In the Name of the Father
George Herbert Walker Bush was a failure as president of the United States. As a result, the American people voted him out of office after one term. American folklore teaches us that we can pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and retain our lost glory. Not so for this former president in the twilight of his life. The stain on his legacy could only be removed by his sons. The Bush family's quest to remove that stain has diminished the America empire that it seeks to exploit.
Losing the presidency to Bill Clinton must have been especially hard on the senior Bush. He had stood dutifully behind Ronald Reagan for eight long years before coming out from the actor's shadow. Once in office, Bush traded on war, one against drugs and the other for oil, to unprecedented levels. It was a simple script: Good vs. Evil. Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein made for excellent villains. With Noriega in jail, Bush passed on pressing the Gulf War to include the removal of Saddam from office. Without the made-for-television war and the pseudo war against drugs being pushed on them twentyfour hours a day, the American people got a reality check. The economy went to Hell and Bush, who did not know the price of a gallon of milk, appeared unable to fix what was broken. Alan Greenspan resisted Bush's push to drop interest rates. Reagan's voodoo economics had stuck a pin in Bush's presidency. Clinton, with more than a little help from Ross Perot, finished Bush off.
Clinton did what Bush could not. He delivered the monetary policy that Greenspan and the bond traders on Wall Street wanted and he brought in Robert Rubin to further calm their fears. He governed from the center under the policy of triangulation, the political equivalent of Ali's rope-a-dope. Gingrich and the Republican Revolution won the early rounds but punched themselves out. Clinton won every subsequent round and even survived a sexual coup d'etat. America, despite its cutthroat domestic politics, remained on top of the world. Clinton appeared ready to pass the baton to his vice president, who understood America's place in the world.
In a Shakespearean twist, a Bush—the elder's dimwitted son—was placed back on the American throne by hook and by crook. The torch was passed to a new generation of Bush, but that transfer of power will never be confused with anything from Camelot. George W. Bush has proved to be an even bigger failure than his father. The man who promised to run the country like a corporation has plundered the nation's tangible and intangible assets, turned a huge budget surplus into a deficit, left America less secure, and infringed on our freedoms and liberty. European leaders are now elected by distancing themselves from the American Chief Executive during their campaigns. We are no longer the envy of the world. The citizens of the world may fear us but they also loathe us.
George W. Bush is not running America like a corporation. He is running America like the new coach of a former Super Bowl football team that started the year 0-8 and went into every game with the intent of taking out the other team's quarterback. Bush doesn't want Americans to look at the scoreboard. He wants us to look at the other team's injury list.
George W. believes his father made a mistake when he stopped warmongering. He will not make the same mistake. He will stay on the narcissistic crusade to restore the Bush name to greatness. The latest justification for his unilateralism is that Saddam tried to kill his daddy. CEOs recuse themselves when they are that conflicted, not Bush. He challenges the patriotism of those who advocate any amount of caution in the face of preemptive strikes. If Bush wants to compare himself to a CEO, it should be to Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski, who threw his duties of care and loyalty to shareholders aside while running Tyco as his own. Bush steers the American ship like a modern-day Captain Ahab. It is time to set George II adrift before he does more harm.
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