It’s not every day I find myself in the unique position of having to remind people why George W. Bush was a bad man. But here we are, with a worse guy in office, and all of a sudden people even on the far left are romanticizing the presidency of the guy who actually got me to stop writing for a few years because I thought I might get an ulcer.
How much worse is Trump? Well, he took the LGBTQ community off the U.S. Census! He sold out his Cabinet positions to billionaires! Questioned our intelligence agencies! Rampant nepotism! Supported a health care bill that would literally kill people! Cheated to get into office, by all accounts — perhaps the worst offense of all.
There’s a long list of Trump’s transgressions so far, and anyone criticizing him is probably still not being comprehensive enough to cover everything. Not only has he done these things, but more importantly, he has raised an army of low-information voters who support him in lockstep, no matter how awful he gets.
But George W. Bush did all of the above as well. Literally 100% of it. Well, except the part about the Census. Turns out that group has never been on the census, even under Obama. Don’t get me wrong: Trump has not protected their rights. He just hasn’t been any worse on their rights than Bush was.
Hey, do you guys remember in 2000 when the Republican Secretary of State of Florida, Katherine Harris, illegally purged hundreds of thousands of people off the voter rolls there? Do you remember whose brother was the governor then? Do you remember how, after the Republican-controlled Supreme Court stopped the recounting in Florida, even foreign newspapers were reporting that the recounts would have favored Gore? Hey, do you remember how SCOTUS very carefully said that their ruling in Bush v Gore could never be used as precedent in future cases? Anyway.
An article in New York Magazine just reported that Bush, upon the conclusion of Trump’s inauguration, remarked
That was some weird shit.
It’s pretty cute, actually, and he really did say it. Fun to think about how former presidents might swear when commenting privately, fun to think that Dubya might think Trump is an ass… Just good clean fun. You know what I think is weird? It’s weird to me that people have such short memories.
Here’s what I want from my readers: I want you to understand we are not fighting Trump. We are fighting evil. It comes in many forms, and yes, Trump is one of the current incarnations. But by softening your memory of an administration that committed war crimes for nearly a decade in order to feel better about the cartoonishly evil stuff Trump has done, you run the risk of conditioning yourself to only fight when right-wing offenses are outlandishly bad.
By narrowing our view so much that Russian collusion with the Trump campaign seems like the worst election fraud we’ve ever seen, we risk forgetting that there wasn’t just controversy over the 2000 election — there is significant evidence that Bush stole it in 2004 as well. Highly-partisan, Bush-affiliated, Republican Secretary of State in the place it all came down to? Sound familiar?
By continuing to fume about the failed “health plan” the Republicans just tried to pass being the worst thing ever, we risk forgetting that they’ve been trying to turn Medicare into a voucher program since they learned to pronounce “voucher.” Did Trump ban Medicare from negotiating drug prices? I think that might have been another guy.
By focusing on Rex Tillerson and Betsy DeVos and Jeff Sessions as the most horrible Cabinet picks in history, we risk forgetting that Michael Hogan was a big game hunter that Bush put in charge of Fish and Wildlife, that HomeSec chief Michael Chertoff wrote most of the USA Patriot Act, and that AG Alberto Gonzalez wrote the memos that legalized torture.
By limiting our view of inappropriate, mafia-style internal appointments to Ivanka and Jared Kushner, we forget that FCC head Michael “BUT JANET’S TITTY” Powell was the son of Colin Powell, that Dick Cheney’s daughter got a tailor-made deputy position at the State Department, Bush’s Labor Secretary was Mitch McConnell’s wife, and her top lawyer at Labor was Antonin Scalia’s kid.
Do we get so mad about Mike Flynn that we forget about Valerie Plame?
I think we’re done with the example portion of this article. On to the homework:
The machine we’re battling is old, and it’s big, and it’s powerful. It has sucked in Democrats here and there. It demands that you forget its past offenses by committing new ones, and every time one of you wistfully bats your eyes at a funny meme of Lovable-Doofus-Bush-43, it works. Bush hated the media, Bush wasted an obscene amount of time on vacation, Bush released damning information on Friday nights so as to avoid the news cycle, if he released it at all. They’re big shoes, and Trump is working his hardest to fill them. But don’t forget that Trump is merely a figurehead, and not even the one the Republicans wanted to win the presidency.
Remember the mission.