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Don’t Be Fooled by Bush’s Farewell Tour

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Posted on Dec 24, 2008

By Ellen Goodman

    I was doing fine until I saw the rocking chairs. My attacks of Bush-bashing were in remission. I told myself it was time to move on, to embrace the change you can believe in and, well, you get the idea.

    So when the president—he’s still the president?—popped up on television, I would repeat what Republicans told Democrats in 2000 after the Supreme Court ruling made George W. Bush president: Get Over It. Snap Out Of It. When he made a cameo appearance to socialize another piece of the economy, I silently counted the days of his tenure, backward.

    I didn’t even squeal when they unveiled the presidential portrait of the man in his Casual Friday duds. And if I started to backslide, I logged on to YouTube. There—nepotism alert!—my comedian daughter Katie posted her own toodaloo to the president, a PG-13-rated satire called “Time to Say Goodbye to George W. Bush” that raised my spirits.

    But then came the moment when the senior staff of Bush enablers gave two comfy rocking chairs to the man who described himself as “an old sage at 62 ... headed to retirement.” The symbolism was too much.

    Hadn’t Bush just said, “this isn’t one of the presidencies where you ride off into the sunset, you know, kind of waving goodbye”? Nevertheless, the chairs came with a video of the sunset over Crawford, Texas. It was a gift-wrapped reminder that after leaving the country a shambles, he is leaving the White House with peace of mind.

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    You see, what sticks in my craw is Crawford. What’s equally hard to swallow is Preston Hollow, the Dallas neighborhood where the Bushes bought a $2.1 million house that, as Jay Leno quipped, “thanks to his economic plan, he got it at a bargain.” What I can’t “snap out of” is the fact that he is preparing to write a book and design a library whose themes will undoubtedly be: “Heckuva job, George.”

    The 43rd president is going home with less remorse and fewer regrets than my grandchildren express for spilling their cereal.

    This is the tenor of the farewell tour being conducted across the landscape from ABC to the American Enterprise Institute. It’s the No Regrets Tour, the nonreflective “reflections by a guy who’s headed out of town.”

    George W. Bush will be remembered with names such as Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and Katrina. With phrases such as “weapons of mass destruction” and “mission accomplished.” He came in with a budget surplus and leaves with a massive deficit. He blew the good will of the post-9/11 world. But being this president means never having to say you’re sorry.

    Leaving office, he takes credit for seven years of safety and no debit for a day of disaster. He takes credit for the boom—“it’s hard to argue against 52 uninterrupted months of job growth”—without taking responsibility for the deregulated bust. He takes credit for the surge, not the disastrous pre-emptive war.

    “The biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq,” he said. But would he have led us to war anyway? “It’s hard for me to speculate.”

    No. 43 has the lowest approval ratings in modern presidential history. But he told Charlie Gibson, “I will leave the presidency with my head held high.” This is what puts me between a rocking chair and a hard place.

    Bush says he doesn’t worry about short-term history. “I guess I don’t worry about long-term history, either, since I’m not going to be around to read it.” Yet on this farewell tour, he sounds like an artist scorned by the public and sure that he’ll be seen one day as Vincent van Gogh.

    Well, history is a funny business. In an offhand survey of historians, 61 percent ranked Bush dead last among presidents, below even the barrel-scraping James Buchanan. Bush, of course, prefers Harry Truman, who rose from the ashes of his reputation.

    But Princeton historian Sean Wilentz has a simple way of assessing presidents. “Great presidents rise to the occasion; poor presidents fall to the occasion.”

    So Bush is headed to Texas with his rocking chairs and we’re headed into a new year with Barack Obama. I am reminded that January is named after the Roman god of beginnings and endings who looked forward and backward at the same time.

    There are no do-overs. But there is no forgetting either. George W. Bush fell to the occasion.
   
    Ellen Goodman’s e-mail address is ellengoodman(at)globe.com.
   
