Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So The Days Float Thru My Eyes

 I find myself in agreement with Christopher Hitchens of Slate.com. Thank you, President George W Bush. Thank you for your eight years of service to this great and proud nation.
Now, before you choke on your cornflakes, let's take a look back at the past eight years and understand, truly, the great thing this man did for our nation.
Having his father's cronies steal an election in 2000 by manipulating first the Florida vote count and then the Supreme Court of the United States, he took office as the first President in nearly 150 years to lose the plurality of votes in an election, but win the electoral college. This reminded us how fragile our freedoms are, and how short-sighted the Founding Fathers could be, by making a wholly unpopulated state like Wyoming or North Dakota have an outsized voice in the direction of this nation.
He made education a centerpiece of his first term, proving that even Republicans who have tried to dismantle any Federal education policy recognize the importance of education. However, the gaming of the system, teaching to the test, has rigidified the educational process and stifled ambition, creativity and thinking, skills that will be desperately needed in the years ahead with the challenges facing us. In effect, George Bush managed to outsource intelligence.
With approval ratings in his first year tanking into the 40% range, an unprecedented collapse in popularity, 9/11 happened on his watch, despite his best efforts to ignore the warnings. Bush proved that confronting your problems and facing them are far more valuable than praying them away. his recovery advice, to shop, probably pushed back this economic meltdown until, well, the end of his administration, proving that no good deed goes unpunished, and that people don't have unlimited credit like many faux Texans who own a ranch with one head of cattle do.
After 9/11, Bush fought hard to establish the Patriot Act, which created the single largest bureaucracy in American history after the US military, proving that Republicans could be as profligate with tax payer money as a drunken sailor in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Which brings me to...
Katrina. Sure, the Coast Guard got there quickly and was effective in rescuing hundreds of stranded people. That's what they are trained to do, and they train constantly to do it. No, the knee jerk, reflexive immediate response of the federal government was good.
It's the stuff they actually had to plan and carry out that got all screwy. In this instance, Bush proved the truth about cronyism: it's OK to pick cronies, just make sure the cronies you pick know what the hell they are doing (see also Hank Paulson in 2008). Hundreds if not thousands died while Bush circled overhead in Air Force One like a vulture, heading out to Arizona to help destroy John McCain's candidacy.
The war in Iraq proved that sending US troops willy nilly into harm's way, without an effective battle plan, and more important, and effective peace plan, should never, EVER, happen again. We had no business being there, and have no business remaining behind except to clean up our mess.
Too, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay made us stop and realize that even the freest of nations can lose that freedom if the nation acts in any way, shape or form tyrannically. These were silly incidents that should never have been allowed to happen.
Many might legitimately disagree with the outcome, but no one can deny that wars of aggression never ever work out well in the end for the aggressor. We'll spend many years cleaning up and making amends and apologies to the world community in the hopes that our rightful place in leadership of that community may be graciously restored to us.
People forgive mistakes. They'll have a hard time forgiving us for 2004.
Finally, the economy is in the tank and if we're lucky, if we're extremely lucky, Barack Obama will find a keystone to set straight that will have us well into recovery after his first term. We'll see on that score.
But if anything, this depression has finally proved the old saw that Harry S Truman used to say regularly when campaigning: "If you want to live like a Republican, vote Democratic."
Right now, we've voted twice for Republicans, and are facing a diminished, depleted life. Tax cuts can only do so much. The Bush legacy will be one of reckless abandon to reward the plutocracy of this nation for raping our resources and then turning their backs on the people of America. This must not stand.
So, in an attempt to be conciliatory, I've tried to find the one thing that Bush has done to make this a better nation, a better world. A couple of things cropped up in my research.
1) He increased funding to Africa to combat AIDS and malaria. OK, true, this is a positive thing, to be sure, but how positive? Bush raised funding from about $2 billion to $3 billion, adding 50%, in 2006. And that was with strings attached, like abstinence-only sex education. And the program could only use American branded drugs, not generic drugs. He's further expanded this with a $48 billion dollar bill over 5 years, about $40 billion for AIDS ($8 billion a year). This would represent about 0.006% of annual gross domestic product, however. Japan contributes 0.7% of it's GDP. There's a lot more to be done there.
2) He's kept us safe from terror attacks since 2001. Sort of. I mean, there were the still-unsolved anthrax attacks, the series of sniper shootings in Virginia, any number of abortion clinic bombings, the attack in Washington state where that man shot up the offices of a Jewish organization...and of course, the attacks overseas, like London and Mumbai.
It should also be pointed out that there were no terror attacks in the seven years leading up to 9/11. I'm sure the Bushbots will credit him with those, too.
So, no. It would be hard to credit Bush with purely positive results even in these miniscule eddies of the flow of his administration.
And then it hit me. There is one undeniable positive that President George W Bush, the 43rd and soon-to-be former President, has done for America.
Thank you, President Bush, for making it safe to be a liberal again.