Why George W. Bush Was a Horrible President

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Recently, the political class has been working hard to rehabilitate George W. Bush into an elder statesman, no doubt to continue the liberal Democrat conversion of suburban Republicans, with headlines like “George Bush reborn as the nation’s grandfather” (the London Sunday Times, but you know it will migrate over here), “George W Bush is back – but not all appreciate his new progressive image” (Guardian), “Bush calls on Congress to tone down ‘harsh rhetoric’ about immigration” (CNN), and “George W Bush reveals who he voted for in 2020 election – and it wasn’t Biden or Trump” (the Independent. Bush wrote in Condaleeza Rice, who Exxon once named a tanker for). I could go on. But I won’t. These stories from major outlets seem to be erasing early coverage like “The 7 worst moments of George W. Bush’s presidency” (WaPo, 2013), “The blood on George W Bush’s hands will never dry. Don’t glorify this man” (The Guardian, 2017), “Reminder: George W. Bush Is Still Very, Very Bad” (Vice, 2018), “Seth Meyers: Don’t Let Trump Make You Forget How Awful George W. Bush Was” (Vanity Fair, 2020), and “We Shouldn’t Have to Remind People George W. Bush Was a Terrible President: (Jacobin, 2020). That’s unfortunate, because George W. Bush (hereafter “Bush”; the “W” distinguishes him from his spook Yankee patrician Dad, oil bidnessman George H.W. Bush). As with so much else that is fetid in the miasmic air of our current liberal Democrat dispensation, Bush’s rehabilitation begins with the Obamas, in this case Michelle Obama, in this iconic photo:

(The backstory: “Michelle Obama Reveals What Really Happened During Her Sweet Exchange With George W. Bush,” and “Michelle Obama: George W. Bush is ‘my partner in crime'[1] and ‘I love him to death’“).

Bush became President in the year 2000. That was — let me break out my calculator — 2021 – 2000 = 21 years ago. It occurs to me that our younger readers, born in 2000, or even 1990, may not know how genuinely horrid Bush was, as President.

I was blogging even back then, and I remember how horrid Bush was; certainly worse than Trump, at least for Trump’s first three years in office, until the Covid pandemic. To convey the full horror of the Bush years would not a series of posts, but a book. The entire experience was wretched and shameful.

Of the many horrors of the Bush years, I will pick three. (I am omitting many, many others, including Hurricane Katrina, the Plame Affair, Medicare Part D, the Cheney Energy Task Force, that time Dick Cheney shot an old man in the face, Bush’s missing Texas Air National Guard records, Bush gaslighting the 2004 Republican National Convention with terror alerts, and on and on and on. And I didn’t even get to 9/11, “You’ve covered your ass,” WMDs, and the AUMF. Sorry. It’s exhausting.) I’m afraid my recounting of these incidents will be sketchy: I lived and blogged in them, and the memories of the horror well up in such volume and detail that I lose control of the material. Not only that, there was an actual, functioning blogosphere at that time, which did great work, but unfortunately most of that work has succumbed to link rot. And my memory of events two decades ago is not as strong as it could be.

The White House Iraq Group

Here I will rely on excerpts from Colonel Sam Gardiner’s (PDF) “Truth from These Podia: Summary of a Study of Strategic Influence, Perception Management, Strategic Information Warfare and Strategic Psychological Operations in Gulf II” (2003), whose introduction has been saved from link rot by the National Security Archive and a full version by the University of Leeds. I would bet, long forgotten even by many of those who blogged through those times. (“Gulf II” is what we refer to as the “War in Iraq.”) Quoting from the full version:

You will see in my analysis and comments that I do not accept the notion that the first casualty of war is truth. I think we have to have a higher standard. In the most basic sense, Washington and London did not trust the peoples of their democracies to come to right decisions. Truth became a casualty. When truth is a casualty, democracy receives collateral damage.

Seems familiar. (Gardiner’s report can be read as a brilliant media critique; it’s really worth sitting down with a cup of coffee and reading it all.)[2] More:

My research suggests there were over 50 stories manufactured or at least engineered that distorted the picture of Gulf II for the American and British people. I’ll cover most in this report. At the end, I will also describe some stories that seem as if they were part of the strategic influence campaign although the evidence is only circumstantial.

