When the history of the past decade is written, one person will stand out from all others as the Most Influential. More than any other individual, George Walker Bush, 43rd President of the United States, through his actions and inactions, had the most significant effect on the people of America and the world. All, of course, in a very bad way. [Updated]
Breaking history down into decades or centuries for analysis is usually pointless; the artificiality of the calendar has little to do with the broad sweeps of change that result in lasting transformation. But the decade from 2000 through 2009 is unique, in that it starts and finishes bookended by two events involving the same individual. In between, his policies, actions and deliberate inactions caused more pain, more suffering, more economic upheaval and loss, and more damage to the sustainability of human life on the planet than any other single person.
The decade began with George Bush and his operatives stealing the presidential election, with the critical moves in Florida being managed by his brother the governor, his state campaign director who was also the chief of elections, and ultimately the Supreme Court staffed with his father’s handpicked cronies. He assumed office in what was nothing less than a bloodless coup.
For eight long years, the core of the decade, GW Bush set about on a course of unending Radical Reactionary destruction:
The massive security failures of 9/11and the anthrax attacks.
The colossally mismanaged Afghanistan invasion that failed to capture key al Qaeda and Taliban targets.
The systematic falsification of charges in support of invading Iraq, and the subsequent invasion costing hundreds of thousands of deaths and casualties along with at least a trillion dollars most of which was wasted, stolen or exploded.
Deliberately destroying the core of the CIA Middle East nuclear counter-proliferation program in order to further a personal political vendetta, at the exact same time that Iran was scaling up their nuclear weapons capability.
The shockingly callous indifference towards the disaster of Katrina and the human suffering that occurred there on a scale not seen since the Middle Ages.
Establishment of deliberate torture of prisoners as American policy, in defiance of all international treaties and norms as well as US law and common decency.
The deliberate, systematic destruction of America’s educational system.
The defiance of unified world opinion on the dangers of climate change through rejection of the Kyoto treaty and systematic dismantling of the EPA.
Willful disregard of hundreds of thousands of legitimate claims for medical care and disability made through Veteran’s Affairs and Social Security.
Establishing selectively favorable tax and regulatory exemptions that benefit the very rich while creating the largest budget deficits in history.
Manipulating Medicare payment policy to ensure rapid payments to rich corporations while gutting fraud enforcement, allowing the theft of hundreds of billions of taxpayer healthcare dollars.
Overseeing the systematic deregulation and gutting of economic practices oversight, leading to the largest world-wide economic collapse since the Great Depression.
Pursuit of economic policies that resulted in systematic enrichment of the most wealthy while for the first time in 70 years the middle and lower economic classes actually saw their income decline.
And the list goes on, far too much to detail it all here.
In the end, Bush’s policies alienated the people of the rest of the world, with his approval numbers in most countries falling into the teens. As seen here at the last G30 conference he attended near the end of his second term, every world leader was finally fed up with George Bush and wanted nothing more to do with him.
The American people felt generally the same, with Bush’s Approval Rating falling into the 20s at the end. And the end did come, finally, with the voter’s rejection of the next Radical Reactionary regime in favor of a Conservative. Most Americans, and nearly all of the rest of the world, were more than happy to see him gone.
Curtis Huber, curator of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf Wax Museum, begins disassembly of their George Bush presidential exhibit at precisely 9AM PST as Barack Obama takes the oath of office. Credit Paul Chinn, SF Chronicle
But Bush’s influence lingers on, in the wars and the swelling deficits and the environmental damage that may now be too late to reverse, as well as in the damage he did to American stature internationally and our diminished ability to influence for good both at home and abroad. George W. Bush is a sadistic monster, an evil presence of truly historic proportion, and by far the Most Influential Person of the Decade.
[Update: Devilstower at DKos has a take on holding the VRWC responsible for the last decade’s debacles, humorous-angry where mine is just plain angry-angry. (h/t digby) The only disagreement I have is in Deviltower’s use of the term “Conservative” to describe the VRWC’s policies and actions. They are not Conservative but rather Radical Reactionary, dedicated to rolling back the social advances of the last 70 years and replacing even our weak form of democracy with unchallenged rule by their rigidly authoritarian economic aristocracy. Words matter, and we should call them out for what they are.