Not a legacy to be proud ofPosted Wednesday, December 24, 2008, at 9:07 AM
The Bush administration has less than 30 days left in its existence, and except for the most die-hard (and blind) Bush supporters, the end of his presidency can't come soon enough.
Bush may very well go down as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, and considering some of the turkeys we've had over the years, that's saying a lot. He's set the bar so low that Obama's bound to look good no matter what goes wrong.
Previously, most historians have suggested that Franklin Pierce, a distant ancestor of Bush, was the nation's worst president. He was so bad, in fact, that he was the only sitting president not renominated by his own party. Bush at least escaped that embarrassment. But not a lot of others.
When Bush first took office, President Clinton had concluded that the greatest threat to U.S. security came from Al-Queda, and had set up a briefing in Bush's first week to review the threat. Bush blew it off, canceling the meeting. Yet after the 9/11 attack Bush played the Al-Queda threat card at every opportunity, shamelessly exploiting the threat he had ignored to that point to justify a host of attacks on the constitutional rights of Americans.
He also used it to justify his attack on Iraq, even though he had ordered the Pentagon to begin preparing for such an operation early in his presidency, long before 9/11 gave him the excuse to do so. When the military was allowed to do what it wanted to, it enjoyed great success, but Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld so micro-managed the war it turned into a political fiasco, both at home and abroad, and a quagmire that has cost over 5,000 American and allied lives.
He took a country that had no Al-Queda presence and created a "new" nation with a huge terrorist presence, a perfect training ground for Islamic terrorist recruits.
He threw American values of fairness and justice out the window, proudly admitting to the use of torture, which is in violation of both U.S. and international law. He committed, and admitted to, war crimes in the name of democracy, thereby giving American democracy a black eye around the world. Under Bush, we lost all the moral high ground we had enjoyed since WWII.
He suspended habeas corpus, not only arresting people (not just overseas terrorists but American citizens as well), but neglecting to charge them. He denied them the right to not only a speedy trial, but access to lawyers and family members, in some cases for years at a time.
He opened Americans' mail, broke into their homes and businesses, and wiretapped their phone calls without warrants to do so. And despite what he claimed, that only terrorists were targeted, average citizens who weren't terrorists, sometimes having only committed the "crime" of being a political opponent, fell under the purview of those policies. He released classified material in order to smear political opposition and in doing so damaged some of America's intelligence assets.
In an effort to avoid Congressional investigations and censure, his vice president declared that his office wasn't part of the executive branch.
Bush's administration was marked by conveniently ignoring the Constitution any time it got in the way.
Cronyism was rampant during his administration. Some of his appointments, such as a FEMA director whose prior experience had been running horse races, were appallingly bad. His administration's handling of the Katrina hurricane was as big a disaster as the storm itself.
Bush guided this country into the Great Recession, with some key economic indicators falling to levels not seen since the Great Depression. His laissez faire "turn a blind eye" economic policies made his response to Katrina look good. The men he appointed to the nation's economic watchdog agencies didn't do their jobs.
His tax policies took from the poor and gave to the rich until the average American could not longer afford even to pay their mortgages, triggering one of the most massive bailouts of the greedy rich in the history of the world. At the same time, the government programs set up to help those ailing homeowners haven't saved one single home -- not one -- because the paperwork has been too great and the funding inadequate. Homeowners trying to access those programs have faced far more paperwork than the Wall Street robber barons, who were handed billions, no questions asked, and who then used portions of the money for expensive vacation retreats and bonuses.
He demonstrated clearly what happens when you achieve power and exercise it solely for the purpose of maintaining power, rather than the good of the average American. He left his once proud and powerful party in shambles, unable to effectively separate itself from his egregious excesses and inexcusable lapses.
And those are just the highlights of his presidency.
He left president-elect Obama and the new Congress with a nation in crisis, where just climbing back to the old status quo will be an accomplishment, let alone moving this country forward.
No matter how much he may delude himself, his presidency has been one disaster after another and seriously damaged both the American dream domestically and America's image overseas.
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