The pundits have decided to convince you that George W. Bush was an acceptable president. Among the huddled intelligentsia in the McCarthy Library, it was Victor Davis Hanson pulling the short straw:
At times the venom accorded Bush in popular culture reached absurd — and even sick — levels . . that hysteria once led to Charles Krauthammer’s identification of “Bush Derangement Syndrome” — a pathology in which the unbalanced seemed to channel all their anxieties, frustrations, and paranoias onto George W. Bush. And yet, following 9/11, Bush had calmly led the nation and enjoyed one of the highest positive appraisals of any president since the advent of modern polling . .
…because he was so great. We could not resist. You’re the best, Junior! Having our psyches shattered to shards, driving ourselves home from funerals, vomiting at the sight of streaking passenger jets, these were the things that drove our admiration for him. That guy was awesome.
Hanson’s six-point Bush rehabilitation continues in this manner, blind and debilitated, with a recurring theme: Other people were just as bad. Good point! Go with that, Vic. Americans love a middling dolt, especially one you’re never allowed to assign any blame even though YOU MADE HIM PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
“Bush lied, thousands died,” was a popular mantra that followed from the absence of stockpiles of WMD in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq — the chief casus belli of the Iraq War. But looking back, quite apart from the politics of the moment, we now remember that Congress had approved 23 writs authorizing the removal of Saddam Hussein.
Wrong. Despite the ongoing legislative rhetoric, only the Iraq War Resolution “authoriz[ed] the removal of Saddam Hussein.” The approval came only after 1.) The greatest failure of an American president to protect and defend his citizens, resulting in thousands of deaths, and 2.) A massive Bush administration deception, extending to the chambers of the U.N., to establish a bogus link between Hussein and Al Qaeda, and to forecast the use of fairytale weapons of mass destruction against us here at home. Whether it was purposeful lying or murderous incompetence to blame, the consequences were horrifying: 4,844 Americans and 100,000 Iraqis dead, many of them women and children.
The pro-war speeches of John Kerry and Hillary Clinton were simply amplifications of President Clinton’s signing into law of the 1998 “Iraq Liberation Act,” in which were outlined in graphic detail the dangers of the Hussein WMD arsenal. We do not know what exactly happened to those weapons, but perhaps the end sometime soon of the Bashar Assad regime in Syria — amid rampant rumors of a sizable WMD depot — could shed some light on prior cross-border traffic between Assad and Hussein.
Do you love how breezy Victor is? George W. Bush was a lot like everybody else, so what’s with all the fuss? Probably maybe this weekend we’ll find some weapons of mass destruction and everything will get sorted out. Right. Maybe we’ll hear distant clapping from our VA cemeteries and the funeral parlors of Baghdad, but I wouldn’t count on it. Victor doesn’t hold the slightest interest in seeing a president as any different from you or me despite the legendary power and responsibility. Until of course someone else enters the picture . .
George Bush averaged a 2.7 percent ratio of deficits to GDP (less than those of Reagan or George H. W. Bush), Barack Obama so far 8.9 percent. Under Bush, quite excessive federal spending reached about 20 percent of GDP, but under Obama it has already grown to 24 percent . . whether we count Bush’s responsibility from 2001 to 2008 or 2002 to 2009, and Obama’s from 2009 to 2012 or 2010 to 20012, we are nevertheless arguing whether the latter doubled or nearly tripled the Bush rate of borrowing.
By my calculations Franklin Roosevelt ran up a modest $23.5 billion yearly deficit throughout his first two administrations. But then his successor took over and then the deficit exploded to $320.4 billion! In his first year! Do any of you Columbos have any explanation why that should be, other than Truman being a Democrat? Hint:
Yes, that world-wide thing. How about some reminders for Victor? Here are the current drivers of our deficits:
. . George W. Bush’s tax cuts, George W. Bush’s wars, George W. Bush’s collapsed economy and our attempts to clean up after the maelstrom. It’s his greed, his violence, his incompetence, but it’s only our desperate efforts that earn Hanson’s criticism. Victor’s the kind of guy who’d run over your grandmother then complain about the police sirens. He’d be disgusted with the way anorexia survivors eat their food. You can’t expect the deranged who still love George Bush to come to any terms with an historic indictment: His epic mess.