Politics/Law/Government

Bush's farewell follies

by Jeff Huber

In a parting gesture, young Mr. Bush gave us the opportunity to laugh him off the world stage, perhaps the only fitting way to celebrate the end of his tragic reign of pratfalls.On January 12, Shuckin’ and jivin’ and smirkin’ and quirkin’, Bush gave his farewell press conference.Part sulk, part self-affirmation, part psychotic outburst, his antics before the White House press corps were high farce that could have been penned by Moliere or Aristophanes.

The only mistake he made with Hurricane Katrina was not landing Air Force One in New Orleans or Baton Rouge.He’s thought “long and hard” about that one, and when asked what has be done about Katrina’s aftermath three and a half years after the fact, he replied, “Well, more people need to get in their houses.”

Bush’s only flub with Iraq was hanging the “Mission Accomplished” sign from the aircraft carrier.Some of his rhetoric, he admitted, “has been a mistake.”Everything else that went wrong on his watch was the fault of Congress, or of “certain quarters in Europe” that blame “every Middle Eastern problem on Israel” (as opposed to Iran), and that try to be popular by “joining the International Criminal Court” and “accepting Kyoto.” Mr. Bush felt Kyoto was a “flawed treaty,” presumably every bit as flawed as the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, and the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other treaties that people in certain quarters join in order to be popular. Our moral standing, says Mr. Bush, “may be damaged amongst some of the elite,” but for the likes of Joe the Plumber, America still provides “great hope.”

Did I Mention 9/11?

Though more tightly scripted than the press conference, Mr. Bush’s formal farewell address on January 15 was every bit as absurd.The opening remarks included “gratitude” for Dick Cheney, a sentiment both hilarious and horrifying.Once the throat clearing was out of the way, Bush cut to the chase: His thoughts returned “to the first night I addressed you from this house—September the 11th, 2001. That morning, terrorists took nearly 3,000 lives in the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor.”

Ah, yes, the “new Pearl Harbor” young Bush’s neoconservative masters needed in order to justify an invasion of Iraq.

Mr. Bush evoked vignettes of himself standing tall as our leader after the terrorist attacks: with rescue workers in the rubble of the World Trade Center, with “brave souls who charged through smoke-filled corridors at the Pentagon” and with “husbands and wives whose loved ones became heroes aboard Flight 93.”

My unforgettable image of Bush after 9/11 is his “What, me president?” moment, sitting in a classroom among small children, making the sound of one jaw dropping and holding My Pet Goat in his lap.

“As the years passed, most Americans were able to return to life much as it had been before 9/11.”But not Mr. Bush: he had to spend seven grueling years finding someone else to blame it on, and recruiting scapegoats for the two disastrous wars he recklessly led us into.

Mr. Bush intoned his single tangible achievement: “America has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on our soil.”This, in Mr. Bush’s mind, is the point defense of his legacy, the sole irrefutable fact of his efforts “to do everything in my power to keep us safe.”

That we haven’t been attacked again is most probably the result of a regulation change for the people who serve in acronym and tri-graph agencies like NORAD, JFCOM, FAA, FBI, NSA and the other domestic security agencies whose job it was to prevent 9/11 from happening in the first place—they now have to drink coffee while on duty and sleep on their own time.

That the 9/11 attacks occurred at all was a breathtaking study in institutional Onanism, a compendium of dysfunctional leadership, organization and communication.Nobody taking a paycheck to defend this country needed a whole new cabinet department or a Patriot Act or illegal wiretapping to prevent 9/11.They just needed to do their jobs like they were supposed to, something that was, and has continued to be, all but impossible during the crony-driven Bush regime.

Mr. Bush thinks he has “taken the fight to the terrorists” in Iraq and Afghanistan, that he’s done so “with strong allies” at his side, and that his two campaigns have been successful.Almost without exception, the adversaries we have created during our expeditions in the Middle East had nothing to do with 9/11 and wouldn’t be fighting us at all if we hadn’t pitched a tent in their back yard.The closest thing we have to allies now are the European countries that contributed troops to the effort to bail us out in Afghanistan, and they only did that as a last gasp effort to save NATO, whose reason for existance crumbled along with the Berlin Wall.

Mr. Bush’s victorious surge in Iraq has left us with a dead man’s switch in our hands.His “main man,” General David Petraeus, bought an uneasy peace by bribing militiamen not to use the weapons he gave them.Now we have to stick around forever to make sure the payola gets to the right warlords or the country will go up for grabs again.And we’re about to embark on Son of Surge, deploying 30,000 additional troops to “repeat the success” and pay off crooked Afghan chieftains.

