Assessing Bush: The Divider

Jeff Alworth

"I just want to make sure we don't start confining ourselves to, you know, politburo members because they happen to be a member of some, you know, psychopathic left-wing organization designed to overthrow the government."
--Brad Schlozman, second in command in the Civil Rights Division, in a report released last week.  The report found that 2/3s of Schlozman's hires were "clearly conservative" and that he lied about hiring practices in congressional hearings.

This is the final of my four posts about the Bush administration's legacy, and I'll keep it brief.  When Bush came into office in 2001, he arrived during a constitutional crisis following what many Americans (including this one) believed was a stolen election.  Rather than try to repair the damage, George Bush immediately set about conducting one of the most vindictive, partisan administration in US history.  He stocked his administration with political lackeys whose central qualification was loyalty.  As the years played out, catastrophic failures of management mounted as quickly as reports of agency witch hunts like last week's report about the Civil Rights Division.  Among the many quotes that capture this element of his presidency, "Heck of a job, Brownie" stands as a particular testament. 

During his administration, his toadies doctored reports, fired apostates, and used the Justice of Department to assault political foes.   The attack dogs of the campaigns were brought into governance and let loose against career federal employees.  Bush administration officials tarred Democrats as enemies of the state or terrorists, and, during the dark days following 9/11, some in the administration threatened to silence those who disagreed with Bush policy.  All of this was by way of establishing a dream of Karl Rove: to create a "permanent governing majority."

Tomorrow the United States will inaugurate a black liberal whose middle name is Hussein.  He will govern a country with large majorities in both the House and Senate.  And, perhaps most notably, the new president has made civility and bi-partisanship a centerpiece of his governing style.  There can be no greater repudiation of the cancerous politics left by George Bush that America's embrace of Barack Obama. 

That's change we can believe in.

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    It's not just the most obvious and glaring examples either.

    I ran into an old friend the other day. He's a career government lawyer with experience in election law. He applied for a job in the voting rights enforcement division of the DOJ. He was told by the career-appointee that would be his boss that he was an excellent candidate - and they'd be in touch in a couple of weeks. Just had to be approved by his boss, a political appointee. That was three years ago, and he still hasn't been turned down and the job still hasn't been filled. He just wasn't a member of the right clubs.

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    "Bush administration officials tarred Democrats as enemies of the state or terrorists..."

    It wasn't just administration officials, it was Bush himself all but declaring Democrats to be a 5th column bent on destroying the country. His famous rhetorical device of, "there are some who say..." never left him at a loss for words of insult or slander. It was such behavior that led liberals to hate the man, not just his policies.

    Bush has proven beyond a doubt that the law only protects us if we have the will to enforce it; alas, we have largely shown we do not. If we did, the man would have been ejected, or jailed, years ago.

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    George W. Bush had a unique and historic opportunity to unite the country. He came into office marketing himself as a moderate compassionate conservative, a non-interventionist in foreign policy. He proved to be the great deceiver instead, and used the emergency of 9/11, not to unite or heal, but to divide and attempt to impose a radical (not conservative) right wing agenda to eliminate civil liberties and the safety net that came to us from the New Deal. He again marketed the deception that Iraq was somehow the right target for a global war on terror and brought ruin to our country and ruin to a good part of the world. His radical dismantling of the regulatory structure has led to the poisoning of our food, the poisoning of our environment, and the collapse of our financial, commercial, and industrial economy. The great "uniter" indeed was a divider, who gratefully failed in his agenda, and in the ruin brought us a new direction and new leadership. He will be forever remembered as the one who ended the radical right wing policies of dismantling effective government, bringing a turning point to more reasoned and effective governance. He was the great deceiver who brought ruin to the United States of America.

  • Bill Holmer (unverified)

    Let's hope the Obama administration is more intellectually honest than commentators Alworth, Barnhart, and Blumenauer have been lately regarding the supposedly stolen election in 2000.

    The most thorough and comprehensive investigation into the 2000 election in Florida was conducted by the Miami Herald Tribune, which is hardly a bastion of right-wing partisanship. Their conclusion was that by any measure, a full and complete recount would have resulted in a win for Bush.

    Granted, the U.S. Supreme Court should not have intervened, but rather sent it back to Florida, where the highly partisan Florida Supreme Court would likely have ruled for Gore. Had that happened, the ultimate electoral authority in Florida was the state legislature, which was controlled by the Republicans.

    It was a messy election, but it was not stolen. Please stop trying to re-write history. We've got more important work to do.

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    Mr. Holmer: If your data is accurate, then you make an even better case that the Supreme Court should not have tainted the election results than the three men you named.

    Bill R., you write: "The great "uniter" indeed was a divider, who gratefully failed in his agenda..." I disagree; Bush's agenda of using government to promote the fortunes of the upper 1% seems to have succeeded beyond even his wildest dreams.

  • Jeff Alworth (unverified)

    Bill Holmer,

    So holding an opinion about Florida (about which I was perfectly transparent) makes me "intellectually dishonest?" That kind of over-heated invective is exactly the legacy I was describing. Thanks for underscoring the point.

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    I'm sorry, Bill, but you're completely incorrect. What the Miami Herald Tribune concluded was that a recount of "undervotes" in Miami-Dade county was lower than they had expected. This led them to say that if the courts had only ordered "undervotes" in the counties Senator Gore initially filed his challenge in, this would not have overcome Bush's lead.

    There are two problems with this analysis. #1 Vote recounts can't be selectively done by county (this was an error by the Gore legal team), and there was substantial evidence that even the undervotes counted across the whole state would have swung the election. #2 Actual Florida law says that ALL ballots must be reexamined, which includes overvotes. From an examination of those overvotes, it is indisputable that Al Gore received 50 to 60 THOUSAND more votes than Bush.