What becomes important is not each story taken individually. If that were the case, it would probably seem only more of the same. If you were to look at them one at a time, you could conclude, “Okay we sort of knew that was happening.” It is the pattern that becomes important. It’s the summary of everything. To use a phrase often heard during the war, it’s the mosaic. Recognizing I said I wouldn’t exaggerate, it would not be an exaggeration to say the people of the United States and UK can find out more about the contents of a can of soup they buy than the contents of the can of worms they bought with the 2003 war in the Gulf.

The White House was, naturally, at the center of the operation:

One way to view how the US Government was organized to do the strategic communications effort before, during and after the war is to use the chart that was used by the Assistant Deputy Director for Information Operations. The center is the White House Office of Global Communications, the organization originally created by Karen Hughes as the Coalition Information Office. The White House is at the center of the strategic communications process….

Handy chart:


Inside the White House there was an Iraq Group that did policy direction and then the Office of Global Communications itself.

Membership of the White House Iraq Group:

So, in 2020 Bush’s write-in vote for President was Condi Rice, the [x] Black [x] woman who helped run a domestic disinformation campaign for him in 2003, to sell the Iraq War to the American people. Isn’t that…. sweet?

Of course, I was very naive at that point. I had come up as a Democrat, and my first real political engagement was the Clinton impeachment. Back in 2003, I was amazed to discover that there was a White House operation that was planting fake stories in the press — and that I had been playing whackamole on them. At a higher level, I was disturbed that “Washington and London did not trust the peoples of their democracies to come to right decisions.” Now it all seems perfectly normal, which is sad.

Torture at Abu Ghraib

There are a lot of images of our torture prison in Iraq, Abu Ghraib. This one (via) is not the most famous, but to me it is the most shocking:

What kind of country sets dogs on a naked prisoner? Well, my kind of country, apparently. (Later, I remember discussing politics with somebody who came from a country that might be considered less governed by the rule of law than my own, and they said: “Abu Ghraib. You have nothing to say.” And they were right.)

For those who came in late, here’s a snapshot (the detail of the story is in fact overwhelming, and I also have pity for the poor shlubs the brass tossed into that hellhole[3].) From the Los Angeles Times, “Few have faced consequences for abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq” (2015):

[A] 44-year-old Al Jazeera reporter named Salah Ejaili, said in a phone interview from Qatar that he was arrested in 2003 while covering an explosion in the Iraqi province of Diyala. He was held at Abu Ghraib for 48 days after six days in another facility, he said.

“Most of the pictures that came out in 2004, I saw that firsthand — the human pyramid where men were stacked up naked on top of each other, people pulled around on leashes,” he said in the interview, with one of his attorneys translating. “I used to hear loud screams during the torture sessions.”

Ejaili says he was beaten, left naked and exposed to the elements for long periods, and left in solitary confinement, among other acts.

“When people look at others who are naked, they feel like they’re animals in a zoo, in addition to being termed as criminals and as terrorists,” he said. “That had a very strong psychological impact.”

The plaintiffs also say they suffered electric shocks; deprivation of food, water and oxygen; sexual abuse; threats from dogs; beatings; and sensory deprivation.

Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid, a laborer, says he was sexually abused by a woman while he was cuffed and shackled, and also that he was forced to watch a female prisoner’s rape.

Ejaili said that his face was often covered during interrogations, making it difficult for him to identify those involved, but that he was able to notice that many of the interrogators who entered the facility wore civilian clothing.

His attorneys, citing military investigations into abuses at Abu Ghraib and other evidence, say the contractors took control of the prison and issued orders to uniformed military.

“Abu Ghraib was pretty chaotic,” said Baher Azmy, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought suits against CACI and L-3 Services. “They were involved in a conspiracy with the military police to abuse our clients.”…. Eleven U.S. soldiers were convicted in military trials of crimes related to the humiliation and abuse of the prisoners.

(So Abu Ghraib is a privatization story, too. Oddly, whoever signed the contract never ended up in court.) All this seemed pretty shocking then. But now we know that the Chicago Police Department ran a torture site at Homan Square while Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff, was Mayor, so perhaps this is all perfectly normal too.

