With just a few days remaining in George W Bush’s Presidency, we’re seeing plenty of retrospectives and evaluations. Half of them are being delivered by Bush himself; the other half are by members of the reality-based community.
To recognise this historic point in history and celebrate the departure of this administration, I thought we should collect some of the most insightful and/or entertaining evaluations of the Bush years.
I’ll start the ball rolling with two of the Washington Post’s columnists. First, Eugene Robinson (courtesy of Bron):
As his greatest achievement, Bush would cite the fact that there has been no terrorist attack on U.S. soil — I won’t use Bush’s unfortunate term, “the homeland,” which sounds vaguely Teutonic and evokes lederhosen — since the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaeda atrocities. Here, though, he relies entirely on short-term history. His argument, in effect, is that since we’ve made it through seven years and four months without an attack, his administration’s anti-terrorism methods must be both necessary and effective.
That must be a comforting thought for the president, but it’s unjustified. That there has been no new attack does not justify waterboarding, Guantanamo, secret CIA prisons or warrantless domestic surveillance. Bush believes these departures from American values and traditions were necessary, but from what we know so far, they look more like overkill — an excess of cruelty and a disdain for the rule of law that have seriously damaged this nation’s sense of itself.
And next, Dan Froomkin:
He took the nation to a war of choice under false pretenses — and left troops in harm’s way on two fields of battle. He embraced torture as an interrogation tactic and turned the world’s champion of human dignity into an outlaw nation and international pariah. He watched with detachment as a major American city went under water. He was ostensibly at the helm as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression took hold. He went from being the most popular to the most disappointing president, having squandered a unique opportunity to unite the country and even the world behind a shared agenda after Sept. 11. He set a new precedent for avoiding the general public in favor of screened audiences and seemed to occupy an alternate reality. He took his own political party from seeming permanent majority status to where it is today. And he deliberately politicized the federal government, circumvented the traditional policymaking process, ignored expert advice and suppressed dissent, leaving behind a broken government.
What is your favourite summation of George Walker Bush’s time in office?