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Friday, February 23, 2024

Bush’s failed Presidency

President Bush is a forgotten man. Giving his last State of the Union speech, he was overshadowed by a tempest in a teapot. (Did Barack Obama snub Hillary Clinton or merely turn to talk with another senator?) We need a breather from the campaign, so we will focus on why history is likely to record George W. Bush's eight years in office as a failed presidency.

President Bush is a forgotten man. Giving his last State of the Union speech, he was overshadowed by a tempest in a teapot. (Did Barack Obama snub Hillary Clinton or merely turn to talk with another senator?)

We need a breather from the campaign, so we will focus on why history is likely to record George W. Bush’s eight years in office as a failed presidency.

Ideology has nothing to do with it; Bush had the opportunity to be a great president.

Former President Clinton famously complained that his term could never be acclaimed as “great” because he never presided over a war. (Instead he had peace and prosperity and squandered them, accomplishing little of moment.)

After 9/11, Bush could have become a great leader. But the very day that hell spewed from the skies, Bush did not know whether or not to return from Florida to Washington. His eventual leadership in those terrible weeks was steadfast but he used up the good will of most of the world by pushing his doctrine of preemption. Invading Iraq on false pretenses, he has overseen a war that has lasted longer than our participation in World War II with far less to show for it.

Bush’s contribution to education (aside from mangled syntax) has been the No Child Left Behind Act. But it has amounted to an unfunded mandate on the states and embroiled thousands in angry confrontation by making teachers teach only what children need to pass tests and forcing cutbacks in such subjects as art and music.

Bush leaves the country with a $9.2 trillion debt, largely because of the war in Iraq, which he defends against all criticism. In an infuriating gesture, he waited until this month — seven years too late — to declare war on earmarks, the congressional practice of quietly tucking money away in the budget for special home-state projects.

He espoused the philosophy of “compassionate conservatism” but then abandoned it, leaving a few desultory “faith-based initiatives” and a larger gap between rich and poor. Not a thing has been done to help people with no health insurance, but he vetoed a plan to expand children’s access to health care. He vows to cut out 151 popular programs to save $18 billion but has spent $609 billion on Iraq and Afghanistan.

He demanded that Social Security be privatized, but when the country vigorously protested, he gave up trying to keep entitlements from eventual meltdown.

With the nation fighting to stave off recession as food and energy prices soar and home foreclosures mount, he didn’t have his own stimulus plan but endorsed a too-little-too-late plan devised in the House to give taxpayers rebate checks and incentives to businesses. He vowed to veto one-time checks for seniors dependent on Social Security or extension of unemployment assistance for the jobless. And how did his administration miss the signs that financial institutions were in crisis over sub-prime mortgages?

Bush’s foreign policy dissolved into gauzy nothingness, victim of the endless war in Iraq. His legacy will be insisting, without factual basis, that democracy would spring “sui generis” to life in the Middle East and that Iran, Iraq and North Korea were an “axis of evil.”

With evidence indisputable that the world faces a serious challenge in global warming, Bush abrogated what should have been U.S. leadership to deflect tomorrow’s catastrophe. As for pursuing energy independence, for years he gave little but lip service.

Federal agencies are in disarray. Those supposed to guard the public’s health, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Consumer Product Safety Administration and Food and Drug Administration, are widely conceded to be broken.

With debate raging over immigration, Bush could not even stake out a leadership position in his own party. Having stirred up a hornet’s nest on the issue, he went inside the house and left it to others to deal with the stingers.

Hurricane Katrina and the bridge collapse in Minneapolis were stark testimony to the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. But Bush had no plan to prepare the country to face fixing its roads, bridges and levees or care for its victims.

After the exhausting Clinton presidency, Bush had a strong economy and Americans’ good will. The last eight years have been tumultuous, marked by arrogance, Bush’s refusal to listen to the oldest and wisest in his own party and staggering incompetence.

It is difficult to believe that the e-mails the White House purposefully deleted, or the thoughtful letters Bush never wrote or the memoirs of disdained members of his Cabinet, such as Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, will cause historians to reverse that assessment.

There is good reason why the president’s disapproval rating has been over 50 percent for longer than that of any other president in half a century. There is good reason why the GOP candidates almost never mention his name.

As Bush’s would-be successors bark and bicker, joust and jostle, it is useful not to forget Bush or why we stage this contest every four years and what is at stake.

(Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. E-mail

34 thoughts on “Bush’s failed Presidency”

  1. And how convenient was that –

    …you are correct there –

    …now I’ll be tormented all day by reliving pictures in my head of Jeb’s grin and Katherine Harris’s bad makeup –

    …now on to Ohio –


  2. Bush didn’t “steal” the election, the Supreme Court, inappropriately, decided the 2000 election. It was not their purvue to do so for the simple reason the election was a Flori-duh issue, not a federal issue.

  3. Hey Rick –

    …you are preaching to the choir as they say –

    …I can still recall going to sleep that FIRST night he stole the election thinking Al had won –

    …hey, don’t forget, the ‘Constitution’ is just a gd piece of a paper for him and Barney to pee on –

    …Exxon 40B PROFIT? –

    …I know I ‘joked’ here or elsewhere how long until their profits are XXXB – well, doing the math, won’t be long now –


    P.S. Did we find those lost jobs yet? What is code for Bangalore and/or Mexico?

  4. LFTL:

    Bush’s actions have never stated that he represents the average American – Bush’s actions clearly state that his loyalty is to corporations and the wealthy.

    Just as Chief Justice Rehnquist lied to get his job, John Roberts lied to get his job, and Samuel Alioto lied to get his job, so did George W. Bush lie when he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and to defend the country from enemies – both domestic and foreign.

