In January, 2001, the then president-elect was named in an analysis of the Supreme Court’s Bush v. Gore ruling, a decision our analyst Mark H. Levine referred to as “lawless, illogical, and hypocritical.”
The magazine showed astonishing prescience in February, 2001. We created a contest called “Pin the Tail on the World,” asking readers to pick the country that Bush would bomb first. (This was pre-9/11, don’t forget.) The text read, in part: “What will George W. Bush do to consolidate his purloined power, having been installed by party hacks and Supreme Court justices on the payroll after voters rejected him? We’re betting he’ll do the same thing any president does when Congress is divided, the economy is headed south, and the people are threatening revolt—he’ll go to war.”
This was followed by the jaw-dropping naïveté of our June issue, in which we published a piece by Michael Moore commenting on the first few months of the Bush regime, titled “George Hasn’t Done Anything Al Wouldn’t Have.” To wit: “Well, 101 days into the Junta and the fear mongers are a heyday, aren’t they? To listen to them, you’d think George W. Bush has opened the gates of hell and unleashed the legions of Satan upon the American people.” This was the last piece by Moore that we printed.
After a few more articles in 2001 questioning what actually happened to the Floridian chads and whether or not masses of black voters were disenfranchised in the Sunshine State prior to his election, we got down to covering the unfolding nightmare: No Child Left Behind; 9/11 and the administration’s bomb first, ask questions later approach to foreign policy; the war in Iraq; more war in Iraq; and yet more war in Iraq. Don’t forget the articles we ran on the erosion of civil liberties, or those investigating ties between the Republican party and voting machine manufacturer Diebold. Then in 2006, we brought Larry Beinhart on board as a political commentator. Larry has made tracking the misdeeds of the Bush administration a full-time job, from reporting on the articles of impeachment put forth by Dennis Kucinich in the House, to the way Bush speaks about his God-given agenda is rhetorically similar to the pronouncements of Osama bin Laden. But even Larry seems tired of tarring and feathering our man in the White House any longer. He hasn’t mentioned Bush in three months! (His latest target is Alan Greenspan.)
While I was overjoyed to see Barack Obama elected president, it had less to do with Obama than with Bush. Watching the returns come in on election night, I felt a cathartic sense of relief, like the landing gear had finally deployed, and we might just land this sucker.
For I am done with George W. Bush. I am done with everything about George W. Bush. I am done with compassionate conservatism, Karl Rove, phony excuses for war, a singing attorney general, unilateralism, Gitmo, the war on terror (one last time: terrorism is a technique, not a belief system), warrantless wiretapping, oil executives setting energy policy in closed-door meetings, the unitary executive, American exceptionalism, waterboarding, nepotism at the cabinet level (“Heckuva job, Brownie!”), a vice-president who shoots his friend in the face, pre-emptive war, uber-conservative Supreme Court nominees (and unqualified ones, like Harriet Miers), extraordinary rendition, environmental degradation, politicization of the civil service—I could go on and on.
And I am done with my own outrage; it’s exhausting to be this indignant for this long. I look forward to trying to regain a sense of optimism about the direction of this country.
Goodbye, George W. Bush. Don’t worry about the mess. We’ll clean it up. Just go.