Bush is back, everyone! The dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum means we all get to rehash 2001-09’s greatest hits. The great debate, which has taken up squillions of electrons and uncountable lungfuls of air, can finally be laid out one last time and put to rest. We will now know forever and for always, definitively, whether the Bush presidency sucked or ruled. And then we can use the Internet for something else.
No, not really. As longtime Republican strategist Ed Rogers remarks in his post on the personal Bush, although Bush himself is seemingly an affable, happy, uncomplicated guy with his heart in the right place, he is also the target of oceans of political raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaage. Rogers claims he didn’t understand it when Bush was president and doesn’t understand it now — indeed, that time (and suffering under a different president) should have softened up the haters. There are plenty of others with whom Bush shares blame for the various Iraq debacles, Rogers says, and he is a good family man and church member.
So, Rogers asks, why are people still worked up about Bush?
That is exactly the kind of question that gets people worked up about Bush: the assumption that Bush’s championing of a bad war should be less important in judging him than his sterling family credentials. The disturbing fact that Bush doesn’t seem to lose sleep over his decisions, that he is living a happy life insulated from the turmoil that’s engulfed the rest of us, that he doesn’t seem to care that half of the country is this angry at him, that events like the dedication of a presidential library mean blithely papering over history and ignoring the consequences, that all of the anger and blame don’t seem to have made any dent in his self-esteem, that he truly does not care what the haters think — all of these things infuriate the anti-Bush crowd, and they are just as true now as when Bush was president, maybe even more so. Or so it seems to PostScript, who, as an honest broker on this page in this context, isn’t allowed to officially have a position of her own. Which is FINE with her.
Luckily, worked-up people have been willing to comment on their own points of view, and they aren’t all about feelings.
Bush went into office with relative peace, two tall buildings in New York representing commerce intact, unemployment at manageable levels, a federal budget surplus and the high moral ground on matters such as torture and the Geneva Conventions.
When he left office, all of what I just detailed was gone replaced with a huge deficit, high unemployment, housing values slashed and investment portfolios decimated.
His presidency was a clear failure.
There was a lot of that in the comments: dispassionate, specific, policy-based contempt, encompassing some things that were probably beyond Bush’s control. But few are willing to own up to personal animus for the man himself.
“Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war.”
Bush is too small and fragile a vessel to carry all of the guilt accumulated by his Administration. Too weak an intellect to be blamed for its many wicked plots and schemes. Bush was merely the frontman for a sinister cabal who never could have faced the voters themselves. Cheney and Rumsfeld were the principal architects of the Iraq war.
The Bush administration had aspects of comic incompetence and aspects of dark, megalomaniacal violence. If history is kind to Bush, it will place him with the buffoons, not with the monsters.
Defenders of Bush’s decisions as president were also few and far between, and they were faint of praise, often arguing that Bush is no worse than many other public figures:
We have a huge deficit, unemployment, the housing market on the floor NOW. Obama has been in power for 4 years. In conclusion, his presidency is a failure. Right?
DirtyOldMan says people have opposite reactions to the man and his policies because a successful presidential candidate has to be likeable, and the more successful a candidate is, the more the other side will resent it:
The funny thing about Bush is that many people seem to like him and LOATHE him, both at the same time. This peculiar ambivalence seems to also occur with other presidents like Reagan, Clinton and Obama. It probably occurs because of the clash between their charismatic personalities and their (debatably) loathsome deeds and policies.
And there’s an argument over how much Bush was to blame for the various Iraq war disasters.
George_S says that Democrats are actually responsible for the Iraq war:
Take it up with Democrats. They voted for resolution to use force. Twice. Then go to the U.N. They climbed on board as well.
Way different than, say, Libya.
kevrobb thinks that’s ridiculous:
I notice that America’s Republicans have stopped trying to claim that Iraq was a good idea and have retreated to a sullen “Democrats supported it too” defense.
The question of Iraq was not on the table until he and his friends put it there.
George_S counters that politics are always easier when one’s opponent is Hitler:
This is not about policy. It is about Bush = Hitler. It is about assassination fantasies on talk radio and books. Read what your compatriots are saying. If you do not denounce them, you are one of them.
marked8 demonstrates that unreasonable, personal animosity toward one’s political enemies characterizes a lot of the discourse of discord on this topic:
Liberals hated him because hate is what liberals do. They are good at it. Libs kill millions of babies, hate Christians, produce all of the school shooters and 90% of the violence in this country due to a total lack of morals. It makes sense that they would hate the opposite of themselves.
(PostScript, being an honest broker and without political bias, feels she should nonetheless dispassionately point out that marked8, who decries hate, seems to be spreading it lavishly without strict regard to truth.)
suttonhoo2002 says we are unequipped to judge Bush today, but one day Sutton’s opinion will be accepted by those who can judge:
Lots of vitriol here. But where are the facts to back it up? One day historians will review the facts without the burden of today’s divisiveness, and conclude that he was a great President.
A great president!
And finally, there is a truly amazing exchange that might actually sum up entirely the Bush debate as it rages on the Internets:
Going to war for bogus reasons is pretty bad. Not doing any planning for the aftermath, so that having won the war we got stuck in a bitter insurgency that lasted a decade, and that we nearly lost? That’s unconscionable.
That’s a pretty fair assessment, but the mouth-foaming hatred for the man is pretty incredible, don’t you think?