“Our nation is safer than it was seven years ago,” according to Mr. Bush, but global terror has skyrocketed since 9/11, and as Bush himself admits, “the gravest threat to our people remains another terrorist attack.”

Mr. Bush took “decisive measures to safeguard our economy” in the closing days of his regime, but it was the interminable days before them that doubled our national debt as we pursued self-defeating wars that were entirely avoidable.

There has been “no higher honor” for Mr. Bush than serving as our military’s commander in chief, but there has been no greater shame than the way in which he abused his stewardship of our troops: sending them into appalling wars, neglecting them when they came home wounded, and exploiting them for his own political gain.

At his press conference, Mr. Bush said that the thing he worried about most was “the Constitution of the United States.”Thanks to him, the rest of us have to worry whether it will ever be restored.

Throughout his tenure as president, Mr. Bush had “the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right.”

Bush’s conscience is that of a spoiled, rich ne’er do well whose daddy bought him a set of values in the person of Billy Graham for his 40th birthday.People like Bush never have to pass a test they can’t cheat on or commit a sin they can’t make someone else burn for. Bush and his kind make moral decisions by paying someone to tell them whatever they did was the right thing.

And so Mr. Bush—part Macbeth, part Richard III, part Lear, but all fool—has taken his curtain call.

It’s too bad we didn’t give him the hook a long, long time ago.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy(Retired) writes at Pen and Sword. Jeff’s novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance, is on sale now.

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20 replies »

  1. “They just needed to do their jobs like they were supposed to,”

    not before, nor since, during the age of Jet Flight in America, have planes been allowed to be off course for more than 5 minutes without communication before Jet Fighters were scrambled to intercept.

    Yet.. on _that_ day, during a Military Exercise that was “flying planes into buildings” (something Condi assured us “no one could ever have imagined”, despite war gaming that exact scenario that exact day), we managed to let, not one.. not two, not even just 3.. but FOUR planes fly off course for over an HOUR. And after the first plane hit, it was some 20 minutes before the second one hit. Twenty minutes of “wow, planes off course are flying into buildings” and we didn’t manage to grab the second “off course plane” that had been that way for almost an hour?

    They didn’t “fail to do their job”. Hunt down the tapes. The military refused to deploy those interceptors properly. And it was, by odd change of protocol days before, then restored just after, Dick Cheney who was the sole authority to make the call for interception and destruction. He was in a “closed door meeting” where his order (after the first hit, I believe) was “don’t bother me for any reason”.

    The successful attacks, given the known, published, “daily briefed” threats just weeks before, should not be seen as accidental failure of a few people, but intentional allowance of attacks on America, known to be happening in advance (re: puts on the 2 involved airlines, but no other airlines, and someone NOT collecting their millions afterward).. their “new Pearl Harbor”, indeed. And as history is now bearing out, we knew the Japanese fleet was in route to Hawaii; they were allowed to go there unchallenged.

    “Mr. Bush said that the thing he worried about most was “the Constitution of the United States.” ”

    The one he referenced when he said “Don’t talk to me about the Constitution. Its just a god damned piece of paper!”? .. When he wanted his illegal spying program set up, approved, running? _that_ Constitution?

    And the Republican Party still has members. Amazing.

  2. You know the time when you’re stuck in an airport with nothing to read? Those times for me have always been a moment to indulge in international espionage novels. Some of the classics of the genre are really quite good. But for the most part they’re crap…like the ones that someone else wrote and Robert Ludlum’s name gets printed on the cover. As if hoping i’ll mistake it for the Bourne Trilogy.

    The last eight years have been akin to being stuck in one of those really shitty novels. The plot line is full of holes; the characters are either overblown or one dimensional; and yet you can tell that the author’s convinced he has you on the edge of your seat. It’s been like a book that somehow manages to make a Frankfurt layover even worse than normal.

    I wish we would have left it half read in the trash can, where it belongs.

  3. @Jeff Watson: He deserves the beatings people are giving him and then some.
    In fact, I expect the beatings to step up once he’s out of office and the stuff his people mnaged to hide starts to come out.

    I’m one of the people that thinks the man isn’t actually evil. I just think he’s incredibly stupid and had evil cronies.
    The fact that he thinks he did a kickass job as president supports the theory of incredibly stupid pretty well.

