Truth is greatest victim of Bush presidency

November 23, 2008


We should be ashamed of how poorly we have treated President Bush.

That, believe it or not, is the thesis of a bizarre opinion published the day after the election in the Wall Street Journal by one Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, described as an investigative reporter, a lawyer and a former intern for, of all people, John Kerry. It’s one of two rather eye-opening Journal pieces, actually; the second, following just days later, was by a former presidential aide named Jim Towey. Under the headline, “Why I’ll Miss President Bush,” he sang hosannas to the decency and compassion of W., even going so far as to invoke Mother Theresa.

Which is, shall we say, a rather novel take. But it is Shapiro’s piece that will give you whiplash. In his view, Bush has struggled manfully in the service of an ungrateful nation, reached out in a spirit of true bipartisanship and received for his efforts nothing but “crushing resistance” and constant scorn.

Shapiro writes: “The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time.”

And reading that, you wonder ... well, you wonder a few things.

First, you wonder how old Shapiro is. Because he sounds very young. I’m talking smudge-of-acne-cream-on-the-cheek, fake-ID-at-the-club young. Which, presumably, he is not, given his pedigree.

Then you wonder — fear, might be the better word — if this is but the vanguard of a new wave of revisionism, a pre-emptive strike against history, if you will, to impose a sunnier, more forgiving view on the last eight years than the facts will support. If so, we should gird for a very long rest of our lives.

Finally, you wonder, wearily, if it is really necessary to tally yet again the sins of this president. If George W. Bush’s approval ratings sink any lower, they will emerge in China. That’s not accidental. And when his reign of error ends on Jan. 20, it will come eight years too late and not a millisecond too soon.

For my money, of all the things he has done that have damaged this nation — we’re talking lies and alibis, torture, the loss of American prestige, watching passively as New Orleans drowned, censoring science, politicizing the Justice Department, a ruinous war of choice in Iraq, spending with all the discipline of an 8-year-old in a candy store — arguably the most damaging legacy this president leaves is that he has undermined truth itself. After eight years of Bush/Rove politics, we live now in a nation where fact doesn’t mean a whole lot, where it is OK to believe the “truth” that serves your political ends and jettison any that does not.

Because these days, truth comes in two flavors. We have red truth and blue truth, but we are fresh out of the truth, the facts, unimpeachable and inarguable. Instead, President Bush has overseen a government of legendary intellectual incoherence, where ideology is valued above competence, accountability is valued not at all and one is daily dared to believe the evidence of one’s lying eyes. Bush seems to agree with Stephen Colbert: reality has a liberal bias.

Now, we are offered one last single-digit salute to our collective intelligence in the form of this grotesque suggestion that we should be ashamed of how we have treated President Bush. If anyone should feel shame, it is Bush and the cadre of sycophants that has enabled him for eight long years.

Of course, as young Mr. Shapiro so vividly reminds us, they don’t know the meaning of the word.

— Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CST each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 11 months ago

"Now, we are offered one last single-digit salute to our collective intelligence in the form of this grotesque suggestion that we should be ashamed of how we have treated President Bush. If anyone should feel shame, it is Bush and the cadre of sycophants that has enabled him for eight long years."Couldn't have said it any better myself. But I'm sure our local sycophants will be out in force, attempting to enable BushCo for the last few weeks of damage they inflict upon the world.

devobrun 8 years, 11 months ago

I often enjoy the commentary of Mr Pitts.But when it comes to the subject of President Bush, the illiberal, unthinking, angry, Mr Pitts comes out.He's really mad today. Defending The President is unforgivable. There is nothing about the man that can be discussed in an intelligent way. The verdict is in, it is all bad. The press has had its say and that is that.Does this seem overwrought to you folks out there. For example, did the New Orleans hurricane problems occur because of Mr. Bush?Here is what Bush didn't do: Cause the hurricane. Hire the police of New Orleans, whose performance was poor.He didn't elect the mayor or governor of the state of Louisiana, whose performance was poor. He didn't influence the development of homes and apartments in areas of New Orleans that have no business having homes there. The 9th ward is 12 feet below sea level. He didn't encourage a plethora of drugged out people to move into these areas, further complicating the rescue efforts. Is the president of the U.S. responsible for every local problem in the country? Shouldn't the people of each region of this country be ultimately responsible for their region? Shouldn't each individual be responsible for themselves? Implicit to Mr Pitts argument is that the president of the U.S. is responsible for the lives and actions of everybody in the country.No he isn't.People died in Louisiana because they didn't leave. The folks who couldn't leave weren't evacuated by local and state agencies. The feds weren't called in until it was too late. The blame for the actions of the people of New Orleans lies squarely in the state of Louisiana. Not a guy in D.C.Each of the other points in Mr. Pitts' article can be discussed with an alternative argument. This argument cannot be had because people with the totalitarian viewpoint of "Bush is bad" will not allow it.Look at yourself in the mirror Mr. Pitts. Did you buy New Orleans 200 john boats in the last 3 years and set up a water evacuation plan for the city? Did you help raise $ to train volunteers who could use those boats to resue people from the next flood? I'll bet you didn't and I'll bet you blame Bush for you inaction.

