If you have been keeping up with the news lately, then no doubt you have noticed George W. Bush has come out of his self-imposed exile to promote his new memoir. While I understand the ex-President’s publisher has to make money off its investment, this self-serving apologia provides nothing more than an excuse for supporters of the ex-President to reaffirm their support and to blast his successor. In terms of substance or historic insight, the book is pretty thin gruel.
In his promotional interviews, Bush claims the low point of his presidency was not when his administration used cherry-picked evidence to convince the Congress to invade Iraq, or when he deliberately gutted constitutionally-protected liberties of American citizens. According to the new Mr. Bush, the nadir of his tenure in office was when a rapper accused him of being a racist on national television during a benefit for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Bush can perhaps now sleep well at night, serene in the knowledge that the rapper, who has a history of uttering statements that make himself look like an idiot, now says he regrets making that particular comment about the former president.
One of his prouder moments as recounted in his memoir seems to have been when he personally approved the use of torture to elicit information from captured terrorists, notwithstanding the actions authorized clearly violated U.S. laws, simply because his advisors told him not to fret about it because they had decided what they were doing was “lawful.”
Many Republicans and conservative talk-show pundits are swooning over Bush’s re-emergence into public life; but it is difficult to grasp why any of them would have nostalgic feelings toward man who largely is responsible for his party’s electoral defeats in 2006 and 2008. What’s more, Bush’s demonstrated contempt for free markets, individual liberty, and the Constitution are counter to what the Republican Party supposedly believes in.
His brand of “compassionate” conservatism gave us an expensive and expansive new entitlement program in Medicare Part D; numerous bloated federal budgets (after inheriting a balanced budget); regulations that expanded at a rate greater than any president in the last 35 years; and TARP – a massive federal government bailout he claimed was necessary to “save the free market system.”
Republicans may miss Bush simply because the current occupant of the White House is a Democrat who defeated a Republican. However, it was Bush’s incompetence and arrogance that helped paved the way for someone like Barack Obama to succeed him.
George W. Bush is no Ronald Reagan; and despite his self-serving attempt to sugar coat his tenure in office, it remains a bitter fruit for America.