Warrantless Surveillance and the Destruction of the Fourth Amendment

Here is the wording of the Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

If our legal system had the slightest shred of integrity, it would be obvious to the Courts, as it is to a six-old-child, that what we laughingly call our “personal” computers and cellphones contain “paper,” not in the tediously literal sense of a physical material made from wood fibre, but in the sense of content. Bits and bytes are 20th Century paper, stored on silicon and hard disk platters. Of course a warrant should be needed to read what’s on my phone, ffs.

That Fourth Amendment common sense did not prevail is IMNSHO due in large part to Bush’s program of warrantless surveillance, put in place as part of the Global War on Terror. Here again, the complexity is overwhelming and took several years to unravel. I’m afraid I have to quote Wikipedia on this one:

A week after the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), which inaugurated the “War on Terror”. It later featured heavily in arguments over the NSA program.

Soon after the 9/11 attacks President Bush established the President’s Surveillance Program. As part of the program, the Terrorist Surveillance Program was established pursuant to an executive order that authorized the NSA to surveil certain telephone calls without obtaining a warrant (see 50 U.S.C. § 1802 50 U.S.C. § 1809). The complete details of the executive order are not public, but according to administration statements, the authorization covers communication originating overseas from or to a person suspected of having links to terrorist organizations or their affiliates even when the other party to the call is within the US.

In October 2001, Congress passed the Patriot Act, which granted the administration broad powers to fight terrorism. The Bush administration used these powers to bypass the FISC and directed the NSA to spy directly on al-Qaeda via a new NSA electronic surveillance program. Reports at the time indicate that an “apparently accidental” “glitch” resulted in the interception of communications that were between two U.S. parties. This act was challenged by multiple groups, including Congress, as unconstitutional.

The precise scope of the program remains secret, but the NSA was provided total, unsupervised access to all fiber-optic communications between the nation’s largest telecommunication companies’ major interconnected locations, encompassing phone conversations, email, Internet activity, text messages and corporate private network traffic.

Of course, all this is perfectly normal today. So much for the Fourth Amendment, good job. (You will note that the telcos had to be in on it; amusingly, the CEO of Qwest, the only telco that refused to participate, was charged and convicted of insider trading, good job again.) The legal aspects of all this are insanely complex, but as you see from my introduction, they should be simple.


Here’s a video of the Iraqi (now in Parliament) who threw shoes at Bush (who got off lightly, all things considered):

We should all be throwing shoes at Bush, seriously if not literally. We should not be accepting candy from him. We should not be treating him as an elder statesman. Or a “partner in crime.” We should not be admiring his paintings. Bush ran a bad, bad, bad administration and we are living with the consequences of his badness today. Bush is a bad man. We are ruled by bad people. Tomorrow, Obama!


[1] Indeed.

[2] For example, I vividly remember playing whack-a-mole as a blogger with the following WMD stories: Drones, weapons labs, WMD cluster bombs, Scuds, nuclear materials from Niger, aluminum tubes, and dirty bombs. They one and all fell apart on close inspection. And they were only a small part of the operation, as Gardiner shows in detail.

[3] My personal speculation is that Dick Cheney had a direct feed from the Abu Ghraib torture chambers to the White House, and watched the proceedings live. Some of the soldiers burned images of torture onto CDs as trophies, and the prison also had a server, whose connectivity was very conveniently not revealed by the judge in a lawsuit I dimly remember being brought in Germany. So it goes.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. flora

    Does anyone believe that W, son of H. W. Bush, H. W. son of Senator Prescott Bush, would have been been pres without that familial lineage and its important govt connections? The pity is W wasn’t smart enough to grasp world politics and the US’s importance as an accepted fulcrum in same beyond his momentary wants. imo. Brent Scowcroft and others warned him off his vain pursuits. The word “squander” come to mind, though I wish it did not.

    1. flora

      See for example Kevin Phillips’ book American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush. (Kevin Phillips is a great modernist American historian, imo, who saw the rise of Nixon before anyone else.)

    2. JTMcPhee

      Don’t deny W his agency. As I followed the horrors, from Vietnam to Iraq to Syria to Central America and elsewhere, the full list that was visible anyway, of the W regime, it sure seemed clear to me that W played the bumbling yuk very well. He did what he set out to do, no doubt with careful guidance from that sh!t of a father (magically turned into a laid-in-state “statesman”) and mother-of-string-of-pearls, and of course Cheney and the rest of the corpo-gov policy gang. The Consent Manufacturers are whitewashing an evil man and his slicker but equally evil successor and his glamorous spouse.