50YearResident 8 years, 11 months ago

I agree with Pitts, Bush's eight years have been a total disaster and can't end soon enough. I hope Bush doesn't do any more stupid things before he is finally out of office. Bush was a one man team responsible for ruining the World economy and the US crediability.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years, 11 months ago

... and, oblivious, the shrub shrugs and swaggers, unstaggered.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 11 months ago

Oh, come on! Is Devobrun the only sycophant out there willing to defend the indefensible?

jonas_opines 8 years, 11 months ago

devonbrun "Defending The President is unforgivable. There is nothing about the man that can be discussed in an intelligent way. The verdict is in, it is all bad. The press has had its say and that is that."That's not exactly what he's saying, really. The original referenced article was not really defending but glorifying the president, and the only way possible, really, to do that is by the tried and true method of diffusion of responsibility, that is blaming the liberals, the media, the congress, etc. etc. While it is undoubtedly true that Bush is not 100% responsible for some of the things that have happened, it's ludicruos to suggest that he has no responsibility, or even a minority share in the responsibility for some of those things. Since all you talk about is New Orleans, though, you may have the beginnings of a pre-emptive point. I would suggest, however, that the weight you give to the NO disaster is somewhat too much, being that it just got a brief mention (about 5 words?) in the entirity of the article.

Scott Drummond 8 years, 11 months ago

I got a one-digit salute of my own for bush & the rest of his crime syndicate. And on this, the 45th anniversery of JFK's assasination by the same forces that propelled bush the lesser to the Presidency, I offer it with all the spit, venom and hatred one man can muster.

jonas_opines 8 years, 11 months ago

"friction of people with seriously skewed perspectives, like marion, tom, madmike, glockowner, bowhunter, just to name a few, a few who obviously have god complexes, and who obviously care about no one except themselves."Let's add Scott shall we? As evidence, one post up.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years, 11 months ago

tumbilweed: "... people with seriously skewed perspectives, like marion, tom, madmike, glockowner, bowhunter, just to name a few, a few who obviously have god complexes, and who obviously care about no one except themselves."So... did I make the list, or not??:-\

Phil Minkin 8 years, 11 months ago

Let's grade W's 8 years:Economy: FCivil liberties and the expansion of the Executive branch: D-Environment and protection of National Park: D, but he's working hard to get to FHomeland Security: C We haven't been attacked, but we've still done nothing about ports, the electrical grid and many other vulnerabllitesOur status as a respected world power: DConsumer protection and food/drug safety: DProviding jobs to cronies and incompetents(Brown, Harriet Meirs etal) A-I can't wait until Jan. 20

BigPrune 8 years, 11 months ago

Ray Nagin let the busses sit, later to be covered by rising water. What did the people of New Orleans do? They re-elected him. So much for American intelligence.

Haiku_Cuckoo 8 years, 11 months ago

I'm not a Bush fan but he has done more to help the people of Africa than any other president. Many of Dubya's critics would be content to let them die of AIDS and malaria.Read it and weep, Leonard:http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1717934-1,00.htmlDon't expect to read about this in most mainstream media outlets. You see, it isn't fashionable to say anything positive about Bush. Admittedly, this may be the only positive thing about his presidency...but it is still worth pointing out.

Scott Drummond 8 years, 11 months ago

"Let's add Scott shall we? As evidence, one post up."Thank you. It shall be a badge of honor, or, perhaps more to the point, patriotism.

jonas_opines 8 years, 11 months ago

Seriously skewed perspective = "It shall be a badge of honor, or, perhaps more to the point, patriotism." ?Hmmm. . . QED?

jonas_opines 8 years, 11 months ago

"Why Obama Should Thank George Bush"Well hell, that's easy. Without the last 7 odd years there's no way that Obama would have won the presidency.

devobrun 8 years, 11 months ago

Don't be misled by your fears that I, or anybody else, are defending Bush. No, my problem is with the people who blame Bush for everything. This is a transfer of their own inequities onto a person who doesn't defend himself. I used New Orleans as an example of the overwrought transfer of hate from the people who are responsible, to Bush.And who was responsible for New Orleans.God for sending a terrible hurricane on top of the people.The people who live there. This place is dangerous.The local government who didn't have emergency plans in place.And so on. This example is used to show how Bush haters are irrational. Does Bush ask for hatred? Yes, but all presidents do. Want another of Pitts' points discussed? Censoring science.How has science been censored? Global warming? The reports that have been censored are based on non-science.That is, many reports have emerged over the last 20 years on the modeling of the climate. Now papers are regularly being produced by folks in GISS and CDC and others that are fantasy "what if" papers. Doom and gloom politics. These are being censored by Bush and Chaney because they aren't worthy of scientists. They are projections that cannot be tested. Computer program projections are not tests. It is lousy science. If Bush and Chaney are censoring them it is because they are political screed coming from government agencies under their direction.But Mr. Pitts doesn't consider that the executive branch has the authority to question and throttle people who work for them. Now, if science begins the long, slow emergence from the scientific ice box called global warming, er climate change, will Obama censor them?Yes, if it politically expedient. Science is never a done deal. Tests are required. Computer programs aren't tests. Gloomy prognostications sure as .... aren't science. But Mr. Pitts swallowed it. Unquestioningly downed the horse squeeze and has become a believer. This is the problem I have with the article. You can't call Bush a liar unless you are prepared to analyze each point and its alternative. Pitts hasn't done this. He shows himself as a shill toward the Bush haters, and it is mindless. He has done much better.I think that he has a fear that much of the hate toward Bush will prove to be overblown, and Obama won't be all that much different. Boy, will that cause him trouble in his future articles.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 11 months ago

