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Oral History of the Bush White House
December 30, 2008 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Farewell to All That An illuminating and depressing Oral History of the Bush White House from Vanity Fair
posted by CunningLinguist (88 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Freedom (From Bush) Is On The March!
posted by DU at 7:29 AM on December 30, 2008


"What a way to run a railroad." - Daffy Duck

"Good riddance to bad rubbish." - Bugs Bunny
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:31 AM on December 30, 2008


whoa, whoa, whoa..... are you trying to imply that the bush white house was not a success ? mr. rove says differently "For two terms in the White House, Mr. Bush has been in the arena, keeping America safe and facing down enormous challenges, all the while acting with dignity." (actually, that sentence made me laugh until my eyes watered)
posted by hellogoodbye at 7:37 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I want to see Wilkerson write a book. And actually write it himself. He has a way with words, it seems.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:38 AM on December 30, 2008


punch em in the dick. punch em in the dick. mother fuckers talk shit? i'm a punch em in the dick.
posted by chunking express at 7:40 AM on December 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


"Sufferin' Succotash! What A Revolting Situation This Is!" - Sylvester
posted by jonmc at 7:40 AM on December 30, 2008


There are times when you see old friends who are about to leave and you hate to see them go. You get together one last time, you drink a few beers, you talk about the old days. Those were great times! That's what you say: "Those were great times!" And you laugh and laugh and when it's finally time to say goodbye a tear swells up in your eye and you start to do a handshake but it turns into a pat on the back which turns into a hug and... "Goddamn it, man! I'm goin' to miss ya!"

This is not one of those times.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:41 AM on December 30, 2008 [14 favorites]


I wonder why the anthrax attacks aren't really a part of our collective memory? In my mind that was the more immediate impact on the country's state of mind. I remember my company at the time taking drastic steps to change their mailroom procedures. Everyone was sure there would be more anthrax, and the media talked about the attacks nonstop.

I think for 9/11, the American attitude was resolute and ready to punch back. For the anthrax attacks, we panicked.
posted by Pants! at 7:41 AM on December 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


The David Kuo quotes a pure gold.
posted by The Straightener at 7:41 AM on December 30, 2008


Maybe I'm getting old.

But I have some tiny fragment of respect for the McNamara-era idiots who got us stuck in Vietnam. They were arrogant idiots but they did face a real threat in the Soviets.

And the Nixon people, with their '70's era super-wide stripped ties and bushy side-burns and their creepy Germanic names and their creepy German friends (Kissinger), sure they were evil fucks and they burned themselves with the their arrogance and Nixon's tapes. But give Erichman and Haldeman some credit, they both basically chose to die by refusing medical care; that takes balls.

But the Bushies? Arrogant evil hapless idiots. Oh, sure, thanks to the supine and spineless and even more hapless Senate Democrats, the Bushes with their fabulous -- and I mean "fabulous" as in "fabulism", as in "made up fom the whole cloth" -- legal theories, they got what they wanted, and did a Heckuva Job on America and the American People.

But at least the Johnson people, in addition to 'Nam, gave us the Great Society and the Civil Rights Act. Nixon went to China (and started the endless War on Drugs). The Bushies, well, they have a legacy of bad judicial interpretation, a failed and unnecessary war, a ruined economy, an America seen as an Evil Torturing Empire by most of the world.

And that Permanent Republican Majority? Virginia and North Carolina just voted for a black man to be President. Yeah boys, not only did you fail to get your Permanent Majority, you finally destroyed Nixon's and Atwater's racist Southern Strategy. See you fuckers in the history books.
posted by orthogonality at 7:44 AM on December 30, 2008 [33 favorites]


I'm not sure what makes this an oral history (caps or no caps) as opposed to interviews, but it's an interesting read none the less.
posted by Outlawyr at 7:51 AM on December 30, 2008


In 2000, after having Bush as my governor in Texas, and a chance meeting with the man several years earlier at a Texas Rangers game, I knew in my gut that he would be a disasterous president and inr 4 years the nation would be in shambles. Turns out it took 8. Slacker.
posted by punkfloyd at 7:52 AM on December 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wonder why the anthrax attacks aren't really a part of our collective memory?

I wonder why the weird coincidence of the California energy crisis (which was later demonstrated to have been at least partly a sham orchestrated by the energy industry) with the aggressive push to get Bush's (read: "Cheney's") massive energy policy reform package through Congress isn't really a part of our collective memory.

