President George W. Bush will be finally leaving Washington after what seemed an eternity. He will be leaving behind a country that is poorer, weaker, more polluted, more indebted, more divided and more unequal. He soiled the U.S. Constitution and breached the wall between Church and State.
The whole society is less scientifically literate and more ignorant now. There’s more lead in children’s toys, more people without health care, the trade imbalances and budget deficits are setting records, and the national debt is larger than ever. Unemployment hasn’t been this high in decades. Millions of Americans have lost their homes, their jobs, and their children’s futures.
Women have fewer reproductive rights than they did eight years ago and the federal courts are stacked against them. Bush’s appointees to the Supreme Court don’t even believe female corporate executives deserve pay equity.
“Clear Skies,” “Healthy Forests,” and “No Child Left Behind” were all Orwellian terms revealing Bush’s contempt for the American people (or at least the American people who don’t own a giant corporation). Under Bush, Americans have become a more blatantly propagandized people. He set up a Propaganda Ministry filled with “message force multipliers,” “video news releases,” phony “journalists,” and payouts to favored media mouthpieces. Now Bush’s handlers have embarked on their most audacious propaganda effort to date: The “Legacy Project.”
Some people seem destined to spend their entire lives — all the way to their death beds — never once reflecting on their own misjudgments or how their own mistakes or insensitivity caused suffering for others. The nation has been ruled for eight long years by just such a clueless, narcissistic person.
There really is no such thing as a “legacy” for George W. Bush. The word suggests some kind of accomplishment, a bequest. The dictionary refers to “anything handed down from . . . an ancestor to a descendant.” But Bush was such a terrible “steward” of our land, people, and institutions. An Epic Failure by every conceivable measure. Who among us can he call his “descendants?” Jenna and Barbara?
But we all must share in the blame. We failed our country. We twice elected this sorry specimen. The American people should be deeply ashamed that we were stupid enough and taken-in so thoroughly to elect and re-elect as chief executive this kind of a person.
It will happen again someday.
We might have eight years, or twelve, or maybe even sixteen if we’re lucky, but we’ll do it again; we’ll elect another person just like George W. Bush.
Because I think Bush did truly embody something deep inside the American psyche and spirit, qualities that only the privileged bloodline of a settler state that once held slaves and slaughtered the indigenous population could produce. His swagger. His tough talk. His torture and imprisoning people. His warmongering and machismo. His smirk and pursed lips. His murdering the English language. His lies and his lies about lies. His ignorance. His “ranch.” His cowboy boots. His blue jeans. His “Mission Accomplished.” His provincialism. His lack of compassion. His posturing. His rigidity. His twang. His mother. His hatred. His immaturity. His father. His authoritarianism. His vice president. His selfishness. His ideology. His elitism. His bible thumping. His cowardice. His incuriousness. His petulance. His lack of grace.
Bush killed a lot of people. Innocent people. He has a lot of blood on his hands. And he will remain oblivious to the suffering he caused. In some peculiar and twisted way he personified — and reflected outward — many of the darker impulses of our “American” civilization. The underlying forces that gave rise to Bush are lurking just beneath the surface of American politics. And by giving form to our worst tendencies George W. Bush has already sealed his “legacy.”
Just Go, Mr. Bush. Please, Just Go.
by Joseph Palermo
Joseph Palermo is Associate Professor of American History at CSU, Sacramento. He’s the author of two books on Robert F. Kennedy: In His Own Right (2001) and RFK (2008).
Reprinted with permission from the author.
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