      Helluva job, Georgie! Full marks for kicking the world a long way down a dark road.

    3. anon y'mouse

      the dumb cluck thing was mostly an act. he was deliberately talking that way not only to paint himself as stupid, but also because those in power assume we must be spoken to as children (they’ve studied this–president speeches since JFK have decreased from high school level to 6th grade in complexity, word usage etc).

      see Pelosi’s daughter’s film of his campaign trail. he’s no Angel Merkel, but sly enough for politics in this country and most third world corruptocracies.

      in our kayfabe duoparty system, it also gave the “opposing” side the “W is a Chimp” talking point to harp on (dress rehearsal for the same stuff against tRUMP).

  2. Tom Stone

    Abu Ghraib was not an anomaly, Con Son Island served the same purpose during the Vietnam War.
    When I was young I was proud to be an American Citizen, we had the Bill of Rights, the Military was controlled by Civilians and their oath was to defend the Constitution from “All Enemies Foreign and Domestic.”.
    I have been horrified, ashamed and deeply saddened by what has happened in the US over the last half Century or so.
    And it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

  3. ambrit

    You actually ‘blogged’ back when we had to use punch cards to program our PCs? How oh how did you clamber on up out of “the Well” so many times a week? I am somewhat convinced that the Hollerith Cards Protocol was the origin of the Twitter 140 character limit.
    I also “lived through” the ‘Reign of “W”‘ and see it as a Time of Prophecy. Most of the things we are now staring down the barrel of were effectuated then.
    I may be foilly, (may be? who am I kidding,) but I view the 2000 election as a major turning point of American history.

    1. albrt

      I view the 2008 election as the major failing-to-turn-back-when-we-had-the-chance point. Obama could have undone Bush’s worst policies, but instead he cemented them into place forever.

      Our elites are both stupid and evil, but Bush is more stupid and Obama is more evil.

      1. Paul Whalen

        you are 40 years off the mark-It was Reagan who’s brand of avuncular fascism, celebrating stupidity as a virtue who paved the way.

      2. Jason

        All the pomp and circumstance surrounding the personage of the President serves to conceal the people behind the scenes who vetted and groomed said president, and actively advise him while in office. It’s in this way that a Jimmy Carter may be viewed as a gentle soul so far as presidents go, but he was actually vetted by Brzezinski on behalf of the CFR goons. Once in office he was then advised by Brzezinski and Volcker, among other assorted lunatics. And he gladly took their advice the entire time. That’s how he came to be president in the first place. And so it goes.

      3. Ashburn

        albrt: I agree with your take. Obama campaigned as an anti-war candidate (at least wrt Iraq). He then proceeded to ‘surge’ into Afghanistan and added Libya, Syria, and Yemen, to the regime change mix. Never a thought given to prosecuting the war criminals: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet, Feith, Wolfowitz, Powell, et al; much less even consider a truth and reconciliation commission.

        Obama was equally complicit in this never ending horror show and, I am hopeful, history will hold him equally accountable.

  4. km

    Is it not written that Margaret Thatcher’s true legacy was Tony Blair?

    If that is true, then the true legacy of Dubya is Obama.

      1. sbin

        Cheney Bush regime.
        Thought no one could be worse than that.
        Been proven wrong over 3 regime changes.
        Wondering how it could worse than dementia Joe.
        Then I remember Kamala.
        What next Tom Cotton?
        Marco Rubio?
        How my country has

        1. John Wright

          Could you explain your view that Obama and Trump are “worse than that” (Bush-Cheney).?

          As far as harm that George W. Bush did and launched (illegal/immoral wars, domestic surveillance, tax cuts for the wealthy….) Bush should take the award.

          Obama did push for military action in Libya, but at least held back from Syria.

          The administrations after Bush “kicked the can down the road” but he initiated the events they simply continued.

          And Trump did attempt to pull troops back from Bush initiated wars.

          How is Trump worse than Bush?

          What are your metrics?

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I am just a commenter here, but I would say that . . .