The energy task force becomes an immediate focus of controversy—and lawsuits—because its rec ords and the list of advisers, mainly representatives of the oil and gas industries, are never divulged by the White House. The administration’s environmental policy is heavily politicized from the outset.

I think the answer is the human brain only has the capacity to keep track of so much shit.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:54 AM on December 30, 2008 [8 favorites]


Matthew Dowd: Karl wasn’t receptive to ideas that would’ve called the country to certain things and brought them to a common purpose and a sense of shared sacrifice. Karl came from a perspective of: you defeat people in politics by calling one side bad and one side good.

Scott McClellan, deputy White House press secretary and later press secretary: I remember Karl Rove was out there talking at some events about how we’d use 9/11, run on 9/11 in the midterms, and that it was important to do so.



I was going to say something smart about this but I can't choke back the vomit.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:58 AM on December 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: illuminating and depressing
posted by Joe Beese at 8:06 AM on December 30, 2008


NYT's columnist Bob Herbert:
"....When Mr. Bush officially takes his leave in three weeks (in reality, he checked out long ago), most Americans will be content to sigh good riddance. I disagree. I don’t think he should be allowed to slip quietly out of town. There should be a great hue and cry — a loud, collective angry howl, demonstrations with signs and bullhorns and fiery speeches — over the damage he’s done to this country...."
posted by ericb at 8:06 AM on December 30, 2008


Rich Silverstein's posters sum up the 'Bush 43' Years well.
Events, Slogans and People.
posted by ericb at 8:11 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


What I hate about the Bush years is how full of hate it's left me.
posted by orthogonality at 8:13 AM on December 30, 2008 [12 favorites]


That's not a farewell. That is a farepoorly. As it should be.
posted by srboisvert at 8:16 AM on December 30, 2008


Ah, and what are Bushites saying this week, as they prepare to leave their posts?
Bolton: ‘In 100 years people aren’t going to remember Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib.’

Cheney: ‘I Don’t Have Any Idea’ Why People Don’t Like Me

Rice: Much Of Bush’s Foreign Policy Agenda Deserves An ‘A+’
posted by ericb at 8:19 AM on December 30, 2008


This is the first Presidency where I believe better decisions could have been made by simple random selection (Harvey Dent, I believe in you). The whole piece could be summed up in that photo where he's blowing his face up like a four year old about to launch into a guilty tantrum, with the caption "I ACCIDENTALLY THE WHOLE COUNTRY."

Many of these people deserve jail, not a comfy gated community where they just started letting black people own land eight years ago, but the message has always been that if you make it to the end of the Presidency without being shot or impeached, it's smooth sailing for you and all of your buddies; lecture circuit and pensions, too.

How I despise that over-indulged little chimp. His father raised someone without any doubt that he is perfectly righteous, and look what that gets us.

That first term, all I could do was picture him writhing in a starkly-lit Oval Office, pancake makeup wiped off to display a revolting shade of yellow under it, like some kind of radioactive jaundice, whining, "It better be perfect. I get to do whatever I want, however I want, whenever I want it. My dad, I'd love him if I didn't hate him."
posted by adipocere at 8:21 AM on December 30, 2008


It didn't end well, but at least it ended.
posted by DU at 8:22 AM on December 30, 2008


America can’t wait for Bush to leave.
"Seventy-five percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Friday said they're glad Bush is going; 23 percent indicated they'll miss him.

...The poll indicates that Bush compares poorly with his presidential predecessors, with 28 percent saying that he's the worst ever. Forty percent rate Bush's presidency as poor, and 31 percent say he's been a good president."
posted by ericb at 8:22 AM on December 30, 2008


I remember the moment I realized America has split into two countries, with two sets of facts, and how manipulative those facts were. I was at a party thrown by this older woman, an occasional actress in the Omaha theater community, who was conservative, and so was her family. And we got to talking about the Iraq war, which was about a year old at the time. Of course, no weapons of mass destruction had been found, because there were never any, but they were adamant that Saddam had moved the weapons by train into Libya, or something. There was no evidence of this, but they assured me that they knew this to be a fact, because some very high level military general had said so.

