Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Almost sorry (but not quite)

Even though I despise almost all of what the Republicans in government have stood for over the past few decades, George W. Bush's recent interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson almost makes me feel sorry for them. That's because the interview reveals the same cocksure imbecile who is congenitally incapable of self-doubt, self-reflection or introspection, who refuses to admit any mistakes or take responsibility for any of his administration's failings. When asked by Gibson to explain the results of the presidential election, Bush first chalks Obama's victory up to the American people's reticence to see a single party in power for three consecutive terms (nevermind that his father presided over just such an administration) and then, when asked whether the election was a repudiation of his presidency, Bush once again lays the blame at the doorsteps of others, insisting that the election was a repudiation, not of him, personally, but of Republicans generally. You can watch the video here. The relevant exchange occurs around the 2:00 minute mark.

Were I a Republican this statement would have me pulling my hair out and screaming at the television. That's because there can be little doubt that on one very important level Bush is the ultimate cause of the electoral disaster that has befallen his party. He is, after all, the captain of the ship. And handed a $200 billion surplus on January 20, 2001, he managed to turn it into an accumulated $6 trillion of added debt by 2008. Handed the sympathy and solidarity of the whole civilized world on September 11, 2001 Bush managed to turn these sentiments into cries of revulsion within a few short years with his administration's embrace of pre-emptive war, torture, secret prisons and extra-judicial detention and punishment. He continually boasted that his administration had taken the steps necessary to prevent a terrorist catastrophe on our home soil, and then proved it was all bluster when an incompetent federal bureaucracy and emaciated National Guard took days to get their act together and start helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Had that been a nuclear device that savaged New Orleans rather than a hurricane, would the Administration's response have been any less incompetent? It's hard to make the case. And finally, an administration that insisted from day one that the recipe for robust economic growth was a simple as slashing taxes and gutting regulation and letting the markets work their magic, is leaving our nation more indebted than at any time in our history and the world on the brink of a global depression.

But I'm not a Republican. I don't have any skin in that particular blame game. So I can stand back and see that as angry as the GOP partisans are about Bush's blame-the-GOP attitude (and boy are they angry), they themselves must take their share of responsibility for the disaster of the past 8 years. I mean, it's not like there was a surplus of Republicans who opposed the Bush tax cuts that helped mire the nation in debt (and which proved once again, for the 100th time that Arthur Laffer and David Stockman's silly economic theories were a recipe for ballooning deficits and crushing debt, and not the revenue windfall they promised). It's not like the GOP showed a modicum of spending restraint as they lavished taxpayer money on hundred million dollar bridges to nowhere and other such lavish pork barrel projects. Yes, Bush never vetoed a GOP crafted budget, choosing instead to wield the presidential nuclear option to nobly strike down a congressional attempt to promote more stem-cell research. Mollifying Ted Haggard's minions was far more important a venture than putting the nation's financial house in order. But GOP criticisms of this fact reek too much of "stop us before we spend again" hypocrisy.

No, the GOP stood proudly by their man to the last, finally abandoning Bush at the 11th hour, when the rank and file voters came to the conclusion that the only hope they stood of retaining the White house was by repudiating the past 8 years and choosing as presidential nominee the one gadfly on the right who had on occasion criticized his president and his party: John McCain.

But it was far too little, far too late. And so as Republicans ramp up their poisonous rhetoric and start villifying the man who has occupied the White house over the past 8 years for his incompetence and hypocrisy, they would do well to look in the mirror. For the splinter that they have noticed in Bush's eye is very much eclipsed by the log that has fallen into their own. Bush could never have done as much damage to the nation as he did without the scaremongering, the hateful hypocrisy and the overt complicity of the GOP congressmen and senators who enabled him throughout the eight long years of his disastrous presidency. Through its members' selfishness and greed; their short sightedness and stupidity, the Republican party could not have damaged this country more than it already has if each of its members had strapped explosives to his chest and exploded them in shopping malls, movie theaters, businesses and airplanes throughout the nation. Osama Bin Ladin's overt hatred of America has got nothing on the Republican party's sick and twisted "love of country." Indeed, the GOP seems to "love" America in much the same way a pedophile "loves" his step kids. And I think it goes without saying that we Americans can all do without that brand of "love" for quite some time to come, thank you very much.


ProblemWithCaring said...

I read this post, then I visit and see the "Thank You For Keeping Us Safe" bumper stickers and I shake my head...

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