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Always Some Bushie There to Remind Us

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Posted on Sep 1, 2011
Bush White House / Paul Morse

By Eugene Robinson

Thank you, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, for emerging from your secure, undisclosed locations to remind us how we got into this mess: It didn’t happen by accident.

The important thing isn’t what Bush says in his interview with National Geographic or what scores Cheney tries to settle in his memoir. What matters is that as they return to the public eye, they highlight their record of wrongheaded policy choices that helped bring the nation to a sour, penurious state.

Questions about whether President Obama has been combative enough in dealing with the Republican opposition—or sufficiently ambitious in framing his progressive agenda—seem trivial when viewed in this larger context. Obama is tackling enormous problems that took many years to create. His presidential style is important insofar as it boosts or lessens his effectiveness, but pales beside the generally righteous substance of what he’s trying to accomplish.

It was the Bush administration, you will recall, that sent the national debt into the stratosphere and choked off federal revenues to the point of asphyxiation. Bush and Cheney decided to fight two wars without even accounting for them, let alone paying. Rather than raise taxes to cover the cost of military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush opted to maintain unreasonable and unnecessary tax cuts.

So far, the wars and the tax cuts have cost the Treasury between $4 trillion and $5 trillion. If Bush had just left income tax rates alone, nobody except Ron Paul would be talking about the debt.

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My aim isn’t to attack Bush but to attack his philosophy. When he was campaigning for the White House in 2000, the government was anticipating a projected surplus of roughly $6 trillion over the following decade. Bush said repeatedly that he thought this was too much and wanted to bring the surplus down—hence, in 2001, the first of his two big tax cuts.

Bush was hewing to what had already become Republican dogma and by now has become something akin to scripture: Taxes must always be cut because government must always be starved.

The party ascribes this golden rule to Ronald Reagan—conveniently forgetting that Reagan, in his eight years as president, raised taxes 11 times. Reagan may have believed in small government but he did believe in government itself. Today’s Republicans have perverted Reagan’s philosophy into a kind of anti-government nihilism—an irresponsible, almost childish insistence that the basic laws of arithmetic can be suspended at their will.

The Bush administration also pushed forward Reagan’s policy of deregulation—ignoring, for example, critics who said the ballooning market in mortgage-backed securities needed more oversight. When the 2008 financial crisis hit, Bush did regain his faith in government long enough to throw together the $800 billion TARP bailout for the banks. But he failed to use the leverage of an aid package to exact reforms that would ensure that the financial system served the economy, rather than the other way around.

Faced with similar circumstances, would today’s Republican leadership react at all? Or is it the party’s view that the proper role of government would be to stand aside and watch the world’s financial system crash and burn?

This is a serious question. Just a few weeks ago, the Republican majority in the House threatened to force the United States government to default on its debt obligations—a previously unthinkable act of brinkmanship. Everything is thinkable now.

The Bush administration took Reagan’s tax-cutting, government-starving philosophy much too far. Today’s Republican Party takes it well beyond, into a rigid absolutism that would be comical if it were not so consequential.

We face devastating unemployment. Many conservative economists have joined the chorus calling for more short-term spending by the federal government as a way to boost growth. But the radical Republicans don’t pay attention to conservative economists anymore. The Republicans’ idea of a cure for cancer would be to cut spending and cut taxes.

Perhaps they’re just cynically trying to keep the economy in the doldrums through next year to hurt Obama’s chances of re-election. I worry that their fanaticism is sincere—that one of our major parties has gone completely off the rails. If so, things will get worse before they get better.

Having Bush and Cheney reappear is a reminder to step back and look at what Obama is up against. You might want to cut him a little slack.


Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2011, Washington Post Writers Group


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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, September 5, 2011 at 12:33 am Link to this comment

I mean, would not want any group to feel left out of your conspiracy theorist rants
now, do we?  =Marian Griffith

“- do we?”
Whom do “we” represent with your wishy-washy switches? 

Paranoia is fantasy bound, as are scapegoater-types who consistently apply the
“conspiracy theorist” caption to truth-tellers and whistle-blowers.  Recorded facts
support my statements.  Apparently you still haven´t become a CIA whistle-blower,
and attempt to suppress the truth your former colleagues have revealed.

