I had a blog at another site for a while. At the end of 2008, I wrote this to commemorate the passing of George Bush. It seems that in the revisionist history of the current 2012 election, some people are forgetting what a nightmare Bush was, so I'm reprinting it here.
The Top Ten Evils of Bush - A new year’s list for a new beginning.
A recent CNN poll was headlined, “75% glad Bush is done.”
A-Men and Hallelujah!
My question remains, “What is wrong with that other 25%?”
But it’s a new year and a new beginning. Obama is off to a good start with cabinet picks that avoid extremes and will be a good start to heal the wounds. Good for him. There are a couple I would not have picked. (Ken Salazar for Interior for example. His popularity with business interests speaks volumes.) It’s a good time to reflect on the evil that is now passing, the better to avoid it in the future. So I’ve put together my own top ten list of the evils of Bush, in Letterman reverse sequence.
10 - Bush Made Dirty Politics a Winning Strategy
Bush has one very valuable skill. He can win elections. (Other than things like riding a bike and cutting brush, I can’t actually think of another skill that he has.) He does it by creating an atmosphere of fear and distrust mixed with ignorance and lies and paints himself as the only safe choice. After the election is over, he rewards supporters and eliminates anyone who fails to support his power structure ruthlessly to ensure that the big lie never gets questioned officially. Anyone who disagrees is just un-American!
The silver lining here is how the Republicans lost, big time, when McCain sold his soul and tried to repeat the Bush strategy. But you can’t ignore how it worked like a charm - twice. The vision of being able to get elected on a ‘formula’ strategy and then do whatever you want was catnip to typical politicians who will do anything, anything at all, to avoid losing. Thanks to Obama, politicians may have to actually work at solving problems instead of just starting preparations for the next election the day after the votes are counted.
9 - He Injected Religion Into Government
Making the religious right the cornerstone of his ‘base’ was a stroke of election genius. Karl Rove probably deserves more credit, but Bush deserves responsibility. Who can forget that for years, the entire war in Iraq was in the hands of people whose main qualification was that they passed a religious and political screening administered by people who graduated from Liberty University (the renamed “Lynchburg Baptist College” founded by Jerry Falwell). Now we spend hundreds of millions per year for ‘peer pressure’ programs to get teenagers to stand up in public and lie about whether they will have sex while the world’s other religions are starting to think of us the same way we think of Iran and the Ayatollah Khomeini.
The American founding fathers had it right to begin with. Religion has no place in government.
8 - Bush Corrupted the Justice Department
This is not higher on the list only because Bush isn’t the first to realize that an honest and independent judiciary can really screw up your power structure. Actually, the Republicans figured this out decades ago and have made a primary goal of transforming the judiciary into something the Taliban would admire. Most people might not realize how close we came to a modern-day rerun of the Spanish Inquisition. One more Republican administration might have put our own Senator Hatch onto the Supreme Court.
But Bush (and … credit where it’s due again … Cheney did most of the real work here) made the corruption of the Justice Department in particular into a highly tuned operational policy where job qualifications came in a distant second to political loyalty and “I don’t remember” became an excuse for absolutely anything.
7 - Deficit Spending / Tax Breaks for the Rich
Here’s the raw facts: Bush inherited a budget surplus of $128 billion when he took office in 2001 but has since posted a budget deficit every year.
According to Senator Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, “If they gave out Olympic medals for fiscal irresponsibility, President Bush would take the gold, silver and bronze. With his eight years in office, he will have had the five highest deficits ever recorded.”
A lot can be chalked up to Bush’s Blunder, the war in Iraq, but not all of it by any means. Rather than cut back to pay for his war, Bush pushed ahead with military hardware programs like submarines and nuclear weapons — none of which are likely to help much in catching Bin Laden (still at large, by the way).
And in the middle of it all, Bush and his friends in Congress pushed through and still maintain huge tax cuts for the rich to secure the second leg of his election strategy.
Even a Bush supporting newspaper like the Wall Street Journal admits that the most important reason the deficit isn’t causing a huge inflation pop and high interest rates is that foreign countries are still willing to lend the United States money. As foreign investors and lenders lose confidence in the American economy - which is happening right now by the way - this source of funds will quickly dry up and then you’ll see the worst of all possible economic worlds: depression and inflation rolled into one.
6 - Cheney / Rumsfeld / Gonzales / Rove etc.
What can I say? To paraphrase ‘Men in Black’, what we have here is the ‘worst of the worst of the worst’. I genuinely believe Cheney and Rumsfield should be prosecuted for war crimes and Gonzales for perjury. Rove should just have to do public service cleaning restrooms in public parks for about a thousand years.
These guys are best condemned out of their own mouths.
“… Bush would have ordered an invasion of Iraq even if the CIA had told him that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction …” Meet the Press interview, Sep. 10, 2006.
“I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won’t last any longer than that.” Radio interview, Nov. 14, 2002.
