He Was No Rocket Surgeon


"Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat."

George W Bush, Washington DC, 17 September 2004

Most of the time we were laughing at him, not with him, and if Bushisms are all you care to remember of the past eight years, we don’t blame you. Hop over to The Guardian and get filled with nostalgia by their quote generator, The Random Wisdom of President Bush.

This week blogwatch takes a look at the less linguistic legacies of the 43rd President of the United States — and there are plenty of them. Love him or hate him, Dubya certainly left a big grubby mark on world politics. And on the blogosphere. 

The Harper’s Index offers an extensive greatest hits list, which is worth reading all the way through:

"Minimum number of Bush appointees who have regulated industries they used to represent as lobbyists: 98.

Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated by the USA Patriot Act, according to the ACLU: 50.

Minimum number of laws that Bush signing statements have exempted his administration from following: 1069.

Estimated number of juveniles whom the United States has detained as enemy combatants since 2002: 2500."

Alright, so a few of them are covers, but George managed to belt them out with a new folksy rhythm.

Over at Blue Oregon there’s an analysis of how the USA’s "first MBA President" managed the economy. Did he do it better than the lawyers, generals, actor and peanut farmer who came before him?

"Bush arrived in Washington as the first ‘MBA president’, and he promised to run the Government like a CEO. People at the top did fine. The country got richer, and if you average all those riches out, individuals got richer, too — per-capita GDP went up nearly $4000 (11 per cent). But median incomes were down. This tells us that the riches were spread not uniformly across the income spectrum, but collected among the already-rich. Sound familiar? CEOs spent the decade reaping obscene amounts of money even as their companies foundered."

This may well be true. Apparently we shouldn’t draw any conclusions, though — we should let history be the judge of President Bush. In an appropriately titled post — "George Bush was Right, Yesterday, Today and Forever" — MacRanger writes:

"History will [be]the judge on George Bush, not MSNBC. That’s a good thing because MSNBC has yet to be right on anything else. But as history will bear out Bush’s decisions were sound, just and yeah, right."

Yeah, right.

Daniel Halper at Pajamas Media (home of Joe the Plumber’s Gaza coverage) concedes that Bush messed up a few things but still dares to call the quagmire in Iraq a "liberation":

"President Bush’s decision to liberate the Iraqi people from such blood-curdling terror was an act of courage that should be celebrated, even if the war in Iraq has not been perfectly executed […] detractors of the Bush administration (just about everyone these days) choose to focus only on the imperfections of the liberation."

According to Mitch Lowry at the National Review Online, most of these imperfections can be blamed on other people, anyway. On his particularly short list of Bush’s mistakes in office, Lowry says that "deferring to his generals" was a grave error.

"Bush believed that his job was to listen to his generals and give them what they wanted. This made him overly passive during much of the Iraq war. It wasn’t until his generals had nearly lost the war that Bush fully stepped up to his role as commander in chief, going around the brass to order the surge."

Bush did everything the generals wanted, except when he cut the invasion force from 400,000 to 180,000 — a decision that history will see as far too passive, according to beaconcast.com.

The more left wing outlets dismiss these glorifications of the Bush years as propaganda that disguises a failed and arrogant presidency. There’s no love lost in Dan Froomkin of The Washington Post‘s farewell message:

"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 September 11."

It has become a terrible frustration of liberals in America that the uneducated regular folks ate up the Bush rhetoric and kept him in office. Why couldn’t these dullards see what the north eastern political establishment were trying to tell them!?

Unfortunately, Harper’s debunks that little urban myth:

"Number of states John Kerry would have won in 2004 if votes by poor Americans were the only ones counted: 40.

Number if votes by rich Americans were the only ones counted: 4."

Bush has of course long since lost the support of just about everyone, and many have tipped him to be one of the least active presidents in retired life. Politico, however, reports that he will be working hard promoting what White House Press Secretary Dana Perino describes as his "freedom agenda".

Bush "plans to write a book, give speeches, help build his presidential library and start a ‘freedom institute’ to prolong his legacy," according to the article. Bush told Fox News anchor Chris Wallace that, "I bet once I get going on this book, I’ll be able to get ‘er done".

Bush is doing his best to enjoy his last days in office, though. Last Tuesday he got the White House kitchen to prepare a lunch, including "a little chocolate birthday cake [with]a little chocolate microphone," for conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh’s birthday.

This is how Limbaugh describes the impromptu birthday party:

"The President [says], ‘Don’t blow it out yet,’ he and [White House advisor Ed] Gillespie stand up, they stand behind me, photographer comes in, he starts snapping pictures while the President and Gillespie and the stewards sing happy birthday to me."

Limbaugh had salmon on rice with fries and salad, while the President — a man of simple tastes — had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Bush reportedly told the steward when he ordered the meal, "I want red jelly, don’t give me that purple jelly, I want red jelly."

You got that, Laura? He’s all yours.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.