Good riddance

Bush’s listless, grim and thoroughly unconvincing speech tonight  was the last he’ll give as president. The world just heaved a huge sigh of relief.  

It’s tempting to rant about the damage he’s done, the loss of prestige we’ve enjoyed under his watch, the wars he started and the opportunities he squandered, the tortured syntax, incongruities and unabashed stupidity of his press conferences, the placing of loyalty above competency and the bankruptcy of a nation that in 2000 stood so much taller than any other that its supremacy and infinite capacity for growth were simply taken for granted. But I think we all know this by now.

All I want to do now is see the stables cleaned and the patient’s body purged of the Bush poison – the war on science, the larding of public agencies with Heritage Foundation cronies, the no-bid contracts to companies owned by political friends and family, the willful ignorance of threats to the environment, not to mention torture, complete secrecy and unaccountability, and…. Well, let’s just say it’s a long list. Obama has his work cut out for him. The country was remade in BushCheney’s image, and now we have to reclaim it, reshape it.

I won’t fisk the speech; it’s not worth it. (For a good takedown of tonight’s last whimper I suggest you check over here. I especially enjoyed the list of topics Bush never mentioned.) He still believes all that we’ll remember was his brief moment in the sun when he picked up a bullhorn amid the rubble of the WTC. And he wasn’t all bad. His policies on Africa and AIDS were good, better than his predecessor’s. There were a few – precious few – moments when I respected him. But all in all, he leaves us with little more than a train wreck.

I read articles today about the possibility of a total collapse of Ireland, Mexico and Pakistan, and other countries may be faring little better. Obviously America can’t be blamed for everything. But we can be blamed as the hub of the financial crisis for jump-starting the mess. As America’s economy goes, so goes the world in this jolly age of Globalization, a term that will soon be ridiculed much as we now ridicule the fantasy of the “New Economy” during the dot-com era, when the wealth would just continue multiplying exponentially – which turned out to be just another version of Dutch tulips.

The Bush administration had all the evidence about the housing bubble and collateralized debt obligations right before its eyes and chose not to look at it. This was symptomatic of the Bush era, when regulation was the enemy, getting rich by any means no matter how questionable or corrupt was extolled, and gutting the government of the competence required to make things work was a celebrated policy. And here we are. Goodbye and good riddance to an incurious little man who no more belonged in the White House than Madoff belonged as the head of NASDAQ. A blight, a disaster and a tragedy, in every conceivable way. A tragedy.

On a more mundane note:

I’ve changed my email address (too much spam on yahoo), so if you write to me please use the new one linked in the sidebar (it’s capcha-equipped to stop the spam bots, so sorry for the extra step). Also, I’m going to be a lot nastier about comments following a spate of bad ones last night. So please be nice. Have a good weekend as we all go into Chinese New Year-mode.

Update: Nice to know that thanks to more interesting news, Bush’s swan song was largely ignored. Fitting.

The Discussion: 19 Comments

For an alternative view

January 16, 2009 @ 7:54 pm | Comment

Whish, that’s an old and idiotic post – if you scroll down you’ll see my comment from yesterday:

Really embarrassing piece. I mean, America was rich and strong and on top of the world when Bush took office, with a surplus in the bank. The nation has been gutted and bankrupted, its Constitution shredded and its citizens unhappy in a way that cannot be compared to the Truman era. We have watched out nation disintegrate. And it needn’t have been this way. He was warned “Osama Bin Laden Determined to Attack Within the United States” and his advisers ignored it, too busy focussing on the stuff that really matters – banning stem cell research and declaring war on science and gay marriage. Sorry, but this will not wash. Afghanistan’s war is actually getting worse and what we have in Iraq is agonizingly tenuous. Imagine what America could have saved had we focused on the real enemy in Afghanistan. With Truman you can point to actual achievements and landmarks. With Bush, there were some tangible accomplishments in Africa and in dealing with AIDS, some benefits from his Medicare plan (though replete with gravy for the drug cartel (America’s pharmaceuticals, whose lobbyists played a generous role in writing it)) and…well, not much else. That nonsense about him “keeping us safe from further attacks” is, well, nonsense. 911 happened under his watch, making him stand out among nearly all other presidents. George Bush, a miserable failure and a blight on our relations with the world, on our economy and on our history.

I realize the Telegraph column is in keeping with your pro-Malkin ideology – not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I was delighted to see the American people reject it resoundingly last November. People can fantasize all they want about how beloved Bush will be in the future. I say they’re nuts. These same people were telling us Palin was the second coming. Morons. (Yourself excluded, Whish – you are just tragically if innocently deluded.)

January 16, 2009 @ 10:12 pm | Comment

I’m glad Bush is leaving, in part because it finally dampens the whining from the anti-Bush/America sucks crowd.

I welcome Obama, and support him as I do all presidents, on balance. I’ve found myself constantly defending Obama and soothing people’s fears about him, with some of my friends (perhaps most of my friends). What a strange position to be in. But it made me think — I can’t think of any Democratic-oriented friends who have ever defended Republicans. Oh well.