  4. JThompson,
    Sure the beatings are going to step up. Obama’s handlers have to lower the bar and expectations, and the best way is to say, “We didn’t think things were this bad….” The seeds are also going to be planted very soon where the media starts to report that people are starting to feel upbeat about their future, and the good news is going to get reported while the bad news will be spun. The only accurate news will be, as it always is, in the WSJ. The rest of the media is not going to allow the “Chosen One” to fail(white middle class guilt thing so prevalent among his supporters), and if they have to drag Bush’s corpse behind a pick up truck, they will do it. Bush isn’t stupid…He did graduate from both Yale and Harvard, and as I’ve said before, it’s not even easy getting Gentlemen’s C’s from those schools. Did you graduate from either of those schools with a higher GPA than GWB? Are you in a position judge his intelligence?

    However, I’m probably wasting electrons writing this, as I’m not going to change your mind and you’re not going to change mine.

    Interesting things coming out of the Obama camp….it looks like he’s going to continue many of Bush’s policies….How does that make the left wing supporters feel? This presidency is going to be an illusion, spoon fed to the gullible masses, the progressives, and the victims. All that being said, I really hope Obama succeeds as a president. I hope he will be a good president, but I do have serious doubts about his judgment as in his pick for treasury secretary and secretary of state.

  5. Brian,

    Aside from the editorial page and the Personal journal, the WSJ is news, containing hard data. Section 1, Market Place, and Money and Investing are news. All the other papers are mainly editorial pages, with a very little amount of news.

    I’m glad you got a laugh today. I’m looking forward to the next four years of laughter with the Obama Administration.

    Jeff

  6. Nah, “90% of everything is crap” applies just as much to the WSJ as it does to NYT or WaPo or Denver Post or Guardian or CNN. Especially if you consider that 90% to be the lower limit.

    When I want economic news, I read the WSJ but I also read a number of other publications too – Forbes, Reuters, The Economist, Bloomberg, and a host of smaller ones too. When I want to read political news, I read WaPo, but also NYT, CNN, Congressional Quarterly, and a host of smaller ones too.

    Ultimately, you get as much, and as high quality, news as you’re willing to hunt for. Google News helps a lot by putting it all in one place, but you have to read 3-4 articles on the same subject to figure out which one’s are full of it. And after a while you get a feel for the sources that are closer to 90% or 100%. And while I’ll grant you that the WSJ is closer to 90% crap on economic stuff (your bread and butter, I realize), they’re pretty bad on science, worse on technology, and I don’t even consider them for foreign news (not that I consider NYTimes either these days – I read english versions of papers from Germany, Japan, India, etc. or the AP/Reuters for foreign news).

  7. Brian,
    If they are 90% crap(your opinion only) on economic stuff, does that mean that if you fade what the news reports that you will make money 90% of the time? Do you personally take that 90% crap, identify it as such, and make money off of it….you can make good money off of wrong information. How do you identify stuff as crap….is it stuff that you disagree with, or is there some scholarship involved?

    A magazine that’s overblown is “The Economist” which is on the must read list for every pretentious intellectual American out there who wants to impress his fellow man. Traders on the street use “The Economist” articles and covers as fade factors. Their cover stories have presented no less than 5 fade factors within the past 12 months. The best way to get Bloomberg is via electronic but the full package is very expensive. Bloomberg is the source that best moves the markets, and the WSJ is yesterday’s news summary(already in the market) that makes my breakfast go down better.

    Determining the true quality level of news deserves some quantification studies on its own.

    Jeff

  8. We were attacked after Sept 11. Bush did not prevent the anthrax attacks, which ratcheted up the fear and put more “blame” on Iraq.

  9. Ok, Bush managed to stop (aside from the Anthrax, but that wasn’t foreign) terrorist attacks on US soil for seven years. How come that’s never put into the context of how many administrations before him went without a terrorist attack?

    If Bush were actually a conservative i could understand a conservative defending him. But if the Bush administration is conservative i’d hate to see liberalism. Under Bush the government has gotten too big for the bathtub, where’s Norquist and why isn’t he caterwauling? What happened to fiscal conservativism? The man spent money like a drunken sailor on shore leave.

    I have some sympathy for conservatives. What i don’t understand is why actual conservatives aren’t the maddest of all. Bush sold them out and turned their ideology on its head. I would think that borrow and spend big government would make conservatives mad as hell.

  10. I’ll admit that occasionally “crap” is defined by what I disagree with, but most of the time it’s defined by more objective measures like obvious bias in a supposedly unbiased article, factual errors, and so on. It’s hardly a statistical study, however, more of “Huh – this it the eighth time they’ve got this wrong. Are the writers and/or editors uneducated on this issue, stupid, or do they have an axe to grind?”

