Home National Politics “Was George W. Bush a Good President?” What a Question!!

“Was George W. Bush a Good President?” What a Question!!

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The cover of a recent issue of THE WEEK asked the question whether George W. Bush was “a good president.”

The very fact that this question could be asked by a generally excellent news magazine is yet another indication of the sickness in the American body politic.

On the basis of both its competence and, even more so, its moral quality, the Bush presidency was a devastating disaster for the United States.

It left this country — our economy, our military, our international standing, our political discourse, our Constitution and the rule of law — in shambles.

It inherited the prospect of budgetary surpluses as far as the eye could see, and then enacted a tax cut that transferred huge wealth from the middle class and from future generations to the richest Americans, and doubled the national debt.

It oversaw a great widening of inequalities of wealth and income between the richest fraction of one percent of Americans and the rest of the population.

It shackled our financial regulators and helped precipitate a global financial meltdown when toxic mortgages, sold as high-grade debt, exploded like time-bombs in banks around the world.

It launched two wars of choice, one under false pretenses, and botched them both.

The Bush presidency was, according to the conservative Reagan jurist, the most lawless presidency in American history.

Whole books, by responsible legal minds, outlined a multiplicity of high crimes and misdemeanors — genuinely impeachable offenses — committed by that administration.

Its contempt for the rule of law was displayed as clearly as could be by the presidential pardon given to the only person convicted for his participation in any of this criminality, despite his having been prosecuted by an outstanding Republican prosecutor and convicted by a jury of American citizens.

The Bush presidency was the first to embrace at the highest levels — in violation of American law and international treaty obligations — the practice of torture.

It usurped constitutionally granted powers from both the Congress and the Courts, and did everything it could to escape the accountability for its actions our Founders arranged for with their system of checks and balances.

And yet, little more than four years later the question can be asked — because there are opinions to be heard on both sides — whether George W. Bush was a good president.

If we knew nothing more about the political condition of America than that, and that (as THE WEEK reports) Mr. Bush now enjoys a 47 percent favorability rating with the public, we would know that there was something rotten in the state of the Union.

Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia’s 6th District.  He is the author of various books including The Parable of the Tribes:  The Problem of Power in Social Evolution.