            When Obama deliberately and with malice aforethought turned all the admitted (and in fact proudly self-avowed) war-criminals and criminals-against humanity loose , free and clear under “look forward not back”, he routinised and permanentized the up-to-that-very-minute irregular and extra-constitutional novel methods of governance and practice which the Cheney-bush Administration had pioneered. Obama deliberately made torture, aggressive war, etc. “legal” when America does it and “permanent” as long as America is strong enough to keep doing it.

            He did some other things like that which I don’t have time to mention right now. Maybe others will beat me to it.

            Most of all, by slickly conning or permitting to self-con numbers of people about “hope and change” to come from an Obama Administration, he destroyed all hope of hope. He destroyed hope itself. Hope is not a “thing” any more in this country, thanks to Obama.

            He may also have destroyed black politicians’ dreams of becoming America’s ” Second Black President” for several decades to come. Been there, done that. Never Again. But since I am not Black, that is not my problem. That is something Black America can thank Obama for, if they decide to wake up to the fact of that reality.

            Of course , if the Evil Countess Draculamala becomes President after Biden, then I guess I will be proven wrong about that particular observation.

            1. norm de plume

              The Greatest Disappointment in History. No-one else comes close, in terms of the sheer numbers of people globally who he let down. The Bait and Switch King, The Great Betrayer.

              After the nightmare of Bush we got him and his ‘eloquence’, pulling the wool over the dazzled sheeple’s eyes while he entrenched the 1% and the neocon MI complex, his paymasters, and sponsors for his entry into the overclass.

              Last, does any single person with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton, bear so much responsibility for the election of Trump?

            2. quackery

              When Obama campaigned for president he claimed he wanted to get rid of nuclear weapons. Instead, he upgraded the nuclear arsenal.

            3. Mr Grumpy

              It is ironic that the far right views Obama as the antichrist but they benefited from all of his policies.

            4. Cat Burglar

              Remember that Obama voted in favor of FISAA, the bill that immunized Bush and his flunkies from prosecution for their felony FISA violations, as a senator, not long before the presidential election. It was impossible to make myself vote for him after that.

    1. Norm Norton

      ”Is it not written that Margaret Thatcher’s true legacy was Tony Blair?”
      If that is true, then the true legacy of Dubya is Obama.”

      ….And Obama, Trump!

  5. Jason

    Thanks Lambert. I’d add that the intelligence being sent to the “White House Iraq Group” was being manufactured by the Office of Special Plans (OSP) which was set up and run by Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz. Following Feith’s history and connections alone is a fruitful endeavor for those so inclined.

    Among other things, Feith co-authored, along with Richard Perle and David Wurmser, the A Clean Break: A New Strategy For Securing the Realm paper prepared for the prime minister of a certain foreign country. This is back in 1996. Around the same time the PNAC boys were formed by Kagan and Kristol and started selling the same policy prescriptions vis a vis Iraq to the pols and public here.

    Feith was also fired from the NSC back in the early 80’s for passing classified information to some little country. Fast forward to his OSP days and, lo and behold, his employee Larry Franklin is convicted of the same thing, along with Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman of AIPAC.

    That’s just a taste of the malfeasance.

  6. John

    I guess sometimes people need to be reminded that water is wet.
    The Buddhists say that ignorance is the root poison. True dat. Especially in Amrika.

  7. JTMcPhee

    This stuff has gone on forever. What amount of ventilation is needed to blow this kind of dung out of the Augean stables of geopolitics? Not much chance of that anyway, given all the incentives and and interests…

    Is it luck that Putin and Xi might be a little less monstrous?

  8. Elizabeth

    It’s really sickening to see George W being “rehabilitated” and made to look like some kind of a senior statesman, when he should be hauled off to the Hague to spend the rest of his life in prison for war crimes. For me, his election in 2000 was mostly the beginning of the end of the rule of law in this country. As a result, the U.S. has Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, in addition to all the other events mentioned, and don’t forget he tried to privatize Social Security.

    His eight years as president, for me, was a horror show. What really bothers me is that he got away with all of it – and now he’s hailed as an eminence gris. I can’t help but think that his rehabilitation is to remind us all of how bad Orange Man was – Obama was just as bad because he cemented everything W did – and more.

    Thanks for the horrible memories.

    1. Joe Hill

      I understand you disagree with the policies of Mr Bush, but war crimes?