    © 2008, Washington Post Writers Group


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By Mike, December 29, 2008 at 6:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

But Bush was very successful - for himself and the moneyed interests he was elected by and represented.  Sure, a disaster for the country and the vast majority of Americans, but that’s our problem and he and the friends are moving on to enjoy their increased wealth.  They never cared about the effect of their terms in office on the country, so no wonder they seem to be casually happy that they’re out of there. 

Tax cuts - reportedly, the highest income earners got about a $50,000 tax cut while everyone else could take the kids to McDonalds a few times with their tax cut.  Over 6 years, that’s about $300,000 more in the pockets of the relatively small number of households that qualified.

Wars - the quickest way to appropriate public money.  No WMD in Iraq but plausible denial had been expertly arranged.  Who doesn’t believe Halliburton will throw Cheney a few $million in return for $billions in no-bid-contracts; Bush family ties to the Carlisle Group, involved in arms sales to the Government, had to have enriched them; all the contractors in Iraq for the last 5+ years will miss the revenue.

Privatization of the military (where were the hearings proving this was desirable and cost-effective?) - another big transfer of public money to the friends/contributors.

So-called free trade agreements - to be fair this is bi-partisan screwing of the working and middle class for the benefit of the business owners, but was advanced aggressively by Bush.

Pushing NATO borders up to Russia (violating the Reagan/Gorbachev agreement to not surround Russia in return for withdrawal of Soviet troops) and initiating a new cold war/arms race - to justify burgeoning military budgets to transfer public money to military contractors.

In summary, these guys were businessmen who were successful in getting their hands on public money for their own benefit.  They were not real politicians, certainly not public servants, and they don’t care what anyone thinks or what effect they had on the country.  This is “our” fault - we elected them.

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By Margaret Currey, December 27, 2008 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I also think that the Repubs let Obama win, after all they could have stolen the election like they did for Old Bull Sh**.

I was still hoping that Obama would win, then a fellow Democrat said you know what they let the Democrats win because even before the election people from the New York Times was saying it is the Democrats year.

What would McCain change anyway, he would have a panic attack, die an then the person from Alaska would be president, I am sure she would have figured out the structure of the world by the time McCain had his final heart attack.

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By PatrickHenry, December 27, 2008 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment

George Bush - Diebold poster boy.

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By Trigger Finger, December 27, 2008 at 7:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Be nice to George.  He is a child in a man’s body.  You cannot hold a child responsible! Unless, maybe for war crimes, we could try the poor child as an adult?

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By titanbite, December 27, 2008 at 2:18 am Link to this comment

The narrow minded focus of progressives?Legacy of GWB,In my opinion it’s pretty narrow minded to assume dumbya’s LEGACY will be remembered at all,especially by Republicans(they apparently couldn’t remember thier own name or dumbya’s at thier own convention).But since Republicant’s don’t want to let us forget who is truly responsible for what would appear to be one of the most costly wars in lives and resources this country has ever fought.One could argue that other wars fought under our flag have been more costly in lives,yet our military has never been this highly trained nor has more been spent on thier preparedness than those fighting today.Couple that with the fact more and more of our soldiers are becoming career soldiers bringing wives and children in increasing numbers which makes it that much more difficult to loose a soldier in battle.Voting George W.Bush into the White House will be proven in the annuls of history as the biggest mistake of the twenty first century.For those who made his Presidency possible please refrain from carrying out your civic duty in the future,we wouldn’t want a repeat of that judgement call.And allow the rest of us common sense thinkers who research our votes and don’t allow our emotions and religion to misguide and cloud our decision.As far as the U.S. being safer from terrorism,that’s a joke being played on you by your buds in the GOP.Wait until the preoccupation ends in Iraq.When the Saudi’s and the other foreign fighters can no longer kill Americans there they WILL come for us here or places in the world we enjoy visiting.Don’t worry there will be no shortage of those who would like to kill us.Especially if the U.S. continues to support Isreal’s occupation of the Palistinian territories without question.The main reason the terrorists bombed the trade center,not because we are free,that’s also a lie from the GOP.We don’t hate Bush therefore we’re better,on the contrary,Bush HATES the United States therefore we the progressive thinker in this country ARE better without a doubt and when these next four years are over you too will be happy that we will hopfully have placed DUMBYA’s lousy legacy behind us.And we will,as long as Republicans help clean up thier mess.Unlike independent voters like myself Republicans showed thier true hate for this country by almost destroying her now they MUST join the fight to restore this country back from where it should have never been taken by those who proudly claim to hate our government so therefore our country because it is one in the same.

