Nostalgia for W

Back during the election, the ghost writer on Trump’s The Art of the Deal wrote that Trump was insecure and easily provoked. And those traits were on display this week. Trump can’t stand having less nukes than other presidents. He insists his IQ is really, really high, just like he had that huuuuge electoral college win. He wants you to know those paper towels he threw in Puerto Rico were top quality towels. And plenty of people think his drive to destroy Obamacare (with tricks like this) is partly resentment at the popular, intelligent, articulate black guy who preceded him (ditto terminating Obama’s Iran deal, because he can’t be a better negotiator than Trump).

But then again, it’s hard to imagine another Republican president (or congressional leader) who wouldn’t try to overturn Obamacare. They hate that people who aren’t rich are getting stuff from the government. Their donors hate government doing anything that doesn’t benefit them. They think people use too much healthcare and shouldn’t go to the doctor so much (Rep. Bill Huizinga is proud he didn’t take his kid to the E/R until he was sure his arm was broken). And eliminating Obamacare will allow them and their backers to get bigger tax cuts. Republicans say they’re concerned, but they won’t oppose Trump. And they ain’t models of good government either. Which is why getting nostalgic for George W. Bush is a big mistake.

I’ve heard people do it and I understand the impulse. W was coherent. W didn’t say the quiet parts out loud like Trump does (no matter how badly his administration treated Muslims, W repeatedly insisted we weren’t at war with them). But he was a dreadful president in every way (apologies, I don’t have time to include links):

He ignored warnings about the possibility of a 9/11-style attack. His response to 9/11 was to round up hundreds of Muslims based on nothing but ethnicity. Then to launch a war on Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. A war justified with talk of weapons of mass destruction despite multiple reports and defector intel that Saddam didn’t have any. And according to Assistant SecDef Paul Wolfowitz, the real agenda was that with Saddam down we could take troops out of Saudi Arabia, where American presence was stirring up trouble.

Bush proclaimed Mission Accomplished in 2003. Following which we lost thousands of soldiers fighting the insurgency. Iraqi civilian deaths numbered in the tens of thousands.

Bush sanctioned torture. He locked up hundreds of people without any trial, due process or review, based solely on his own authority. White House attorney John Yoo asserted the president had a unilateral right to ignore any laws or constitutional principles if he decided it was necessary. The FBI spied on law-abiding Muslims and nonviolent leftwing groups without any probable cause.

Bush appointed the incompetent, inexperienced Michael Brown to FEMA. He assumed office with a budget surplus and openly stated this was a bad thing (because it proved taxes were too high)! He successfully ran us into red ink.

Bush wanted very much to privatize Social Security. He said before his election that if he ever became a war president, he’d use that clout to make big changes in Social Security and other domestic programs.

And many Republicans declared that to so much as question our Glorious Supreme Leader was treasonous.

It didn’t start with Trump. It won’t end with Trump. He might look better than whoever the Republicans inflict on us next — but that won’t make him good.

 

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