In some ways, I think its interesting to note that we may not have a potentially excellent, and racially/culturally groundbreaking president like Obama if Bush would have been a better than average president. You can trace this back some years — in my opinion, Bush was elected because some people were so very tired of Clinton’s seemingly endless scandals. Clinton was elected in part because of the early 90’s recession and Bush I’s raising taxes. Ad nauseum…

January 16, 2009 @ 11:32 pm | Comment

Why do so many Republicans hang out on my site?

How can you be a conscientious and patriotic citizen in America and not be shocked, appalled, sickened and furious at what Bush hath wrought? Whine? Should we be silent? So much of the bad was a direct result of Bush – torture, an unnecessary and devastating war that fucked up the necessary one, asshole appointees with no credential or brains, anti-science, anti-environment, anti-worker and totally pro-big business. A great country turned to shit. America doesn’t suck. America under Bush sucked.

Defending Bush is a losing proposition. No one who does so has any credibility. The man singlehandedly ruined our nation. That is not a whine, it’s just what’s so, what happened. The fact that there are people who could look at the wreck and defend him is what’s scariest of all.

I appreciate your looking open-mindedly at Obama. But the point about why Bush was elected doesn’t wash. The people elected Al Gore, and that is a fact.

January 16, 2009 @ 11:40 pm | Comment

You are the king of hyperbole Richard. Statements like Bush ruined our country. Gore really won the election. These are kind of comments I won’t miss, and ones that make me wonder about knee-jerk Democrats like yourself. You particularly worry me because I perceive a constant vitriol from you for your country. My friend, Obama would not be amused.

I’m greatly discouraged by some of Bush’s decisions, anti-science on environmental fronts in particular, pro-oil, and some bad tries on appointments (notably the woefully inadequate Harriet Myers, who thank goodness was stopped in a bipartisan effort).

I will love watching the far left and the far right whine in the years to come. Obama will govern in the most wonderful and logical way — moderately.

January 17, 2009 @ 12:03 am | Comment

This leads to another thought…

Now that we’re at the end of the Bush administration, can anyone give any examples of good policy or accomplishments of the administration?

January 17, 2009 @ 12:16 am | Comment

Matt, I really don’t think it’s hyperbole. I mean, didn’t Gore win the popular vote? Are you saying Bush won the popular vote in 2000 and not Al Gore?

My “vitriol” is based solely on this: My country under bush lost all respect in the eyes of the world. My country tortures. My country is in the process of a huge economic decline – Bear Stearns and Lehmann Bros. gone, Merrill and UBS and Citi and AIG and many others in serious if not fatal trouble. We are heading toward a probable depression. Unemployment is now rampant. Then we have the bleeding from the needless war in iraq. And yet you call it vitriol to call Bush on the things that happened under his watch and for which he and his team were responsible. Why should we not be furious? My favorite Times columnist today calls for investigations into the criminal activities of this administration. It’s not like I’m alone in the world. Ask just about anyone in Europe or Asia. You’d be amazed at the contempt America under Bush has garnered, and with ample reason.

Don’t mistake passion for vitriol. And if you are so “worried” by my passion – which is the one reason this blog has readers – then you may want to consider going elsewhere, for your own well being; the last thing I want you to do is be worried. No one forces you to come here. I’m the first to admit I’m a passionate guy. But it is not irrational passion. It is backed up with facts and years of closely following and documenting the catastrophic and tragic presidency of our boy-man leader.

I am as passionate about Bush as I have been about the CCP. How ironic that the same crowd that loves it when I pull no punches in my writing about China cringe and moan and whine and complain when I turn the same spotlight on America. This is an equal opportunity blog – all leaders who fuck their citizens will be called out on their incompetence and their track records (not based on emotions but on actual deeds and facts). No favorites. Bad is bad, and Bush was as bad as they come. No wonder he has nearly the lowest popularity ratings in history and leaves office in a state of disgrace and detestation.

January 17, 2009 @ 12:23 am | Comment

About good: I already cited him for Africa, AIDS and to a more limited extent Medicare. That’s about it.

January 17, 2009 @ 12:24 am | Comment

Unfortunately, Obama is already backing off on investigating and prosecuting Bush and his administration for their significant criminal activity. This does nothing more than legitimize illegal activity for future presidents. I am sick and tired of the those who defend Bush because he supposedly kept terrorists from attacking us again. Where was he the first time? It was under his incompetent, moronic watch that we were attacked in the first place.

I would love to see Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Wolfowitz indicted for war crimes and publicly executed with world wide television coverage. (And this from someone who is against the death penalty otherwise!).

Just so the right wing kooks on here don’t get too riled up, I also think that Obama’s appointment are somewhat disappointing. I think Hillary Clinton (and Bill) should be kept out of the executive. Richardson has always been an embarrassment. The AG appointment was not properly vetted. Tom Daschle is a typical Democratic insider whose solution to everything is to throw money at it. This is change? I don’t think so.

