I’ve been focused on economic policy lately, so I sort of missed the big push to rehabilitate Bush’s image; also, as a premature anti-Bushist who pointed out how terrible a president he was back when everyone else was praising him as a Great Leader, I’m kind of worn out on the subject.
But it does need to be said: he was a terrible president, arguably the worst ever, and not just for the reasons many others are pointing out.
From what I’ve read, most of the pushback against revisionism focuses on just how bad Bush’s policies were, from the disaster in Iraq to the way he destroyed FEMA, from the way he squandered a budget surplus to the way he drove up Medicare’s costs. And all of that is fair.
But I think there was something even bigger, in some ways, than his policy failures: Bush brought an unprecedented level of systematic dishonesty to American political life, and we may never recover.
Think about his two main “achievements”, if you want to call them that: the tax cuts and the Iraq war, both of which continue to cast long shadows over our nation’s destiny. The key thing to remember is that both were sold with lies.
via The Great Degrader – NYTimes.com.
Americans get stereotyped as stupid, but I think it’s unfair to call us ignorant, exactly—the problem is that we, as a nation, have a short memory. Sometimes this constant state of collective amnesia serves us well, allowing the country to move on from tragedy and put out of our minds the failures and injustices of the past, but sometimes it results in 47 percent of Americans saying that they approve of George W. Bush. That’s according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC in advance of the opening of his new presidential library, which opened today and seems devoted to telling visitors, “Sure, Dubya started wars, condoned torture, dug the country deeper into debt, and watched as terrorists launched the most successful attack on US soil ever, but it was really, really hard to be president, you guys. Would you have done any better? Thought not, asshole.” Even if that 47 percent number is too high, it’s clear that a majority of Republicans still think he did a pretty good job.
That’s a fucking disgrace, y’all.
via I Guess We Need to Say It Again: George W. Bush Was the Worst | VICE United States.
The canonization of George W. Bush and the white-washing of his bleak, destructive, and in many ways criminal Presidency has begun. We’re not sure what the point is of opening an entire library dedicated to a bumbling, incompetent functional illiterate whose criminal and political connections helped him steal his way to the White House…twice, but while we contemplate the rage we feel that Bush Jr. will most likely never be tried for war crimes, at least we can still laugh at the farce, the fraud and the failure that is George Walker Bush.
via American Idiot: 'Bushisms' by George W. Bush (Video) – Americans Against the Tea Party.
On Thursday, President Obama and all four living ex-presidents will attend the dedication of the $500 million George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Many progressives will remember Bush as a contender for the “worst president ever,” saying he more aptly deserves a multi-million-dollar prison cell for a litany of war crimes.
via 50 Reasons You Despised George W. Bush's Presidency: A Reminder on the Day of His Presidential Library Dedication | Alternet.
The U.S. tortured people. A nonpartisan, 577-page report on the United States’ interrogation program concludes that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture,” and that top officials were responsible for it. The 11-member panel was organized by the Constitution Project and was led by two former members of Congress: a Republican, Asa Hutchinson, and a Democrat, James Jones. The report confirms that waterboarding was more widespread, and was practiced against Libyan militants as well as Al Qaeda prisoners. Torture also damaged the U.S.’s standing in the world and risked the safety of U.S. troops. “As long as the debate continues, so too does the possibility that the United States could again engage in torture,” says the report.
via U.S. Practiced Torture Post-9/11 – The Daily Beast.
The timing was a thing of pure political beauty. President George W. Bush was only a few days away from speaking to the United Nations’ General Assembly about Iraq’s renewed efforts to acquire banned weaponry. And, in a month, the president was going to Congress to seek a resolution approving of a war against Iraq. A Sunday morning story, September 8, 2002, in the New York Times made the U.N. speech and the congressional debate much easier for the White House.Under the headline, “Threats and Responses: The Iraqis; U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts,” a 3,603 word story by Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller detailed the administration’s case against Saddam Hussein related to weapons of mass destruction. America was about to be scared. Citing “administration officials,” “Iraqi defectors,” and “intelligence sources,” Gordon and Miller wrote that Iraq had attempted to buy the type of aluminum tubes needed for the construction of a gas centrifuge to develop nuclear materials.”In the last 14 months,” they reported, “Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium.”According to the newspaper’s report, the specifications, including diameter and thickness, had persuaded American officials that the tubes were meant for Iraq’s nuclear program. The duo ticked up the national pulse rate with the news that, “Iraqi defectors who once worked for the nuclear weapons establishment have told American officials that acquiring nuclear arms is again a top Iraqi priority.”If, however, what Gordon and Miller’s sources had told them was true, and the shipment of tubes had been intercepted in “recent months,” a contradictory opinion on the tubes might have saved them from relentless criticisms, and spared America unnecessary angst. It might have also helped to stop a war.
via James Moore: Bang the Drum Loudly: The Failed Journalism That Sent America to War in Iraq.
Fresh evidence is revealed today about how MI6 and the CIA were told through secret channels by Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister and his head of intelligence that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction.
Tony Blair told parliament before the war that intelligence showed Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programme was “active”, “growing” and “up and running”.
A special BBC Panorama programme tonight will reveal how British and US intelligence agencies were informed by top sources months before the invasion that Iraq had no active WMD programme, and that the information was not passed to subsequent inquiries.
It describes how Naji Sabri, Saddam’s foreign minister, told the CIA’s station chief in Paris at the time, Bill Murray, through an intermediary that Iraq had “virtually nothing” in terms of WMD.
Sabri said in a statement that the Panorama story was “totally fabricated”.
However, Panorama confirms that three months before the war an MI6 officer met Iraq’s head of intelligence, Tahir Habbush al-Tikriti, who also said that Saddam had no active WMD. The meeting in the Jordanian capital, Amman, took place days before the British government published its now widely discredited Iraqi weapons dossier in September 2002.
via MI6 and CIA heard Iraq had no active WMD capability ahead of invasion | World news | guardian.co.uk.
The Iraq war has cost the U.S. more than $2 trillion so far and with interest could swell to more than $6 trillion, according to a study released Thursday.
The study, part of the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, drew from actual expenditures from the U.S. Treasury and future commitments.
That $2 trillion figure comes from $1.7 trillion in war expenses and an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans.
An extra $4 trillion factors in to pay interest through 2053. The study notes that because the Iraq War appropriations “were not funded with new taxes, but by borrowing, it is important to keep in mind the interest costs already paid, and future interest costs.”
The study raises the total cost of the Iraq war from the $1.7 trillion cost (without interest) estimated in a 2011 Watson Institute report.
via The Iraq War Could Cost More Than $6 Trillion – Business Insider.
On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal.
On April 10, 2004, the Bush White House declassified that daily brief — and only that daily brief — in response to pressure from the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the events leading to the attack. Administration officials dismissed the document’s significance, saying that, despite the jaw-dropping headline, it was only an assessment of Al Qaeda’s history, not a warning of the impending attack. While some critics considered that claim absurd, a close reading of the brief showed that the argument had some validity.
That is, unless it was read in conjunction with the daily briefs preceding Aug. 6, the ones the Bush administration would not release. While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.
via The Bush White House Was Deaf to 9/11 Warnings – NYTimes.com.