I know that this reference isn’t new and has been bandied about for some time now, but it sure sums up my feelings about the departure of the 43rd president of the United States. From the moment Bush arrogantly swaggered into the White House vis-a-vis a slanted 5-4 decision by the United Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000), he treated the position as his to denigrate, abuse, and violate.
He chose as his running mate a fellow oilman and anti-environmentalist, Dick Cheney. And someone who was just as arrogant and full of himself as he was. Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and other neocons had a plan already in place to deal with the Middle East, particularly Iraq – it was just figuring out how to do it.
And figure it out he did – by sounding the alarm after 9/11 and pointing his finger – no longer at Afghanistan – but at Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Bush began his methodical campaign – full of lies and misrepresentations – to manipulate and frighten Congress and the public despite the fact that no evidence existed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq had no role in 9/11. And he got what he wanted: a resolution by Congress approving the invasion and occupation and the support of most of the public.
I will never forget the invasion of Iraq – the so-called “Shock and Awe”, and Americans clapping and cheering – like they were at a football game – as the bombs fell on innocent citizens as well as those who Bush wished to depose. I was out with friends at a local establishment, and the patrons made no secret that they were thrilled to see the might of the American military raining down on Baghdad.
And who can forget Bush – dressed in flight gear – landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln to assure the public that after only six weeks of shock and awe, major combat had ended. Grinning before a huge “Mission Accomplished” sign hung high on the ship, Bush claimed – well – that the mission was accomplished. Hussein was gone and Iraq was now free and would be a democracy. Just that simple and just like that. Never mind that we have now been in Iraq six years this March.
But apparently the sign wasn’t enough, Bush pulled on his cowboy boots, drew his six shooters, and drawled “bring ’em on.” Bring ’em on? The fact that he said this showed his complete disregard for human life. We do not live in the Wild West, and those were American lives which would be the target of his short, three-word utterance.
His handling of the economy and the budget drove fiscal conservatives over the edge. I can’t count the number of times I listened to Pat Buchanan on the McLaughlin Report disavow Bush as a true Republican conservative. But Bush didn’t seem to mind, again ignoring advice and doing what he darned well pleased.
Bush’s handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster highlighted his inability to focus on matters other than winning in Iraq. Who can forget his classic albeit misplaced support of the FEMA director, Michael D. Brown, with the oft-quoted “You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie.” On September 12, 2005 – just days after the pat on the back – “Brownie” resigned his position as head of FEMA amid accusations of his lack of credentials to manage the agency and his lack of foresight in planning for emergencies and disasters.
Bush’s inability to string together a coherent paragraph was evident from the beginning and, unfortunately, became more pronounced as he wandered through year after year of his first term. By his second term, the mere mention of a presidential press conference or a prefabricated speech sent a shudder down my spine. Watching him speak to an audience was painful, so I never watched him – not even to reinforce my own opinion of how inane he was – until this past Thursday night.
I forced myself to watch his last, I say last, speech with unmitigated relief. I was curious as to how he would manipulate the facts about his eight years of disaster into a shining picture of success. He looked haggard and strained – his voice bland and showing little emotion – as he tried to put a positive spin on eight years of imperial secrecy, inane decision-making, and outright flaunting of the Constitution. His speech was short and lacked clarity, just like so many of his decisions.
But what could one expect from a presidency that had only one focus – Iraq and proving a point in the Middle East. His all-consuming and fanatical drive to make Iraq a fledgling democracy amidst a sea of Islamic states has left him wanting in virtually all other matters when it comes to the matters of the United States and all Americans.
Yes, indeed, January 20th is the end of an error and the beginning of a new dawn for those of us who have suffered through eight years of George W. Bush. I feel like I have finally awakened from a bad dream.