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The cover of a recent issue of THE WEEK posed this question: Was George W. Bush “a good president?”

The very fact that this question could be asked by a serious news magazine is just another indication of sickness in the American body politic.

The Bush presidency was a disaster if one considers either competence or moral character.

It left this country – our economy, our international standing, our political discourse, our Constitution and the rule of law -- in shambles.

It inherited the potential for budgetary surpluses as far as the eye could see, then enacted a tax cut that transferred huge wealth from the middle class, and from future generations to the richest Americans, while doubling the national debt.

It abetted a great widening of inequalities of wealth and income between the richest fraction of one percent of Americans and the rest of the population.

It shackled our financial regulators and helped precipitate a global financial meltdown when toxic mortgages, sold as high-grade debt, exploded like time-bombs in banks around the world.

It launched two wars of choice, one under false pretenses, and botched them both.

The Bush presidency was the most lawless presidency in American history, according to Bruce Fein, a conservative jurist who was a prominent member of the Reagan administration.

Whole books, by responsible legal minds, outlined a multiplicity of high crimes and misdemeanors – genuinely impeachable offenses —committed by the Bush administration.

Contempt for the rule of law was displayed as clearly as possible by the presidential pardon given to the only person (I. Lewis Libby) convicted for participation in any of this criminality, even though he was prosecuted by an outstanding Republican attorney (Patrick Fitzgerald) and convicted by a jury of American citizens.

In violation of American law and international treaty obligations, the Bush presidency was the first to embrace the practice of torture.

It usurped constitutionally granted powers from both the Congress and the courts, and did everything it could to escape accountability for its actions .

And yet, little more than four years after George W. Bush left office, we are asked – because there are opinions to be heard on both sides — whether he was a good president.

If we knew nothing more about the political condition of America than that, and that (as THE WEEK reports) Mr. Bush now enjoys a 47 percent favorability rating with the public, we would know that there was something rotten in the state of the Union.

Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District.  He is the author of various books including The Parable of the Tribes:  The Problem of Power in Social Evolution.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  But his backers are richer, so it's all good. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gffish, citylights

    And after all, isn't that REALLY what matters?


    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 01:39:40 PM PDT

  •  He must be since he was reelected (6+ / 0-)

    in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

  •  That is why he was invited to the GOP convention. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Romney Was Right! (5+ / 0-)
    Mr. Bush now enjoys a 47 percent favorability rating
    See? 47% of the population are hopeless incompetents!

    On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

    by stevemb on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 02:11:12 PM PDT

  •  The fact that the question was asked (5+ / 0-)

    negates the possibility of the publication being a "serious news magazine."  There is simply a persistent element of fascism in our media that hangs on like ticks.

    Nothing makes a Republican angrier than a smile on a poor child's face.

    by Troubadour on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 02:33:59 PM PDT

  •  Absolutely but the wording is wrong (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Samer, myboo, citylights, oslyn7

    with half missing.....Was George Bush a good president for the greedy and misguided?  Yes he was,

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 02:36:07 PM PDT

    •  the sel-destructiveness of those who channel evil (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I would say that Bush was NOT a good president for the greedy.  It's now almost six years since the economy started to tank, and it still has not recovered.  Sure, it has hurt the many more than it's hurt the richest few, but still, compared with an economy that is NOT wasting about $2 trillion a year in unused capacity, the legacy of Bush has been injurious across the board.

      The same with American power, which the Bushites were eager to extend.  Instead, they left office with American power far below what it had been when they came in.

      This is the pattern of those who channel evil.  Hitler was going to establish a 1000 year Reich, with the Master Race lording it over the world. Instead, he left Germany a nation in ruins, a rubble that was divided and weakened.

      Intentions are one thing.  Results are another. With people who are about brokenness, the opposition between conscious intention and actual result tends to be especially dramatic.

  •  Yeah, it's all Bush's fault (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Achillios0311, Victor Ward

    He made the IRS do it. The actors today have no agency. That is what I get from this post.

    Is it even possible these days to accept responsibility without blaming someone else?

    •  complete non sequitur (0+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      Hidden by:
      Victor Ward

      "The actors today have no agency."  There is nothing whatever in my piece that even touches on this issue.  Changing the subject is not a responsible way to deal with an argument.  It is, however, typical of discourse in some of our political subcultures.

      •  I took your article in the context of the... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Achillios0311, Victor Ward

        current situation with Obama and his similar conduct. People regularly use Bush to mitigate Obama's behavior, as if he did not choose to act as he did. In other words, stripped of agency.

        Perhaps your post was taken out of context because how many here really need such an indictment to know that Bush was awful? It is a foregone conclusion and I did not assume you intended an anti-Bush pep rally or comments about how stupid people are because they may see Bush differently.

        I therefore did not really change the subject, despite your allegation, and I disagree anyway as to what constitutes reasonable discourse, not to mention what you mean by political subcultures.

  •  Cant wait for the follow up question... (0+ / 0-)

    Was President Obama a good President?...

  •  Decimated our military (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think one of the under-reported effects of the Bush Years is the real damage done to our men and women in uniform. Heavy rotation, long deployments. Who can forget Bush telling the insurgents to "Bring it on!" and Rumsfeld's flippant "go to war with the Army you have"? Our heroes are committing suicide at an alarming rate, languishing on the street homeless, or waiting years for treatment of PTSD or TBI. We have lost so many good, intelligent, patriotic Americans for the greedy oil/blood lust of Mr. Bush and his ilk.

    I am saddened by what has been revealed recently about the NSA, DOJ subpoenas. I am disappointed in Obama--it is not what I voted for.

    Keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce.---Molly Ivins

    by never forget 2000 on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 05:53:18 PM PDT

  •  There's no such thing (0+ / 0-)

    as "an impeachable offense" when the opposition lacks the character or commitment to enforce the rule of law against the rule of the lawless.

    Hic Rhodus, hic salta!

    by ActivistGuy on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 08:39:01 PM PDT

  •  Like all truly historic presidents (0+ / 0-)

    Dubya redefined the presdency such that all successor presidents will have to incorporate aspects of his character and understanding of the presidency in order to function as president.  As the present example amply demonstrates.  Personally and politically he comes far afield where Dubya did, but he's up there preznittin' away, gettin' things done (It's hard work!) and generally terrifying the rest of the world, in every aspect of human endeavor.

    Hic Rhodus, hic salta!

    by ActivistGuy on Sat Jun 08, 2013 at 08:58:03 PM PDT

  •   I can't believe that question isn't an Onion (0+ / 0-)

    headline. Somebody asked that with a straight face, and made an article out of it? O.M.G. Journalism just rolled over in its grave.

    "In politics stupidity is not a handicap." Napoleon Bonaparte

    by citylights on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 04:02:23 AM PDT

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