Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The people who voted twice for Chimpy the Prez already seem to have forgotten him. The rest of us, suggests Tom Schaller, can at least try


by Ken

I think it was in a comment that I mentioned I was going to a periodic brunch of some New York-area bloggers, and it came off fine -- either helped by or in spite of the weird weather, with temperatures in the 60s! (Around Christmas we had a stretch of several days where the temperature didn't get up to freezing.) But there was a heavy gray overcast all day, and a uniform coat of wet on the pavement everywhere, even though no one could recall it raining.

Anyway, over the dim sum someone mentioned something that someone had mentioned, or proposed, or something for the final day of Chimpy the Prez in office. I honestly don't recall what the proposal was, and I'm not even sure it really registered at the same time. I was just overwhelmed with the thought of "the final day of Chimpy the Prez in office." We knew it had to happen eventually, but there were times, I tell you, when I wondered. (For years my poor mother, now just past midway between her 89th and 90th birthdays, would say that she wouldn't live to see it, and while it looks like she may be proved technically wrong, I'm afraid it's coming to late for her to be aware.)

Anyway, today's Baltimore Sun column by our colleague and friend Tom Schaller caught Howie's eye (still in Mali, if my calculations are correct), and we'd like to share it with you. Tom, a regular columnist for the Sun, is a political scientist by profession, and is perhaps famliar to you as the author of the enormously influential 2006 book Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South. Given the "countdown" format (it took all I had to resist spoiling the buildup by pulling "No. 1" out to exerpt at the top of this post), rather than try to excerpt the column, I'm just going to pass it on whole:

43 reasons we won't miss President Bush

Thomas F. Schaller
December 30, 2008

The Bush family devised a simple, numerical means to distinguish between the presidencies of father and son: George H.W. Bush was called "41," and George W. Bush became "43." To mark the imminent -- and merciful -- end of 43's reign, here are 43 remembrances of the departing administration.

There were actions to pacify or mobilize the right-wing elements that brought Mr. Bush to power:

43. Restoring the so-called Mexico City policy prohibiting American aid to groups that provide abortion counseling in other countries.

42. Brokering an embryonic stem cell compromise by falsely claiming there were 60 viable cell lines (about five times the actual number).

41. Attorney General John Ashcroft's puritanical cloaking of the Justice Department's semi-nude "Spirit of Justice" statue.

40. Political adviser Karl Rove's use of gay marriage ballot measures to rally evangelicals for the 2004 election.

There were poor staffing choices and the willful ignoring of sound advice:

39. White House adviser Claude A. Allen's arrest for illegal merchandise exchanges at Target.

38. The Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers, whose sycophancy trumped her lack of qualifications for the bench.

37. Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill's puzzlement that the president could sit through an entire briefing without asking a single thoughtful question.

36. "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job."

35. Rejecting Gen. Eric K. Shinseki's estimate that "several hundred thousand" American troops would be needed in Iraq.

34. Dumping Secretary of State Colin L. Powell even though he risked his reputation with the 2003 U.N. testimony about supposed Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, which he later deemed the "lowest point" of his life.

33. The president's petulant refusal to consult with his actual father, who knew something about invading Iraq, in favor of war counsel from a "higher father."

There was a penchant for deception and secrecy:

32. A gay male escort, working under a pseudonym for a bogus news agency, was permitted access to White House press conferences.

31. The executive order rebuking the Presidential Records Act, sealing 41's vice presidential papers from public view.

30. The altering of a 2003 Environmental Protection Agency report showing evidence of global warming.

29. Hiding from Congress the Medicare prescription plan's internal cost estimate until the bill passed.

28. The creation under Vice President Dick Cheney's supervision of the Office of Special Plans to cherry-pick Iraq intelligence data.

27. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction stored "around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

26. The later attempt to blame pre-war intelligence failures on CIA Director George J. Tenet.

And, at No. 25, Mr. Bush's infamous 16 words in the 2003 State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Though Mr. Bush in 2004 couldn't cite a single mistake he had made (No. 24), for the self-described "Decider" (No. 23) indecision was often costly:

22 through 18: As the terrorist attacks unfolded on Sept. 11, 2001, he froze for seven precious minutes in that Sarasota, Fla., classroom, reading The Pet Goat; he wasted vital weeks that autumn before dispatching special forces to hunt down Osama bin Laden; his re-election at stake in summer 2004, he delayed for six months sending troops into Fallujah to suppress the growing insurgency; he fiddled for three days in August 2005 before delivering federal resources to New Orleans after Katrina; and he sank four years, 4,000 deaths and billions of dollars into Iraq before changing his failed strategy there.

On the domestic front, there were tax cuts for the wealthiest sold as an economic stimulus that never occurred (No. 17), a failed attempt to privatize Social Security that would have cost the treasury billions (No. 16), and budget deficits all eight years (No. 15). Despite trillions borrowed or lost to tax cuts, the administration claimed there were insufficient funds for children's health insurance (No. 14), college tuition assistance (No. 13) or veterans' benefits (No. 12).

Nos. 11, 10 and 9: Opponents were smeared, from John Kerry via the Swift Boat Veterans front group to Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV by outing his wife, CIA asset Valerie Plame, to triple-amputee Vietnam veteran Max Cleland during the 2002 Georgia U.S. Senate race.

American values were sullied abroad in Abu Ghraib (No. 8), at home through domestic wiretapping (No. 7) and in between at the jurisdictionally murky Guantanamo prison (No. 6).

Most of all, there was hubris, from Mr. Rumsfeld's glib "known unknowns" monologues at press conferences (No. 5) to Mr. Cheney's media-dodging after shooting his friend in the face (No. 4), and from Mr. Bush's infantilizing habit of giving everyone nicknames (No. 3) to his failed promise to be a "uniter, not a divider" (No. 2).

If polarizing the country, wrecking the economy and turning the world against us was the goal, then the No. 1 entry is painfully obvious: "Mission accomplished."

Thanks, Tom! Mission accomplished!



At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what Obama's nickname is going to be once he starts doing real stuff. Let's see, Ken has already doled out "Chimpy" (the obvious one for a black guy) to Bush. The Republicans already took "Magic Negro" as their name for Obama (so you can't use that). Toni Morrison pre-maturely deemed Bill Clinton "The First Black President" so that's gone. Hey, Ken, how about "Hoops" for Obama. If he didn't actually play basketball, I'd call it racist. But, since he's got some game, it might be alright.

At 6:35 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

People earn their nicknames here. Like Idiot Al "The Torture Guy" Gonzales -- what else would you call him? And lots of people don't have nicknames. Like Irving L. Libby.

Nothing's off the rack. It's all case by case.


At 8:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the explanation, Ken.

So, for you it would be Ken "The Rahm Emanuel of Blogging" inNY or Ken "Don't You Dare Criticize My Blog or I'll Cry and Call You Stupid Childish Names" inNY.

Hey, I think I'm getting the hang of this.

Thanks Ken "I Like Helping the Inferior" inNY.

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