George W. Bush was all over my television this past week, all over the newspapers, and the feelings inspired by his sudden reappearance are almost beyond my capacity to describe. There was the story about his hearty approval of waterboarding. There was the story that had him contemplating dropping Dick Cheney from the administration. There was the story that had him describing himself as a “dissenter” on the Iraq invasion. He did interviews, and excerpts of his new book dribbled out, and it was all too much to endure.
This is the guy, I thought to myself when I saw his face or heard his voice. This is the guy.
This is the guy who took a massive Clinton administration budget surplus and gave it away to his friends at the top of the tax bracket, a move that laid the groundwork for our current economic calamity.
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This is the guy who breezed past a pointed warning about Osama bin Laden, terrorism and airplanes on August 6, 2001, because he was on vacation and couldn’t be bothered.
This is the guy who parlayed that massive failure into a constant goad of fear to be wielded with impunity against the people he purported to lead. Plastic sheeting and duct tape, anthrax under your pillow, and of course, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
This is the guy who, not even a month after the Towers came down, looked into a television camera and said, “We need to counter the shockwave of the evildoer by having individual rate cuts accelerated and by thinking about tax rebates.”
Oh yes, this is the guy who stood before the American people in January of 2003 and proclaimed that Iraq was in possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX gas, mobile biological weapons labs, uranium from Niger for use in a “robust” nuclear weapons programs, and that Iraq enjoyed connections to al Qaeda that led directly to the attacks of September 11.
This was the guy who presided over the outing of a deep-cover CIA agent after her husband had the temerity to call him a liar in the public prints. That agent was running a network for the purpose of thwarting any person or group that might try to deliver weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.
This is the guy who strutted like a bantam rooster under a banner reading “Mission Accomplished,” bragging about the end of a war that was to grind on for seven more years, and grinds on even to this day, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
This is the guy who said “Bring it on” and put a target on the backs of tens of thousands of US troops. This is the guy who is personally responsible for the death and injury of hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings. The body count from his administration is breathtaking in size and scope.
This is the guy who allowed the intelligence services of this nation to violate the Constitutional rights of its citizens in a way never seen before.
This is the guy who turned the entire world against America after that same world embraced us so completely after September 11. World leaders could not stand to be in the same room with him, and openly mocked him, thus humiliating us all.
This is the guy who literally fiddled while Hurricane Katrina devoured the city of New Orleans.
This guy actually said he considered dropping Cheney from the administration? It would be comic if it were not so pointedly fraudulent. Cheney ran the government, ran roughshod over every right he found meddlesome, and Bush sat by and let him do it with that same simpering smirk on his face.
This is the guy who set stem cell research back more than a decade because of his overarching fealty to “snowflake babies” over living, breathing, suffering people.
This is the guy who unleashed all the horrors of the torture chamber because the lawyers said it was OK. If the president does it, it’s not illegal, right? Nixon came up with that line, but this is the guy who took it farther than it has ever been taken before.
This is the guy, and now he’s back on my television again, and it makes me want to eat my own teeth. I endured him for eight long, brutal years, and have often thought since that no matter how bad things get – and they have, indeed, gotten pretty damned bad – I don’t have to endure his face or his voice or his abject serial failures anymore.
But now he’s back, and it is like returning to a nightmare.
I don’t know what this George W. Bush Reputation Rehabilitation Tour will actually accomplish in the end. The same 20% of the country that kept his approval ratings from slipping into single digits – said group now being known as the “Tea Party” – will go out and buy his book. They will lap up his mealy-mouthed pabulum like cats into the cream, and some of our “mainstream” commentators will try to shoehorn the idea that he is missed into the national conversation.
He is not. George W. Bush was, and likely will forever be, the single worst American president in the nation’s history. To outstrip his remarkable record of failure, criminality and disgrace, a future president will have to personally cause the Earth to crash into the sun.
All I can do for now is avoid the TV, stay away from the newspapers, and pray to God on High that this small fraction of a man will soon retreat back into the ignominy from which he has emerged. There is no salvaging him, and thanks to him, there may be no salvaging America in his aftermath.
We are all children of this bastard fool now. The least he can do is stay in the shadows where he belongs, while we toil and sweat to repair what he wrought.