One may as well wear a white hood, while the other governed as if he were donning a dunce cap, but make no mistake: Hot garbage may have a stronger stench than its colder counterpart, but trash is trash.
So when it comes to the growing sentiment that maybe, just maybe, former President George W. Bush wasn’t so bad, I say this with love: Y’all have got to get the fuck on somewhere. I know Papaya Batista has us wondering if every churchgoing elder who’s been talking about the rapture since the original airings of Fraggle Rock might finally have his visions come to fruition. But oh no, we are not about to rock our hips and then wave and sip in this revisionist history about that man.
Some of this Dubya-remixed nostalgia stems from his interview on Today to promote his new book, Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors, featuring portraits of some of the military veterans he has met.
Since Bush managed to pry himself out of self-imposed exile from the press, Matt Lauer did not miss the chance to ask him about what’s happening in our increasingly disastrous world. In turn, W. set out to prove that he’s not a complete fool and a boil on the butt of humanity, unlike the reality-show hack currently in office.
When asked about the press, Bush said that a free press was “indispensable to democracy”—not the sworn enemy of the American people as some nitwits have recently argued. Bush added, “We need an independent media to hold people like me to account.”
He then opted to up the sensible-speaking ante: “Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power.”
What interesting commentary from a man who led the administration that lied about us getting into war, but sure, this all sounds a lot better than “axis of evil” and much of the word vomit he was known to engage in as president. As do Bush’s comments about 45’s potential ties to the Russian government.
“I think we all need answers,” he said. “I’m not sure the right avenue to take. I am sure, though, that that question needs to be answered.”
And for his thoughts on 45’s immigration policy, Bush explained, “I am for an immigration policy that is welcoming and upholds the law.”
What Bush should have said was, “Immigration reform was probably the one decent goal I could have accomplished as president, but the hateful people of my own punk-ass party cock-blocked me.”
After the Today interview came his People magazine interview in which Bush declared, “I don’t like the racism and I don’t like the name-calling, and I don’t like the people feeling alienated. Nobody likes that.”
This all prompted applause from people just happy to see a president who doesn’t make them want to cry out to God asking why they have been forsaken.
While discussing Bush’s interviews, The View’s Joy Behar quipped:
The thing about this is that Donald has now done something I thought he would never do. I like—I like the fact that George Bush—I like George Bush now, is what I’m trying to say! I’m having trouble saying it.
Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin may differ with Behar in ideology but echoed her sentiment, writing in “Republicans Should Miss George W. Bush”:
We shouldn’t damn Bush 43 with faint praise by saying he is more humble, compassionate, empathetic, generous and civil than Trump, but it also bears remembering that in his defense of democratic norms, U.S. world leadership, nondiscrimination, legal immigration and anti-poverty initiatives, his policy views were more rational and mindful of American values than are those of the current Oval Office resident. Moreover, the GOP under Bush, whatever its faults and shortcomings, was surely preferable to the Party of Trump.
I’ve even seen headlines like “Face It, You Miss George W. Bush.” Mere days into 45’s term, you could see some say “I miss Dubya” across social media. I’ve heard this in person, too. As he has done his entire life, Bush is coasting on the bigotry of low expectations.
As someone who grew up under Gov. Bush and suffered more under President Bush, I want to remind everyone of a few things.
Like, say, the war in Iraq, notably the day he claimed before Congress and the nation that “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” Meanwhile, the CIA confirmed reports that the Bush administration ignored real intelligence about the threat Osama bin Laden posed to the United States.
We can promptly move to Hurricane Katrina, during which, thanks to his administration, people needlessly suffered, if not lost their loved ones, because of gross incompetence and negligence. As much as folks recall Kanye West declaring, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” I want to revisit one thing Bush said at the time regarding Katrina: “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva a job.”
Oh, we can shimmy around the housing crisis and the Great Recession he flung us into. I graduated from college during that era. It was not fun.
Others have much more extensive lists detailing his failures, but the big ones alone are enough to suspend any feelings that it would be so much better to have him back in office.
George W. Bush seems like a congenial cowboy who probably would have made a fine bartender who went on to become a famous painter and the host of some show on Bravo or HGTV. Had that been his path, I’d be all for Bush celebrations. That’s not his life, though.
It doesn’t matter if, by comparison with 45, Bush appears far greater. If anything, Bush was a stop on the road we’re on now with this Republican Party and that Republican president. Bush was kinder toward Muslims and immigrants, but he exploited anti-gay sentiments to win re-election. And we all know how that first presidential election of his went.
Anyone who has been part of the Republican Party over the past five decades has dabbled in bigotry, perpetuated genuine class warfare and maintained a status quo that only uplifts well-off, rich, white men at the expense of everyone else. Bush was no different; he merely marketed it as “compassionate conservatism,” but his record shows he had little compassion for the people he let die in New Orleans, Baghdad and other places across the world. “Make America great again” feels far worse, but none of us should pat Bush on the back or feed him unnecessary praise because he’s not as bad when “as bad” remains not good enough.
They differ in tone but share the same trait of being disasters for the country, especially for the marginalized people who live within. Oh, and they are both vastly less qualified than “Jeb!” Bush to be president. Sad!