As the Bush Administration begins its home stretch and our President begins tuning his snide, self-righteous voice to sing his swan song, his thoughts inevitably turn to his legacy. Ronald Reagan, his ideological mentor, became known as “The Great Communicator.” What moniker will we bestow upon King Bush II?
Let’s recap his accomplishments.
He began his presidential career with a dubious win decided in a state governed by his brother and handed to him by a partisan Supreme Court. Billing himself as a “Compassionate Conservative,” he proceeded to embrace the later and make a mockery of the former by assembling a Cabinet of cronies, arrogant, domineering, and hostile to reproductive rights, civil rights, worker rights, and environmental protections. After spending more time on vacation than any modern president, his ratings were in the basement.
Then he presided over the worst attacks on American soil since Pearl Harbor.
The attacks on 9/11 resuscitated a moribund presidency and allowed Bush to proclaim himself The Protector In Chief and affect the hugest power grab for the Executive Branch most living Americans had ever seen.
Until this time, moderate and left-leaning citizens wondered how much damage a man, generally thought of as not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, could do in a few short years. His or her answer surfaced on 9/11: more than anyone could ever believe.
The president quickly snubbed, then infuriated an erstwhile sympathetic and conciliatory international community. Bush’s domineering, absolute attitude was illustrated by phrases like “dead or alive,” and “you’re either with me or against me,” peppered about in his preparation to attack Iraq. Drumming up false charges against Saddam, duping our nation, and telling the United Nations, in effect, we’d welcome your approval but we’ve already decided to invade, earned America the enmity of the world. His ambassador to the UN has expressed public hostility toward the very organization in which he works.
Decades of civil, professional, respectful diplomacy were gutted and a trove of international solidarity was squandered in a blink of an eye as he and his henchmen forged the most aggressive, unilateral government since World War II.
Rather than declaring a winnable war against al Qaida, Bush declared an unwinnable but everlasting war on terror and has fed the nation a color-coded diet of fear. In defiance of the grandest manhunt in the history of the world, for four years after 9/11 Osama bin Laden is still on the lam, routinely sending threatening mail. With preventing further attacks on our soil seemingly the only thing Bush has “accomplished” it takes no small amount of cynicism to conclude that Bush doesn’t want Osama caught, as Bush needs him as a living foil to prolong Bush’s protector status.
Meanwhile back at home; the CIA was stabbed in the bowels when agent Valerie Plame was outed in an orchestrated act of revenge by angry Bush cronies. How would this vital agency ever recruit effectively or maintain morale when officials at the highest level of government were betraying their brethren for childish revenge?
Bush barely won re-election in spite of a punchless, uninspired campaign by his opponent. The fact that the winning margin was provided by a single swing state where voting irregularities were rampant did nothing to prevent the President from declaring a mandate.
Formerly calling himself “a uniter, not a divider,” in his winning strategy, he wantonly used hot-button social issues like abortion and gay rights to rift the electorate and empower the fanatical religious right.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita gave the Bush Administration the opportunity to showcase to the nation and the world how hopelessly insensitive and incompetent it was. Visions of Bush patting “Brownie’s” back and desperate people waving “Help Us!” signs from atop flooded buildings were an international embarrassment. A major American city and several minor ones were destroyed on the Bush watch as funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with maintaining the integrity of the levees and barrier islands, was decimated. As we near four months until the next hurricane season, the Administration still has neither adequate plans to rebuild these cities nor to mitigate similar destruction in the future.
Katrina and Rita, the evil stepdaughters of Global Warming, were astonishingly powerful, but apparently not enough to sway the Administration’s outward and continuing hostility towards environmental protections. Bush’s henchmen blithely ignore overwhelming evidence and snub the international community by denying Global Warming’s existence. Bush’s environmental appointees have systematically disemboweled commonsense laws earned over two generations. Lax enforcement of safety regulations has led to many preventable industrial and mining disasters.
Few people doubt that our nation and world face an impending energy crisis of unprecedented proportions, but with the President’s intimate relationships with big oil power brokers, he gives us a national energy policy with enormous tax breaks to rich cohorts and companies who need this welfare the least while making us more, not less, dependent on foreign oil, much of it from countries that increasingly hate us. The lack of preparation for this crisis, which has ample potential to destroy our society as we know it, is completely analogous to the lack of preparation for Katrina, a predictable – in fact predicted – event.
As the second term drones on, the “mandate” word has strangely vanished, as Americans are resigned that our saber-rattling President is impotent and ineffectual with regards to solving not only the energy crisis but the vexing domestic issues of the day, like Social Security, Medicare, transportation, trade imbalances, and immigration.
The Abramoff scandal is showing us how completely the Bush Administration is owned by special, moneyed interests. Bush campaigned on removing special interests from the Federal Government, but influence peddling is more pervasive than ever before. But with every power center of the nation, the Legislative, the Judicial, the media, the corporate, and the Executive, all feeding from the same ideological trough, the hope of fair representation for the American people has been largely vanquished.
Speaking of the Judicial, the President is repaying the Religious Right by appointing judges who in all likelihood will, in Hitlerian fashion, arrogate the reproductive rights of every American woman and her doctor to the Federal Government, against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of citizens. Expect them to further strengthen an already dominant Executive branch.
All the while, the wealth gap in America widens. In this manner, each day we more resemble Third World Countries. Exxon/Mobil just reported the largest yearly profit of any corporation in history.
Speaking of money, the Bush Administration wasted little time in turning the nation’s largest budget surplus into the largest deficit. Our children and grandchildren will spend decades paying for this Administration’s avarice and incompetence. The days when “Conservative” meant keeping a fiscal house in order are a distant memory.
If the legal and quasi-legal maneuvers to consolidate power in the Oval Office weren’t awful enough, the President has now claimed the right to break the law with impunity. He has now admitted spying on American citizens without warrants and he has no intentions to stop! If he can imprison indefinitely without charge, torture, and spy on our own citizens without a warrant, what can’t he claim the right to do? Aren’t these the very protections our Founding Fathers fought to provide us?
Let’s recap. He’s disemboweled commonsense, centric policies, soured foreign relations, gutted civil rights, human rights, and the treasury, made a mockery of the Constitution, and led us into a war that has cost tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars on false pretenses. Of course, these are merely the highlights. A full recapitulation of his abuses would take volumes. But the swath of destruction is vast. George W. Bush is a one-man demolition derby, an inebriated bull in a china shop. He’s the anti-Midas, turning everything he touches to excrement. And he’s not done!
His most apt moniker will surely be, “The Great Eviscerator.”