Lawrence Jackson, AP
Much of the opposition toward President Bush seem to stem from the scarlet letter “R” next to his name. How else can one explain those who regard him as a rightwing extremist? He has been anything but radically far to the right on so many issues.
Many of his liberal detractors have all but ignored his “liberal” achievements. Education spending has greatly increased on Bush’s watch to the consternation of many conservatives who’d prefer more bombs not books. His meaningful aid to Africa is another one that should be lauded by liberals. Another issue which is a favorite of bleeding-heart liberals: The issue of homelessness.
“Compassionate conservatism” is an oxymoron; but the term came into existence because liberals have successfully framed the debates and popularized the propagandistic phrases: “Republicans are racist; Republicans are greedy; they don’t care about the poor (note the charitable givings of Darth Cheney and then compare that to the Democratic candidates in the last two elections); Republicans don’t care about the homeless; ‘tax cuts for the rich’; Republicans are warmongers.” You know them all well.
President Bush sought to change that image by embracing liberal pet project peeves and applying a mixture of liberal and conservative solutions to them.
Seeking results over popularity:
Philip Mangano’s life was sailing smoothly along when it ran aground on a movie that made him rethink what was really, truly important, and here is what ensued — less misery for thousands of America’s homeless and an impressive if largely unsung accomplishment for the administration of President George W. Bush.
It was 29 years ago when Mangano, who then owned a booming music business in Los Angeles, saw “Brother Sun, Sister Moon,” a film about Francis of Assisi. He decided that, for the rest of his life, he would serve the poor as the gentle and loving 12th century saint had done.
That meant giving away his business to some co-workers and volunteering for three years on a Boston breadline. After that came a series of positions in government and advocacy groups in Cambridge and Boston and then as head of the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance. All this time he was learning. And becoming frustrated.
Despite the years of work in helping to feed the chronically homeless, providing them with temporary shelter and otherwise trying to serve their needs, nothing improved. In fact, their numbers grew, as did the enormous costs of dealing with their problems.
Mona Charen, in her book, Do-Gooders, devotes a chapter to how liberal policy-making has exacerbated the homeless problem, beginning 30 years ago.
People may think a homeless person costs society nothing. They should think again. The cost runs between $35,000 a year to $155,000 each as they are taken to emergency rooms or arrested and as various agencies attempt to deal with them, Mangano told me. He explained, for instance, that a typical emergency room visit costs $1,000 as a consequence of legally obligatory testing.
Seven years ago, Mangano took over the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, reporting to the White House and setting out as a kind of evangelist to convince local governments to sign up for 10-year partnerships with the federal government. Saying yes were 350 communities in which some 90 percent of the homeless live, and guess what? According to data from as recently as 2007, the number of the most seriously disabled out on the streets is down by 30 percent.
It was the counterculture agenda of the 60’s, including such influential works as Thomas Szacz’ The Myth of Mental Illness, that perverted people’s conscience into thinking that mental illness was a social construct of being locked up; not a diagnosis of a real illness. Consequently, legislatures all across the country began shutting down mental institutions to supposedly save on taxpayer money, releasing thousands of mentally ill patients out into the streets all in the name of “compassionate liberalism”.
It’s a remarkable story that maybe you haven’t heard because the administration — frequently said to be unconcerned about the poor — has avoided bragging. This is a non-partisan effort — the arrangements being made are with officials of all parties, but mainly Democratic mayors. If the Democrats sense any political advantage seeking by Republicans here, they might be more reluctant to participate, and the administration has therefore sacrificed publicity for the sake of getting something done.
With hard times coming at us, the Mangano approach could be more important than ever, and a question is whether the new administration will stick with it. My guess is that it will find this a Bush legacy worth clinging to.
Kim Priestap notes:
The Democrat mayors would have let the homeless continue to suffer and the taxpayers continue to pay if President Bush got any credit for helping the homeless. These Democrats were more concerned with preventing President Bush from getting any positive coverage in the media than they were about helping the homeless in their cities. And the willing media went along with this by not reporting on this story. They could have found out about program. It was all public record. They could have done their jobs and informed the American people about how their taxes were being spent to help get people off the streets. They could have informed the American people that they had a leader who was compassionate, but the media remained silent about anything positive about President Bush and instead researched and reported on classified terrorist surviellance programs that undermined the president’s efforts to protect the American people after 9/11.
Meanwhile, President Bush was less concerned about getting credit for helping his fellow Americans than he was about actually helping them. Imagine that. A politician who actually cares about helping his fellow citizens in need than he is about getting credit. President Bush could have used the good press if his administration’s role in this program had been reported. But he didn’t care about PR. He was more concerned about helping those who needed help. That is a man of great character.
Obviously one of those suffering from mental illness.
I wonder if his sign brought him any “loose change“?
I’m sure some BDSers will take me to task for applying the religiosity of “invisible hands” to George W. Bush when we’ve ridiculed the messiah-worship of Obama’s supporters. But I thought the phrase fit with the photo at the top; and it applies descriptively to how President Bush has concerned himself with results over recognition.
From the White House Fact Sheet on How President Bush addressed human need through faith-based and community inititiatves:
Homelessness: Federal partnerships with FBCOs have been greatly expanded to combat homelessness, contributing to a nearly 30 percent reduction in chronic homelessness (approximately 50,000 individuals) from 2005 to 2007. The estimated number of homeless veterans was cut by nearly 40 percent from 2001 to 2007.
Photo from AP Photo by PLINIO LEPRI
A former fetus, the “wordsmith from nantucket” was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1968. Adopted at birth, wordsmith grew up a military brat. He achieved his B.A. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (graduating in the top 97% of his class), where he also competed rings for the UCLA mens gymnastics team. The events of 9/11 woke him from his political slumber and malaise. Currently a personal trainer and gymnastics coach.
The wordsmith has never been to Nantucket.