      Please describe what charges would be brought against him if you were to prosecute at a war crimes tribunal.

    2. Robert Gray

      > For me, [W’s] election in 2000 was mostly the beginning of the end of the rule of law in this country.

      At this moment I’m writing it is still early days for this thread: there are only 24 comments. In these comments are named many bad people. However, one name that does not (yet) appear is ‘Clinton’. W was a monster as president (and likely remains a monster as a human being) but surely Billy Jeff needn’t yield to him in his contempt for the rule of law.

      1. Yves Smith

        I loathe Bill Clinton but nothing he did approaches the Iraq War in the level of damage to the US and many foreign countries….starting with Iraq.

        1. Robert Gray

          Quite right, of course. My comment was specifically in regard to his disdain for and abuse of the rule, and rôle, of law in the American polity, e.g., his perjury > disbarment. Sort of like the famous photograph of Nelson Rockefeller who, while serving as VP, was captured giving the finger to a group of protestors; Clinton also oozed that kind of hubristic impunity.

        2. Alex Cox

          Regarding Clinton, the damage he caused to his own country and the world was substantial. The destruction of Yugoslavia caused considerable mayhem — in addition to bombing and breaking apart a sovereign nation, it enabled “liberals” to feel good about war again, and paved the way for the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc.

          And the damage done by NAFTA was enormous — in terms of leading to deaths of despair in both the US and Mexico I suspect NAFTA has a higher domestic “body count” than any of the subsequent forever wars.

          1. anon y'mouse

            and welfare “reform”, the crime bill.

            talk of privatizing SSI made commonplace acceptable.

            repeal of Glass Steagall.

            they were going to do to healthcare what oBLAM succeeded at, 20 years before him but got sidelined by Lewinsky’s blue dress stains.

            Clintoon is a criminal and so is his spouse, and he did his share of damage everywhere. people who think otherwise might be looking back with nostalgia on a simpler (pre 9.11) time.

            little known covered up crime from his ARK days is the selling of HIV tainted blood (taken from prisoners) to Canada, among other things.

            yet another who had credible rape allegations. which damages our image at home and abroad.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I read that for the very briefest time, somebody or other was selling Total Information Awareness memorabilia with the Total Information Awareness symbol on it. I wish I had thought to buy a Total Information Awareness mug.

      I imagine knockoffs and parodies exist, but I am not sure the real thing is findable any more.

  9. Darius

    After Dennis Rader, the Wichita serial killer, murdered someone, the cops always found his semen on the floor next to the mutilated victim. He got sexual pleasure out of gruesome murder. This is how I always pictured Cheney’s attitude toward torture. Well. I tried not to actually picture it.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, KC.

      Kavanaugh accompanied Bush fils on his state visit to the UK. Even then, Kavanaugh was being touted as a future Supreme Court judge.

    1. eg

      Sadly, the only thing that surprises me is that it has taken this long for the pandemic to ravage India this way.

  10. The Rev Kev

    Talk about your target rich environment. Where do you even start? Where do you begin? A serial business failure, draft dodger, military deserter, drunk driver – and all that was before he became President. A man so incurious about the world – just like Trump – that he never even owned a passport until he actually became President and who never knew that Islam (prior to the Iraq invasion) , for example, was just not one religion but was divided into Sunni and Shia in the same way Christianity is divided into – mostly – Protestant and Catholics. But to me he was always the “Frat Boy President”. His family always protected him from his many flaws and he never had to grow up like his father had to in WW2. Even as President he never grew into the job, again, just like Trump.

    Lambert gives a few good reminders but there were many others and these are just the top of my head. He cared little for the US Constitution and called it nothing more than a goddamn scrap of paper. He officially made the US a torture nation, not only by pretending that US laws did not apply in Guantanamo bay but also aboard US Navy ships for which laws definitely did apply. As part of a movement to make America an oil-fueled hegemony for the 21st century, he invaded Iraq with the firm intention on invading Iran next so that Washington would have a firm grip on the fuel pump of the world. As he said – “America is addicted to oil.” He dropped the ball on 9/11 through over-obsessing on Iraq and in the immediate aftermath sent jets around the country – when all jets were grounded – to fly Saudi royalty back to Saudi Arabia before the FBI could interrogate them about all their knowledge of the attack. All this to hide his very deep connections with the Saudis.