January 17, 2009 @ 12:27 am | Comment

I understand that the “No Child Left Behind” is considered an accomplishment to some, but not to others due to unfunded mandates.

Kind of a tragic presidency. To the future!

I hope the next 4-8 years are better, or Richard is going to blow a gasket.

January 17, 2009 @ 1:11 am | Comment

Not a Sinophile, at the end of the day, Obama is a centrist, a moderate, a very cautious man who tries very hard to please all parties. There’s a lot to say for that. However, I agree with NaS on this issue, that it’s a shame that Obama might not do what would in normal times simply be a standard procedure: attempt to find out what actually happened, the way the Republicans obsessively did with every step Clinton took, the way we did after Nixon resigned in disgrace, etc. When you fail to understand your past mistakes you risk repeating them. We need to know what actually took place.

I began expressing worries about Obama’s cautiousness early on. We want our president to be cautious of course, but not to the point where he feels such a need to compromise that he dilutes and weakens his policies. Again, Krugman has sounded this alarm several times on this, and it’s good to see he’s watching and documenting it; hopefully the very savvy team Obama has around him – a pretty impressive achievement, and I disagree with NaS and agree more with Matt on this – will take notice and take a second look at this eagerness to please all parties.

January 17, 2009 @ 1:18 am | Comment

I hope the next 4-8 years are better, or Richard is going to blow a gasket.

Impossible to get me more worked up than Bush did. Obama will really have to work hard to achieve that. I’m basically impressed by what I’ve seen so far. Let’s hope he pulls off the impossible and turns chicken shit into chicken salad.

January 17, 2009 @ 1:22 am | Comment

It would have been good if someone had asked Cheney and Bush in their last interviews how their own and their friend’s and family’s individual networth has been impacted during their administration and if they hoped the Obama administration would be successful in repairing the damage.

Cheney and Bush had the luxury of being “forced” to sell their stocks and put their money in a blind trust before taking office. I bet their friends and relatives are not as fortunate and have seen 1/4 or more of their net worth disappear in the last 6 months.

Also I would credit Colin Powell and Paul O’Neil for pushing through the Bush Administration’s policy successes in Africa and with AIDs.

January 17, 2009 @ 1:42 am | Comment

I have to say though that it is possible that 20 or more years from now Bush could be viewed as the inmovable object and his Iraq War as being a defining moment in Middle Eastern History that resulted in putting the middle east on a better path for the future. It was clear on 9/12 that something had to be done to moderate the severe problems in the middle east. After Bush’s Iraq War, Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and Palestine, and the specter of a nuclear Iran the middle east may actually be sick of the violence and ready to make necessary changes for a better future. I don’t believe historians will say Bush showed great leadership and put the middle east on the right path. They will say Bush exacerbate a bad situation and escalated the violence in an unconstructive way forcing people to become even more sick of the violence and militarism and be willing to try something different. No we are left to find the real leaders to start the real work of bringing hope and possibly democracy to the middle east. Bush’s Iraq War and Osama Bin Laden have now become negative role models. Bush has taken Iraq and the middle east to the lowest point of hopelessness and dispare. Now they have reached the bottom and the only direction is up if they don’t want more of the same.

January 17, 2009 @ 2:17 am | Comment

Easy tiger, a demain – when I can see straight,fly right and argue with conviction

January 17, 2009 @ 8:14 am | Comment

“The Bush administration had all the evidence about the housing bubble and collateralized debt obligations right before its eyes and chose not to look at it.”

Perhaps it chose to look at it and said, how can I make some money off what happens next. Let’s not be overly naive about how dark these dark lords were. Every twenty years or so, unless a war intervenes, the capitalists arrange to have their government pass laws to rescue the capitalists, let’s see savings and loan, the car companies back in Iacocca’s [sp?] day. The railroads; the shipping industry [the Jones Act is an ongoing “rescue” now upwards of 80 years old]. Their friends have done exceedingly well since 1970 and Nixon. What if it was not an “accident” or “incompetence” or “ideological blindness” but purposeful. “I seen my opportunities and I took ’em.” George Washington [Plunkett] I believe.

January 17, 2009 @ 9:23 am | Comment

oops, naivte alert. “Wars don’t intervene. Wars are not accidents. Wars are planned.”

January 17, 2009 @ 9:24 am | Comment

steve, I simply think they’re too stupid to secretly orchestrate a catastrophe on this level. The seeds were sown years ago, and it has now pushed its architects out of power so I’m highly skeptical. If they were this brilliant we would have had more troops in Iraq on day 1 and they wouldn’t have handled Katrina like incompetent kids.

January 17, 2009 @ 1:53 pm | Comment

Well you gotta at least like Bush for handing this election to Obama, though I must admit, I preferred Nixon’s resignation speech.

January 18, 2009 @ 3:15 am | Comment

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