Rarely do all factions of the media agree, but the last days of the Bush administration have managed that. The consensus is that Bush is among the worst presidents of all time, that his time in the White House has been a disaster which has left America’s reputation in tatters, its economy shredded, and made it despised across the globe.
That Bush was elected in 2000 can be seen as unfortunate and nobody can be held to blame, even though it took dishonesty and corruption to swing the Florida decisive vote. However, any American who voted for him in 2004, knowing what they knew about him and his (in)abilities and ignorance should hang their heads in shame at the possibly irreperable damage he has done to their nation.
One of the best assessments came in the Observer at the weekend.
The economic and fiscal picture is bleak. During the Bush administration, the national debt, now approaching $10 trillion, has nearly doubled. Next year’s federal budget is projected to run a $500bn deficit, a precipitous fall from the $700bn surplus that was projected when Bill Clinton left office. Private-sector job creation has been a sixth of what it was under President Clinton. Five million people have fallen into poverty. The number of Americans without health insurance has grown by seven million, while average premiums have nearly doubled. Meanwhile, the principal domestic achievement of the Bush administration has been to shift the relative burden of taxation from the rich to the rest. For the top 1 per cent of us, the Bush tax cuts are worth, on average, about a thousand dollars a week; for the bottom fifth, about a dollar and a half. The unfairness will only increase if the painful, yet necessary, effort to rescue the credit markets ends up preventing the rescue of our healthcare system, our environment and our physical, educational and industrial infrastructure.
The only hope is that the mistake is not repeated with McCain and the Sarah Palin, the woman who makes Bush look positively cerebral.