On 20 January, 2009, George Bush will vacate the White House.
Because of outrage fatigue, I've posted less about him of late. The more attention I pay to the boy cheerleader posing as an action figure, the more upset I get, so I generally try to ignore him. (Every boy goes through a "I want to be a superhero" phase. How absurd that he didn't go through his until after elected president.) He has been in doubt even less often than he's been right, an executive so far in over his head that he didn't even know he was in over his head. One would have hoped that the combination of thoughtless strategy and inattentive execution might have cancelled one another out, but we have not been so lucky. It's worth reviewing just a few of the man's more egregious moments as president, before comparing the economy under him with that under Bill.
As a measure of his disinterest in even his own ideas, it was only after he ordered the invasion of Iraq that Bush learned that there were both Shiites and Sunnis.
By the end of June, 2003, American troops had successfully invaded and begun the occupation of Iraq with an astounding 206 causalities (as in, it was an amazingly small number to suffer for the invasion of an entire country). Safely back in the White House, Bush's response to a question about insurgent forces was, "Bring 'em on." Since that utterance, 3,721 American troops have been killed by insurgents. (For the record, 2,819 were killed in the attacks on 9-11.)
Just prior to 9-11, Bush had completed the longest vacation yet enjoyed by a sitting president - 6 weeks in Crawford. During his vacation, he and Condi Rice did little or nothing in response to a memo titled, "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S."
By nearly any measure, Bush has presided over a setback in progress. From crime rates to job creation, fiscal responsibility to the performance of equity markets, the numbers under Bush have been paltry or pathetic. This without even mentioning his casual disregard for habeas corpus, his slander of McCain in the South Carolina primaries, his disregard for Americans' privacy, or his bungling of the post-Katrina recovery effort. He is, sadly, proof that the world is not made better every time an alcoholic begins drinking diet coke.
Here's a table prepared by Chuck Schumer's office, comparing Bush's performance with Clinton's. (And, of course, measures like unemployment have worsened since this table was put together.)
Bush may well have done more than mismanage the federal budget. He may have bankrupted the Republican brand formerly associated with competency in war and economics.
We've made it through 7 years. Surely we can make it through one more. Everybody, sing along with the late Richard Manuel and Rick Danko. We shall be released.