Help me I think I’m falling in love with you again… Whoa, not so fast, big guy. This week’s start of the George Bush reputation resurrection tour has all the requisite trappings of a superstar artist tour. Oprah, The Today Show, etc. And we have early release teasers already. Former President Bush wrote a personal book — a book about his feelings. Of course he did. He had to. He couldn’t tour with a book about the truth and the mess he left this country.
George Bush left the White House as one of the least popular and most divisive presidents in American history. His approval rating was stuck in the 20s for months. The American economy was in a deep recession brought on by a period of unrestrained defense spending and financial risks taken by both the government and the private sector, most notably Wall Street. Job loss in the last year of the Bush presidency was the largest 13-month job loss since the payroll employment series began in 1939.
The auto industry was on the brink of collapse forcing a million more people out of work and the federal government had been stripped of its enforcement authority to keep big business in line at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Minerals and Mining Service, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services among others. Oil companies were running the drilling rules and ignoring safety concerns; health insurers operated unrestrained and the average American family’s health insurance premium rose from $6,000 a year to $12,000; credit card companies were pushing credit lines to poor people and then charging them usury rates when they tried to get out of debt. I could go on about his inept response costing lives and livelihoods after Katrina; his targeting of gays for political gains; his cronyism in giving contracts to his friends at Haliburton and Enron, etc. In short, rich people were getting richer, the middle class was getting ever more squeezed and we were doing more than driving into the ditch — we were heading for a full scale depression.
And that is just here in America. President Bush was responsible for the most catastrophic collapse in America’s global reputation since the second world war, brought on by launching an unecessary and costly war in Iraq against the tide of world opinion. In so doing he squandered good will for America which was at an all time high due to the attacks of 9/11 and divided the country at a time we were desperately looking for unity. Not only did the war cost the US over a trillion dollars directly. The costs of its impact are incalculable.
Absent the Iraq invasion, we would still be stuck in Afghanistan? Would the economic crisis have been so bad? Could we have spent that money at home educating our children to prepare for the future? Could we have insured the uninsured more cheaply? Would we have found a way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil rather than increase it? Would the federal debt be so high? President Bush denied us the answers to all of these questions. And more.
Well, the least we can do is deny him the ability to revise history. Or worse, gloss over it with a veil of nostalgia for the nicer days of profligate bliss rather than the messy job President Obama and the Democrats have done cleaning up.
Don’t be fooled by the GBRRT. Because we are all still living with the mess he created.