Monday, January 19, 2009

That's All Folks


The Countdown to the end is over.

Political writer Dick Polman, who blogs at the Inky's American Debate, aptly scribed the final words for George Bush at Obit Magazine, No Glow:

The George W. Bush administration is slated to die by constitutional fiat next Tuesday, at the age of 8, after a long and debilitating illness.

Most Americans will either rejoice or voice relief. Some might even wish they could hurl their shoes at Bush's retreating helicopter. The former president will be interred in a suburban Dallas home, where, politically speaking, he is hoping to have an afterlife better than Herbert Hoover's.

The public's current anathema toward Bush is rare in contemporary history. Americans typically mourn their perishing leaders, even those who were not particularly good at the job . . . .

* * * *
It will take time to precisely pinpoint the nature of Bush's fatal illness, but most presidential health experts believe that it was multi-faceted psychological malady, a toxic mixture of hubris, arrogance, denial, excess machismo, and terminal prevarication.

There were, of course, extended episodes of robust political health, particularly in the days and weeks after the nation was attacked by terrorists; during the final runup to war in Iraq, and in the weeks following the invasion, when it is traditional for Americans to stand behind their commander-in-chief; and on election night 2004, when the president won the popular vote, a goal that had eluded him four years earlier. But his chronic illness, which afflicted him from the neck up, and which he nurtured among his top advisers, ultimately overwhelmed him. He spent most of his final three years on the wane - all the while insisting that it was his critics who were sick, not him.

* * * *
It is arguably bad form to speak ill of the politically dead, but certain statistics, from the realm of factual reality, do seem appropriate at this time. At the birth of the Bush administration, the jobless rate was three points lower than it is today; the Dow Jones average was 2,300 points higher than today; the number of families living in poverty was 1.2 million lower than today; the number of Americans lacking health insurance was 5.9 million lower than today; and the federal budget was $236 billion in the black, whereas it's $1.2 trillion in the red today.

Bush's political survivors include the members of the Republican party (271 House and Senate members at the dawn of the Bush era; 219 today), and his brother, Jeb, who still may nurture presidential ambitions, but who may find it difficult to bring the Bush brand back from the dead. There is no indication yet whether George W.'s soul will be passed to another politician, although some observers suggest that his basic approach, particularly the certitudes and propensity for denial, will be reincarnated in the form of Sarah Palin.
That great conservative Jon Swift also pens his treatise in honor of President Bush's Legacy: One of Our Greatest Presidents:
As I recently predicted, in few months, with the benefit of hindsight, historians will look back on the Bush presidency as an unalloyed success and consider President Bush to be one of our greatest presidents. Although the White House has sent around its own talking points highlighting the President's accomplishments, I don't think they go far enough. So I have put together my own list of talking points, which should convince anyone why George W. Bush belongs on Mount Rushmore, along with Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and the other guy.
Swift reviews not-to-be-missed highlights of the Reign, covering topics such as:
After Hurricane Katrina President Bush kept our cities safe.

After the October 2008 stock market correction there have been no Great Depressions.

After Iraq and Afghanistan took a turn for the worse, President Bush kept us from losing any wars.

After Iraq and Afghanistan took a turn for the worse, President Bush kept us from losing any wars.

After divisive elections President Bush united our country.

After Abu Ghraib, President Bush reaffirmed America's adherence to the Geneva Conventions and against torture.

After 9/11 President Bush kept America safe from terrorist attacks on American soil.
And finally -- and fittingly -- from Political Irony, he recalls that days before Bush took office in 2001, The Onion predicted:
Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the nation in a televised address Tuesday that "our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over."

"My fellow Americans," Bush said, "at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us."

Bush swore to do "everything in [his] power" to undo the damage wrought by Clinton's two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers, going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts that drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street.

During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.

* * * *

Bush concluded his speech on a note of healing and redemption.

"We as a people must stand united, banding together to tear this nation in two," Bush said. "Much work lies ahead of us: The gap between the rich and the poor may be wide, be there's much more widening left to do. We must squander our nation's hard-won budget surplus on tax breaks for the wealthiest 15 percent. And, on the foreign front, we must find an enemy and defeat it."

Who said he didn't warn us about the economy:
On the economic side, Bush vowed to bring back economic stagnation by implementing substantial tax cuts, which would lead to a recession, which would necessitate a tax hike, which would lead to a drop in consumer spending, which would lead to layoffs, which would deepen the recession even further.
I guess we can't say we weren't warned. The Onion knows.

(Cartoon via Cam Cardow at Syndicam)

1 comment:

Susan said...

You are a good writer. The periods between words (one more day) add layers of meaning with an economy of style worthy of Strunk and White.