Bush Approaches 1/Infinity
I find it's best to read George Bush press conferences on paper rather than watch them - it's also less painful for my head, which then doesn't bang nearly as much against the coffee table. The takeaway from this morning's swan song is how small this man must think the office of the Presidency is. Because the entire point of view was about things that happened TO him as President, not anything he did. This is used as the convenient excuse for the current sorry state of affairs. Everything started before his Presidency, unexpected things arose, he was a slave to events.
Like all big lies, it has a hint of the truth. All Presidents have to react to events. Nobody would argue with that. What 75% of the country have a problem with is that Bush's RESPONSES have been uniformly awful. There wasn't a lot of discussion about those responses today. Somehow, 42 other Presidents faced the same unexpected challenges and managed to steer the ship of state in for a softer landing than this. The two wars, broken alliances, destroyed moral standing and economic meltdown were not imposed upon this President. He acted - and acted spectacularly wrong.
In particular on the economy, the worst since the Great Depression, the excuses are not worthy of a 6th-grader who lost his homework:
The number of jobs in the nation increased by about 2 percent during Bush's tenure, the most tepid growth over any eight-year span since data collection began seven decades ago. Gross domestic product, a broad measure of economic output, grew at the slowest pace for a period of that length since the Truman administration. And Americans' incomes grew more slowly than in any presidency since the 1960s, other than that of Bush's father.
Bush and his aides are quick to point out that they oversaw 52 straight months of job growth in the middle of this decade, and that the economy expanded at a steady clip from 2003 to 2007. But economists, including some former advisers to Bush, say it increasingly looks as if the nation's economic expansion was driven to a large degree by the interrelated booms in the housing market, consumer spending and financial markets. Those booms, which the Bush administration encouraged with the idea of an "ownership society," have proved unsustainable.
The talking point is REALLY "We had 52 months of job growth, none of it better than an average Clinton month, all built on the backs of a bubble so unsustainable that, when it burst, it took down almost the entire global financial system." That's the ROSE-COLORED spin.
And the rest is just pathetic. Rather than recapitulate it, I'll just link to Jon Swift's brilliant takedown, with lines (not all that far from the actual spin) like:
After Hurricane Katrina President Bush kept our cities safe.
After the October 2008 stock market correction there have been no Great Depressions.
After Iraq and Afghanistan took a turn for the worse, President Bush kept us from losing any wars.
After the District Attorney firing scandal, the outing of Valerie Plame and other scandals, President Bush restored integrity to government.
After divisive elections President Bush united our country.
After Abu Ghraib, President Bush reaffirmed America's adherence to the Geneva Conventions and against torture.
After 9/11 President Bush kept America safe from terrorist attacks on American soil.
I mean, parody almost isn't enough at this point. There is no unmaking of this legacy. There is no escape from the near-universal scorn. There is no hope of repairing this damage while forgetting its cause.
The bad news is that we have to listen one last time to this clown as he delivers a "farewell address" on Thursday. The good news is that will probably be the last time.