    I’m sure that I could make money on bad information if I chose to, but I don’t choose to. While I’m not someone who considers traders like you parasites, I also don’t consider the economic service you and your fellow traders provide anywhere as valuable as the creation of goods and services to real people. So I have no interest in making money off of bad information like you would and probably do. I do, however, have a great deal of interest in creating things that improve the accuracy of information, improving communications, fixing problems, etc.

    That’s why I’m an engineer and you’re a trader. I don’t doubt that you’ll almost certainly always make far more money than I will, unless I go the entrepreneur route at some point in the future. But my self-worth isn’t defined by my ability to make money – I make enough to cover my bills, save some for retirement, save for my children’s educations, and still have some fun – and that’s enough.

    Money is a tool for me, a convenient means to an end. It seems like much more than that to you and your trading peers, although perhaps that’s a misunderstanding on my part.

  11. Brian,

    Trading is a game, and the amount of money accumulated is a way of keeping score. We do provide services that you wouldn’t even understand. Without us, you wouldn’t even be able to get a mortgage at a reasonable cost, your imported goods would cost more, and you’d pay more for the cost of food. Much maligned and scorned by the progressive ilk, we don’t really care, because as long as man has differences of opinion, there will be need for traders. By the way, the most successful traders come from the physical sciences(I was trained as a chemist) and engineering disciplines.

    Jeff

  12. “Bush isn’t stupid…He did graduate from both Yale and Harvard, and as I’ve said before, it’s not even easy getting Gentlemen’s C’s from those schools.”

    Yet, this moron was able to get those Cs. And, how is it that “you’ve said before”, have you attended Yale or Harvard and begged for Cs? .. somehow I doubt it, which means you’re talking out your ass just as much as those you accuse.. yet, again, logic and reason and the “old boys club” lend credence to the idea that even a collosal failure like the Shrub can get Cs from his rich buddies.

    ” Did you graduate from either of those schools with a higher GPA than GWB? Are you in a position judge his intelligence?”

    One does not follow the other, but we already know that the ammunition of the right-wing is not logic or reason. I graduated from a school that probably grads on just about as tough of criteria (all things considered.. a BS is a BS, the Yale and Harvard bits are tinsel on the tree), and I graduated with a 3.1 in my major, 3.6 overall (including the 2 semesters of straight F from years before when I was enrolled but didn’t bother to show up for classes.. several classes were not able to be retaken all those years later, and several Fs are still on my transcripts despite my 3.6 overall GPA). I also refused to do most of my homework (part of my 3.1 in major), and managed to beat my 4.0 girlfriend in most of the general ed courses we shared (man, that pissed her off). So, having a BS in Computer Science from an accredited University means I’m qualified for a lot of things.. and being a decent judge of “smart” versus “moron” is included in that list. The Shrub is FAR from “smart”.

    “However, I’m probably wasting electrons writing this, as I’m not going to change your mind and you’re not going to change mine.”

    Correct. You are not going to change the mind of logical smart folks that can see with their own “lying eyes” just how much of an abject failure the Shrub is, and we’re never going to change your deluded perceptions of reality that are based on 1/2 truths, disinformation, distraction, and flat out denial of reality in some cases. So, yeah.. a huge waste of electrons. Why do you bother, then?

    “Interesting things coming out of the Obama camp….it looks like he’s going to continue many of Bush’s policies….How does that make the left wing supporters feel?”

    Well, true progressives have mostly had their doubts about Obama all along. The “sheeple masses” who love him aren’t any better than the sheeple masses that thought Palin was “awesome! Down to earth! Great choice for second in command to commander ‘where am I?'”. The average idiots are still idiots, regardless of their party affiliation. I’ve been very skeptical of him from the start, and now that he’s talking about NOT holding war criminals accountable for their crimes.. I have even more doubts.

    And, unlike Brian, I do consider traders and the high-finance types to be parasites. Your assertions that we can’t have decent mortgages without your kind as middlemen is more lies and distortion of the truth designed to keep you from total irrelevance.The ruling elite (and their enablers via ignorance and greed) regularly lie to the masses to keep them confused and distracted while they plunder and pillage. Not all of us fall for it.

    • “Bush isn’t stupid…He did graduate from both Yale and Harvard, and as I’ve said before, it’s not even easy getting Gentlemen’s C’s from those schools.”

      This is a ludicrous statement that demonstrates zero understanding of how it really works. Trust me, you have the kind of connections he had you get a C for enrolling.

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