Brotherly love is one thing, losing all touch with reality is another. Jeb Bush demonstrated this past week that love, especially the familial variety, is indeed blind. In an interview notable as much for its irony as its content, Jeb told the New York Times that "he wants President Barack Obama to stop blaming his brother for the economic and environmental woes facing the nation." He called the President's behavior "childish." "It's kind of like a kid coming to school saying ' The dog ate my homework". This is what children do until they mature. They don't accept responsibility."
This from the brother of a man who was more than ready to grab the glory but never the blame; it was even Laura's fault he dropped the dog. He couldn't, even when pressed, think of a single occasion when he might have been wrong. But more important, Jeb's own petty and childish attack on President Obama is ignoring his brother's legacy. George W. Bush pretty much destroyed the world.
Even if President Obama were using "43" as an excuse for everything that has gone wrong he has still been too respectful and the public too lenient. Jeb should be grateful that his brother is not under house arrest.
Before you dismiss this as partisan hyperbole, give me a minute. I will admit to partisanship; indeed I loathed the man and am not inclined to cut him any slack; but hyperbole it is not. That charge can be made against the former Florida governor, John Boehmer, and others who dare claim that, after a year and a half in office, the problems are now Obama's fault. That is purely outrageous. Obama can't cure these problems in one term or even two. We and our children will not recover from the damage that the Bush administration did on multiple fronts for generations.
Lots of presidents make mistakes. In this day of huge staffs and huge problems, presidents may not even be aware of some big ones until they blow up in his face. The big mistakes Bush made were different; they were deliberate, they were wanton, and most of all, they cannot be undone. His most grievous offense was to pick Dick Cheney as his vice president; a single mistake that caused much of what was to follow. Still, even if he was under the sway of Cheney and his fellow Svengali Karl Rove, Bush was, in the final analysis, responsible.
Global warming is a perfect example of irreversible loss. The administration refused to admit its existence for one term and then only grudgingly conceded that while it might exist, it wasn't necessarily man-made. Even if their policies had not further contributed to the problem, millions of people are now convinced climate change is liberal hokum and eight precious years of research did not happen. Who knows how much time we have left to reverse the downward spiral. In the same vein, a cure might already have been found for Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimers, or other debilitating illnesses if stem cell research had not been on hold for eight long years because of a right-wing-driven lie. Think of the incalculable death and suffering those missing years of credible research might have prevented.
Then we get to the overt actions. They are almost too numerous to count, but the problems they created did not disappear when Bush's helicopter cleared Washington airspace. To list just a few bells that cannot be unrung:
The war in Iraq. Long after we finally declare a hollow victory in that unnecessary war, the country must atone for hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths and a generation of their children lost as well as the death or maiming of thousands of our own young soldiers. The war engendered distrust if not hatred for us throughout the world and a huge financial cost reflected in what Republicans are calling Obama's deficit and the deterioration of our own nation's infrastructure. It is not often enough pointed out that another legacy of our Iraq misadventure is the quagmire in Afghanistan. We were close to real victory there when Saddam became so all-fired important to Bush and Cheney. Now an almost-won situation and an occupied nation have been left to stew for seven years. While busy not winning in Iraq, Bush made Afghanistan unwinnable.
Education. I am not an educator but I know many, none of whom have any use for "No Child Left Behind." It has apparently left a generation of children well versed in the facts needed to pass periodic tests but unable to put them in context; unable to think. Of course, that really doesn't matter because Bush ridiculed smarts and a well rounded education as a sign one is "elite." He insisted we proclaim our "exceptionalism" while his policies elevated and encouraged the least exceptional among us. Our new role models are unlikely to inspire us either to greatness or to complete in the global economy.
The Courts. Despite ranting throughout both terms about the curse of "activist judges" Bush selected two men for the Supreme Court who are now helping his father's two appointments dismantle years of established law. Obama may have been able to reverse the business favoritism of the Ledbetter v. Goodyear decision, but corporate personhood is now the law and just one indication of the looming legacy of the George Bushes.
The Environment and the Economy. There is not enough time and space to detail the damage done here but people can get the drift by looking at unemployment figures, the foreclosed house across the street, and that sad bug of the oil volcano running in the corner of the television screen. And don't even try to argue that Bush and Cheney weren't largely responsible for each and every one of those disasters.
It is possible that Obama might be president for a full eight years, pass a meaningful agenda, and still be working with a stacked deck the jokers that Bush buried as Civil Service workers at high levels in many federal departments. The Washington Post reported in November 2008 that, in addition to what it called "egregious" levels of burrowing at the Department of Defense, the same was also taking place at the Departments of Interior, Labor, and HUD. These politically appointed Manchurian Candidates could make it very difficult for the president and his cabinet to implement changes, particularly in regulating corporations and initiating human service initiatives. I wonder how many of them are calling the shots at Minerals Management?