It’s been a disaster, there’s no sugarcoating that fact. But in a way, the Bush years were more a failure of the system than of the man himself. A person of his intellect should never have been able to climb that high and attain the presidency in the first place. If you strap a monkey behind a steering wheel and the car crashes, it’s not exactly the monkey’s fault. It’s the fault of the person who straps the monkey in. It’s the fault of the 151 million Americans who wanted him in (149 million of 300 in 2000, lol).
Joking aside, he probably did win the 2000 election. But why Florida couldn’t have been counted twenty times, a hundred times until we were certain of its numbers, goes beyond logic. Stopping the recount via the now ultra-political supreme court (need I remind anyone that the whole point of having a supreme court is for it to be above the partisan bullshit) was a shifty way to get in and set the tone for his entire presidency. In addition, the famous faulty ballot paper caused many Florida Gore-ites to accidentally vote for a fascist asshole named Pat Buchanan, depriving Gore of the handful of votes that would have given him victory. (Still, Gore was a loser, it should never have been that close in the first place.)
When Bush came in, however doubtful the 2000 election was, he had a shitload of money bequeathed from the Clinton years and he blew it all on Iraq and tax cuts for the rich, buying himself a second term in power at the expense of America’s financial future. Now there’s a gaping canyon where America’s money used to be, which will consequently slowly erode their power. That is probably what makes him a bad president in cold-blooded terms, and not Iraq per se. Controlling a nation should always be about strategy and not emotion, and Bush made it about emotion. This presidency based recklessness, on hunches and gut-feeling and lack of reflection took the whole country down the gurgler. In this day and age it’s astonishing that a government – Messrs Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Co., take a bow – could still think in such closed-minded terms. That way of thinking doesn’t work, and yet things will never change, they will always have their supporters despite all evidence to the contrary, however much of a disaster this decade has been under them.
September 11 probably killed any chance Bush had of setting his own agenda. The Taliban had sheltered Osama, Osama had pulled the strings on September 11, therefore the Taliban had to be taken out. That shit just had to be done; one of the two wars was inevitable. (It’s like how right before Ukraine ditched capital punishment they did in a serial killer who roamed the countryside terrorising the villages, and their explanation was: “Someone like him just has to go.” I’m against capital punishment but perversely I agreed with their assessment. What can I say, I’m a ball of contradictions.)
Iraq killed him and killed everything. I believe the whole Iraq thing was not even to do with oil but simply Bush acting on a grudge against Saddam and answering the old critics who said his father had not finished the job. From a strategic point of view Saddam was a counterbalance in the Middle East against hardline Islamism and now there is no counterweight; Iraq will be hardline and an ally of Iran within ten years (assuming a U.S. pullout). The whole thing was just stupid even before mentioning lives lost and all the humanitarian concerns, and the money spent.
Katrina was bad. Morally bad, not just a relative mistake like most governmental errors of judgement. Katrina showed that America has an underclass that not even the government gives a shit about.
I don’t think the financial crisis was strictly his fault like Iraq was. It was the product of decades of Republican policy of pandering to the rich. A house of cards had to fall sometime. When a badly-hung Christmas tree ornament falls by itself, it’s natural to blame the person standing the closest to the tree. Don’t get me wrong, Bush and his deregulation and pandering to the moneyed classes and companies contributed to all this; he was a part of it, but not nearly all of it.
The vox pop verdict is basically unanimous. Lizeth the left-wing Bolivian called Bush the anti-Christ. My right(ish)-wing accountant mate here says his stock-markety Dad called Bush a disaster and blames him for everything. I asked my mate: isn’t the cabinet supposed to mitigate against Bush’s idiocy? He answered, “No, he actually does make all the decisions. He’s a lower IQ.” Their actions are those of a government with a lower IQ.
I do not think he is the anti-Christ. I think he was misguided rather than a bad person. On a personal level I find something very likeable about Bush. He’s someone I could have a beer with. Even Barack Obama mentioned in his book that Bush has a straightforward manner that helped him win two elections, the kind of guy who would make for good company so long as the conversation revolved around sports and the kids (that last bit is a direct quote). But he just didn’t know what he was doing as prez, and evidently the puppeteer Cheney didn’t know what he was doing either. And, as one guy said in the lead-up to election 2008: “If I want to have a beer with someone, that’s what my friends are for. I don’t want to have a beer with my president.” The implication being that the prez should be an egghead, however little he has in common with the rest of us.
At least Bush gave a lot of aid to Africa and put a lot of dough into countering AIDS and malaria and all those diseases that we no longer even sneeze at in the first-world (pun perhaps intended). That’s what he did better than the other prezes.
And, at least countries with money and power have the ability to fix themselves (although I don’t think America will ever be as all-encompassing as it was in the 90s again). And no country has more money and power than America. The empire will stagger on.