Switching back and forth between disinformation and truth is difficult, isn´t it.

Report this

By slowsmile, September 4, 2011 at 9:50 pm Link to this comment

I take particular issue with the author’s inference that Bush’s economic approach to solving the financial crisis was any different to Obama’s.

After all, has Obama’s economic approach worked? Did cash for clunkers work? Did Obama expand government WPA-type programs as promised to create jobs? Has he pulled out of Iraq as promised? How are Obama’s relations with Israel faring? And what of Obama’s brilliant Master Plan to introduce Nationalized Medicare right in the middle of a recession? Where is his job stimulus—anybody seen it ?

He is a complete failure. President Obama will be
remembered only for the ineffectiveness of his
leadership because, after nearly 4 years, he has
achieved nothing of note in his tenure and we are
still suffering the effects of the recession which is still very much ongoing. 

I’m not a Republican or a Democrat, in fact I’m
European, but if the author can just blot out your
liberal bias for just one moment, you will easily see how weak and insipid Obama’s leadership has been. And the stupid, elite-feeding approach of Republicans ain’t that much better. Both sides are only stirred and fed by their lobbyist corporate and financial Paypals in industry.

What else do you expect from a massively corrupted
democratic process? Good government?

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By El_Pinguino, September 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm Link to this comment

Spot on Bill. Let the honest discussion begin…. oh wait. We need a media not beholding to the real players.

I suppose October2011.org is as good a place as any to start.

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By Bill, September 4, 2011 at 10:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Robinson, it is past time in framing the decaying state of the United States in republican vs democrat terms.  It is past time in assigning to Obama a progressive agenda.  It is past time giving Obama a sliver of a free ride by shifting the blame
to Bush Cheney.

Both parties are owned by the global corporate state.  Let us just realize the depth of that ownership and the depth of the insidious effects of that ownership on our permanent war state, democracy, freedom, and the health of the planet and move
on with an honest discussion.

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By Marian Griffith, September 4, 2011 at 3:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@drbhelti
Good grief. Paranoia much?
I think you managed to forget two traditional scapegoats in your diatribe. Surely you can mention the Free Masons and the Bilderberg group too? I mean, would not want any group to feel left out of your conspiracy theorist rants now, do we?

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, September 3, 2011 at 11:49 am Link to this comment

“Having Bush and Cheney reappear is a reminder to step back and
look at what Obama is up against. You might want to cut him a
little slack.” Robinson article

Being more realistic doesn´t require slack, comrade Robinson. It
requires that one become familiar with the background of “Barack
H. Obama” (Soetoro). This would include several items:
-his birth country, parentage and upbringing,
-his use of an illegitimate name,
-his hitch with the CIA since the age of twenty,
-his association with the Chicago mob prior to running for the  
Illinois senate position,
-his voting record in the Senate,
-who slid him, a non-American into candidacy for the US
Presidency and provided his finances,
-a comparison of his pre-election promises with his performance,
and finally,
-why is he supporting the Zionist-owned, Federal Reserve, instead of the Americans who elected him - - .

Sadly, I assume that Truthdig pays for your articles - - ?

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, September 3, 2011 at 5:40 am Link to this comment

“Always Some Bushie There to Remind Us”

Every time I see this with Bush’s jackass smiling face, I mis-read it as:

“Always Some Bullshit There to Remind Us”

Talk about projection!

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By Richard_Ralph_Roehl, September 3, 2011 at 12:06 am Link to this comment

The evil house of Bush should be burned… and the inhabitants therein hung from light poles. George W. Bush was a dry drunk $ociopath with the insight of road kill and the compassion of a rabid dog. Every day… I (and hundreds of millions of other human beings) pray for his death! The blood ‘hate-red’ for Bush and EX-President Cheney is intense!

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Misfiteye's avatar

By Misfiteye, September 2, 2011 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

“Presidential elections are planned distractions designed to keep us from seeing what’s really going on.”  Tim Buck 3

We focus way too much on the president.  He’s not a player.  There’s a reason Bush walked around looking like little boy lost and Obama backs down at or even before the slightest opposition.