    I could go on for several more paragraphs but what would be the point? For the neocons he was a great fronts-man to be followed by a even greater one. I sometimes think that if Biden was a ‘real’ Republican, then he would have been a great vice-president for Bush. And now the establishment and their trained seals in the media are trying to make him out as “America’s Favourite Uncle” or something so that when he dies, he will have the same sort of funeral as John McCain did. And I predict that tens of thousands of veterans around the country will then raise their glasses to him – and then pour the contents on the ground.

  11. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    W’s rehab continues in the UK MSM, not just the Independent. The worst offenders are probably the Grauniad and Channel 4, both Blairite.

    The rehab mirrored the rise of Trump. His lack of interest in war upset these preachy imperialists.

    Using Michelle Obama to facilitate the rehab brought id pol into the equation and made it easier. It was remarkable how often the above photo is used in the neo liberal and neo con media.

  12. drumlin woodchuckles

    There is a blog called Rigorous Intuition 2.0. Many of its blogposts are about the Bush period and Bush related subjects and events. ( Many others are not). The sections on 9/11, Iraq, and Katrina probably have the highest percent of Bush-related blogposts, in case one is interested.

    1. norm de plume

      Jeff Wells wrote some interesting essays in the Bush years, though many of his connections were a bit too far out, even for me. He had some striking collateral evidence for his concept of High Weirdness in high places – sex abuse, torture and magick figuring prominently, juxtaposed with political skulduggery, and financial crimes and misdemeanours. The Gannon/Guckert affair, the Franklin ring and Gary Caradori were the sort of thing that laced his quite penetrating analyses of events. Facts were jumping off points for speculations, but given our lack of facts his imaginings were a nourishment of sorts, though often very troubling indeed.

      1. Tony massey

        Who needs to make shit up during those years?
        The facts…the shit he actually did, was glossed over or simply forgotten.
        If shit was made up about his sorry ass i didn’t bother checking, Sir.
        I just assumed it was true.
        Bushies destroyed the country. If there’s a country in 100 years they’ll be paying for those years.
        And then came obama and big Mike

  13. jackiebass63

    People have been brain washed by the glossed over history of the US they are taught. It gives people a false belief of our past. The phrase American Exceptionalism comes to mind. It is a myth.The real history is out there but you have to search it out.From it’s beginning continuing to today our government is responsible for bad behavior. Some scholars like Noam Chomsky write about our real history. Unfortunately most people don’t read this material. They are content with our glossed over shining star version of US history that unfortunately continues to be taught in our educational system , starting in elementary school continuing through a 4 year college education. Our system of government is so corrupted , I don’t believe it can be fixed.

  14. farmboy

    Nixon was rehabbed so he could open China, Kissinger got to keep his mantle. W portrayed by Josh Brolin pretty good take. Nice to see dunking on GW, but the cycle of rehabilitation is due. The question is can he do some good or is there too much mud on his boots. Can’t see W as a new Jimmy Carter. Glossing over history begins the moment it’s made. Makes me miss LBJ

    1. The Rev Kev

      Tell me again how many Iraqis were killed by the US Army because they were doing their own version of “Red Dawn”? And that tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis would still be alive if Saddam was simply left in place. Here is a video to watch while you have a little think about it-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfvFpT-iypw (17:46 mins)

    2. Phil in KC

      We Americans have this thing called exceptionalism which among other things creates the idea that our government is more virtuous than others. It’s a useful idea in that it calls us to be different and better than the average nation, and certainly different and better than a cruel dictatorship. But it’s also a dangerous idea because too many of us actually believe it to be true. Our atrocities are different in kind, but the scale is the same. We are not at Hitler/Stalin/Mao standards–yet–but who’s to say that could never happen here? One of the bafflements of the 20th century was how a civilized people descended into the dark barbarism of Nazi Germany.

  15. Deschain

    “(I am omitting many, many others, including Hurricane Katrina, the Plame Affair, Medicare Part D, the Cheney Energy Task Force, that time Dick Cheney shot an old man in the face, Bush’s missing Texas Air National Guard records, Bush gaslighting the 2004 Republican National Convention with terror alerts, and on and on and on. An I didn’t even get to 9/11, “You’ve covered your ass,” WMDs, and the AUMF. Sorry. It’s exhausting.)”

