Two percent have got to go
December 16, 2008
By Rob Lafferty
Based on numbers produced by one of their recent polls, the news folks at NBC claimed last week that two percent of the American public believe the national economy has improved over the past year. Their poll also tells them that two percent of us believe George W. Bush has been "one of the very best" presidents in American history. Given their extreme distance from any semblance of reality, both of those opinions must be shared by the same two percent.
If there's any chance that poll was accurate, that two percent has got to go. Each one of them needs to be identified and locked into a safe room right now. They're a danger to themselves and to everyone around them. It's in their own best interest to keep these people from roaming freely, and it will make society a distinctly better place once they're secured away from the rest of us.
I'm almost serious when I write that. It's difficult to imagine how anyone could have that perspective and still function in the real world, and it's scary to think that some of those folks could be important people in your town or your work or your life. I know one of those people myself, perhaps two. They seem like ordinary folks until they reveal their startlingly distorted point of view, at which point I just want to smack them in the forehead.
I'd like to think they're just harmlessly deluded, like true believers in the Flat Earth Society or those who think that a Hollow Earth civilization exists inside our planet today. In a few years they'll be seen as nostalgic cranks much like Reagan worshippers are today. Perhaps we need these folks around to balance out the weirdness flowing from the other end of the political spectrum – but I would feel better if they would just go away...
According to NBC, 18 percent of Americans believe that Bush has performed "better than most" recent presidents. Given the relatively low performance of American presidents in the past century there's room to argue that point, and everyone's entitled to their opinion, so I won't argue with those folks. We can easily disagree and share the same continent at the same time – although I wouldn't mind if that particular 18 percent all moved to Texas, Alaska or the Deep South. They'll feel right at home once they acclimate to the weather, while the quality of life would immediately improve across the rest of the country.
That leaves us with 48 percent of the public who believe that Bush will go down as "definitely worse than most" American presidents. They're joined by another 30 percent who rate his presidential performance "not as good as most" in recent times. "Worst president ever" wasn't offered as an option, but it should have been...
Those numbers seem to accurately reflect the real world, but there's no way to know for certain. Most poll numbers, including this NBC news poll, are generated from such a small sampling that the results could be meaningless. So forget all of that – a far more definitive opinion was delivered by the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at Bush and called him a dog during a Baghdad press conference last week.
News commentators were quick to point out that shoe-throwing is a strong insult in the Arabic part of the world, but I'm pretty sure it's considered an insult all across this country, too. The Iraqi government responded by charging the shoe-thrower for attempting to assault Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki, who was standing next to Bush at the time and who, unlike our fearless leader, did not duck when shoes started flying.
It was an easy choice for the Iraqi government to make. They can punish Muntazer al-Zaidi for embarrassing them on the international stage without diminishing the national joy that erupted when video of the incident began to circulate. It may even prove to be a unifying event for the Iraqi nation in a weird kind of way...
These days there's plenty of folks here in America who believe that George W. Bush has earned the title of Worst President Ever. Some of them would throw their shoes at him if given the chance. They would be wrong to do so, of course, but they'd be cheered by many other Americans for doing it – just as al-Zaidi is now being praised by most of the Iraqi people for his public demonstration.
I'm not a shoe-thrower myself, but I'm convinced that GWB is the WPE by a considerable margin. We've put some ineffective men into the Oval Office in our nation's history, including more than a few criminals. A lot of them have blood on their hands just as Bush does. Maybe only Truman and McKinley have more. But none of them can quite match Bush's combined legacy of incompetence, criminality and warmongering during his eight year reign.
Even Richard Nixon stands just behind GWB when it comes to WPE rankings. Bush is guilty of higher crimes than Tricky Dick, who at least set the direction and policy of his administration and, despite his criminal misconduct, accomplished a few good things during his tenure. Working mostly behind the scenery, Dick Cheney has always been able to direct Bush, beginning with Cheney's "search" in 1998 for a VP candidate that produced himself as the best choice. Once that bit of self-serving manipulation succeeded, it became easy for Cheney and his neoconservative empire-building buddies to direct the country by simply clearing a path that Bush would be sure to follow.
So George W. gets the WPE prize because he was a willing tool in the hands of a few elitists who believed their dreams of an American Empire were coming true. They trampled all over the Constitution and lied directly to the American people in pursuit of those dreams but instead launched a nightmare that came true for the Iraqi people. At the very least, thousands of Iraqi children have died as a direct result of the reckless invasion and illegal occupation conducted by the Cheney/Bush team.
The neoconservative philosophy of governance has cost the American people an unimaginable amount of debt and produced nothing of value in return. The Bush administration saw a national economy collapse around them without having any clue how to minimize the damage. They watched an American city drown and did too little, too late to help the victims. They sanctioned the practice of torturing prisoners and continue to detain others without charging them of any crimes, much less bringing them to trial. In the end they made the same bad choices that doomed the Russian Empire twenty years ago.
That's just the most obvious transgressions on his record, but it's more than enough. Hopefully George W. Bush will remain the Worst President Ever throughout American history – because the ship of state might not survive a voyage with anyone worse at the helm. So my final message to George is simply this: Goodbye, we're glad to see you go, and we're heartened with the knowledge that your kind won't be coming back anytime soon...