I'm not buying it, devobrun. Sure, previous presidents deserve most of the criticism that gets heaped on them, but this one was extraordinarily worse. And you've swallowed their spin on NO hook, line and and sinker. Instead of actually doing anything about the disaster, they assigned Rove to find someone to blame for why the aftermath was handled so abysmally.http://www.salon.com/books/excerpt/2008/06/06/rove_katrina/"Instead of supplying relief to the city, Rove had devised a scheme whereby he could blame the failure of government to take action on someone besides Bush. "They looked around," Landrieu says, "and they found a Democratic governor and an African American Democratic mayor who had never held office before in his life before he was mayor of New Orleans -- someone they knew they could manipulate. Ray Nagin had never held public office and here he was the mayor of New Orleans and it was going underwater."In short, Rove was going to blame Blanco for the failure of the response in Louisiana, and to do that he was going to use Nagin. He had already set the plan in motion on Tuesday with Nagin, who, even though he was a Democrat, was so close to the Republican Party that some members of the African American community in New Orleans called him "Ray Reagan." In 2000, Nagin had actually contributed $2,000 to Bush's campaign when he ran for president.Rove knew of Nagin's ties to the Republican Party, so more than likely Nagin could be convinced to level his criticism at Blanco and to support Bush when he could. Here was Rove's strategy: Praise Haley Barbour, the Republican governor of Mississippi; praise Michael Brown and FEMA; blame Blanco, the Democrat. It was not a stretch for Nagin. He and Blanco so disliked each other that in Blanco's last race Nagin had endorsed her opponent."

jonas_opines 8 years, 11 months ago

Well, I'm familiar enough with your stance on climate change to not care to hijack this thread. Your basic point, I agree with. The hate is overblown, but then the same can be said about all the presidents in office since I've been old enough to remember. However, you notice that at only one point does he say that the administration itself was guilty of dishonesty, and that's another brief mention of "lies," very early in the piece. The rest, with the headlines, seems to be more in the line of confirmation bias and disingenuity, and I think we can establish instances of those in this administration very easily. While dated, the wonderful Spinsanity sight has quite a few examples of that, and I think it's still up if you want to read for yourself.I don't think it's a legacy of the Bush years, however. It was certainly in existence before he took office or even began his campaign. I, personally, think it likely that it has worsened since his first campaign began, but I doubt that the time and energy required to prove that are going to be worth it for the purposes of this thread.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years, 11 months ago

I don't think we can even begin to enumerate the victims of the Bush "occupancy"... let alone identify the greatest one.

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 11 months ago

Let me just say a hearty amen but I must add that truth was raped during the Clinton years but nobody got killed so it wasn't as bad. Oh, I forgot Clinton sit on his hands and didn't kill Osama bin Laden or at let capture him when he had a chance. Good leaders are rare indeed let alone a great leader.

devobrun 8 years, 11 months ago

I don't even know what the spin from Rove was bozo.I was teaching a physics course at the time and we were learning how to estimate (an important skill in science).It was easy to figure out how to save the citizens of New Orleans before the fact with a distribution of strong pole barns around the city equipped with boats and volunteers to man them. People could have been evacuated in 24 hours. Cost for the whole setup including training about $30 million. The local government could have had such a system in place, but it didn't. The city of New Orleans is filled with crooks. This has been true for ages. It exists well beyond the concept of republican, democrat, or whatever. The city is rotten. It lives on old world concepts and old world results. Bush, Rove, Clinton, Carter, Kennedy.... have had nothin' to do with it. The place is broken. Using it as an example of Bush failure of lie is like blaming Reagen for the demise of the Challenger. That was NASA's fault. This country runs on a lot of things besides the federal government. Why has Bush attracted all the blame? New Orleans broke down because it was faced with a major weather event. The majority of people left. Those who stayed were (and are) incompetent. The rescue of those people wasn't Bush's problem. It was their problem, and they died. So long as Bush is blamed, the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana will continue to think that it is somebody's fault besides their own. B.S.Wait for the next one, bozo. The next catastrophe that locals screw up because they thought it was Obama's responsibility.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 11 months ago

The discussion on this thread is BushCo's utter and total incompetence (among other fine qualities,) which was amply displayed in their non-performance in NO. Could state and local governments have done some things better? Probably. But how does that excuse BushCo?Rove has suckered you, devo. You're so busy blaming the locals that you don't have time (or is it inclination?) to criticize Bush. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but apparently Rove can fool folks like devo all the time.

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