member. Mr. Weber was the only panel member not mentioned in Mr. Lawrence's column.

But going back to the Holbrooke comment, it is not close to being factual. Let's see, Lincoln started his presidency with the Union about to shatter. FDR assumed the presidency in the midst of the Great Depression. Truman was in office only days when he was faced with the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan. Nixon took office with 500,000 troops in Vietnam and a nation at war internally. And Ronald Reagan had a combined inflation and unemployment rate of nearly to 20 percent.

Of course, the next president will face a long list of challenges, some of which we see at the moment and some of which will emerge in time. This always is part of the job of leading the globe's leading nation. But, thankfully, it seems the corner has been turned in Iraq, and an end to major troop deployments is in sight. And just this week we learned that the economy grew this past quarter at a strong 3.3 percent.

So, one can forgive Mr. Holbrooke for his partisanship. He wants to win an election. But Mr. Lawrence owes his readers a trace more thought and research before he puts silliness in print.

Steven Hofman

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Don Thayer 6 years, 2 months ago

Steve,

The housing crisis was not caused by Bush or his policies, it was caused by realtors(setting prices), buyers and speculators.

Mentioning Enron, Tyco, and Worldcom is simply a way to make the counterpoint that if Bush is responsible for this economy, Clinton was responsible in his time. While we are currently experiencing a period of slowing growth, it's a cyclical phenomenon.

My main point is that Bush is not the worst President in history, not by far.

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Don Thayer 6 years, 2 months ago

Bill Clinton didn't have to rebuild the twin towers, deal with the extra costs of fighting terrorism(which Clinton didn't do) and the huge Homeland Security Dept(which Bush didn't want), or rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Don't forget it was a Republican congress that submitted the budget to the president, I can't say who was actually responsible for it. The decrease in the surplus began under Clinton, from $236b in 2000 to $128b in 2001. Since it peaked under Bush in 2004 at $-412b it has dropped to $-162b for 2007. This year Bush and Congress gave us a $150b +/- refund because the American people created a problem in the housing market through speculation and over-extending themselves financially. That almost doubled the projected deficit. These figures are from the Congressional Budget Office website.

The war in Iraq which has cost 4100 American lives has brought freedom to the Iraqi people and has helped bring a little more freedom to the Middle East in general. That is hardly "no good reason". All our past wars cost many more lives, all under Democrat presidents. In WW2 and Vietnam we bombed civilians indiscriminately in order to defeat the enemy, in Iraq we are using smart bombs to specifically target the enemy(I don't know the ratio of smart bombs to standard munitions). Our soldiers also have body armor that actually deflects bullets along with armored vehicles that have saved many lives, something we have never really had in war before. This is not the worst President in history.

The stock markets dropped dramatically after 9/11, then ran up to a record high of 14000(Dow Jones) under Bush. Contrast that with the Nasdaq which peaked at 4900 in Mar 2000 under Clinton then dropped to 2770 by Jan 2001 when Bush took office and continued down to 1200 before returning to around 2500 now. That's a 75% loss from high to low, which compares to the stock market crash of 1929. The Enron, Tyco, and Worldcom fiascos all came about under Clinton, destroying billions of dollars in retirement pensions and the retirement plans of thousands of Americans.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, I just think it's time to speak out against all the negativity about President Bush. I personally think he has been a good moderate president, time will tell.

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Fred Duckels 6 years, 2 months ago

Helmsman I never agreed with the reasons given for going into Iraq. I favored going in to establish an imposing presence in the area. Al Queda was trying to destabilize the Saudis and would cut the oil supply in a New York minute. This could send chaos worldwide. We will need oil for a long time and taking care of business may not be fun but the rest of the world is not up to the task. P.S. If our so called friends had honored the sanctions and stood united we would not have to carry the whole load. I will withold judgement and I may never know what if.

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 2 months ago

Hofman's complaint of Lawrence's writing is patently bogus. Since when does a reporter not report someone's quote because the reporter agrees or disagrees with the quote? THAT would be editorializing to a degree Hofman would scold as well. The real issue is a quote which doesn't match Hofman's politics.

Hofman could easily aim his criticism at his OWN writing. I went back to the referenced article. Lawrence labels the panel discussion as "doomsday scenarios". Hofman ignores this context setting statement to prop up his illusion of liberal bias.

Hofman also ignores other contrary pieces of Lawrence's article. Such as Tom Brokaw agreeing the next president will take on "the greatest agenda of our time", referring to broad challenges at home and, especially, abroad.

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 2 months ago

At least Hofman writes as a local citizen. The imported columns usually placed in this conservative series replace heartfelt local conversation with a "talking points" ideology that begs the question who is doing your thinking for you?

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 2 months ago

Much of this discussion centers on the legacy Bush leaves.

Interesting that his legacy of the Iraq war will have absolutely nothing to do with the overarching reason given to the American people for invading - WMD's.

How can one say "spreading freedom" is the legacy of this war, given this: If "spreading freedom" been the reason given to invade, we would never have invaded?

I agree with Fred. We invaded for the oil companies.

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 2 months ago

Don, Interesting that you give American people credit for the mortgage crisis, and Bush credit for the DOW hitting 14,000.

A theme throughout your post. You write, "The Enron, Tyco, and Worldcom fiascos all came about under Clinton..." But those fiascos occured respectively in 2001, 2002 and 2002.

Beware of those red or blue tinted glasses.

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Don Thayer 6 years, 2 months ago

My understanding is that realtors set the starting price based on the current selling prices in the particular area. If the home sells quickly they raise the starting price for the next sale, if the home sits on the market they suggest lowering the price to move the property, depending on the sellers wishes. Speculators bear a lot of responsibility for the housing bubble we've experienced, and the subsequent decline. The point is - don't blame the President.

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