Nothing illustrates the delusional fantasies that animate today’s GOP than the right-wing commentariat on the opening of the Bush Library. From Charles Krauthammer to Michael Gerson to Ross Douthat, not one dared call the Bush presidency for what it was: an unmitigated disaster. “He kept us safe” is the mantra repeated incessantly by the right, as if constant repetition will somehow re-write history. No, Bush did not keep us safe, far from it: 9/11 occured nine months into his presidency, not on Clinton’s or Obama’s watch as some would have us believe. Katrina and the utter lack of Federal response happened on Bush’s watch. Who can forget Barbara Bush’s comment, speaking of the thousands of refugees in the New Orleans Superdome: “…those people” are better off in the stadium than they’re used to at home.
Bush’s incompetence was matched by his arrogance. He lied us into two wars that, when the accounting is finally done, will have cost us between $3 trillion and $4 trillion, according to Linda Bilmes, a Harvard economist, and Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winner in economics and professor at Columbia. And how did Bush pay for these wars? On a credit card issued by the Chinese government. So the right wing’s newly-discovered high dudgeon on the Federal deficit and the debt sound hollow and hypocritical — the GOP’s default positions on just about everything.
The Medicare Prescription Act that runs over $20 billion a year was also financed on the Chinese credit card on Bush’s watch. To add insult to injury, Bush caved in to drug companies’ demands that Federal agencies not be allowed to negotiate drug prices. As a result, the Veterans’ Administration pays full price for a drug that insurance companies buy for far less.
Finally, the recession and the collapse of the housing market started on Bush’s watch, long before Obama was elected. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the middle class and the poor are in large part responsible for the misery that was visited upon us shortly before Obama was inaugurated. In spite of the abject failure of “trickle down” economics, the GOP’s delusional fantasies still promote that discredited snake oil.
Pundits, right and left, point out that Bush was a nice guy. Even if true, and the claim is dubious, so what? We don’t elect Presidents to be “nice guys!” Unfortunately, as the American public becomes less and less informed and more and more dumbed down, a presidential election will resemble picking the winner on “Dancing with the Stars:” personality and looks will matter most of all, even if the suit is empty, as was the case with Romney.