At some point I mentioned that Scott Ritter, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, had made the case that there were no weapons of mass destruction, even before we went to war. I had seen him speak, and he had mapped out how you keeps tabs on a country, and how you make sure they don't have weapons, and he pointed out that weapons of mass destruction don't magically appear. You have to buy certain things to make them, and there are only a small number of places that make those things, as you can keep tabs on those places, and what they are shipping, and who they are shipping to. According to him, it was impossible for Saddamn Hussein to have a program of weapons of mass destruction, because it was impossible for him to get the elements required to build such weapons. He said that Saddam was a braggart, and we should ignore him if he makes claims to having such weapons, because such claims are politically motivated. He also pointed out that inspections have worked, they effectively disarmed Hussein, and there was no reason to abandon them in favor of war.

As I discussed this, I saw the actress's face turn hard with anger. "Scott Ritter?" she asked. "The pederast?"

It took me several hours worth of digging around to figure out what she was talking about. Ritter had been arrested in 2001 a sting operation for arranging to meet with police officers posing as under-aged girls. He was never charged and the arrest records were sealed. This fact was not widely known, probably because he wasn't charged and it wasn't especially relevant to whether Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

But this woman had a different pipeline of information that I did, and believed it to be as true -- or, generally, truer -- than the broad array of sources I was using, which I culled from researching things on the Web. It was an extensive whisper campaign that somehow was bypassing mainstream media and saying, oh, there are weapons of mass destruction, don't believe the Washington Post. The weapons are in Syria. Oh, don't believe Scott Ritter. He's a pederast.

And suddenly it seemed like this was America. A huge segment of the population had walked away from facts in favor of politically motivated spin, which they saw as truer than facts, and they had their own system for passing the facts on to each other that bypassed, not only the mainstream press, but also any sort of vetting system, where it could be determined whether something was true or not, or even relevant. That was Bush's real legacy. It's not just that the mainstream press sort of collapsed and didn't do their jobs -- to an extent this is true, but there was a lot of fact checking and exposure of misbehavior and all the other things the press is true. But I found myself in a time when people didn't care about the truth. They actively walked away from it. I mean, there have always been cranks who see the world through a cracked lens and you just can't talk to them, but suddenly half of America was a crank.

It's honestly made me afraid of ideologies, even my own. I don't want an ideologue in office. I want someone for whom the truth is more important than ideology, and for whom effective management is more important than a politically motivated agenda. I'm a liberal, but I am completely aware that lefties are capable of the same sort of blind self-delusion that the conservatives engaged in for the past eight years, of rejecting reality because it doesn't jibe with their notions of how things work. I suspect it is a very human experience, and you need people at the top who are willing to say, look, these may not be the facts that we want to hear, but they are the facts, and we have to address them as such. Bush and Co. have steadfastly refused to be those leaders, and that may me the greatest failure of their administration.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:27 AM on December 30, 2008 [140 favorites]


Gotta burn ma boots! They touched Yankee soil!

- Yosemite Sam
posted by swift at 8:28 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


If I ever see Bush in person I'll take off my shoes and shake them at him. Meanwhile, I hope that he quietly drinks himself to death after he gets back to the ranch.
posted by RussHy at 8:28 AM on December 30, 2008


I ACCIDENTALLY THE WHOLE COUNTRY.

adipocere: Man, thanks for this it laughters.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:37 AM on December 30, 2008


Oral history? My inner Beavis suspects eponysterical trolling.
posted by argh at 8:46 AM on December 30, 2008


I'm not sure what makes this an oral history (caps or no caps) as opposed to interviews,
The narrative is being built by the speakers themselves, not woven together by an interviewer.
posted by bonaldi at 8:48 AM on December 30, 2008


It's honestly made me afraid of ideologies, even my own.

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:48 AM on December 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


Bush & Co wanted to move the country more towards a dictatorship. They felt that three branches of government shackled real leadership. And they saw "the rule of law" as a tool to control the masses. They viewed freedom and liberty (the Bill of Rights in general) to be a fundamental flaw.

I find it telling that the thing they feared most was that we might hear the truth.
posted by aapep at 8:49 AM on December 30, 2008


An Oral History of the Bush White House - The threat of 9/11 ignored. The threat of Iraq hyped and manipulated. Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. Hurricane Katrina. The shredding of civil liberties. The rise of Iran. Global warming. Economic disaster. How did one two-term presidency go so wrong?