    You left out the housing bubble and the GFC!

  16. Mr Grumpy

    Agree with all the criticism of Bush, Cheney, Obama. On a lighter note, my father-in-law is a high tech oil prospector in W Texas, much of it in Midland, overlapping in time with W. Both members of the Petroleum Club (been there once, very stuffy) and worked out at the same gym. Naturally, my wife asked if he had ever seen W naked. Her dad wouldn’t answer, but did turn beet red. We take this as confirmation.

  17. Phil in KC

    Noam Chomsky observed some thirty years ago that if the Nuremberg standards were applied to all the post-war American Presidents, then all of them would hang. Chomsky could not have imagined the future sequence of presidents from that point forward, but certainly they did not break the chain of criminality. My point is that Bush is not unique in the type of crimes, just the enormity of them. But I also believe he set new standards (lower) for shamelessness. Remember his smirk?

    But also remember Obama joking about killing people.

    1. John Wright

      Remember the comedy skit in which GWB “looked” for Iraq WMD’s in the Oval office as part of the White House Correspondent’s dinner?

      Anyone with any sense of decency would have refused to do this skit, but Bush apparently followed his handlers’ advice to get some laughs.

      That the USA was led by someone of such limited talent for 8 years speaks volumes.

      Years ago, a New York Times reader wrote that Hillary Clinton is a “well-connected mediocrity”.

      That comment may be true for ALL of the recent political candidates, from both parties, for a great many years.

      LBJ was definitely not mediocre (civil rights/war on poverty), and would be viewed far more favorably, maybe as great, if he had pulled out of Vietnam rather than escalating.

      Carter in his post presidency has much to recommend.

      Post presidency Bush is painting his portraits rather than having any retrospective regrets for the harm he did.

  18. Susan the other

    We have such a dismal record. Little George was the most audacious of all our criminal presidents, but he has plenty of company. My question is now, looking back, why was the USA incapable of organizing a peaceful world after WW2? I start there. 1945. How did our ideology become so inept? And everything I have read about our failures over the years is contrasted with what might have been. We have operated under a system that could not function without extraction. There was always a sell-by date on the cover; one that we tried to ignore. There’s no doubt in my mind that it has finally failed completely. Ignominiously. But we have also learned and come to admit certain realities. The most important one is that there can be no more war; civilization cannot survive a modern war. So, ironically, our advanced warfare might well bring a peaceful world without world war. And our advances in science (mostly militarily inspired) will help us now survive.

  19. Sue inSoCal

    Lambert, thank you for this piece. I won’t repeat what others have opined. I’ve had a real problem with Michelle Obama being the rehabilitation cheerleader leader for Dubya. Imho, we lost all of our rights under the odious Patriot Act, which was pre-written. Russ Feingold was the lone Senate holdout. And I recall Byrd’s ire and rant at the tome they had no time to read, but he caved. It went downhill from there. The links below, (apologies, I don’t know how to fashion a hot link..) are about Bush’s crimes and Amnesty International’s exhaustive investigation of them.

    I don’t have the citation anymore, and I’ve knocked myself out trying to find it. But there exists a UN human rights commission memo suggesting (?) Obama to do a number of things: hold Bushco accountable for war crimes etc, as well as address what is termed as “systematic racism” in incarceration (and more). I had printed it out a number of years ago and can’t find it.)
    I’m not buying that Bush fils is any elder statesman. He and his cronies used torture, extreme rendition, hired mercenaries and completely destabilized the Middle East. We still don’t have our rights back, and I’m betting the Patriot Act will never go away. (Nor will data mining under the guise of “targeted advertising” and sold to..the military.) The NYT’s link is how Obama elected to rug sweep and just move ahead! I look forward to Lambert’s take on the Obama administration..



  20. techpioneer

    Finally, someone has the courage to point out the obvious. An excellent article, well researched and nicely nuanced.

    I’m disappointed with the remedy proposed, however. Throwing shoes is not enough; it’s merely symbolic. The potential crimes committed here, including lying us into war, the extent of torture committed, and practices that violate international military norms and intelligence require a transparent and impartial investigation. One possible venue is the International Criminal Courts in the Hague.

    I’ve been told many times that sunlight can be an effective deterrent against disease.

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