by Greg Method
Can you believe it? We're here.
This column is being posted on January 19, 2009. Martin Luther King Day, of course, but the day is noteworthy for one other reason. It is the final full day that George W. Bush will be president of the United States.
Is that possible? Have we finally reached the end? Could it really be that it will all finally be over in less than twenty-four hours? The thought is just too incredible to ponder. It's all I can do right now to not burst into joyful tears.
And by sheer luck, we've made it to the end relatively in one piece. Well, okay, except for New Orleans, the World Trade Center, numerous sections of Iraq, a major corner of our economic structure, our already endangered environment, etc., etc., etc., but you know what I mean. The world did not come to an end on George W. Bush's watch, despite his best efforts. I shudder at the thought that in the annals of human history, Bush could have been the last president this country had, and to use a show business phrase, you're only as good as your last film.
But instead, we've limped to the end, and thankfully George W. Bush can never run for the presidency again. Ideally he will never step into any political arena again, but that terrifying possibility still looms, as it seems as if anything else, the Bushes do enjoy being in over their heads.
And what are the pieces of the country Bush is finally leaving behind as he goes off to play cowboy for twenty years? Our credibility around the world is shattered due to a needless war that he forced upon everybody. We are knee-deep in a recession created in large part by the inexplicable depletion of our national surplus. Citizens no longer trust such once-respected institutions and positions as the Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense, or the Attorney General. And we're still chasing our tails trying to find those who planned September 11 and clean up New Orleans.
And then there's the Republican Party. How exactly will the GOP survive after they allowed their party to be held hostage and corrupted by religious fundamentalists, power brokers, and just plain old rich shits? How does a political party go on after creating and blindly supporting the worst president in United States history??
That's right, I used the "W" word. Ever since 2004 I've been detailing all the numerous, numerous ways George W. Bush, his policies, his actions, and his just plain old stupidity have nearly destroyed our country. One could easily throw a dart at any topic and compare Bush's piss-poor results to those of other presidents (which I had done many times in past columns). Bush's approval rating once dipped to an embarrassing 19 percent at one point, lower than Nixon at any time in his presidency. This past weekend CBS reported that Bush's final approval rating before leaving office was at 22 percent, the lowest final rating for an outgoing president since Gallup began taking such polls seventy years ago. So I don't say "worst" lightly; I mean it literally. George W. Bush will go down in history as the statistical worst president we've ever had...and you know what, I couldn't be happier about that.
For the last five years I had offered a simple proposition to any reader: explain to me, exactly, why anyone would like or support Bush. And you know, nobody has ever taken that challenge. I know people are out there reading; my columns have been linked from the weirdest places (and I thank those who did come check them out). I've gotten some odd e-mails from readers on other issues I've brought up, but not a single person has ever explained what there is to like about Bush as a leader or even as a person. Why would that be? Maybe because deep down, even those who voted for Bush knew there was nothing great about him.
To paraphrase Batman, Republicans are a superstitious, cowardly lot. In 2000 they backed the wrong pony by voting for Bush in the primaries instead of John McCain, and then again by picking Bush over Al Gore, yet they were all too ashamed, proud, and gutless to admit it. They had to pretend that they made the right choice, stuffing fingers in their ears and going "la-la-la-la-I can't HEAR you!" if someone dared breathe a negative breath about someone who was clearly unqualified to lead a nation. Like an acquired taste, they convinced themselves that Bush was the country's second coming. Then for the next eight years they had to sit back and shut up while the United States quickly turned to shit in Bush's scummy hands, refusing to admit that maybe, just maybe, their judgement was just a teeny bit flawed. And now they have to sit back and shut up while the whole world begins to write the story of Bush's term that will become history's narrative...and it ain't gonna be pretty.
So let's make it easy for everyone and get some common truths out of the way. Our country needs to be able to lick its wounds after the Bush administration, and we need to reach some common ground on a number of points. Much in the same way as we all agree that the Great Depression was bad, that World War II was good for American progress, that the Kennedy assassination was horrible, that Vietnam was a mistake, that landing on the moon was a triumph, that Nixon was a scoundrel, and that Reagan was senile, we need to get the last eight years boiled down into some simple honest truths.
This is what the country needs in order to heal...and if we can cram in some last-minute Bush-bashing before the concept becomes passe, all the better.
So let's all just agree on the following....
1. Fess up, the 2000 election was fucked up and the loser got in.
2. He wasn't funny or likable. His "humor" came off as elitist snobbery and was often targeted at people of other cultures and beliefs. We wouldn't want to have a beer with him; in fact, if we did see him in a bar, we would have most likely punched his lights out before long.
3. Can we stop pretending that September 11 was the end-all, be-all single defining event of our generation? We need to stop canonizing our national tragedies and treating its victims as deities. All it does is produce cheap, empty sentiment to be used to launch wars and spy on citizens while losing focus on what really mattered during such events. NO tragedy is worth our basic civil liberties.
September 11 was a clusterfuck of a failure on Bush's part in terms of intelligence, security, responsibility, action, knowledge, reaction, and accountability, PERIOD. You don't get to list the largest tragedy on our country's soil, one that would have been prevented if you bothered to read or not surround yourself with yes men, in your "win" column in terms of your legacy. If a September 11 was the single defining highlight of your term, then what does that say about what else you've accomplished and the job you've done?
If we need to invoke September 11 again in the future, let's instead focus on why nobody lost their job or were prosecuted for this major failure.
4. The stimulus checks didn't help the economy. The 2001 tax cuts didn't help the economy. Deregulation didn't help the economy. Bailing out an irresponsible industry didn't help the economy. Face it, the guy did not understand the problems you and I go through or know how to fix them.
5. Let's finally all say it together: the Bushes can't govern. A presidential family who averages a recession per term does not get to be referred to positively in history. We do not need a continually recurring presidential dynasty of failure. Where's the constitutional amendment preventing more than two members of the same family from being elected president?
6. And yes, Laura Bush is mentally retarded. It needs to finally be proven and documented.
So, what now? This past November, this country finally got one right, choosing a true leader who has the potential to take us down a great new road instead of just more of the same. Now, granted anything would be better than Bush at this point, as his time in office has lowered our national expectations like nothing else we have seen before, but I like to believe we chose the right person for the job because of the person he is, not because of the person who preceded him. I have never been prouder of my country than I was the night we elected Barack Obama, and hopefully those who voted for him will be able to hold their heads up high for the next eight years without compromise, without doubt, and without having to convince ourselves that we made the right choice. I like to think that we knew it going in.
And if nothing else, then we certainly made history that night, and regardless of how it ends, it's going to be one hell of a ride.
After eight disastrous years, there's only one direction this country can go.
Quote of the Month
"And so, my fellow Americans, for the final time: good night."
Bush, January 15
Link of the Month
The Office of the President-Elect