    Smoke and mirrors/lies and deceptions are de regular to the Bush cabal.

  5. Generally good article about Bush.

    One correction about Bill Clinton: you say that “Clinton never presided over a war.” Actually, he did, against Yugoslavia. That war was a political success within the US (not much opposition), but a disaster for people in the Balkans. Within Kosovo, both Serbs and Albanians ended up worse than they were before the war started.

    And the ease with which Clinton won – no US casualties at all! – must have influenced the Bush regime to be similarly optimistic about its chances in Iraq.

    Clinton’s widely forgotten war helped to pave the way for Bush’s war disaster.

  6. Rick – WOW, there’s so much more there we could add to Dumbya’s resume. Thanks.

    And let’s not ignore the headlines today that the economy is slowing, resession is creeping in, oil prices won’t go down and Exxon/Mobil shattered all annual records with an enormous $40 billion profit. Just more food for thought.

  7. “Failure” of the Bush Administration is a matter of perspective.

    The privatization of the Iraq war is a huge succe$$ for the companies that have no-bid contracts. These companies and their stock holders have made money, hand-over-fist, as a result of this “war.” These contracts are expense + guranteed profit based.

    Secondly, wealthy Americans have have their taxes lowered.

    Thirdly, neo-conservatives have a Supreme Court and many federal courts stacked with neo-conservative like-minded judges as a result of George W. Bush’s appointments.

    So I ask you CHB’ers, is the Bush Administration truly a “failure.” Perhaps in your eyes – but not in everyone’s – Bush II’s “failures” are another person’s “succe$$es$.”

    …just food for thought.

    I happen to believe that the George W. Bush cabal is a dangerous, ruthless, savage, money and power hungry/driven bunch of politicians unworthy to hold public office – but that is just my two cents.

  8. Bryan – I wish I could claim credit for writing it, but someone sent it to me and I’m just sharing. I DID add the Katrina Natural Disaster Failure experience. I guess the resume could grow and grow for all the things that were left out. Would be kind of fun to pass it around and add to it. Change or Experience…If this is experience, I definitely want change.

  9. Janet:WOW,a copy of your post should hang in every government building across the land and be required reading in every school.Excellent.

  10. How about the most “signing statements” , or more signing statements than the last _ presidents combined?

  11. Well, anything with Bush in it

    …is a given for funny!

    …actually, I gave a friend a birthday card that had various faces of Chimp in Charge AND Chimp in real life!

    …it is incredible how close the family evolutionary tree is for THAT branch!


    P.S. Thanks on the resume – I’ll do so!

  12. OH JANET!

    …excellent – I had not had the honour and pleasure of seeing that –

    …damned fine stuff!


  13. I guess this e-mail that has been going around says it all…
    This individual seeks an executive position. He will be available in January 2009, and is willing to relocate.
    (Please don’t skip the last section!)


    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
    Washington, DC 20520


    Law Enforcement:
    I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver’s license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving record has been “lost” and is not available.

    I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam.

    I graduated from Yale University with a low C average. I was a cheerleader.


    I ran for U.S. Congress and lost.

    I began my career in the oil business in Midland Texas , in 1975. I bought an oil company, but coul dn’t find any oil in Texas. The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

    I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money.

    With the help of my father and our friends in the oil industry (including Enron CEO Ken Lay), I was elected governor of Texas.


    I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union. During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.

    I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.

    I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history.

    With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida , and my father’s appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President of the United States, after losing by over 500,000 votes.


    I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.
    I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.

    I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.

    I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.

    I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.

    I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.

    I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market. In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues.

    I presided over the worst natural disaster relief failure in American history, resulting in
    enormous death and destruction to a major U.S. city

    I’m proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My “poorest millionaire,” Condoleezza Rice, has a Chevron oil tan ker named after her.

    I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President.

    I am the all-time U.S. and world record -holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.

    My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. history, Enron.

    My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision.

    I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution. More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history. I presided over the biggest energy crisi s in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.

    I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.

    I changed the U.S. policy to allow convict ed criminals to be awarded government contracts.

    I appointed more convicted criminals to my administration than any President in U.S. history.

    I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States Government.

    I’ve broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. histo ry.

    I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.

    I withdrew the U.S. from the Worl d Court of Law.

    I refused to allow inspector’s access to U.S. “prisoners of war” detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.

    I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 US election).

    I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.

    I set the all-time record for most da ys on vacation in any one-year period. After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.

    I garnered the most sympathy ever for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and les s than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.

    I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protests against any person in the history of mankind.

    I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. Citizens and the world community.

    I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families in wartime.

    In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq and then blamed the lies on our British friends.

    I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.

    I am supporting development of a nuclear “Tactical Bunker Buster,” a WMD.

    I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice.


    All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father’s library, sealed and unavailable for public view.

    All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

    All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unav ailable for public review. I specified that my sealed documents will not be available for 50 years.

  14. This man is insane and a person who is hypocritical in every aspect of his life. In other words G.W. Bush is about as low as a human being can be and you can “bet the bank” that history will not look upon Mr. Bush in a favorable light.

    But!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Will change come?????? The Democratic controlled Congress certainly hasn’t shown any promise.

  15. I couldn’t contain

    …myself at the top of the hour on NPR –

    …jobs have been lost –

    …Dumbass probably thinks he can find ’em and come out looking like a hero – they are merely hiding – or stunned like Polly –

    …no George Polly was a dead parrot – just like you lameduck ass

    …excellent spin on Bush’s failure – yes – he accomplished lots of PERSONAL goals –

    …but the last I checked he was SUPPOSED to be representing US –

    …but then again, half empty half full? –

    …all I know is that we are so phuckhed –


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