An open letter to the Main-Stream Media,

Dear fuckers,

Thanks for suddenly taking note of what's been going on for the better part of the past decade. It would have been really nice if you took one of the early ones, like the hyped and manipulated threat of Iraq and swung for the bleacher seats with your coverage, because then things like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib might have never happened.

You can post rogue's gallery photos of the administration now, knowing that they are a month from gone, but your complete failure to take these bastards to task when it would have really helped makes you very nearly as complicit as them in what has happened to our country.

You want to know what went wrong? You did. You didn't hold up your end of the deal by shining a light in the dark places, and you let this wretched creature prosper in the shadows. Most Americans never knew that Saddam had nothing to do with 9-11, or that Iraq never really did have WMDs, or that the activities like water-boarding going on in our names was something that previous administrations called "torture" and charged people with war crimes for it. Most never knew it, because they counted on you to tell them, and you didn't.

Sure, you can dig through the cracks now, and you'll be thanked for it, but we'll both know that when it mattered, you weren't there.

Love,
quin
posted by quin at 8:50 AM on December 30, 2008 [24 favorites]


Once Bush is gone can this country stop blaming him instead of each other? This is the president we deserved and who reflected back the deep-seated desires of the world's richest country to bomb the shit out of some of the world's poorest, facts be damned. As though the hyper wealthy of America weren't driving SUVs before Bush, as though we honestly cared about our broken justice system, failed schools, uninsured children, homelessness, the horrors of foster care, international human rights, our environmental impact before Bush -- like we were all good people and Bush stopped us. As though we were so upset about it. Come off of it, we're a brutal heartless people then and now snorting all the way to the (now-broke) bank. A few months of a delay in the financial collapse (like our short-termism, bad math skills, and a thirty-year bipartisan program of deregulation are Bush's fault) and nobody would be crowing about North Carolina voting for a black candidate. We haven't changed and just as importantly, he didn't change us.

We wanted shock and awe and we got it writ large. I hope the Bush Presidency is like Usual Suspects and that at the very end we realize that Bush is us. If you think you won't have to deal with him after the 20th, I hope you've destroyed all your mirrors.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:50 AM on December 30, 2008 [9 favorites]


What Astro Zombie said. I'd favorite this a hundred times if I could.
posted by marsha56 at 8:51 AM on December 30, 2008


David Kuo shoots the bullseye:

I remember feeling like I was looking at people who had won a reality-game ticket to head up the White House. There was this remarkable combination of hubris, excitement, and staggering ignorance.

And lest we forget our place:

MetaFilter: this remarkable combination of hubris, excitement, and staggering ignorance.
posted by rdone at 8:53 AM on December 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie: And suddenly it seemed like this was America. A huge segment of the population had walked away from facts in favor of politically motivated spin, which they saw as truer than facts, and they had their own system for passing the facts on to each other that bypassed, not only the mainstream press, but also any sort of vetting system, where it could be determined whether something was true or not, or even relevant.
These experiments do a good job of exposing a flaw – people who feel out of control are more likely to see patterns even when they don’t exist. It is nice that they established the point with several independent tests, however, the next step added a refreshing and rare level of proof. If perceived helplessness causes sub-rational behavior as the group claims then restoring a feeling of control should ‘rescue’ the defect.

[...]

Anyhow, about peak wingnut theory. Republicans (and Republican bloggers) will spend at least the next two years with about as much political control as a bug in a jar. You can make your own conclusions.
Peak Wingnut theory.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:54 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Goodbye to All That.
posted by empath at 9:00 AM on December 30, 2008


ericb: "Ah, and what are Bushites saying this week, as they prepare to leave their posts?"

On that note I'd like to repost something from a deleted thread - Bush on his legacy and how he'd like to be seen:
“I would like to be a person remembered as a person who, first and foremost, did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process[...]
I’d like to be a president (known) as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace; that focused on individuals rather than process; that rallied people to serve their neighbor.”
The disconnect of some people from reality is staggering.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 9:01 AM on December 30, 2008


31 percent say he's been a good president."

posted by ericb at 8:22 AM on December 30 [+] [!]

