Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Bankrupt Legacy

Perhaps the most perceptive analysis of the "Bush Legacy" I've seen in my weekly forays to Watching America can be found in the Netherlands' NRC Handelsblad. It is a critique of the Bush administration and the American public which gave him two terms, and the rest of the world which went along with his madness for so long.

When Bush took office as president in 2001, after an election that was challenged all the way to the Supreme Court, he became the leader of a superpower that had its finances in pretty good order. Nine months later, he became the leader of almost the entire world when terrorism, as a result of 9/11, took on a new, global meaning. His use of military means to snuff out terrorism was hardly challenged, and all the old geopolitical differences of opinion seemed instantly insignificant. ...

America is and remains a dynamic country, but Bush's estate is bankrupt across the board. The president who inherited a budget surplus of almost $130 billion will leave a deficit of $490 billion in 2009. In foreign policy, Bush showed himself at the critical moment to be not a statesman, but an adventurer. Domestically, he neglected the cautious tradition of his own party, and the U.S. is paying a high price for that.

The price is being paid by more than Americans. The economies of every nation on the planet are now suffering because of the "irrational exuberance" of Wall Street types who found ingenious ways to amass fortunes in the absence of any meaningful regulation because those in the GOP who believed that making money should never be curbed by anything held sway in the Bush White House.

The Bushian doctrines embodied in the Global War On Terror and his theory of pre-emptive war have been adopted by nations to justify brutal repression of their own people and the slaughtering of their neighbors. The rhetoric of the end justifying the means has reintroduced torture as a legitimate tool in the treatment of people detained, some of them for no reason other than being the wrong color, or members of the wrong tribe, or for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

All of this happened because enough people in this country believed Mr. Bush was a guy they could have a beer with. Now? Eh, not so much:

Bush was a pleasant man, a man in whom many Americans recognized themselves. But what they didn't know was that he was also a political alchemist who thought that he was the president of Monopoly.

And those are the kindest words that could be summoned for Mr. Bush's legacy.

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Blogger shrimplate said...

Healing America will require a significant redistribution or wealth and resources. It could actually turn out to be popular.

8:36 AM  

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