The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 8, 2013

Happy talk about George W. Bush all bunk

The Mankato Free Press

---- — The recent dedication of George W. Bush’s presidential library has brought the historical revisionists out in force. They hope to replicate the success of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, which recast an amiable airhead — a guy who depended on an astrologer to make decisions, who offered to ally with the USSR against invaders from Mars, and who said trees create pollution — as a mythic president.

Karl Rove set the tone: “I’d put (Bush) up there” with “George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, FDR,” he said at the dedication.

Bush’s chief of staff, Andy Card, joined the charade, too, claiming that Bush “probably has the best track record of any modern president in terms of fiscal discipline.” Except of course that he didn’t pay for his wars and tax cuts, turning a projected $5 trillion surplus into a $5 trillion deficit.

The columnist Charles Krauthammer proclaimed that Bush “kept us safe.” No mention of 9/11, the anthrax attacks, or the 90,000 American casualties in Iraq that Bush put in harm’s way.

Republican strategist Ed Gillespie tried sleight-of-hand in the National Review: “Over Mr. Bush’s tenure, our national debt averaged 38 percent of GDP, a result of holding average annual deficits to 2 percent of GDP, and federal spending remained below 20 percent of GDP in six of his eight years in office.”

The reality is that the U.S. government was running the largest surplus in its history when Bush took office. Eight years later, it was running the biggest deficit since World War II. It you take the average of those eight years, you get the misleading numbers Gillespie quoted.

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin claimed that “(Bush) is responsible for one of the most popular and fiscally sober entitlement plans, Medicare Part D,” failing to mention that this fiscally sober plan was never paid for either; it’s another reason for our budget deficit.

Nobody mentioned Bush’s disappearing WMD or his disastrous economic policies at the dedication, nor the Bush administration’s assault on civil liberties and the whitewashing of torture under the euphemism of “enhanced interrogation.”

A nonpartisan, independent review of interrogation programs after 9/11 concluded that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture,” a finding supported by a new Guardian/BBC documentary which reveals that the U.S. funded dozens of previously secret “torture centers” around Iraq. It also provides a 22-page analysis of the dozens of legal cases where the U.S. employed methods it had itself prosecuted or denounced as torture. By U.S. standards, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld would be classified as war criminals. Human Rights Watch added further evidence of torture, confirming that the Bush administration waterboarded more people than acknowledged.

Jeremy Scahill (Dirty Wars) has described the Bush administration’s mistreatment and torture of thousands of people at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, at “black sites” around the globe, and most egregiously, at NAMA — “Nasty-ass Military Area.” His special ops sources told Scahill that the U.S. has carried out kidnapping and executions in more than 20 countries and assassinated thousands of people in its war on terror.

The writer Mark Bowden has written that “the most dangerous people in the world are the righteous.” Bush demonstrated the point. He famously “consulted” his heavenly father about Iraq, and concluded he had a divine mandate to invade. He subsequently told the Palestinian foreign minister that his invasion of Iraq was "a mission from God,” and told former French President Jacques Chirac that "Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East," adding that biblical prophecies were being fulfilled in Iraq.

Chirac has confirmed the story to journalist Jean Claude Maurice, who said Chirac expressed wonder at Bush’s fanaticism. To true believers, religious delusions trump facts or reason; to Bush the holy warrior, they apparently justified lying the country into war.

Door-to-door surveys by the British Ministry of Defense and by three medical schools found that at least 600,000 Iraqis died following the U.S invasion. ORB, one of Britain's leading polling firms, concluded that one million Iraqis may have died.

The victims of the U.S. invasion and the targets of its worldwide program of kidnap, torture and assassination are virtually all Muslims.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. and Israel were listed as the top security threats in a recent survey of 20,000 people in 14 countries by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies.

It’s not a surprise, either, that a lot of Muslims have taken up arms in response.

The Busheviks’ happy talk is bunk.

Tom Maertens describes himself as a political centrist who has worked in national security for both political parties in the White House and in the U.S. Senate. He is part of a Free Press team of readers from all political viewpoints asked to write columns.