Saturday, December 20, 2008

Searching for a Legacy in the Dust of Disaster

With just one more month to endure of this terminal cancer on the White House, there's been a lot of talk lately about Bush's attempt to "write the first draft of history" as he searches for accomplishments to bolster his "legacy" to escape the verdict most people have already given him: Worst. President. Ever!

He even issued "talking points" for his minions to fan out across the talk show circuit and repeat to fawning corporate stenographers pretending to be reporters. Basically, he has come up with the following accomplishments for his eight years in office: No Child Left Behind legislation; tax cuts that guided our country through TWO recessions; prevented terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11; and most audacious of all: "restored honour and dignity" to the White House. Um...I'll get to that one a bit later.

First, I'd like to say that this "tradition" for outgoing presidents to wax nostalgic about their "legacy" is stupid. Legacy is something that starts on DAY ONE of your administration! (Memo to President Obama!). Think of it like a life review. Your life is judged in TOTAL, not for your final deathbed conversion after a lifetime of evil! Maybe Bush learned the wrong lessons from his mentor Lee Atwater (his father's "Karl Rove").

All this reminds me of when I was in the Navy and had to type up the fitness reports of officers. Fitness reports (FITREPS) are an annual performance review kind of thing that all officers must complete, which helps determine promotion points and whatnot. In my last year in the Navy, I remember being especially livid with one officer's fitness report. I was the secretary of the Multicultural Committee. The officer in question was "assigned" the Multicultural Committee as an extra duty. He never attended the meetings, had no involvement in the activity planning, basically showed no interest at all in this committee assignment. So, you can imagine my shock when I had to type up his FITREP from his notes, and he claimed to have initiated events and was a real "take charge" kind of officer as far as this extra duty was concerned. I raised my objections, but due to the whole politics of FITREPs, my peon rank of E-5 wasn't going to override an O-3 hoping for a promotion to O-4. I was in my last few months in the Navy, so it was just one more thing I hated about the military.

Why do I bring that up? Well...because that's what Bush's talk about legacy and his talking points reminds me of. He was "just there"...taking credit for things he had little to do with. Basically, for the past 8 years, I think he merely pretended to be the president. Or else, Cheney truly conned him into thinking that he did in fact make decisions as president, when Cheney most likely was the mastermind and enforcer of all that went on.

Bush's talking points about the "accomplishments" he wants his Kool-Aid drinking staff to drone on about on talk shows is actually hilarious. It shows that he truly scraped the bottom of the toilet to come up with that pathetic list of shit! First...No Child Left Behind! It's gonna be scrapped as soon as he leaves office. How will that be a legacy? A legacy is like Kennedy's Peace Corps (still going strong) or Truman's New Deal and Marshall Plan. Making children study "multiple choice testing tricks" is hardly stellar education to brag about.

Second...the tax cuts wiped out the surplus that Clinton left office with. It took Clinton six years to erase 12 years of Reaganomics ("tricked-down" tax scheme) and Bush managed to wipe out the surplus in his first two years. Hardly a legacy to be proud of. He did outdo the debt of Reagan and his father, though.

Third...if you're like me in thinking that 9/11 was most likely an inside job by certain neo-conservatives (with the help of al-Qaeda, of course, through intermediaries)...then his argument about keeping us safe from terrorism doesn't wash. If your own government is behind it, then of course you keep us safe because you don't allow a follow up act due to the constant questioning by independent media sources and groups like 9/11 Truth and the WTC widows. Furthermore, keeping us "safe from terrorism" didn't happen on 9/11, when a month earlier, Bush was on vacation and ignored DPB (Daily Presidential Briefing) memos with titles like "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." So, he may have "kept us safe" from terrorism AFTER 9/11, but on the day itself, he kept reading a children's book before fleeing to Offutt AFB on Air Force One and only showing up in public three days later. Yeah, some courageous actions during the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil! All that matters was that it happened on his watch, after he had plenty of warning and yet he did nothing.

Finally...we get to that phrase he promised in his 2000 campaign. It's the most outrageous, audacious lie he could ever tell. To remind you of the context, he went around in 2000 saying that he would "restore honour and dignity to the White House." It was a code for: "I will not embarrass you by getting a blow job by an intern while I'm president." Let's face it, Billy Boy's sex problem truly did offend a lot of good people. The media had a field day and just ran with it, tripping over themselves to educate everyone with a television exactly what Monica did with Bill, where, when, and how often. Was that Clinton's fault? I've heard many Republicans claim both that they were angry that "he lied" about the affair AND that "he rubbed his affair in our faces." Okay...if he lied about his affair, how did he rub it in our faces? He denied it happened until the infamous blue dress from Gap with the damning physical evidence was turned over for DNA testing. It was the media that rubbed it in our faces 24/7.

The phrase was Bush's mantra in 2000 and it's funny that after eight years, he's resurrecting his campaign promise as though it was proof that he kept his promise.

Here's how Mr. Dictionary defines HONOUR:

1) Good name; reputation; outward respect; 2) privilege; 3) a person of superior standing--used esp as a title; 4) one who brings respect or fame; 5) an evidence or symbol of distinction; 6) chastity or purity; 7) integrity.

None of those definitions really fit his actions or policies of the past 8 years. Especially the "integrity" part, which is how he probably thinks of the word when he uses it.

Here's Mr. Dictionary's definition of DIGNITY:

1) the quality or state of being worthy, honoured, or esteemed; 2) high rank, office, or position; 3) formal reserve of manner, language or appearance.