I remember the moment I realized America has split into two countries, with two sets of facts


I'm just going to read these two together, if you two don't mind.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:04 AM on December 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Don't think it hasn't been a little slice of heaven... because it hasn't!
posted by droplet at 9:11 AM on December 30, 2008


I'm not sure what makes this an oral history (caps or no caps) as opposed to interviews


Sorry, an editing lapse - I initially just had the title of the article, then added some editorializing and forgot to nix the caps. (Oral histories are by definition just interviews.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:14 AM on December 30, 2008


I just don't have the heart to read this article or any other re-cap of the last eight years of fear and loathing. It was bad enough living through it the first time, I don't want to re-live it.
posted by octothorpe at 9:21 AM on December 30, 2008


31 percent say he's been a good president.

Maybe they believe that everything needs to be torn down before it can be rebuilt even stronger by the next administration, like a chunk of iron needs to be put through the fire, hammered and forged to make it a strong piece of steel.

That said, perhaps this 31% needs to spend some quality time on the anvil themselves to see if their opinions of Bush can survive some heat and a good beating.

Figuratively speaking, of course.

posted by quin at 9:21 AM on December 30, 2008


Do you folks remember how early on in his presidency, there was all that talk about how Bush didn't read newspapers or magazines and basically received all of his information about what was going on in the world from yes-men and sycophants and the Vice President?

That 31% of the population that thinks he was a great president is basically Bush writ large. If the only information you get is from a Rove/Cheney controlled echo-chamber, of course everything is going to seem a-ok.

Bushco has done an immeasurable amount of damage to the U.S. I will praise his administration for the work its done fighting AIDS in Africa, but that small grain of goodness can't balance out the bushel of evil they've produced.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:24 AM on December 30, 2008


allen.spaulding: "If you think you won't have to deal with him after the 20th, I hope you've destroyed all your mirrors.

Here's the thing - I don't want one of 'us' in the white house. I don't want to think that there's a person in charge of this country that found their position through circumstance or glad-handing. I want a supremely qualified version of 'us', a person who's better that anyone I know, a person who actually deserves the job to be the leader of this country. The president shouldn't be a groomed yokel, he should be an apical American, someone ready and able to take up the yoke of leading the world's only super-power, and do it with aplomb.

I know that this is a starry-eyed thing to expect and that I'll probably never see it happen, but I think it's reasonable for anyone to expect better than Bush in the White House. While I get your point, allen.spaulding, I don't think Bush was, "the president we deserved," at all, and the fatalistic tone of your post makes me a bit sad. You don't think we should strive to be better than we are? You don't think we sometimes do, and succeed?

Granted, it sometimes takes a real piece of work like Bush to come along and get everybody worked up for things to actually change, so I guess he's served a purpose there. Getting comfortable with the idea that a guy like that is 'who we deserve', however, isn't something I plan on doing. Ever.
posted by Pecinpah at 9:31 AM on December 30, 2008


I want to have a bear or two with David Kuo, Matthew Dowd and Lawrence Wilkinson.

Mary Matalin comes out sounding way more clueless than I thought she would.

Rove and Ari Fleischer definitely fit the DOUCHEBAG mold.
posted by liza at 9:33 AM on December 30, 2008


Thanks for the material, George W. Now get lost!
posted by homunculus at 9:34 AM on December 30, 2008


An open letter to quin

Are you for real? Have you read our back issues? Don't tar us with that brush.

Love,
Vanity Fair
posted by bonaldi at 9:35 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I want to have a bear or two with David Kuo, Matthew Dowd and Lawrence Wilkinson.

And the bear would love to have you!
posted by homunculus at 9:37 AM on December 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


LOL!

i don't want to have a "bear" but a BEER with David Kuo,
Matthew Dowd and Lawrence Wilkinson.

sigh.

it's the side-effects of 8 necessary years of
the Daily Show and Stephen Colbert.
posted by liza at 9:37 AM on December 30, 2008


I have come to love the "I am sure that History will judge us well" attitude. History is now. The notion that in 50 years your horseshit will turn into a diamond is fantasy no matter how many times you repeat it.

