Saturday, November 1, 2008

Presidents & Their Legacies

Three More Days!

When the dark forces of the GOP seized control of our government in 2000 and installed George W. Bush as Commander 'n Thief, they gave the little gremlin nominal rule over a nation at peace and an economy that was relatively trouble-free. Though the Bush/Cheney debacle would begin to play itself out pretty quickly the country more or less acquiesced to it until after he was re-installed in '04.

As Bush went about making our country into a global laughing stock, dragging us into devastating opportunistic wars, and chewing up the Constitution, our sense of security as a nation was bolstered for a long while by the knowledge that Clinton had left us in good financial shape with the highest budget surplus and lowest trade deficit in history.

Who could have imagined that things would get as bad as they have in eight short years?

Back in 2000, the departing "tax & spend" Democrat was seen even by his own Party as a fallen angel who had brought indefensible shame to the Presidency by committing adulterous acts right in the Oval Office. Bush ran for the office on a pompous vow to "restore dignity to the White House." When the campaign was over Bush II led a procession of holier-than-thou zealots straight to the doors of our national treasury, then still bulging under the pressure of those riches Clinton had piled up.

And there it all sat - just ripe for the pilfering!

Today it no longer seems likely that Clinton's legacy will forever be mired in the overblown Lewinski affair that led to his impeachment, as it did when he left office with his head held high. After enduring eight years of the global embarrassment that is George W. Bush it has become nearly unimaginable that the most embarrassing or potentially incriminating thing a President can be remembered for is getting caught in a scurrilous sex scandal with a consenting adult.

The prudish Christian Right will still say that the scandal was more about Clinton's lying to cover up his infidelity than anything else. Yeah, right. That's because there was nothing else to it. Yes, he lied about cheating on his wife. But, somehow through it all Bill the sinner managed to patch things up with Hillary. And together they preserved the sanctity of an institution that is supposedly held most sacred to the fundamentalist Christian Right - a heterosexual marriage blessed by a Christian church.

And today the Clintons are still together.

John McCain, on the other hand, dumped his first wife in a messy civil divorce after she became disfigured in a horrible car crash, He then took up with a rich hot bimbo whom he later married and made at least seven homes with.

So much for Republican family values.

And then there is one Levi Johnston who sweats out the shotgun wedding that has loomed in his future ever since he knocked up the unchaste daughter of the Christian Right's current media darling - who also happens to be the Republican nominee for Vice President.

So much for Christian family values.

As for lying to cover up adultery, those two-faced Republican moralizers may tell themselves that "Joe the Plumber" was always upfront about screwing around on his wife - but she seems to have left him for some reason anyway.

So much for Plumber family values!

Remember: George W. Bush ran for President to restore "dignity" to the White House. As we begin to assess what will be Bush's legacy, how do you think that all worked out? 

When he was finally appointed by the Supreme Court - against the will of the people - W, who never owned up to his AWOL experience, was put in charge of our military that was not involved in any major foreign wars. We were still largely respected by the rest of the world and relations between whites and minorities in this country were at such a high that Clinton was known affectionately as America's "first black president."

Of course, the favorable things we now see as making up Clinton's legacy - and any list of ways we were better off before Bush stumbled on to the scene - could go on and on. As we prepare to close the door on the Bush/Cheney years forever you could draw it all out to lengths that would extend in direct inverse proportion to the shortness of our collective memory of a time before we got our fill of this bumbling Bush. 

I know I should be careful about sounding overconfident and I do not wish to seem presumptuous about anything. But I recently stumbled onto a short animated video that illustrates the legacy that Bush will be leaving once President Obama (get used to it) takes the oath of office in January.

A second short video from the same excellent source cleverly breaks down the mind-boggling cost of Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both are viewable below.

For an interesting effect I suggest running both videos at once. But viewing them individually and full screen is the best way to appreciate their clever artistry.

Bush's Legacy: What President Obama stands to inherit

Video by: Max Joseph, Chris Weller

In 2003, Donald Rumsfeld estimated a war with Iraq would cost $60 billion and not last more that six months. Five years later, the cost of Iraq war operations is more than 10 times that estimate. So what's behind the ballooning figures?

Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilme's exhaustively researched book, The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict, breaks down the price tag, from current debts to the unseen costs we'll pay for many years to come.

The Crisis That Will Test President Obama - Paying for Bush's Wars

Video by: Matt Owens , MacKenzie Fegan, Andrew Bouvé, Rus Garofalo, Michael Schaubach, Lindsay Utz, Morgan Currie, Jason Bishop | Music by: Audio Dregs Recordings

See more videos at Good/video

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