On this one, I will give them definitions #2 and #3, but the first one is arguable. I would refute that his administration was ever truly worthy, honoured, or esteemed after all the improprieties and maneuverings on the Florida recount in 2000. And even though Bush lost the popular vote to Gore by over half a million votes, he lacked the graciousness to realize that he was morally obligated to be president to ALL Americans. Instead, he ran to the far right as though he had won a Nixonesque landslide.

The image above of the tortured Iraqi prisoner at Abu Ghraib that was revealed worldwide in the spring of 2004 is the perfect visual image of the Bush years. Their deeds don't match their words. And there is that idea commonly accepted in psychology that a person who obsesses over certain images or beliefs actually feels deficient in it. They want people to think of them as having "honour and dignity" because deep down, they don't feel they have it. Well, if they think that deeply, they are correct. They don't have honour and dignity. Never did. It was all a con job. A shiny bauble to distract gullible people from noticing that their cronies on Wall Street have been robbing us blind these past eight years.

The above is one of my favourite "unintentional" news crawls. Actually, who knows if the wording was intentional or not, but it made a point in more ways than one. It's especially brilliant because they were quoting Bush from his speech about the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans in August 2005. Way to use his own words against him. I love it!

Bush has been doing a lot of "exit interviews" to put a spin on his record as president. However, I don't think it will hold up in the future because historians generally get it right. Bush's hope is that Iraq becoming a functioning democracy in the heart of the Middle East will prove his decision correct and the corporate media seems like its willing to follow that script. I say, "not so fast!" Bush has to be judged in comparison to the previous presidents and he truly broke longstanding tradition that our government does not torture (George Washington himself refused to allow American soldiers to torture captured British soldiers in the Revolutionary War). He also ran one of the most secretive administrations ever, making Nixon's administration look like a sunshine of transparency. There are many lies on record, especially in regards to knowing the exact locations of Saddam's chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. We still haven't found ANY! How can they get away with a bold-faced lie like that?

Also, according to the standard of history, the Iraq War follows a pattern where a president is able to con Americans into rah-rah-rah-ing the war effort in the beginning, but as it continues along and grows unpopular, that hurts a president's historical standing. All one has to do is look at LBJ for an example. He's considered one of the best presidents in terms of achieving a legislative success, particularly the Civil Rights Bill, the Civil Rights Voting Act, and the Great Society programs...but all of that is overshadowed by Vietnam. He left office deeply disliked and a broken man who didn't live long in retirement.

Bush, however, is hoping for the redemption Truman received in the 1990s with a critically acclaimed biography that rescued his tarnished legacy. Truman left office in 1952 deeply unpopular because of the Korean War. Fifty years later, historians reevaluated his presidency and saw much to admire and improved his ranking among presidents. Bush may have received his bachelor's degree in history, but to rephrase an old debate quote by a certain Senator from Texas...historians know Truman, and you, Bush, are no Truman! Truman took progressive risks in integrating the Armed Forces; he saw through the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe devasted by World War II; he enacted the long standing policy of "containment" towards the Soviet Union when conservative Republicans wanted to go to war against them, and then again with China after it turned red. Truman also took personal responsibility, famously epitomized by the "the Buck Stops Here" sign on his desk. Bush hasn't taken responsibility for anything. He blames other people for the failures of his administration. "No one thought they'd fly planes into buildings." "No one expected the levees to breach." Abu Ghraib torture was blamed on low ranking Army reservists. Bush denied ever knowing "Kenny Boy" Lay of Enron and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, despite photographic evidence as well as a money trail.

Most of all, Truman is remembered as a sincere Christian, among the most religious of our presidents...and he threatened severe punishment to any American company seeking to profit from the destruction of World War II. That's true "honour and dignity." Bush is merely a pretender. So...even if Iraq does stabilize and becomes the only democratic Arab nation in the Middle East, it's not enough to ignore the lies, the incompetence, the disasters, and the needless death and destruction of so many lives during the Bush years.

In People magazine, Bush actually couldn't answer a simple question of what he'll do in retirement. Beyond moving into a nice new home in Dallas, setting up his presidential library and policy center, and writing a memoir, he said that he had no idea what he'll do and EVEN ASKED for suggestions!!! Seriously.

I have an idea:

I'd love to see him tried, convicted and sentenced for war crimes (along with Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Gonzalez, Wolfowitz, Perle, and Feith). That's truly the only way to gain worldwide respect, esteem, and "honour and dignity" because it would be unprecedented. We've seen plenty of inspiring prisoner-to-president scenarios (Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel, to name a couple), but a president-to-prisoner scenario? Man, the world would love that. It would be the true Trial of the Century! People would buy so many tickets to watch the War Crimes Tribunal hearings that we could get our country out of the debt its currently in.


Our great presidents are lucky to be honoured with their likeness or name on money, stamps, carved into a stone mountain, marble monuments in the nation's capital, countless streets, schools, and perhaps even a town or city. But what about the worst presidents? Don't they deserve their own tributes? Such as the George W. Bush toilet paper?

For an accurate monument, I move that we rename the toilet to "The Bush Dumper." Each time we take a dump and flush, we are reenacting what Bush has done to America these eight long years.

From here on out, I will be referring to portapotties as "Bush-dumper." So, if you hear me say, "I'm gonna use the Bush-dumper," you know where I'll be. Flushing away the toxins in my body into the cesspool of cynicism. I hope you will join me in renaming these "portapotties" (I hate that word anyway). Someday in the future, I can envision little kids telling their parents that they have to go to "the Bush-dumper" without knowing where the word came from. It'll be because of us, giving the appropriate tribute to the person who is guaranteed to be ranked dead last among presidents. So certain am I about his historical standing that I believe it should be carved in stone: George W. Bush--Worst. President. Ever.

1 comment:

Margie's Musings said...

That's a little strong but I agree with 90% of what you've said here, Nicholas.