The real power is in the hands of those who control the media.  They do a lot more than persuade us to buy things we don’t even want. They shape our attitudes and beliefs, even our whole perception of the world around us.

We live in a corporate dominated reality that we are systematically trained to serve. 

We are being farmed.

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By BedleySmutler, September 2, 2011 at 5:15 pm Link to this comment

Let’s see. Clinton OKs unregulated derivatives, and with the support of 38 of 45
Senate Democrats, dumps the Glass-Steagall Act (which separated commercial
banking from investment banking in order to protect depositors from the pitfalls
of risky investment and speculation); then came the Cheney Administration that
carried out its duties to the plutocrats for eight long, long years, and then, thank
god along came a man who promised to right the sinking ship. And what did we
get?  It seems perfectly obvious to me. The Neo-Fascists have all their pieces in
place—in the executive, legislative and judicial branches.  Wall Street or Big
Business or Corporate America, whatever you want to call, it is in control. It’s
almost as though we might as well just vote for the Neo-Fascist Agenda and
receive the cataclysm with open eyes so we at least know precisely what we have
to deal with instead of being nickel and dimed to a slow death by these two-bit
phonies who call themselves Democrats.

Report this

By Bedley Smutler, September 2, 2011 at 3:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let’s see. Clinton OKs unregulated derivatives, and with the support of 38 of 45
Senate Democrats dumps the Glass-Steagall Act (which separated commercial
banking from investment banking in order to protect depositors from the pitfalls
of risky investment and speculation); then came the Cheney Administration that
carried out its duties to the plutocrats for eight long, long years, and then, thank
god along came a man who promised to right the sinking ship. And what did we
get?  It seems perfectly obvious to me. The Neo-Fascists have all their pieces in
place—in the executive, legislative and judicial branches.  Wall Street or Big
Business or Corporate America, whatever you want to call, it is in control. It’s
almost as though we might as well just vote for the Neo-Fascist Agenda and
receive the cataclysm with open eyes so we at least know precisely what we have
to deal with instead of being nickel and dimed to a slow death by these two-bit
phonies who call themselves Democrats.

Report this

By Archie1954, September 2, 2011 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have always maintained that Republicans do not win elections, rather Democrats lose them. We all expected more from the current president but we can certainly see how being opposed for opposition’s sake by the Republicans can upset one’s timetable. The point now is to make sure the people of the US get all the facts. When Faux “News” lies to them, the truth must be in the media within hours to counter the damage. The Democrats must be as relentless with the truth as the Republicans are with their lies!

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cpb's avatar

By cpb, September 2, 2011 at 12:57 pm Link to this comment

@ ITW

Actually… interesting commentary.

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By Jimnp72, September 2, 2011 at 11:37 am Link to this comment

This article stinks. Reagan was a criminal and senile into the bargain, Bush is mentally retarded and also a war criminal, and Obama is not different. If you face an enemy that just wants you destroyed at any cost, why would one try to compromise with such beasts?
He is a wimp, and a dork. See today he caves in again on air pollution standards. Another day, another wimpy cave in from the Wimp in charge.
If I could get the hell out of this nightmare of a country, I would do so. Other countries dont want amerikans.

Report this

By Karen C., September 2, 2011 at 10:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How is Obama suppose to RAM anything through. He is not superman. Plus with the lack of respect he gets no one is treating or giving him his due. I think we the people need to seriously do something about Congress and the senate. I think we should have a bill that allows “WE The People” to grade our leaders in congress and the senate. If we can do that in a way that is not a proxy vote, but real hand counting in plain site. Then if they get a popular grade of F, or the lowest grade, we can recall them. What do you think?

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By Mad Rabbit, September 2, 2011 at 7:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Robinson, this was an excellent piece, and terrifically written. Thank you. “Everything is thinkable now”—indeed.

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A Bird in the Hand's avatar

By A Bird in the Hand, September 2, 2011 at 6:49 am Link to this comment

Well we ALL know how bad Bush/Cheney suck and worse..