A tried-technique.

posted by zerobyproxy at 9:44 AM on December 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Fascinating. It's amazing to see how the decisions that dominate millions of lives are put together on the fly by people with a woeful command of all the facts.
I always tend to think that people in charge know what they're doing. I'm fairly radical politically but I'll usually stick up for those in power over the uninformed voter in a pub dispute.
"You don't like the new education reforms?" I'll query, "But you don't know anything about education policy! I don't think you've given this as much thought as the Education minister will have..." And broadly I stick to this theory: let the experts get on with it.
But every now and then you come across something like this which shows that a sizeable proportion of the people in charge are idiots. Idiots sleepwalking to destruction.
posted by greytape at 9:46 AM on December 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


"George Bush—personality vacuum, character vacuum, details vacuum, experience vacuum" should be his epitaph.
posted by Britney's Nipples at 9:50 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wonder why the anthrax attacks aren't really a part of our collective memory?

I have no idea either, but I suspect that this lancuna is in part because of the relentless party line from the Bush administration to write them out of the historical record. Consider Dick Cheney's version in this recent interview:
I think the facts are that we were faced with a unique set of circumstances in the aftermath of 9/11, and we had to make some very tough decisions that not everybody agreed with. But I think they were the right decisions, especially in terms of defending the homeland.

We've now gone seven and a half years without another attack. To do that, we adopted policies, such as the Terrorist Surveillance Program that let us intercept the communications of Al-Qaeda terrorists talking to folks inside the U.S., the High Value Detainee Interrogation Program, the Patriot Act. These were all measures we took that we felt were essential to defeat Al-Qaeda, to head off the next attack, and to defend the nation.
The anthrax terrorist attacks simply aren't part of his exculpatory narrative, even though at the time, the White House, particularly Cheney, was pushing the FBI to link them with Al-Qaeda. Without question, they injected the idea of WMDs into the collective consciousness and contributed to the frightened atmosphere of those first several years of the Bush administration. They, along with the D.C. snipers, just don't count now, though.

This administration's hope that "history's judgement" will be gratitude rests on our willingness to let them selectively edit it.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:52 AM on December 30, 2008


You can post rogue's gallery photos of the administration now

Sure they can, but they'll need to include the editorial staff of the New York Times and Judith Miller in the gallery. Something tells me this will never happen. Its always the poor reporters vs the evil politicians. Never collusion and willful spreading of disinformation, just good people being fooled. That's the myth of journalism.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:54 AM on December 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


here was all that talk about how Bush didn't read newspapers or magazines

I always interpreted that as a way of saying that Bush didnt fall for the "liberal media" and had a line to the truth that non-rich and non-well-connected people dont have. Crazy as it sounds, a Republican claiming they dont read newspapers probably gets votes. Palin said almost the same thing.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:57 AM on December 30, 2008


This is the president we deserved and who reflected back the deep-seated desires of the world's richest country to bomb the shit out of some of the world's poorest, facts be damned.

To me, and I think it's very evident from the article as well, it seems Bush's presidency wasn't as much a failure of ideology as it was a failure of execution. Bush and his cronies were absolutely terrible at everything except getting elected, which just happens to be the one thing that is actually necessary to become and continue to be president. Sure, he wanted to make the rich richer, but he let the economy completely collapse, which even rich people aren't happy about. And he wanted to invade Iraq for no valid reason, but he never went in with any kind of logical plan.

That's why most of the Republicans even hate him at this point, Bush's actions and the resulting consquences don't really represent what anyone wanted. Bush would only be a reflection of the American people if the majority of them were completely incompetent at doing their jobs and getting things done, which isn't true.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:12 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing - I don't want one of 'us' in the white house. I don't want to think that there's a person in charge of this country that found their position through circumstance or glad-handing. I want a supremely qualified version of 'us', a person who's better that anyone I know, a person who actually deserves the job to be the leader of this country.

A couple of nights ago I read a magazine bit on Angelina Jolie (yeah, yeah, but I learned some interesting non-gossipy stuff) that fixated on whether or not she was "better than us" because it assumed that this is what people were stuck on. I don't know whether they are, but it certainly does dominate a lot of people's thinking. You're a big person for wanting this for your president -- I mean, it should be what everyone wants -- but it isn't. These are the kind of people who would secretly be pleased if their kids fail to achieve more than they do, all in service of their own fragile sense of self-worth -- as if that feeling should be sustained while doing nothing to educate themselves about the world they live in. People who are threatened by evidence that does not support ideas they already hold. They don't want to learn that Muslims and gays are not their enemy; they'd rather continue to imagine a world in which these people did not exist. They embrace fantasy, and a fantastical world view makes for lousy plans in reality.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:24 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Admittedly there's also probably a heaping dose of straightforward cognitive dissonance there, too. People have to justify why they voted for him -- especially a second time -- after all.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:27 AM on December 30, 2008


allen.spaulding: This is the president we deserved

What's this "we" stuff, white man?
posted by tzikeh at 10:30 AM on December 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


