Sunday, March 12, 2017
DON'T GIVE EX PRESIDENTS A PASS
When former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died in 2013, the public pushed the song "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" to number two on the UK singles chart, and many people who opposed her reign were open in their lack of remorse. Comparatively, when disgraced former president Richard Nixon died in 1994, most Americans were either remorseful or silent; the fact that he committed crimes and resigned in disgrace was whitewashed to the point that he was simply called "controversial". It appears that while America may never have had royalty, we are expected to respect the office of the president so much that ex presidents are treated that way, even criminal ones like Nixon. Just look at how Ronald Reagan has been held up as some paragon of presidential greatness, with the fact that his administration illegally sold weapons to Iran and then used the profits of those sales to fund an equally illegal war in Nicaragua almost never mentioned. And Bill Clinton's near impeachment was mostly forgotten and ignored by the press until his wife started running for president, and even then it was hardly seen as an issue.
This is manifesting itself right now in the rehabilitation tour that former president George W Bush has been going on; in the past few weeks he's been popping up on talk shows, showing off his paintings (which really are awful looking), and laughing and joking around, promoting himself as some kind of lovable grandpa figure. I find his self serving attempt to improve his image as utterly disgusting.
Has America forgotten that Bush led us into a an utterly disastrous war in Iraq based on charges of weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda? And how that war lead to the death of thousands of American soldiers, ten of thousands of Iraqi civilians and threw the region into such chaos that over ten years later the world is still dealing with the fall out from what was one of the worst foreign policy decisions in modern history? And what about the illegal wire tapping of Americans his administration carried out? Not to mention water boarding and other torture techniques being used on terror suspects? Is all that supposed to be forgotten because he's been out of office for awhile? How short is the American memory?
The image that bothers me the most is of Bush visiting the Ellen DeGeneres show and clowning around with the host. Has she forgotten that in 2004, Bush waged the most openly homophobic presidential campaign ever? Why would an out lesbian who has pushed for gay marriage do a friendly, outright fawning interview with a president who repeatedly stated that he wanted an amendment barring gay marriage enshrined in the constitution? And who packed the supreme court and the judiciary who judges who agreed with him? She couldn't summon up the strength to ask him one tough question about all this? Imagine Arsenio Hall giving a cute interview with David Duke!
History must not forget: when George W Bush left office, his approval ratings were lower than Nixon's during Watergate, in fact, his low ratings lasted longer than any other president ever. We must remember not just the Iraq war and his opposition to gay rights, but also his pathetic response to hurricane Katrina, and, of course, the economic policies he supported that laid the groundwork for the biggest economic crisis since the depression. When Trump haters look back on Bush's regime with nostalgia, they seem to forget all these things. While I think Trump has all the potential to be an even worse president than Bush was, he hasn't gotten there yet. Bush wants to improve his image as a terrible president and somehow absolve himself from stumbling into a horrific war. Let's not let him.