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Who Thought History Would Start So Soon?

April 11th, 2008

You know how Bush (along with his supporters) likes to say that history will judge him? (No doubt in an attempt to delay judgment till well after he’s dead.) Well, the early verdict is in, and it doesn’t look too good for him. 109 noted historians, among them Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize winners, were asked to judge Bush, and fully 61% call him the “worst in the nation’s history.”

However, 35% of the respondents had a more favorable impression, saying that he ranked only somewhere among the worst ten presidents (though a few of those said that only James Buchanan saved Bush from coming in dead last). Others in that 35% credited their generosity to a hesitancy to decide too soon: “It is a bit too early to judge whether Bush’s presidency is the worst ever,” said one historian; “though it certainly has a shot to take the title. Without a doubt, it is among the worst.”

In fact, only 4% of the respondents ranked Bush among the 2nd-to-30th group, and half of them–two historians–dared call Bush’s tenure a success.“

It’s not as if these people did not explain their reasoning, either:

”No individual president can compare to the second Bush,“ wrote one. ”Glib, contemptuous, ignorant, incurious, a dupe of anyone who humors his deluded belief in his heroic self, he has bankrupted the country with his disastrous war and his tax breaks for the rich, trampled on the Bill of Rights, appointed foxes in every henhouse, compounded the terrorist threat, turned a blind eye to torture and corruption and a looming ecological disaster, and squandered the rest of the world’s goodwill. In short, no other president’s faults have had so deleterious an effect on not only the country but the world at large.“

”With his unprovoked and disastrous war of aggression in Iraq and his monstrous deficits, Bush has set this country on a course that will take decades to correct,“ said another historian. ”When future historians look back to identify the moment at which the United States began to lose its position of world leadership, they will point—rightly—to the Bush presidency. Thanks to his policies, it is now easy to see America losing out to its competitors in any number of area: China is rapidly becoming the manufacturing powerhouse of the next century, India the high tech and services leader, and Europe the region with the best quality of life.“

One historian indicated that his reason for rating Bush as worst is that the current president combines traits of some of his failed predecessors: ”the paranoia of Nixon, the ethics of Harding and the good sense of Herbert Hoover. . . . . God willing, this will go down as the nadir of American politics.“ Another classified Bush as ”an ideologue who got the nation into a totally unnecessary war, and has broken the Constitution more often than even Nixon. He is not a conservative, nor a Christian, just an immoral man . . . .“ Still another remarked that Bush’s ”denial of any personal responsibility can only be described as silly.“

”It would be difficult to identify a President who, facing major international and domestic crises, has failed in both as clearly as President Bush,“ concluded one respondent. ”His domestic policies,“ another noted, ”have had the cumulative effect of shoring up a semi-permanent aristocracy of capital that dwarfs the aristocracy of land against which the founding fathers rebelled; of encouraging a mindless retreat from science and rationalism; and of crippling the nation’s economic base.“

”George Bush has combined mediocrity with malevolent policies and has thus seriously damaged the welfare and standing of the United States,“ wrote one of the historians, echoing the assessments of many of his professional colleagues. ”Bush does only two things well,“ said one of the most distinguished historians. ”He knows how to make the very rich very much richer, and he has an amazing talent for f**king up everything else he even approaches. His administration has been the most reckless, dangerous, irresponsible, mendacious, arrogant, self-righteous, incompetent, and deeply corrupt one in all of American history.“

And there’s more. But I think that covers the high points.

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  1. Winston
    May 28th, 2008 at 04:39 | #1


    I am British, with a Masters degree in American History and no political axe to grind about the man. But those comments pretty much sum up how I see it. For many many reasons, I love my country and continent, and grew up with a huge admiration for America. The first time I was ever ashamed to be British was when our ‘Labour’ PM followed your president into Vi- sorry, Iraq, and what transpired over here as a direct result (I won’t go into that, but it was the lowest ’45 minutes’ of my politically-aware days)

    You needed a Lincoln, you got someone who doesn’t even think ‘maybe that could sound a bit crass’ before saying (of a portrait of Dr. King) ‘I can’t wait to hang it’.

    You got someone who clearly loves and fears God, but appears not to have read the last two paragraphs of the Gettysburg address recently. Or – less well-known but very relevant – Eisenhower’s parting address. Both Republicans, as well.

    Before we’re ‘left’ or ‘right’ or even ‘rich’ or ‘poor’ we’re human. Did you know that, in a ‘life after people’ (according to the History Channel), one of the last remnants of mankind’s contribution will be Mount Rushmore? Gives pause for thought.

    Something else he ought to have read recently: ‘1984’. And ‘Animal Farm’. But maybe totalitarian satire is a bit much. Two-Minute Hate, ‘Ignorance is strength’ and all that. Bit scary.

    Good luck for November.

  2. Winston
    May 28th, 2008 at 04:57 | #2

    Well said.

    You needed a Lincoln, you get a man who obviously loves and fears God but appears to be unfamiliar with the last two paragraphs of the Gettysburg address.

    Good luck for November.

    A UK sympathiser (MA in American History)

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