Durn Bronzefist: "These are the kind of people who would secretly be pleased if their kids fail to achieve more than they do, all in service of their own fragile sense of self-worth -- as if that feeling should be sustained while doing nothing to educate themselves about the world they live in. People who are threatened by evidence that does not support ideas they already hold. They don't want to learn that Muslims and gays are not their enemy; they'd rather continue to imagine a world in which these people did not exist. They embrace fantasy, and a fantastical world view makes for lousy plans in reality."

It feels like you lifted this speech from Rand.

No offense.
posted by TypographicalError at 10:33 AM on December 30, 2008


Once Bush is gone can this country stop blaming him instead of each other? ...

Nope.
posted by asusu at 10:56 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or does the picture at the top of the Vanity Fair article look like a press pic from a bad lawyer drama tv show?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:22 AM on December 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


It's an older Annie Leibovitz portrait. She did it for Vanity Fair, but I don't know what issue.
posted by chunking express at 11:32 AM on December 30, 2008


a Republican claiming they dont read newspapers probably gets votes. Palin said almost the same thing.

Actually she said the opposite! She reads all of them - "again with a great appreciation for the press."



I think that photo at the top is endlessly fascinating. They look so smug (and so much younger) and so full of resolve and confidence that they are awesome and everyone knows it. It's an amazing photo really.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:37 AM on December 30, 2008


Everything will be different with Obama. Sunshine, Rainbows, Puppies.

PUPPIES!!!!!!!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:40 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here she is with it. (a propos of nothing really, was just looking for a larger version)
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:40 AM on December 30, 2008


(searching on Annie Liebovitz and Bush gets you lots of nekkidness. It took me a moment to realize why.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:41 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


TypographicalError: to say that there is reality apart from fantasy is not to say that there is but one reality. But it pays to be conscious of human weaknesses if you want to work toward any kind of rationally planned future. Bush is not exactly middle of the road, grey-zone fare. If nearly a third of Americans (if you trust the representativeness of the poll) actually think he did a "good job", then I'm at a complete loss as to how to bridge the gap. That doesn't mean I think we give up on these people. I just don't know what it will or would take. Unless of course you are suggesting that, by some metrics, Bush did do a good job, and I'm insisting on an overly narrow view of his accomplishments. In which case I'd ask what those metrics are.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:53 AM on December 30, 2008


There's just so much here to take in... so much to try to understand, to attempt to assign blame. I can't wrap my brain around it; it wants to check out. My brain wants to curl up in a ball and wake up in 40 years when it's all sorted out and can be analyzed from the safety of a "historical" perspective.
posted by parilous at 11:58 AM on December 30, 2008


I also like that photograph. Seeing it framed like that, it even makes you think of the Last Supper.

The cowboy belt, the flag pins, the smug looks.. this is the way America presented itself in the early 21st century: tough, powerful and arrogant.
posted by Harry at 12:23 PM on December 30, 2008


It really is fascinating and disturbing to read this, even for people who have realized the obvious -- the Bush II years and the Republican party that created him were the lowest point for America since the 1930's and/or the 1860's and 1870's.

Christ, even John LeCarre makes an appearance:

John le Carré, novelist and former intelligence officer whose novel A Most Wanted Man was inspired by the Kurnaz case: Murat Kurnaz, a German-born-and-educated Turkish resident of Bremen, in northern Germany, by trade a shipbuilder, was released from Guantánamo on 24 August 2006 after four years and eight months without charge or trial. He was 24 years old. In December 2001, at the age of 19, he had been arrested in Pakistan, sold by the Pakistanis to the Americans for $3,000, and tortured for five weeks and nearly killed at an interrogation center in Kandahar before being flown in chains to Cuba. His family was first informed of his situation in January 2002. Despite repeated brutal treatment and repeated interrogation at Guantánamo, no evidence was found to link him with terrorist activities, a fact acknowledged by both U.S. and German intelligence. Yet it took years of intense lobbying by lawyers, family, and NGOs to secure his release.

