by Denis Campbell –
2,822 page days have turned in the Administration of George W. Bush. Today there are only 100 left until 20 January 2009 when either Barack Obama or John McCain will become the 44th President of the United States. We mostly focus on the first hundred days of an Administration or new term. In your case, sir, we’ll just count you down.
Last Christmas, a prized gift was the His Days Are Numbered: George W. Bush Countdown Calendar written by Alex Goulder, a wonderful desktop calendar with a factoid each and every day for 386 days. As we have:
- sabre rattled with Iran,
- talked tough with nuclear Russia,
- watched an unprecedented global financial meltdown, and
- seen your staff rats desert this sinking ship like the Titanic.
I keep sitting here yelling “Go Clock!!!” hoping and praying we get to the end of this calendar without bankrupting the world, plunging it into WWIIII over Israel v Palestine, nuking Iran, invading Pakistan or picking a real fight with Russia.
When he first appeared as the petulant man-child watching HIS inaugural parade alone, in the bitter cold, protesting crowds kept blocks away at bay with tear gas wafting towards the reviewing stand, one could perhaps feel the tiniest bit sorry for George Walker Bush, newly appointed Commander-in-Chief and 43rd President (after a 5-4 Supreme Court decision to stop counting ballots in Florida and handed him the title).
We snickered at the quaint way in which he mangled the English language, reminding us of that lovable 1970’s comedian Norm Crosby whose aphorisms were quite witty and magically, beautifully badly constructed.
Bush was not so talented.
Everyone had their favorite Bushism… “we need to let these doctors show their love for these women” was mine, from the opening of the Michael Moore film Sicko, describing… gynacologists. It was mostly harmless stuff until it became deadly serious. Websites offered a virtual encyclopedia of them.
He seemed to be flying without a net at first and delegated almost every decision to two men, Karl Rove – dubbed Bush’s Brain – on the political side and Vice President Dick Cheney, the Dark Lord and most powerful man in Washington. He remains the most powerful Vice President ever to hold the office.
Little did we know the things that would be done in the name of ‘freedom’ just nine short months later when the Twin Towers were felled and the Pentagon was attacked. Little did we know things such as the massive rights crimping Patriot Act would be rushed to print in only 39 days and a massive pork filled bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security would be formed with unprecedented powers.
We were taught to fear and question everyone different from us. The new mantra was be afraid, be vigilant, terrorists are everywhere… there… there… over there!
Our nation was whipped into a hyper-patriotic war/revenge fury by this Administration largely because, as sociologist Desmond Morris wrote in his 1970 book Manwatching, A Field Guide to Human Behaviour, that “what makes the major contribution to the savageries of war is the powerful human inclination to co-operate or starve. We hunted together in packs to track large animals and assure mutual survival. All a modern dictator has to do is convert this natural cooperation to excessively patriotic. He can then easily persuade them to kill strangers, not as an act of brutality, but as laudable acts of companion protection. If our ancestors had not become so innately cooperative, it might be much more difficult to raise an army and send it into war.” W would love it, it has lots of pictures.
Under W‘s leadership this ‘cooperation’ would lead to:
- launching two wars,
- invading a country under false pretences,
- suspending habeas corpus,
- torturing people,
- using ‘extraordinary’ renditions to send those we thought were involved in terrorism to places with more lax torture laws to get answers,
- building a prison camp to hold so-called “enemy combatants in complete isolation, without trial for seven years and even those ordered released by our own courts remain behind bars,
- watching the largest single financial meltdown since the Great Depression,
- seeing the Unitary Executive grow in unprecedented power as executive orders were how this president bypassed the legislative branch and
- • enabling government agencies to be staffed with executives from the industries they were supposed to (wink, wink) regulate and oversee.
- We are a very bitterly divided electorate. While the election night maps used red and blue for decades, those colours became the deeply polarising colours of our land. We’ve not come very far since 2000 as divisiveness and ballot integrity remain key issues 8-years later.
With 100 days from handing over the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to the new occupant, the legacy thing isn’t looking so good for W. He is the most ill-informed, lacking in intellectual curiosity President we’ve ever had and it shows. What’s his library going to house, a comic book collection? Baseball cards? Sports memorabilia?
He is already the most traveled and most vacationed President in the history of this office.
Please do us one last favor Mr. Bush and take one last 100-day vacation now please?
Your nation thanks you.
Denis Campbell is a US journalist based in the United Kingdom. He contributes to newspapers and magazines, is a BBC Radio election commentator and publishes the daily e-magazine The Vadimus Post from the Latin Quo Vadimus – where are we headed and do we know why?
Articles by Denis Campbell