It Ends Not With A Bang But A Whimper

The last time we had a White House characterized by rampant criminality the final days saw a psychotic Richard Nixon talking to the pictures on the walls. The Third Reich ended with Hitler in the Bunker, but Karl Rove’s visions of a thousand year Reich, or permanent majority, ends after eight years with only a whimper as the Bush administration slowly fades away.

George Bush gave  his Farewell Adress last night and now leaves to take one last vacation at Camp David. Although the term officially lasts until Tuesday at noon, with Monday being a legal holiday most west wing staffers are turning in their building passes and BlackBerrys by 9:00 p.m. tonight.

Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, Counselor Ed Gillespie, and Press Secretary Dana Perino will remain around on stand by. It is hardly necessary. As we saw with both 9/11 and with Katrina that even if  there is an emergency it will take George Bush so long to respond that they might as well wait until Obama moves in.

Appearing on The Daily Show recently, Dana Perino compared the final days to “graduating from high school or college because there’s an end date, and you’re going to have to leave, and you’re going to leave all your friends– but you’re excited about the next chapter, and nobody has any idea about what you’re going to do next.”

Finally on Tuesday our long national nightmare will be over:

On Tuesday, Special Agent Donald White of the U.S. Secret Service will shadow President Bush, sit in the customary front “shotgun” seat of the limousine, and guard the President until noon. At 12:01, Agent White steps over to a position behind Barack Obama.

President and Mrs. Bush will helicopter to Andrews Air Force Base after the swearing-in (they do not remain on Capitol Hill for the luncheon); the Cheneys drive to Andrews.  At 1:20 pm, the former President will speak (no cameras) to hundreds of loyal friends invited to come out to a hangar at Andrews for the send-off.  A handful of these friends have been invited to fly on what can can no longer be called Air Force One (it’s only Air Force One when it ferries the President) to Midland, Texas.

Farewell to George Bush

Last night I  looked forward to a speech from George Bush more than ever before, this being his Farewell Address. Just being his farewell was enough. I  didn’t expect anything which would go down in history like George Washington’s Farewell Address and I certainly didn’t expect any warnings based upon lessons learned in office such as Dwight Eisenhower’s warnings about the military industrial complex. After eight years of misleading the American people, I was also not at all surprised by the dishonesty of Bush’s final address.

After eight years of repeated failures, George Bush could do nothing other than to try to spin his failures as successes. The most ridiculous attempt to rewrite the history of the last eight years was the claim that, “America has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on our soil.”

The claim of no terrorists attacks on our soil is untrue, but at least the acts of terrorism have been minor compared to 9/11. What is more important is the absurdity of this claim to divert attention both from Bush’s failings both prior to the attack and in response.

George Bush ignored the warnings about al Qaeda from the Clinton administration upon taking office. He also ignored warnings in his intelligence briefings prior to the 9/11 attacks. In contrast, the Clinton administration took the threat of terrorism seriously. They responded to the intelligence about the threatened millennium attack and prevented the attack from occurring. They also attempted to go after bin Laden, although this was hampered by the Republican controlled Congress.

If only Bush responded after receiving warnings that bin Laden planned an attack in the United States involving the use of planes.  Many of the 9/11 terrorists were already on a State Department/INS watch list. Once the terrorists on the watch list were identified, others could have been easily identified as they were using the same address or frequent flier numbers as those on the list.

Bush failed to attempt to prevent an attack which was possibly preventable. It is hardly meaningful to take credit for only having made a catastrophic mistake once. This would be like taking credit for not failing to respond to any floods since Katrina.

Another problem with Bush’s logic is that his response to 9/11 has placed us in greater danger rather than making us safer. Al Qaeda works on a long time line and the lack of a major attack in seven years is not meaningful. Besides, Bush sent Americans to their part of the world to be killed, with more dying in Iraq than were killed in the 9/11 attack. Bush’s response to the 9/11 attack has helped increase the support for radical groups in the region. Al Qaeda, along with Iran, were the beneficiaries of Bush’s actions which weakened the United States .

The remainder of Bush’s speech were filled with similar distortions. Although most agree that No Child Left Behind has been a terrible failure due to inadequate funding and excessive stress on testing, Bush falsely claimed that,  “Across our country, students are rising to meet higher standards in public schools.” He took credit for a Medicare plan which has been harmful to the program while primarily turning into a corporate welfare scheme to benefit the insurance and pharmaceutical companies which supported him. He claimed, “Every taxpayer pays lower income taxes” but if not for pressure from Democrats for a middle class tax cut only the wealthy would have received any tax breaks.

Similarly Bush’s other claims of success were distortions of reality. Perhaps realizing this, Bush tried to deflect criticism by saying he did what he believed was right. Believing he was doing what was right hardly justifies eight years of repeated failures. Fortunately the one piece of good news is that George Bush has said farewell.