Two weeks after Murat’s release, I was in Hamburg to take part in a television discussion on the anniversary of al-Qaeda’s attack on America. A woman journalist attached to the program had been assigned the task of looking after Murat while the program’s producers prepared a documentary about him. Would I like to meet him? I would, and spent two days listening to him in a hotel suite in Bremen. Despite a disgraceful campaign of innuendo orchestrated by the complicit German authorities, I shared the view of practically everyone who had met him that Murat was remarkably truthful and was a reliable witness to his own tragedy.


I grew up thinking of my fellow Americans as the good guys. This is a truism that I will not be able to pass on to my own children.
posted by bardic at 12:24 PM on December 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm nearly 60. I can remember idiotic presidential antics all the way back to Eisenhower. I had always thought Nixon was the absolute worst. No longer!

I pray to God that this nation never sees a president who is worse for its people than George W. Bush has been.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:27 PM on December 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


I pray to God that this nation never sees a president who is worse for its people than George W. Bush has been.

That's just the sort of thinking that leads to presidents like George W. Bush
posted by bonaldi at 12:29 PM on December 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'd feel much better about all this "legacy polishing" if I hadn't just watched MeFi'sownasavage buff a turd to a lustrous, attractive sphere.
posted by cookie-k at 12:52 PM on December 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


I hope the boy king resumes drinking, makes a public fool of himself regularly, drives his wife and children away, and lives to be a hundred.
posted by wrapper at 12:56 PM on December 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wish people would get over their love of royalty--after all, that's all that the Bush, Kennedy, Daley and other political families are. Easy name recognition and some vague idea that they must have been "born to it." Sometimes this works out but when it doesn't, it really, really doesn't.
posted by maxwelton at 1:40 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some great quotes in there:

Matthew Dowd, Bush’s pollster and chief strategist for the 2004 presidential campaign: We too easily say, Blame it on the Washington culture. Well, Washington is made up of people. It’s not like there’s this, like—you know, it’s not like some Star Trek episode where some room made me do it.
posted by marxchivist at 1:52 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


it’s not like some Star Trek episode

Though sometimes an episode of Star Trek can be key to understanding political rhetoric.
posted by homunculus at 3:02 PM on December 30, 2008


Not nearly as titillating as an Oral History of the Clinton White House.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:58 PM on December 30, 2008


I observe what you undertook there.
posted by Dr-Baa at 4:38 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can't say I'm really going to miss the guy, no. On the plus side, maybe his memory will act as a kind of neocon citronella. The mere implication that a candidate is Bush-like will be enough to send voters running away from him or her.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:06 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Which I guess makes Nixon Off™?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:40 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


As all Americans know, recent weeks have brought a second wave of terrorist attacks upon our country: deadly anthrax spores sent through the U.S. Mail.
-- George W. Bush, November 3, 2001
posted by kirkaracha at 10:06 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


...and good riddance!

i also like this one :P
When Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev famously banged his shoe on the desk at the United Nations almost 50 years ago, Harold Macmillan, the equally famously phlegmatic British prime minister, said: “I’d like that translated, if I may.”

George W. Bush, who ducked a volley of shoes from an enraged Iraqi journalist at a press conference in Baghdad on Sunday, professed to be perplexed. This was an epic insult intended for a serial bungler. But, like the shoes, it too went straight over his head. Mr Bush, who has buried America’s reputation throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds in the ruins of Iraq, did not, does not and will never get it.

The Bush administration, on a false prospectus, broke the state of Iraq, scattered its middle classes across the Middle East, proliferated jihadism and uncorked a sectarian war that will haunt the region for a long time to come. By invading Iraq it also made Iran a regional power.

Diligent reporting by institutions such as the US Government Accountability Office reveals the Bush team had no strategy beyond triumphalism and could barely even get the lights turned on or the taps flowing...
now that 'our long national nightmare' is over(?) i guess the task at hand is restoring america's world stature, cf. a new grand strategy.
posted by kliuless at 8:09 AM on December 31, 2008


George W. Bush, War Criminal? The Bush Administration's Liability for 269 War Crimes
posted by homunculus at 12:21 PM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Frank Rich: A President Forgotten but Not Gone
posted by homunculus at 11:06 AM on January 4, 2009


A portrait of Bush, a portrait of a worthless press corps
posted by homunculus at 7:59 PM on January 4, 2009


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