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comment by FirebrandRoaring
FirebrandRoaring  ·  421 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: U.S. State Department has been gutted, with no end in sight

Was Bush that bad? I hear stories, but I was too young at the time to follow his presidency.

johnnyFive  ·  421 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Absolutely. He's a war criminal by any sane definition: we invaded Iraq based on intelligence that the government knew was false, after lying to our allies. The Afghanistan invasion was shaky but not wholly so, but in both cases the post-war period was so colossally mismanaged that it makes parts of Trump's presidency look magisterial. They chose loyalty and ideology over experience; for example, a 24-year-old with no experience in finance (and who had applied for a job with the White House) was instead sent to re-open the Iraqi stock exchange. They authorized the use of torture if we thought someone might have something to do with terrorism, they locked up people in Guantanamo Bay without proof of wrongdoing or access to lawyers, and generally torpedoed US credibility abroad. He also withdrew us from the Kyoto Protocol (an earlier treaty on greenhouse gas emissions).

On the home front, his administration brought us the Patriot Act, and the president of the United States saying that you're "either with us or you're with the terrorists." Not long after the Justice Department ruled that the precursor program to the current domestic spying programs was illegal, then-AG John Ashcroft was in the hospital for acute pancreatitis, and possibly dying. The administration sent the White House Counsel (Alberto Gonzalez) and Chief of Staff Andrew Card to Ashcroft's hospital room to try to get him to reverse the DOJ's decision (Ashcroft refused). The acting AG, who witnessed all this, was none other than James Comey. Bush also signed laws requiring stricter standards on driver's licenses, a highly anti-consumer change to the bankruptcy code, and subsidies for energy companies that didn't incentivize green power generation.

They also did things like No Child Left Behind, which was roundly considered a failure. He pushed for and signed a law cutting taxes on the wealthy, turning the first budget surplus since World War 2 into a deficit. His first ever veto was a law that would have allowed federal funding for research on new stem cell lines. His administration also thoroughly botched response to Hurricane Katrina, fired eight US attorneys for political reasons (which would result in the resignation of Karl Rove and then-AG Gonzales), leaked the name of a covert CIA operative for political reasons, and, wait for it, used a private e-mail server. The list goes on.

Overall, he presaged the worst of Trump's policies and rhetoric: he was anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT rights, botched healthcare reform (pushed for Medicare Part D, which was a massive giveaway to drug companies), and mismanaged the financial crisis. He totally wrecked any pretense of moral credibility by the United States, including labeling countries as "evil" (at the same time we were happily torturing random folks from the Middle East at black sites all over the world). In any actually just society, he would've been impeached and sent to jail, but we just got left with someone who set a new low for presidential competence, comportment, and integrity. It's worth noting that Bush finished his presidency with an approval rating of 19%, lower than any president in history.

goobster  ·  420 days ago  ·  link  ·  

AND he abandoned the Strong Dollar Policy, which had maintained the US Dollar as the reference currency for every other economy on the planet. This was a "soft power" position that continually put the US in a strong negotiating position with any other country in the world.

This gave rise to the Euro becoming the key reference currency that all other currencies are measured against, effectively making Germany the financial arbiter in world politics.

FirebrandRoaring  ·  421 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you for listing all of that. I had no idea.

Maybe it's the vividity of the image, but Trump still seems like a much worse president. "Mexico sends its rapists, and some... I assume are good people". At least Bush had a righteous guise for his Middle East agenda. (not saying he was right or good because of that: his shit smells marginally better than the other guy's, but it's still shit)

johnnyFive  ·  421 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Trump is basically Bush 2.0: he's the culmination of the psychotic one-upsmanship that has been the GOP strategy for a couple of decades. The problem when you rely on riling people up to get elected is that you have to keep upping your game, and continue to make people angrier than they were last time around.

Come the 2016 presidential election, the outrage fission reaction got away from them.

WanderingEng  ·  421 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thanks for writing all that out. I'd forgotten how bad Bush was.