George W. Bush
Does anyone even remember the first eight months of the George W. Bush administration? It was an unmitigated train wreck. One of the last nails in our current economic coffin got hammered in when he gave away the Clinton surplus to his one-percenter buddies with a massive tax cut we couldn't afford and they didn't need. Chinese fighters swatted some of our airmen out of the sky, and George made sure they had Bibles. He laid siege to the separation between church and state with a dead-on-arrival faith-based initiative. The main article in Newsweek on September 10, 2001, was all about how the Bush v. Gore decision, and in fact his entire presidency, was a farce and a sham. Eight months in, and he had "one-termer" written all over his pinched, confused face.
It was eight years ago when four commercial airplanes penetrated the most formidable electronic and military defenses in the history of the world, despite a presidential memo warning of exactly such an occurrence, and delivered George W. Bush to his glory. The attacks of September 11 were the best thing to ever happen to the man, a truth he and his minions reinforced at every opportunity. There is no context in our history for the manner in which he used those attacks, and the fear they inspired, against the American people to gain control of the national agenda. Dick Cheney became president that day, and used 9/11 to wreak havoc on our constitutional system of government. For Cheney, it was payback; they chased his first boss, Nixon, out of the city with their rules and laws, so he tore it all up to try and ensure such a thing could never happen again.
Afghanistan started eight years ago today, as did Iraq. Bush stood before the American people on live television and told us about 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX gas, 30,000 munitions to deliver the stuff, mobile biological weapons labs, uranium from Niger for use in a robust nuclear weapons program ("noo-clee-urr," not "nook-yuh-lurr," by the way; he never once got it right), mushroom clouds, doom, fear, and all the rest of that tremendous, deadly lie. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands upon thousands of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians were torn to pieces because of those lies, but he got away with telling them, thanks to the best day of his life: Tuesday, September 11, 2001, eight years ago today.
A French newspaper declared "We Are All Americans" on September 12, but it was all downhill after that. By the first week of October, with a pall of poison smoke still hanging over New York City, Bush declared that, "We have to counteract the shockwave of the evildoer by having individual rate cuts accelerated and by thinking about tax rebates," and the world threw up into its collective mouth. He took us to war; he took us to Hell, and we are still far, far from anything resembling recovery.
For the crimes committed under his administration, George W. Bush should have been impeached. Period, end of file. They should have locked him in jail and thrown away the jail, but they didn't, because the greatest crime he committed isn't technically against the law. Nowhere on the books is any rule, codicil, edict or law that says it is illegal to destroy the rule of law itself. His crimes were too big for the law, so surpassingly damaging that his very presence paralyzed the Constitution itself. He should have been prosecuted for lying America into war, for spying on everyone, for bypassing the FISA court, for robbing the Treasury, for torture, for murder, but he wasn't, and the political cowardice that allowed him to escape into private life is the last, worst stain left in his wake.
September 11, 2001, is a Rorschach test for every American now; it means something different to anyone and everyone confronted by it. Some see American flags and the conquest of Muslim infidels. Some see wars and rumors of wars. Some see money to be made. Most, however, see only fear and flight, and the end of something we didn't know we had. Mr. Bush saw opportunity, and made the most of it, and we are all less than we were because of it.
Eight years later, we are still covered in smoke, ash and tears.
Photos in slideshow by: White House.gov, Paul Morse, Eric Draper, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Mate 2nd Class Eric Powell, David Ball, World Resources Institute Staff, JO1 Mark D. Faram, USN, Tom Anderson, David Bohrer, Jean-Bernard Sieber, Army.mil, Jeremy T. Lock, US Air Force, Mate 3rd Class Tyler J. Clements, Mate 2nd Class Jim Watson, Barry Yanowitz, Carrie McLeroy, Staff Sgt. Adam Mancini, Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith, Random McRandomhead, Flickr, Kevin Dooley, Cayusa, Slagheap, 1st Class Preston Keres, SSGT Jacob N. Bailey, Michael Rieger/ FEMA, Alex ~ SFO, Spc. Canaan Radcliffe, Danny Hammontree, digitaldefection, Staff Sgt. Ricky A. Bloom