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By AmiBlue, December 26, 2008 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment

Addendum to my earlier post: More damage - bush is signing a defense pact with Georgia’s saakashvili. I’m not sure how this can be done without congressional approval, but it is bound to bait the Russian bear so the Russians will be harder to deal with.  Does this mean we will have to fight for the Georgians if saakashvili attacts South Ossetia again? Dear God, please let George Bush stop right now before he starts the largest conflagration this world has ever known.

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By REALITYCHECK, December 26, 2008 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Azcat85, December 26 at 11:47 am:  you say:

“President Bush, whether we agree with his less than communicative style to the people, has kept this country from being attacked on our shores for the last 7 years.”

and to you I say:.....WHAT A STAGGERINGLY STUFFED CROCK!......

(recommend you get a new dictionary)

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By Azcat85, December 26, 2008 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

The comments reflected here are very telling of the narrow focus of the entire goal and platform of the progressives, “We hate Bush, therefore, we are better!”  President Bush, whether we agree with his less than communicative style to the people, has kept this country from being attacked on our shores for the last 7 years.  Let us see what our dear new president does before casting dispersions on GWB legacy.  Tactics that have been taken have always been necessary and practiced during times of war.  The difference is that in the new information age, no one can keep secrets and our nations communications are broadcast within seconds of actually happening around the world.  Our enemies/adversaries are listening to every word that BAC/NBS & CBS are divulging to the world in the interest of “the right to know”

“Loose lips sink ships”  or nations.

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By AmiBlue, December 26, 2008 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

It is easy to forget that bush is still president until you realize that he has more than 20 days to do more harm.  I’m holding my breath until January 20.

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By hippy pam, December 26, 2008 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

WHERE can people sign the PETITION to FORCE our officials to HOLD “ole bullshit and company” ACCOUNTABLE for their CRIMES?????

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By titanbite, December 26, 2008 at 4:33 am Link to this comment

It won’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the GOP purposely lost this election.Look who they tap to run for President it’s obvious they wanted no part in attempting to fix the problems they caused.Then trow in Gov.Palin it’sjust too obvious they wanted to loose.They wanted this disaster to land squarely on the head of democrats.In four years you can expect republicans(if they still call themselves republicans they wouldn’t use the word at thier own convention)to be screaming bloody murder about how the dems screwed everything up.When in fact George Bushes policies will be just starting to wind down,forcing the country into an even more precarious position.Enter Barack Obama,they let him win.They,the GOP,purposely made it difficult for those in thier own party to vote for their candidate.I honestly believe this was done to take the heat off the GOP in hopes the dems will stumble and they can blame the whole fiasco on Obama.I can hear the neo-cons now.“Let them have it this time around we’ll make it look like this mess is thier fault just before the next election.And when Obama’s policies start bringing things around it will be just in time for us to take the credit.That’s genius Karl thanks!“I’m not suggesting Obama’s not up to the task,all I’m saying is they’re going to fight Obama tooth and nail until 2010,and then blame the whole mess on him and claim they are the party that can fix America and the 99.99% of morons in this country will believe the lies again and vote for the frauds,You watch.

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By Gloria Picchetti, December 26, 2008 at 4:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No one can afford to buy Bush’s book. His mother’s book about Millie the Dog will have sold better when all is done. After the two G.W.Bush presidencies almost all is done. He may be riding into the sunset but on all the sides there will be beggers ruining the view.

