"There's no doubt in my mind, not one doubt in my mind, that we will fail."
—Oct. 4, 2001. George W. Bush, in Washington, D.C., remarking on a back-to-work plan after 9-11, though, of course, he just as easily could have been talking about his entire presidency.
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
—Aug. 5, 2004. Now, this could very easily be attributed to one of Bush's famous battles with the English language, but hasn't anyone considered that he may simply be a lot more honest than people give him credit for?
Late Show with David Letterman: Farewell To Bush's "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches"
It's finally over. The eight long, dark, depressing, nightmarish years of Bush and Dick's reign are actually coming to an end in a few short hours, and a much more hopeful, positive, bright era is about to begin under Obama. He may not be able to live up to all the astronomical expectations, particularly with the economic meltdown taking precedent over all else, but, no matter what he is or isn't able to achieve, things are unquestionably about to get one hell of a lot better, both for America and the world as a whole.
But I'm not here to talk about Obama and the future. Not quite yet. No, I'm here for one last shot at that two-term doofus we call Dubya. Him, his sidekick Dick, and their whole inept team. Abject failures at everything they attempted, these incompetent ideologues have been claiming in numerous exit interviews over the past few weeks that one day history will vindicate them and future generations will at some point down the line look back at them as the glorious leaders they believe themselves to be. Delusions of grandeur aside, what, exactly, does this hope for such a radical re-evaluation rest upon?
Certainly not their handling of Katrina, or the economy, or the environment, or relations with American allies and foes alike. And I very much doubt that spying on the American people or any of the other Constitution-shredding aspects of the Patriot Act will gain them special praise. Nor do I think they'll be lionized for their open use of torture, gulags, rendition flights or any of the other Soviet Russia/Maoist China techniques they so warmly embraced. Nor do I see future generations looking back with an approving gaze at the complete neglect of the poor that occurred while taxes for the rich were so generously slashed. The subsequent massive growth in the yearly budget deficits probably won't do much for them either. While I'm sure their homophobic ravings about how gay marriage was going to destroy the moral fabric of the nation won't help them much either when it comes to their much-hoped for redemption.
No, the answer, as insane as it may seem, lies in their Middle East policy. Bush and his team claim to believe that their handling of things in the Middle East over the past eight years is going to be the key to their salvation in the eyes of future historians. Rather than the complete disaster they're seen as today, they envision future generations looking back fondly at them for how they so magically transformed the region.
So let's look at that.
Let's look at the likelihood that Bush's presidency will be redeemed in the eyes of future historians due to his administration's actions and policies in the Middle East.
Well, let's see what the potential future redeemers have to work with. First and foremost, of course, is the illegal and unjustified war against the people of Iraq and subsequent occupation of their country, with all the resulting death, destruction, and displacement. Then, once again, there's no real way to ignore all that open use of torture, especially since it's only been used against Muslims, so far. Nor can the Guantanamo Bay Gulag—operating outside of all international law and, again, used exclusively to hold Muslims for years at a time without charge—be ignored. Particularly since some of the detainees have been child soldiers.
Then, of utmost importance is the administration's lack of any real action towards peace in the Middle East Conflict. Not to mention the most black and white support any American regime has ever given to Israel, up to and including the recent slaughter of Palestinian civilians by the hundreds in Gaza. And let's not forget the complete rejection of the legitimate election results that brought Hamas to power in Palestine in the first place. Then, of course, there's the enthusiastic support for totalitarian "friendly" regimes in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The list just goes on and on.
And what's been the result of all these actions and policies? Well, according to Mark MacKinnon, the Globe and Mail's Middle East correspondent, (who has spent the past 6 years in the region), America's standing in the Middle East, has never been lower. And, quite understandably, terms like "democracy" and "freedom" are now dirty words to many people there.
Worse, according to MacKinnon, Robert Fisk, and others, not only have the people lost their faith in America and the possibility of real democracy ever coming to the region, but large numbers have, just in the past few years, turned to radical Islam as an alternative.
Yes, this may have been a trend already before Bush came to power and launched his campaign of asininity on the region and the world, but there's no denying the radical increase in the numbers rejecting secularism over the past few years and how this is directly linked to a rejection of all things Western, especially since Dubya has tainted it all with his incompetent, idiotic short-sighted policies. The very same policies he had hoped would transform the region. (Hopefully, this trend will reverse under Obama, but I doubt it. Once people embrace radical religion it's really hard to get them out of it).
