Eight years of Bush are almost over.
I’d say that this was a wonderful thing if I hadn’t lived through enough elections to realize that the American political system is basically the Pepsi challenge. Choose between two nearly identical varieties of un-natural empty calories, neither of which is good for you and either of which will take your teeth if they get the chance.
It’s tempting to pull out a laundry list of everything that’s gone wrong in the last eight years and lay it at the door of the Bush White House. But if you’ve been paying any attention to what’s been going on then you’ve already heard it, and if you haven’t then you obviously don’t care. Needless to say, plenty of other people have compiled such lists and a brief Google search will get you several thousand to choose from.
But what really interests me about the last eight years is that I still don’t know if our 43rd president and his cadre are megalomaniacal morons, too stupid to live and too rich, entitled, and intertwined into the plate of worms that is Washington to ignore, or if they are avaricious geniuses who figured out a way to dispense with mere graft and sweetheart deals and decided the best place to steal all the money was from the top down. A sort of trickle-down larceny.
Sure, even cursory examination immediately indicated that George W. Bush was a mediocre frat boy douchbag that had never worked a day or had a serious thought in his life. He projected that image like IMAX. It was on display during his first campaign and has never relented. The verbal gaffs, the nonsensical ideas, the shit-eating grin accompanied by the head bob and swivel (Kermit the frog did it better) every time he came to the end of a paragraph in one of his speeches- if they were part of an act then it was the best and most consistent feat of thespis in my lifetime. And my belief has always been that no one was capable of acting that stupid that long without slipping. But there are things that make me wonder.
The main thing is that Bush, and the neocons that created him, had a well defined plan in mind long before he got elected. Bill Kristol even published it before the election. They wanted to usher in a Pax-Americana. They intended to cement American hegemony by accomplishing several things that would make it clear that America was in charge and every other country in the world might as well just get in line. They would use America’s military might to fight not one but two wars simultaneously, proving to the world that even if we were busy kicking the shit out of somebody we didn’t like that there was still plenty of whoop-ass to go around, so don’t get any ideas. They were going to deregulate business, returning the country to a golden age of robber barons and, perhaps if they were lucky, feudalism. They were going to return God to government, not for the sake of making the country more like Jesus might want it to be but to unite those two age-old organizations for bending people to the will of their leaders- church and state. They were going to re-institute the divine right of kings by giving the president total power and making it not only improper but immoral to disagree with what he did. And they were going to do it all by finally proving once and for all that what arch cynic H. L. Mencken said was totally right- nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
And they simply can’t be as stupid as they look, because they did all of it!
And their final act was to finally acknowledge what people had been warning and they had been denying for years- that the result of all this was going to cause our whole economic system to collapse- just in time to panic and convince congress that letting them steal a few trillion more dollars as they were packing to leave would be good for the economy even if everything they had done up until then wasn't.
I am almost convinced that the presidency of George W. Bush is the most successful in history. I haven’t always thought that. I was convinced that they were just the kind of businessmen I had met numerous times when I was in business- idiotic con men who thought they were smarter than everyone else because they could double-talk, cheat, and swindle enough people to get rich. Those businessmen invariably wind up going from business failure to business failure, bankruptcy to bankruptcy, because even though they may be master salesmen they don’t know how to run anything. They may be able to talk some rube into buying a $40,000 SUV on a $27,000 a year salary, but the actual nuts and bolts of managing a business is beyond them. Invariably they wind up taking the money and running when it becomes obvious that it isn’t going to be possible to keep the game going any longer.
Well, maybe my first impression was right after all.