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By purplewolf, December 25, 2008 at 11:25 am Link to this comment

Fadel Let’s hope so. Peace to all.

52 months of job growth? Very doubtful. I have read the business section of the newspaper and follow business closings, large and small since the 90’s and cannot believe this so called claim. I have kept track of lay-offs, downsizing in businesses, closings of businesses and outsourcing. People who no longer get unemployment are not counted as not working and are assumed to be working by this government.
My daughter, who BTW was 1 of 5 graphic artists who designed military websites for Bush’s government was 1 of 2 downsized the year after his war in Iraq started and still has not found work. (Thank you Mr. Bushit! You are a miserable example of a human being). But hey since she only got 6 months unemployment, you assume she is working and therefore not counted so you claim employment went up under your misguided presidency. Not so.
How many of millions of others who no longer get unemployment are in the same situation?

G.W. will try to head for his compound in Paraquay he had built, the new place in Texas is a ruse. Cheney has his place in Dubai. Let’s hope they are caught before they head off into the sunset into the lands of no extradition and get away from facing the punishment they are due for their crimes.

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By Fadel Abdallah, December 25, 2008 at 10:05 am Link to this comment

Though I don’t celebrate Christmas, I would like to wish “Merry Christmas” to those who do at TD. Though I recognize Jesus Christ as a historical revolutionary figure and a great messenger, I believe he was most likely born on 17 of June according to one more accurate calculation.
However, June or December, since this is the last Christmas season we will have the non-Christian evil Bush around, even I find myself in a celebratory spirit.

May next Christmas find the whole world celebrating evil Bush’s standing in a court of justice for his crimes against humanity!

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By notless, December 25, 2008 at 9:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think Bush is certainly the worst president in recent history, but when people make the “worst in history” point, they should recall the genocide committed by Andrew Jackson, the man offensively placed on our $20 bills and always presented positively in text books. Jackson’s case shows that Bush may be correct by counting on the whitewashing of history that seems to always take place in this country. The effects of this oversight are real. “Clean coal” and nuclear industries that the president-elect Obama supports also contribute to the continuation of this genocide that we still can’t seem to acknowledge in our historical concsiousness.

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By Willpen, December 25, 2008 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

Brilliant commentary.  Thank you so much for this.  I was able to open it on Christmas morning and it was the most excellent of presents.  Fell to the occasion….indeed he did… and then some…

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By Jim Yell, December 25, 2008 at 7:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It never works well when oversight is administered by people with self interest involved. Every politician seems afraid to punish outrageous crimes committed by other politicians because of the fear blow back and rightly so.

But the nation needs and deserves to have accountablility for such malicious and criminal deeds. Letting these monsters waltz off having practiced criminal neglect at the very lest, leaves behind a dangerous precident, just as the foot prints lead back to the pardon of Nixon.

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By Purple Girl, December 25, 2008 at 5:59 am Link to this comment

He didn’t fall, He pushed US down! Way down! In Every conceiveable way!
Ignorance is bliss if your a low minded citizen, but criminal if you are the Commander in Chief.
Obviously W could not have planned this well calculated methodical landslide of ‘misfortunes’, but Dick could. Damn Dick and Rummy and Wolfie and the majority of Republicans and some Dems have been hard at work for 4 decades trying their best to cut the legs out from under of Free market Democracy.
Multinational Corps HATE the true free market, prefer the ‘trickle’ fed market. Corps also hate that pesky Democratic idea of ‘For the People & By the people’, costs them too much in wages, bennies, safety requirements and environmental considerations.
Let’s see stagante wages, reduce jobs, increase out of pocket costs, proliferate a costly war on Two fronts,Piss off nearly all your neighbors, then reveal all the coffers are empty, putting US further in debt for at least a generation to come.
How the United States Of America was Conquered by King George’s Dick.

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