B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Archive for the ‘Worst President Ever’ tag

GWB Among the Worst US Presidents

without comments

Stop Bitching Start a Revolution
Stop Bitching Start a Revolution

Jean Edward Smith has a new biography of George W. Bush coming out soon. I’ll probably read it eventually, whenever I want to remember how horribly The Shrub screwed up the world…

Thomas Mallon of The New Yorker reviews the bio:

Jean Edward Smith’s biography of George W. Bush goes on sale a day before the former President’s seventieth birthday, and it’s safe to say that no one will be bringing it as a present to the ranch outside Crawford. Smith, a well-regarded practitioner of military history and Presidential-life writing, comes straight to the point in the first sentence of his preface: “Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush.” By the book’s last sentence, Smith is predicting a long debate over whether Bush “was the worst president in American history,” and while the biographer doesn’t vote on the question himself, the unhappy shade of James Buchanan will feel strongly encouraged by his more than six hundred pages.

Smith points out that Bush attended no meetings of the National Security Council in the seven months prior to September 11, 2001. In her reports on these gatherings, Condoleezza Rice—Bush’s national-security adviser, workout partner, and something of an alter ego—tended to synthesize disagreements among the participants, leaving Bush with a false feeling of consensus. The President’s own focus was chiefly on matters like stem-cell-research regulation and the sort of educational reforms he had pushed through a Democratic legislature as governor of Texas. On the morning of 9/11, Laura Bush was in Ted Kennedy’s Senate office, having come to testify for the No Child Left Behind Act; the White House she returned to later that day was a wholly different place, a domestic cruise ship that had become an aircraft carrier.

In Smith’s view, the military and moral calamities began right then. If he is moderately critical of the President for being “asleep at the switch” in the period before the terrorist attacks—Bush felt no particular alarm when an August 6th C.I.A. briefing indicated that Osama bin Laden was up to at least something—the biographer is simply aghast once Bush seizes the controls. Within three days of September 11th, he says, the President had acquired a “boundless” confidence that put the country on a “permanent war footing” and the White House into a “hothouse climate of the President’s certitude.”

In another anti-superlative, Smith suspects that the invasion of Iraq will “likely go down in history as the worst foreign policy decision ever made by an American president.” The thirteen-year legacy of “preëmption” makes this a hard prophecy to counter, and Smith’s well-ordered scenes on the subject—Paul Wolfowitz pushing for war against Saddam on September 12th, just as he’d been pushing for it in April—do dismaying work. James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, the wise men of his father’s Administration, tell Bush to go slowly or not at all, but George Tenet, the holdover C.I.A. director from the Clinton years, assures him that convincing the public of the need to invade Iraq over W.M.D.s will be a “slam dunk.” As persuasively as anyone before him, Smith presents a strong story of how a successful military mission quickly unaccomplished itself; turned into quite something else (“the United States was going to bring democracy to the country”); and then festered into what Donald Rumsfeld himself, in his memoirs, judged to be “a long and heavy-handed occupation.”

 

(click here to continue reading W Is for Why – The New Yorker.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 14th, 2016 at 9:13 am

John Kerry Might Have Really Won in 2004

without comments

John Kerry at Austin Bergstrom Airport
John Kerry at Austin Bergstrom Airport (taken on November 2, 2012), I almost asked him if he thought he’d become Secretary of State after the 2012 election concluded, but chickened out. I was right though.

John Kerry probably wouldn’t have been the best president, but he would have been much better than Bush. And this means that even Kerry (and especially his wife) admit that GWB didn’t win either election! Neither in 2000, nor in 2004. Jeez…

In 2004, when Kerry lost the Presidential race to George W. Bush, who is widely considered the worst President of the modern era, he refused to challenge the results, despite his suspicion that in certain states, particularly Ohio, where the Electoral College count hinged, proxies for Bush had rigged many voting machines. But he could not suffer the defeat in complete silence. He was outraged that Bush, who had won a stateside berth in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, used campaign surrogates, the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, to slime his military record. He was furious, too, at Robert Shrum, his chief strategist, and other campaign advisers who had restrained him from hitting back.

“For a long period, after 2004, every time he even half fell asleep all he saw was voting machines in the state of Ohio,” Mike Barnicle, a close friend of Kerry’s and a former columnist for the Boston Globe, told me. This summer, Barnicle spent time with Kerry on Nantucket, where Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz, have a house on the water and a seventy-six-foot, seven-million-dollar sailboat called Isabel. “We were sitting in the bow,” Barnicle recalled, “and we were talking about a bunch of different things—about Iran, about what the President of Iran was like—and I said, ‘Other than not being President, this is pretty good.’ There was a security boat sailing off to the side of us. Then he said, ‘Yeah, yeah, I realize how badly Shrum screwed me.’ ”

(click here to continue reading John Kerry’s Middle East Mission – The New Yorker.)

And as we all know, these voting machines are exactly the same as they were. Probably why Karl Rove was so sure that Mitt Romney was actually going to pull out a victory in Ohio…

Written by Seth Anderson

December 14th, 2015 at 7:26 pm