As the presidency of George W. Bush circles the toilet, at long last and to the delight of most of America, I try to imagine what it must be like to have the vast majority of a nation of 312 million persons anxious for your departure. To leave office, to vacate the White House, to go away.
What shame a person with Bush's tangible record must endure. The undeniable series of failed actions and disasterous decisions with the broadest of ramifications.
But George W. Bush is not your average person -- not by a long shot. He is virtually incapable of shame. In a recent interview with Charles Gibson, he was asked what his greatest regret was during his presidency. Bush reponded that he regretted the failed intelligence, (by others), leading to the invasion of Iraq.
No mention of election theft, on two occasions. No mention of the failure to foresee and prevent the attacks of 9/11. No mention of the disasterous failure to effectively respond to hurricane Katrina. No mention of his proclamation that, in the war in Iraq, "the US and its allies had prevailed," (five years ago). No mention of the laundry list of the ways in which long-valued democratic processes have been regularly circumvented.
Any sensible summary of the Bush presidency would, by necessity, have to include the following highlights:
In a presidency founded upon election fraud that made its way to a US Supreme Court decision, Bush seemed doomed to mediocrity and a single term. Al Gore, his opponent, actually won the American popluar vote by more than a half-million votes. Eggs were hurled at the presidential limosine by onlookers as it made its way through the crowds on inaguration day in 2001. This was unprecedented and a genuine harbinger of things to come.
While on an extended vacation on his Crawford Texas ranch in the month before the 9/11 attacks, Bush ignored repeated warnings from quarters far and wide, some from foreign intelligence agencies, some quite specific, and with a US intelligence apparatus later acknowledged as "blinking red" as never before. After the attacks, Bush is widely, and amazingly, hailed as a hero. "No one could have anticipated such a thing," was the excuse, parroted by any official within eyeshot of a camera.
Bush, Cheney and the inner circle fought vigorously to prevent any investigation into the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks, and only begrudgingly relented to public pressure after 14 months. The so-called investigation was mired with conflicts of interest, hidden agendas, obfuscation, and a deliberate campaign to sidestep the facts surrounding the mass murder that changed America. The investigative commission was staffed by the Bush legal team and directed by a Bush insider.
Decades-long ties between the bin Laden and Bush families were suppressed. Countless, central aspects of the crime were ignored, timelines surrounding the failures were contradictory and laced with lies, key testimony was expunged from the transcripts, critical witnesses were prevented from testifying. A fairy tale of great significance was carefully woven into American history and mythology, where it resides to this day.
By cleverly tying the 9/11 attacks to Saddam Hussein and alleging Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, the Bush inner circle manufactured intelligence designed to foment fear and a desire for revenge among the American public. The invasion of Iraq has resulted in thousands of US military deaths, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths and the utter waste of upwards of a trillion dollars in American treasure. Viewing or photographing the returning coffins of US military dead was forbidden. No weapons were found. No ties to the 9/11 attacks were discovered.
Bush entered the 2000 presidential race and ran with the promise to restore digniity to the US presidency.
In a series of disasters suitable for an episode of the Keystone Cops, stunning ineptitude in prosecuting the invasion and wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan have plagued wounded veterans returning from the war zones. Soldiers and Marines -- long without appropriate armored vehicles and lack of body armor have suffered immeasuareably -- and needlessly. Many were charged for their medical care and treatment.
With more magic tricks and underhanded tactics that worked so well in the 2000 Florida fiasco, the Bush team manages to secure a second Bush term by caging and subverting the vote counting procedures in the key battleground state of Ohio in 2004. Bush's brain, Karl Rove, along with his team of opinion makers manage to pull it off, yet again.
Beginning with the Bush presidency, professional public opinion management has emerged as likely the most influential, yet most secretive career option in modern history. The practical results of success are astonishing -- on the world stage. And, in election victories largely through the manufacture of public perceptions, there are no higher stakes -- anywhere.
But this manufacture of consent, this manipulation of public opinion does not work as well beyond our borders, where the media is less suceptible to US government influence and coercion. America is hated around the world as never before in history as the facts about the illegal invasion of Iraq -- and the institutionalized murder -- are not subjected to filtering by our overlords here at home.
In keeping with the Bush administration's deception on grand scales, the widely touted success of "the surge" in Iraq that began in mid 2007, was, in fact, achieved by handsomely paying the enemies of US forces not to fight or attack American forces. What is referred to as "emerging peace" is an uneasy truce that depends entirely on a continuing series of payoffs -- payoffs of enormous sums of money -- and the American people are largely oblivious. We certainly won't hear of this from our tightly controlled news outlets.