Well, folks, it’s over.
Tuesday is the last day of the George W. Bush presidency. I don’t feel exhilarated about that, as I thought I would. It would have been more satisfying to kick him out in 2004, or impeach him after 2006. Heaven knows he deserved to be sent home, or to prison, for most of his time in office. Quite a few Americans knew the truth in November of 2000, that we would not be well-served by “electing” a nincompoop who was, as they say, “born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.” Alas, almost half the electorate thought they’d like to have a beer with him. I wish they’d done just that, instead of voting for him. Eight years later, all but a small fraction of us wish we’d had that beer, gotten him drunk, and sent him home in an ice storm driving an old pickup with one headlight and bad tires.
In any case, we can hardly wait for him to leave our White House.
However, I am not down with the new President Obama’s apparent intention to let George and his band of criminal pals get away with what they have done. This is not having sex in the oval office, or failing to pay your taxes. The Bush Administration did Big Crimes, and we will all be paying for them for generations, so really, shouldn’t someone involved be held to account?
Let’s look at the charges (highlights only – I don’t have all day):
- Asleep at the switch on September 11, 2001. He is still bragging about “keeping America safe,” even though he ignored repeated warnings that an attack was planned.
- Illegal wiretaps. Yes, he spied on Americans without warrants, a clear violation of federal law. Yes, he admitted it publicly, and promised to keep doing it. Yes, he kept doing it.
- Invading Iraq. They had no weapons of mass destruction and they had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of 2001. He fabricated evidence because he wanted to attack somebody, and he ignored or lied about intelligence counter to his delusions. He took troops out of Afghanistan, where the terrorists were hiding, to do this, thus on multiple levels he made our country (and the world) less safe.
- Federal response to Hurricane Katrina. Here’s a few quotes from the National Weather Service’s warning about Katrina: “…MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKSâ€¦PERHAPS LONGER…THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL…ALL WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED…HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLYâ€¦A FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT…THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONSâ€¦PETSâ€¦AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK…POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS…” As this monster storm approached, George Bush ate cake (literally!) with John McCain, leaving his totally unprepared crony Michael Brown in charge of FEMA. People died. The city was destroyed.
- Obstruction of justice at Justice. Competent U.S. Attorneys were fired for political reasons, and replaced by right-wing loyalists in an attempt to rig the Justice Department. The Department was used to carry out politically motivated prosecutions, in violation of the Constitution.
- Signing statements. When he was not able to veto a law he didn’t like, Bush would simply sign it and issue a statement indicating that he didn’t agree with it and would not comply. Depending on how you count them, he has challenged up to 750 legally-enacted laws this way, more than all other presidents combined. But, signing statement or not, once a law is signed by the President, it’s the law, and if the President ignores it he is breaking the law.
- Torture. Abu Ghraib. Guantanamo. Suspension of habeus corpus. Detention without charges. “Enhanced” interrogation. Kangaroo courts. Extraordinary rendition. I can say no more.
- Valerie Plame. Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby committed treason by outing her as a CIA agent to get back at her husband for calling them out on their lies about Saddam Hussein buying bomb materials from Niger. Bush either knew or should have.
- Looting the Treasury. A few contractors, most notably Vice President Cheney’s own company Haliburton, have made billions of dollars on no-bid government contracts, delivering crappy service at inflated prices. Adding insult to injury, contractors often work side by side with qualified U.S. service personnel making a tenth of the money. Meanwhile, Bush’s corporate welfare and tax cuts for the extremely rich have redistributed the wealth away from working Americans and up into the vaults of the upper upper class.
- Asleep at the switch as the economy tanked. Bush is trying to blame Bill Clinton for the current economic meltdown, and while there is more than enough blame to go around, you’d think the first MBA president, while in control of all three branches of government for six years, would have noticed what was happening in the Wall Street Casino and done something about it. But he didn’t, and he had no idea how to even slow the bleeding after the crash, and now we will have a depression. Thanks, George!
Some of this behavior is patently criminal, some of it merely incompetent. Either way, the Bush presidency has ruined the lives of millions and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands more, both in the United States and around the world. No U.S. president in history has done so much damage, been so unqualified, so blithely clueless or so stupidly stubborn in the face of the facts. And he continues to make speeches and give interviews, making excuses for his failures, trying to rewrite history, and convince someone, anyone, that he is not leaving the world in a shambles. I mean, he took just eight years to fuck everything up, and the least he could do would be to show a little humility as he departs.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m hopeful for the future. I’ve always thought that smart people, while not infallible, have a better chance of governing well than dumbasses, and I believe we are getting a smart and thoughtful new President to lead us through the coming dark years.
Hey, we’ve had our fun. We scornfully blew off Old Europe, we abrogated nuclear treaties, we drove huge gas guzzling pigmobiles, we borrowed money we had no way of paying back, we used the exploding equity in our homes as ATM machines, we kicked some Muslim butt in the bad, bad Middle East, we partied hearty for eight years. But We The People now have to suffer the throbbing hangover, and accept responsibility for our part in it, and pay the bills for our gigantic party of self-absorption. It seems only right that George W. Bush should have to chip in in some real way to pay for his ruinous eight years in office, for his crimes and misdemeanors, for his wooden-headed arrogance, and for his constant mispronunciation of the word “nuclear.”
After that, let the new era begin!
I know I’ve left out some important Bush outrages and scandals, if not some more impeachable offenses. Feel free to fill in the blanks in the comments below. Truth now, reconciliation later. It’ll do you good.
Also, for excruciatingly more detail on the Bush crimes, see Hugh Makes A List. And thanks, Hugh, for this invaluable reference.