What we didn’t know was that as their replacements NOBAMA and crew would suck even more..God alone knows how that is possible..But here we are..

I have to join rogue in echoing the post by Big B:

‘But alas, when we needed bold leadership, we got Calvin Coolidge in blackface.’

BOLD LEADERSHIP..

If you need it drawn out for you check out the recent cartoon by Mr. Fish..

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thecrow's avatar

By thecrow, September 2, 2011 at 6:34 am Link to this comment

And why are they still at large, living large and in your face?

Because someone decided to “look forward, not back”.

http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/forgive-and-forgetforget/

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By charles, September 2, 2011 at 6:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hmmm, another apology for the Obama administration, blaming the Rethugs for everything and nary a mention of Clinton’s help in repealing Glass Steagal and encacting NAFTA, nor a mentiion of the current goal of a free trade agreement with South Korea.  Nothing new to see here.

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By Inherit The Wind, September 2, 2011 at 5:04 am Link to this comment

“Real” men only vote Republican.

Look at their rhetoric.  Everything in it cynically appeals to masculinity.  From the portrayal of the cowardly George Bush as “manly” and war hero John Kerry as “metrosexual” (easily confused with homosexual) the GOP encourages men to do the opposite of what their mothers taught them: “Think with the big head, not the little head”.  No, the GOP says “think with the little head”.

Curiously, the only two recent Republican presidents of the last 50 years who did NOT actually play on this much were Poppy Bush and Gerald Ford, both of whom actually fought in WWII. The “manly” Republican Presidents, Bush 43, Reagan and Nixon, all managed to EVER actually face combat.  (at least Nixon volunteered to serve in a combat zone in the Navy). 

We all know Bush 43 entered the National Guard to avoid Viet Nam and then let himself be grounded for refusing to take a physical (bet he knew they’d find cocaine in his system, a court-martial offense).  Reagan did PR and propaganda during WWII, but never left the US.

And the really, REALLY disgusting comparison is Richard Cheney, a supporter of Viet Nam and other wars who took FIVE deferments portrays Colin Powell as “weak” who actually was FIGHTING in Viet Nam while Cheney was building his political career as right-wing Republican neo-fascist.

So “real” men vote Republican…..a man who solely defines himself by his masculinity will commit any atrocity to avoid facing any challenge to that.

We see it everyday.

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By Jah, September 1, 2011 at 9:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just when i was about to gag, i looked down to see the author’s name and it all made sense. Eugene Robinson never ceases to fascinate.

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By Bush was a better president than Obama, September 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama is by and large the worst president in American history. Bush was terrible, but Obama is worse in every respect.

Also, why is Truthdig, and most of the commentary I’ve seen over the past few months, still clinging to fake partisanship? “booo-hooo!!!! Obama needs to step it up, I don’t want a REPUBLICAN president because I’m a DEMOCRAT. booo-hooo!!!!!”

No, Obama needs to step down because he’s severely violated the Constitution on numerous occasions, murdered thousands of innocents in the middle east under our flag with our tax dollars, driven us further into economic hell, made it legal to kill any American he wants, etc. He is a categorical disaster; 44th out of 44; the worst. Deal with it.

Actually, can anyone on here explain the difference between another Obama presidency and a Rick Perry presidency???? Other than, “booo-hoooo, Rick Perry is a REPUBLICAN boooo-hoooo?” I expect this crap from the cheer-leading sorority girls Eugene Robinson and E.J. Dionne. But apparently Truthdig has become a final bastion of the partisan zombie commenter; or should I say for-profit establishment internet shills?

Ron Paul is the only anti-war candidate, in fact he wants to end the wars yesterday; and yet everyone commenting on Truthdig is too busy self-identifying with the Democratic party. Four more years of our current seven, yes seven, wars plus Iran and maybe a few more, and the US will be no more. And at present, I don’t know about any of you, but I really can’t sleep at night knowing that a bunch of Middle Eastern children are getting blown to pieces so our fat asses can drive to the golf course. I’ll take Ron Paul over “Obama needs to improve” any day.

Am I coming on here to be a Ron Paul troll? Yeah, I am, because I think it’s the right thing to do right now. Our country is in terrible shape. Quit spinning your tires on your beloved neo-con (Obama).