    The reason is because of the number of people - who so want to make their votes count - they both mark "Al Gore", and write in "Al Gore" in the "Other" slot. This is counted as an "OVER-vote" by the machines, although it is clear from a human viewpoint that it is not. Had the recount not been stopped by the Supreme Court (on overwhelmingly specious legal reasoning by 5 hard line Republicans- the court is stacked 8-1 GOP nominees to Democratic), this would have naturally played out.

    Don't go selling that crap here, Bill. I will go so far as to agree with you that we have more important work to do. But the will of the majority of the voters in 2000 was not heeded, to the detriment of us all.

  • Peter the Great (unverified)

    I hate to be the libertarian skunk at the Blue Party, but here goes. I will not miss Bush in the least. For Iraq, alone, he deserves to be relegated to the dustbin of history. Not to mention his utter failure to court the moderate elements in Iran's government. However, I simply can't get excited about Obama, other than the obvious fact that it's thrilling to see America finally make an African-American president. Other than that, however, he seems to be destined to continue the same disastrous American foreign policy we've had since Teddy Roosevelt charged up San Juan Hill -- interfering in other folks' business! He wants to EXPAND our war in Afghanistan, for heroin's sake. What the heck is he thinking? Also, reading Alworth makes me despair. Like so many "progressives," he can't seem to grasp that some of us, albeit a minority, see EMBRYONIC, not ADULT stem cell research as the newest frontier of barbaric scientific behavior that has characterized the last 100 years of amoral scientific activism. Institutionalizing abortion, as Obama clearly wants to do, instead of finally acknowledging that ultrasounds don't lie, is another horrific feature of our incoming president. But liberals, I have found, are as in denial about their support for killing as conservatives are about their support for rightwing brutalities in Latin America and the crude spirit of revenge that animates the death penalty. All we have gotten with this election is a progressive imperialist as opposed to a conservative imperialist. Neither party is worth any thinking person's support anymore.

  • Bill Holmer (unverified)

    From an examination of those overvotes, it is indisputable that Al Gore received 50 to 60 THOUSAND more votes than Bush.


  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    What Peter the Great, the alleged libertarian, means to write is that women are breeding machines ineligible to make decisions about their own bodies. Or, as a hard-right Xtian fundamentalist once said to me, "Choice? The woman had a choice to have sex. That's her only choice."

  • Bill Holmer (unverified)


    So what exactly is the basis for your belief that the 2000 election was stolen? Is it from people like Steven Maurer spouting off statements that he fails to support? Or do you have some intellectual basis for your belief?

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    Bill, apparently unlike you, I actually have a day job, so don't have time to go googling basic info for people. Except among the deliberately ignorant GOP, this is pretty well known stuff for political wonks. Try entering the words "florida" and "overvote" to our friend google, and you'll get several good summaries, followed by a number of political research papers on the topic.

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    There were myriad problems with the way we decided that election, but my biggest problem is the Supremes' intervention. Taking the case in the first place was terrible, and the confused/conflicting rationales of the justices compounded the effect. In no case did the term "activist judges" more apply, and what emerged was a bona fide constitutional crisis, however unrecognized it was. The moment was something you expect in Pakistan, not the United States of America.

    A huge disgrace in the rule of law.

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)

    If G.W. Bush were from another country and did as much damage to the world as he's done, just think how reviled he'd be in this country. As it stands, most Americans give him the benefit of the doubt ... and still don't like him. What does that say for his performance?

  • Bill Holmer (unverified)

    Dear Steve,

    When I first read your comment and because I was interested in your claim, I did precisely as you suggested, but couldn't find any source that supported your statement. What I did find was that there were an estimated 113,000 overvotes, which were never counted. So as far as I can tell it's an educated guess at best, or wild speculation at worst. Maybe in your world that constitutes "indisputable" evidence that Gore would have ended up with 50 to 60,000 more votes than Bush. That's why I requested, and am still waiting for a citation.

    BTW, the recount that was ordered by the Florida Supreme Court, was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court by a 7-2 margin because it used different standards for different counties. As I've stated before, the 5-4 decision to halt the Florida recount, rather than sending it back to Florida for a constitutional recount, was wrong. But due to the calendar and the political composition of the Florida legislature, sending it back to Florida would not have changed the ultimate outcome.

  • scott smith (unverified)

    still crying about 2000. get over it. bush was better than gore would ever be.

  • Andrew (unverified)

    In his book, “An Enemy of the People,” Dean Lawrence R. Velvel properly indicates that George W. Bush is insane and basically lives in a dream world in his head. Dean Lawrence R. Velvel brilliantly and ingeniously describes that George W. Bush suffers from (1) rigid judgmentalism; (2) irritability; (3) impatience; (4) grandiosity; (5) obsessive thought patterns; (6) incoherent speech; (7) immense anger; (8) exploitativeness; (9) arrogance; (10) utter lack of empathy; (11) difficulties arising from relationships with his father (George H.W. Bush); (12) not caring about the suffering of others; (13) sociopathic behaviours; (14) serial failures; (15) lack of competence; (16) alcohol problems; (17) narcissistic personality; (18) doing anything to protect his psyche from the destruction of being shown wrong; (19) inability to feel guilt; etc.

    Dean Lawrence R. Velvel’s book is for all time one of the best books ever written. The American people benefit profoundly from astute writers—like Dean Lawrence R. Velvel—who focus on the severe mental illnesses which underlie George W. Bush’s egregious misconduct while president of the United States. Dean Lawrence R. Velvel’s examinations relative to George W. Bush absolutely explain why Bush has been an utter failure and will leave behind such a tragic legacy.

    <h2>Lawrence R. Velvel is the dean of the Massachusetts School of Law.</h2>

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