The other day, a Frameshop post by Jeffrey Feldman started me thinking about just how best to present the Bush administration in the months before the 2006 election. Feldman was writing specifically about comparisons to fascists, making the point that the Bushists are too stupid to be fascists.
True, but it was one of his examples—that the Bushists haven’t managed to build anything—that got me thinking along slightly different lines.
What, I started asking, has this administration accomplished in its five-plus years?
What has it done? What can it be remembered for?
The simple answer: Nothing.
Are there any great national projects that Bush is responsible for? He talked about going to Mars, but that disappeared (Kennedy started us to the moon). He’s done zilch for our infrastructure (Eisenhower gave us great highways). The Bushists have had two easy chances to build something all Americans could be proud of: Ground Zero and the areas destroyed by Katrina. Five years after the former, little has been done. A year after the latter, and there is no vision of a restored Gulf Coast. The problem is that the Bushists have no vision for a better America. There are many areas where bold leadership could have led us to projects that could improve the lives of every American—the most obvious being in the area of renewable energy. What has the Bush administration accomplished? Nothing.
Are there great reforms in our government that Bush can take credit for? Johnson had the Civil Rights Acts, Nixon created the EPA. What have the Bushists done? Have they addressed the health-care crisis that America faces? No. All they have given us is a Byzantine prescription drug plan that seems to do little but insure drug-company profits. Have they shored up Social Security? The president didn’t even really have a plan when he was tooling around talking about fixing that—and he never bothered to work with the Congress he controlled to develop something that would work and that the American people could support. What about the Department of Homeland Security? Well, it was something the Bushists didn’t even want in the first place. So, rather than using it to streamline the bureaucracies and make them more effective, they have used it as a means for breaking the Civil Service system and as a place to put cronies they want to reward. The result? A FEMA unable to react at all to national emergencies. So, what has the Bush administration accomplished? Nothing.
Has the US done anything in the world to make it a better and safer place? Are there any foreign policy initiatives that the US has participated in that can be considered breakthroughs—maybe not on the level of Nixon’s visit to China, but that have at least started momentum to solving any of the world’s festering problems? No. The Bushists dropped the ball concerning Israel and Palestine rather than providing the continuity with the Clinton administration that would have pushed Arafat that extra step into signing an agreement with Israel. Instead of working to come to terms with Castro in Cuba, the Bushists have retreated to a harsher stance—and have done the same with North Korea and Iran. In Iraq, of course, they faced Saddam Hussein through the uncreative solution of war rather than working towards a positive outcome for Iraq. Even the “success” in Afghanistan is qualified—and may be leading to a rise in heroin addiction in the US resulting from plentiful supply and low prices, thanks to high yields from a trade that neither the Karzai government nor the US forces there seem able to eradicate. The “war on terror” has also been a bust. Little has been done to protect America’s ports or skies, and the number of potential terrorists continues to grow. Unable to understand that terrorism cannot be fought through military action, the Bushists can only react—when they should be developing creative means of eradicating the roots of terrorism, of being proactive. So, what has the Bush administration accomplished? Nothing.
There is one thing the Bushists have managed to do, however. They’ve managed to help Bush’s “base”—the “haves” and “have mores.” According to recent reports from the government, writes E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post:
the census had some very good news for the well-to-do. The top fifth of American households received 50.4 percent of all income last year, the highest proportion since 1967 when the Census Bureau started following that trend. The biggest gains were concentrated in the top 5 percent.
The Bushists continue to insure that the rich get richer. Beyond that, what has the Bush administration accomplished? Nothing.
That’s what we’ve got to push this fall (it fits in perfectly with the Markos and Jerome meme that Democrats, these days, govern better). Even in local Congressional districts, the question directed at Republican candidates needs to be this: What has the administration you support, that you enable, actually done? Most everything they will come up with can be discounted, and should be—loudly and with vigor. Looking at the big picture, the Bushists have accomplished nothing.
And we should be repeating that, over and over.