Column: The Bush Years: An Explainer

This week in Nevada, Jeb Bush accidentally declared he’s running for president to reporters. He was supposed to say, “if I run” and instead said, “I’m running for president!”

So now that it’s official, I feel it’s my duty to explain the Bush years to younger/amnesiac Americans who may not remember what life was like before Obama. For example, Fox News used to co-sign and coo over everything that came out of the Oval Office. True story. The party line at Fox News was that libruls were an evil plague and if George W. Bush could just get his way—the country would be better for it.

So we invaded Iraq preemptively. Because, we were told, we’d be greeted as liberators. And Saddam was behind 9/11. Also, we were told, it’d pay for itself, because, you see, there was oil and stuff there. And Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And Fox News was totally on board with this. And Judith Miller was on board. And anyone who wasn’t, was a treasonous, flag-burning, queer, vegetarian environmentalist.

On March 28, 2003—a week after the invasion of Iraq by US forces, the Fox News Ticker on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan read, “How do you keep a war protester in suspense? Ignore them.”

“While young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan,” said pseudo-Dem. Senator Zell Miller at the 2004 Republican National Convention. “Our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats’ manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief.” Basically, we preemptively put troops in harm’s way and since they’re now dying, anyone who opposes it hates America.

And let’s not forget Dixie Chick Natalie Maines saying in London just before the invasion, “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.” And they were boycotted, vilified, their careers ruined, becoming the personification of liberal traitors everywhere. In short: They were Dixie Chicked.

President Bush commented on this phenomenon and said, “They shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out.”

Chilling? Yes. Other era peacenik villains were diplomat Joe Wilson who had the audacity to challenge faulty intelligence on the pages of The New York Times. His wife, CIA covert operative Valerie Plame, was outed by Scooter Libby (read: Dick Cheney). Cindy Sheehan, a mother of a soldier who died in Iraq, was widely mocked for opposing the war. Even 9/11 widows were “fair game” on Fox during the Bush years.

See, Bush was not a compromiser. “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists,” he told the country in 2001. He was not one to reach across the aisle. He was right and never apologized. All because god was in the White House. God talked to George W. Bush and told him to cut taxes for the wealthy and put two wars on credit cards. (During the Bush years, god’s alternative spelling was “The Heritage Foundation.”)

Like his brother, Dubya was also a flubber. “Too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.” Pro-Bush pundits’ full-time gig was interpreting for the rest of us what the hell the president was saying. And how he was really just a shoot-from-the-hip guy and not just a puppet for war profiteers (read: Dick Cheney).

Jeb has repeatedly said George W. will be the person he listens to on Mideast issues. Jeb is going to get advice from the guy who destabilized the region, creating fertile ground for ISIS and yet has never regretted anything he’s ever “decided?!” What could go wrong?

Jeb did a fawningly friendly interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly where he was asked if he would, knowing what we know now, invade Iraq. (A question, you’d think, he’d prepared for since the first day of the invasion.) He said he would. He’d do exactly as his brother did. Immediately, his pocket pundit Ana Navarro took to the airwaves to explain Jeb misheard the question.

So he wouldn’t invade Iraq? Jeb later said he refused to answer the question because it was a hypothetical and “such hypotheticals were insensitive to the families of fallen soldiers in the war.”

Sound familiar? It’s a re-run. A three-peat. As recent nonagenarian Yogi Berra once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

If George were a great president, it would bring up nostalgia for a storied time in American history. But he wasn’t. He was a brutish, dim-witted, anti-science, disastrous, short-sighted zealot who perverted patriotism to mean legal immunity. He tanked our economy and we’re still reeling from his foreign policy fiascos.

We need him and anyone who refuses to learn from his mistakes to be in the country’s rear view, not on a ballot.


Image by DonkeyHotey