The cowardice of the modern Fake Left may well be the most flaccid moral negligence in American history.

Report this

By gerard, September 1, 2011 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment

The country was built largely on an anti-elite notion that the “common people” who were endowed by their Creator with “inalienable rights were not required to be knowledgeable—only honest in intention and having a “native intelligence” or “common sense.”  Book-learning was the privilege of (ruling) elites centered on the East Coast and maintaining European connections allied with the Enlightenment.

The rise of Abe Lincoln at the time of crisis was a vindication of this notion, and ever since, “book larnin” has been scorned by a large number of Americans in favor of a kind of legendary frontier intelligence embodied in Wild West myths of “shoot first and ask questions later.”

The East Coast has long been reviled as the center of snobbish Ivy League effeteism.  The “real” people lived somewhere west of the Appalachians. The myth still persists, and the gravest error of public education has been not to have disabused us of this error.  The professed attitudes of the Tea Party and the right in general is an obvious illustration.
  The Civil War held north and south together, largely due to the log-cabin intelligence of Lincoln. Obama, unfortunately, represents a vastly different America of cosmopolitanism, sophistication and tolerance characteristic of only a minority of today’s Americans.  Hopefully we will be able to recognize the tremendous unifying power of our Constitution, and the forces of modern communication, plus a high degree of intelligent public participation, to avoid another “war between the States” (whether that war is geographical or intellectual) to keep us united.

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By rogue, September 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

big b,
point well taken about holding someones feet to the fire. if i had said that during w’s reign homeland security would be trick or treating at my my door in may. get over it. if we were handed a mess in the pants like o’b was handed, the stink aint going away for a long time. it isnt what u can do
to change the country, its what each of us can do to change ourselves and be tolerant and change this mess we’ve been handed.

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By El_Pinguino, September 1, 2011 at 6:52 pm Link to this comment

I don’t think the objectives of the right are hard to understand. The problem most journalists and people on the left have is… understanding the right’s tactics.

Democracy depends in large part on a sane, educated public. Our politicians are by their very actions are bordering socio/psycho pathology in my mind. Banks and CEOs are already over that line. The powers that be did not get into their positions by being nice honest upstanding citizens. They are liars and theives.

So why do people sit and try to reason with these people?

Many of us gave up looking for sanity long ago. The rest of the people have been *pwned*.

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By J. Dow, September 1, 2011 at 6:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I can’t disagree with a word of Mr Robinson’s perspective piece, but would have to add that the derivatives market was legitimized in the last years of President Clinton’s administration. The protections afforded us by FDR were torn down with the full knowledge of Bill Clinton, though Brooksley Born as head of CFTC was warning of the dangers unregulated derivatives presented. The libertarian Greenspan, along with Rubin, and Larry Summers crushed even the suggestion that this new market force should be examined at all, and destroyed Ms Born’s career in the process, under the auspicious of Bill Clinton.

Clinton should have known better, he is an intelligent man, where as Bush was just a dopey frat boy. At least Clinton has admitted deregulating the derivatives market was his mistake, and for all I can tell, Bush may not even know what a derivative is. To be sure, Bush caused far more destruction to our economy, and international standing than Bill Clinton, and was so unaware that when the house of cards crashed in 2008, asked Paulson, “How did this happen?” None the less, this was a two party crash, and Obama hired those who caused the disaster, like Summers, to supposedly fix it. Proving that Wall Street runs this country, and a third party is absolutely needed.

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By Big B, September 1, 2011 at 6:16 pm Link to this comment

No “slack” shall be cut. Prez Barry could have provided real leadership by ramming a LIBERAL agenda down the throat of congress and the senate IN HIS FIRST YEAR! He could have proved that higher taxes, re-regulation and a well run government could lead the private sector to prosperity and right the nations course in turn. But alas, when we needed bold leadership, we got Calvin Coolidge in blackface.

Mr. Robinson, you and all others of your ilk need to stop appologizing for the President and start holding his feet to the fire. His lack of vision could very well lead us to the ultimate disaster, President Perry.

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