It's Time to Stop Glorifying George W. Bush
During Trump's short time in office, George W. Bush has taken a number of opportunities to peer around the corner of opportunity in an attempt to salvage his horrendous legacy. The first time was when he released a series of portraits that he painted of soldiers who died in war during his reign (a war that he started under false pretenses, mind you).The next most notable headline grabber was a speech that Dubya recently gave, citing the current POTUS's “casual cruelty.” Bush didn't name Trump in the speech, of course, but we all knew who he was talking about.
Bush received praise for being a voice of reason in a US that is ruled by chaos, greed, and open corruption. And his statements, on their own, weren't wrong. In fact, they were alarmingly eloquent given Bush's now infamous bumbling speeches from the past. It is the opinion of many that the 43rd president has begun to redirect the narrative about his time in The Oval Office, showing a view of the world that is inclusive and nuanced, searching for the greater good that has served to make America the global beacon of freedom that has inspired so many. Of course, anyone who remembers Bush's time at bat, knows that this is complete bullshit. Going from war criminal to patron saint of the GOP is going to be a long leap for the man who left office with an approval rating that barely eeked it's way out of the 20s by its merciful end.
Now, for a bit of history for those of you who may have a touch of amnesia on the subject of 'Little Bush.'
The first sneerings of what the eight years following the 2000 election would portend, began with the election itself. Then Texas Governor Bush v. Vice President Gore was a close and divisive battle, but it was ordinary enough for the majority of the race. Your typical red/blue fare. Florida changed that.
The entirety of the 2000 presidential race came down to the 25 electoral votes from Florida. The Australia of the US. This was a bit of an issue for then VP Al Gore, since Dubya's brother Jeb was the governor of that very state. After a recount that involved a seemingly endless string of debates about the validity of paper ballots with 'dented chads,' 'hanging chads,' and 'pregnant chads,' and even the argument being raised that the old folks in the state were confused by the ballot layout, and meant to vote Republican, Bush won. At the time, it was only the fourth instance in which the candidate who lost the popular vote won the electoral one. Unfortunately, that number is now five.
Fast forward to 9/11 when things really went off the rails.
I'm sure that there's no need to recount what happened on that fateful day in American history. Even if you never knew a world before that date, you've surely experienced a parade of recaps in school and on the anniversary each year. We were attacked, a reaction was needed, and war was imminent.
In a collective “What in the fuck?” moment, we focused most of our military efforts in Iraq after 18 out of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia at the behest of an Afghan terrorist cell. What we were told by nearly every high-ranking official at the time was that then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was backing Al Qaeda, and was potentially readying weapons of mass destruction for the group. We now know that that was an incredibly destructive farce but, in that moment, a lot of people were more than willing to accept every stretch of rationale to believe that. It was fear mongering at it's pinnacle, and hundreds of thousands of souls never left the desert because of it.
It should also be noted who grabbed up armfuls of lucrative contracts at the start of this war. It was a company called Halliburton. Their former CEO was Little Bush's VP, Dick Cheney. By 2003, the company had jumped from 22nd largest military contractor in 2000, to seventh. In exchange for those tax dollars, the company provided soldiers with dangerous and inferior vehicles, food with motor oil in it, and a $35 million severance package for the vice president.
All of the events that came between 9/11and the start of the war, were both spurred on and excused by The Patriot Act, a law that was shoved through just 45 days after the twin towers fell. Included in the law were gems like mass surveillance so that ALL Americans can know what it feels like to be a suspect, “Sneak and Peak Laws” so that agents could go through your home or office without being burdened by letting you know that they had a warrant until after they were done, and indefinite detainment for suspected terrorists, paired nicely with an extremely broad definition of terrorism.
Now, let's take an exotic trip to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba! This was the site of a detention center that helped stomp the last gasps of habeas corpus straight out of the American consciousness. According to Human Rights Watch, of the 780 known detainees since Guantanamo began its lifespan as a prison, an unbelievable 731 were released without charges, “many after being detained for years.” While Obama failed to follow through on his promise to close the prison, Bush started the abject failure. Reports of people being beaten in ice baths, taken to the ocean and made to drink saltwater until they puke, and being force-fed rectally, have become synonymous with the very name 'Guantanamo'.
Hurricane Katrina is yet another outstanding display of the marriage between indifference and gross incompetence that plagued Bush's presidency. The thing about hurricanes is that they don't exactly have stealth on their side. They don't sneak up on you. Despite this fact, the federal government took days to respond, nearly 2,000 people died, and it was largely left to the devastated populous to save their neighbors during the crucial early days of the storm.
And let's not forget Junior's last year in office, which saw the largest financial crash in 80 years. To be fair, Bush's administration doesn't hold all of the blame for the 2008 crash, but they facilitated it enough to be culpable. Through the GOP wet dream of lax regulations on banks and investors, Bush and his cronies allowed a housing bubble to form that burst at the detriment of the entire US economy. They then took hundreds of billions of tax payer dollars, and used them to bail out the banks. Their only caveat was that the American people couldn't ask where the money was going, how it was being used, or how this move would benefit them. What a deal!
The previous are just some of the many low lights of what Bush did with his power. His legacy is the kind of garbage heap that Trump envies, but is too incompetent to execute. We need to stop making heroes of tyrants just because we like something that they said. George W. Bush deserves every pang of guilt or remorse that he may be suffering, and batting at the low-hanging fruit that is criticizing Donald Trump shouldn't be a 'get out of jail free card' for a man whose hands are covered in the blood of so many people.
If you despise Trump, understand that Bush helped plant the seed in the GOP that grew him.