In The Name Of...
So, no, I don't see any possibility of Bush's Middle East policy rehabilitating his reputation any time soon—or ever. And in the name of the hundreds of thousands, perhaps over a million, dead Iraqi civilians; in the name of the Palestinian people who've been left to rot over the past eight years; in the name of all the tortured detainees, particularly the vast majority who were guilty of nothing at all; in the name of the proud people of New Orleans; in the name of the slowly warming world; in the name of international law and justice; in the name of all those who believe in peace rather than the carnage of shock(ing) and awe(ful) bombing campaigns; and, yes, even in the name of that guy Dick shot in the face; I sure as hell hope no one ever looks back fondly at this presidency. Because in doing so they'd have to look past so much horrific suffering, death and horrible injustice.
If there was any real international (or even American) justice Bush and his band of torturing warmongers would be hauled before a court, but that, sadly, isn't going to happen anytime soon. And, therefore, the next right-wing regime that so chooses to can easily return to the exact same practices, knowing there will never be any real consequences.
Blow Job—Bad, Completely Fucking The Nation—Good
As has been said so many times before, get a blow job—face impeachment; illegally invade and occupy a sovereign nation and cause the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of people (among so many other things)—face no justice whatsoever. Well, other than low opinion poll ratings.
And, with this guy, that's not even a form of punishment. He seems to relish being disliked. As he told CNN's Larry King in one of his final interviews: "Look, opinion polls are nothing but a shot of yesterday's news. Opinion polls aren't going to be high when the economy is in the tank. People aren't happy with the economy. Neither am I. But you can't make decisions based on popularity polls."
Not much concern there.
Aside from significantly raising the money America contributed to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa—the one truly commendable thing Bush did while in office—there is one other thing we must thank him and his team of neocons for. Though, I'm sure, it's something he'd certainly never want to be remembered for. I'm talking about how his administration has discredited, at least in the short term (hopefully forever), the theories of the loony right, particularly the neocons with their dreams of American hegemonic rule around the world. It'll (hopefully) be a long time till any American president ever acts so unilaterally, arrogantly and/or recklessly again.
So, thanks George, you may in fact have a positive legacy after all.
And, of course, the Bush Presidency gave us something else as well—though I'm not sure how much it'll help with the whole legacy-building thing. I'm talking about the most appropriately named Vice President in American history. Yes, Dick.
The Supertramp Code (Like The DaVinci Code, Only Better)
Finally, and this is going to seem rather strange, there's an album from an English band that, though it was released back in 1979, exactly 30 years ago, seems to have been prophetically written about this Bush Buffoon. It's called Breakfast In America and it's not a record I normally listen to. But after Bush's impending departure inexplicably caused me to start singing the song "Goodbye Stranger" over and over to myself, I decided to pull the album out from my old LP collection and, sure enough, there they were, the prophetic words of Supertramp talking directly to all those of us who have endured the torturous Bush years. A few samples:
About all of us non-Republicans:
When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful, a miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical...
Now watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, liberal, fanatical, criminal
"The Logical Song"
Bush, in an honest moment, to the country and the world:
I'm a loser, what a joker
I'm playing my jokes upon you
While there's nothing better to do
"Breakfast In America"
Bush, in a reflective mood, to himself:
Cause you're the joke of the neighborhood
Why should you care if you're feeling good...
Does it feel that your life's become a catastrophe?
Oh, it has to be for you to grow, boy
When you look through the years and see what you could have been
oh, what you might have been,
if you'd had more time
"Take The Long Way Home"
The world to Bush about the Iraq War:
When everything's dark and nothing seems right,
You don't have to win and there's no need to fight
"Lord Is It Mine"
And, finally, Bush's mantra as he leaves office:
You can laugh at my behavior
That'll never bother me
Say the devil is my savior
But I don't pay no heed...
Feel no sorrow, feel no shame
Come tomorrow, feel no pain
Who would ever have thought that a ”˜70s English prog/art rock band could so perfectly sum up so many feelings at the end of a disastrous presidency that was still decades away? But they did.
And that, thankfully, is the last rant I'll ever have to write about the buffoon named Bush.
Now, Obama, please lead us to a happier place.
Mike Cowie is a writer currently embarked on a book about his three-year trip across Asia with his wife, Sonoko. Read more of Mike’s views on his Web site.