“I don’t recall.” (repeated 74 times) Congressional testimony, Apr. 19, 2007.
5 - He Ignored Science
The subtitle here is, “Global warming? What global warming?” But of course, Bush replaced scientists with political hacks everywhere he could to ensure political control over the big lie. He’s kept the religious right firmly in his base by refusing to fund stem cell research and insisting that laughable ideas like ‘intelligent design’ be included in science education. Par for the course for a former cheerleader, I suppose.
Demonstrating this Bush evil would be a depressingly long and boring recitation of details. Perhaps this quote by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. writing in the March 8, 2004 edition of The Nation does the best job:
“Today, flat-earthers within the Bush Administration–aided by right-wing allies who have produced assorted hired guns and conservative think tanks to further their goals–are engaged in a campaign to suppress science that is arguably unmatched in the Western world since the Inquisition.” The Junk Science of George W. Bush.
4 - Katrina
With a storm that the Associated Press called, “the most sweeping natural disaster in U.S. history” bearing down on a major US city, Bush takes a vacation to his ranch in Texas. The hurricane made landfall early on Monday. Bush finally got around to flying Air Force One down for a look on Friday. But at least Bush concentrated on something he does well: cutting brush.
This week, according to the LA Times, some of Bush’s closest advisors are saying that his administration’s response to the disaster marked a turning point in what has become the most unpopular presidency in modern history.
Not that he deserves it, of course.
3 - Financial Meltdown
The bronze medal goes to Bush’s total mismanagement of the economy to the point that in the future, the entire decline of America might be charted from this point. The importance of this achievement is also justified because it’s not just a single gross error in judgment like Katrina, but rather a complex web of mistakes like the dismemberment of regulatory oversight, appointing political allies rather than competent managers, and tax and spend fiscal policy.
The meltdown can be measured by the “firsts” that it has achieved already.
- U.S. employers dropped 533,000 jobs from payrolls in November alone, the most in 34 years, according to Labor Department data.
- The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index plunged 39 percent in 2008, the worst year since 1931.
- Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller 20-city housing index experienced the largest drop since its inception in 2000. The 10-city index tumbled 19.1 percent, its biggest decline in its 21-year history.
… and …
- Your Christmas present: U.S. consumer confidence hit an all-time low in December.
Merry Christmas, President (for 20 more days) Bush!!
2 - Iraq Invasion
Not since Napoleon marched into Russia with over half a million men (and returned with fewer than a hundred thousand) has a war been so botched at such devastating cost. Launched with lies and conducted with ignorance and arrogance, we now find ourselves trapped in a nightmare that we can’t wake up from. No less an authority than Cheney himself (back when he had Rummy’s job in Bush War I) warned us against getting bogged down in an endless war in Iraq. ‘Shock and Awe’ indeed!
America followed Bush into this war believing that we were justified by the 9/11 attack. But Bush pulled a monumental ‘bait and switch’ on us. Bin Laden continues to taunt us from Afghanistan while world terrorists have only gained in strength due to their best ever recruiter, George W.
This disastrous blunder also deserves second place because it’s a root cause of many of the previous items on this list, and also one of the most important causes of the greatest evil of all of the Bush years …
1- The trashing of America in the eyes of the world
Thanks to Bush, in most of the rest of the world, America is now dirt. Bush didn’t actually create the root causes (the ground-breaking novel, The Ugly American, came out in 1958) but he has done more to confirm the image in the minds of the rest of the world than anyone before in our history.
America now has a universal image of Cowboy Diplomacy and self-centered arrogance. The US is the only major industrial nation that refuses to even consider the Kyoto Protocol. Most nations blame us for bringing on the world-consuming financial meltdown now unfolding.
PewResearchCenter testimony before Congress had this to say:
“To give you some sense of the magnitude of the problem, favorable attitudes toward the U.S. declined in Germany, from 78% in 2000 to 37% currently. The numbers are similar in France, but even worse in Spain, where only 23% have a favorable view, and in Turkey, where it is 12%. Most people in these countries held positive views of the U.S. at the start of the decade.”
Their testimony also also included these gems:
- 80% of the population of Indonesia thought we were a military threat to their country. Our popularily rating dropped from 61% to only 15% in only one year after the Iraq invasion.
- In all five predominantly Muslim countries included in the 2006 study, fewer than one-third had a favorable view of the U.S.
- The British, French, and Spanish publics were all more likely to say the U.S. presence in Iraq poses a great danger to regional stability and world peace than to say this about the current governments of Iran or North Korea.
It’s pretty clear where the rest of the world thinks “the axis of evil” is.
But in the spirit of the New Year, there is a ray of hope on the horizon. The crowds that crushed every Obama appearance when he took one trip overseas during the campaign suggest that the world might be willing to change its collective mind. I certainly hope so.
Here’s wishing you a much better 2009. — 2000 to 2008 truly sucked!