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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Heckuva job Bushie

I was going to let George Bush slink away, back to Texas to be forgotten and ignored. But since he won't leave quietly, his "ultimate exit interview" needs some truth squadding.

Let's start with the easy one -- mo amount of wistful revisionism will absolve you of the tragedy of neglect know as Katrina.
"I have thought long and hard about Katrina," Bush told reporters gathered in the White House briefing room for his 47th full-scale news conference. "You know, could I have done something differently, like land Air Force One either in New Orleans or Baton Rouge?"

Bush's answer suggested that he would not have done much different in responding to a crisis that even some of his former aides said damaged his standing with the American people. (The White House itself criticized the response in a report in February 2006.) Asked later about what more should be done to help New Orleans, the president circled back to rebut the idea that the initial federal response to the natural disaster was slow.

Plucking people off rooftops, which Bush proclaimed as a triumph, would not have been necessary had the federal government taken proper steps to prepare for the disaster. But more importantly, it ignores the fact that after people were plucked off those rooftops, they were abandoned -- left to fend for the themselves by a government that obviously didn't care.

Since the apple really doesn't fall far from the tree, his attitude can best be summed up by Barbara "Marie Antoinette" Bush:
"What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."
Yep, let them eat cake.

Then there is the soon-to-be-former president's befuddlement over the response to him:
“I don’t know why they get angry,” he replied to a question about those who disagreed with his policies so vehemently that it became personal. “I don’t know why they get hostile."
First, perhaps it had something to do with the way your party set a precedent in the way it demonized Bill Clinton?

Or perhaps it's because you were elected in a controversial and divisive election and, instead of following through on being "a uniter, not a divider" chose to move away from the center and sharply to the right, claiming a mandate that was not there?

Nor can Bush be allowed to bow off the stage with admonitions that people heed his warnings about the dangers of terrorism.

If George Bush had paid more attention to an Aug. 6, 2001 memo entitled "Bin Ladin determined to strike in US" -- or at least not belittled the briefer who he told had "covered your ass" -- we might have taken his words more seriously.

And nothing can justify the use of torture and the trashing of the Constitution. Just ask that noted liberal Charles Fried.
Some argue that torture is justified if our survival is threatened, but even apart from the elasticity of this justification, it is flawed because it depends on an equivocation. Our physical survival is not what is of overriding moral importance (people give up their lives all the time for some higher value) but our survival as decent human beings acting for a decent society. And we cannot authorize indecency without jeopardizing our survival as a decent society.
Goodbye George. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

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