GEORGE H. W. Bush's presidency began with the fall of the Wall and the
collapse of communism. George W. Bush's presidency ends with the fall of
Wall Street and the collapse of capitalism.
As George Sr watches the destruction of the political dynasty founded by
his father senator Prescott Bush, he must wish that he too was turning
in his grave. The family tomb must be looking very attractive.
Polls agree that about 80 per cent of Americans are appalled by his son
and you can bet George H.W. heads the list. Pretty early in the Iraq
fiasco it was painfully obvious that dad was mortified by his son's
strategic idiocies, hence his desperate and unsuccessful deployments of
family loyalist James Baker to find a face-saving way out of the mess.
But now? Iraq must seem almost the least of the dynasty's disasters. To
borrow from one of George H.W.'s quaint sayings, it's now in the deepest
Within hours of Pearl Harbor George H.W. left college to become the
youngest naval pilot in US history. He flew scores of missions and won a
heap of medals for quite exceptional courage. And his son? Despite the
lowest possible scores in the entrance exams he got to be a pilot and
did everything he could to avoid doing his duty or getting in harm's
way. Despite all the family's influence, he failed to make the cut at
the University of Texas law school. He became an alcoholic and a drunk
driver. Whereas dad was a millionaire at 40, the son's career as an oil
man was an embarrassment. Until young George was provided with the
governorship of Texas, his CV was a disaster.
And dad? House of Reps, ambassador to the UN, chairman of the Republican
National Committee, envoy to China, boss of the CIA, Reagan's
vice-president etc etc. Though devoid of charisma and little better than
his son as an orator he became the 41st president. Like father Prescott,
his career was devoted to pushing the barrow of the biggest of big
businesses. His oil industry connections to the Saudis certainly
influenced his decision to cross Saddam Hussein off the list of favoured
dictators and launch Desert Storm. But Bush Sr was infinitely more
careful in his foreign policy than his son. George H.W.'s reluctance to
push on to Baghdad and do some regime changing was clearly a factor in
his son's later recklessness. And George H.W. made his disapproval clear
through the high-level manoeuverings of such dynastic disciples as
Baker. There seems strength in the quasi-Freudian argument that the
world fell victim to difficulties in a father-son relationship.
Even before the great fiscal f..k-up George H.W.'s spectacularly stupid
son had blown the US budget by turning the Clinton surplus into an
apocalyptic deficit. On his watch there was a 70 per cent increase in
the national debt. Gross domestic product was almost flat-lining at 2.5
per cent, real median income hadn't budged, the dollar was looking worse
than the zloty and only the rich were having fun. And now? Not even the
rich are happy. Despite vast amounts of anti-depressant being pumped
into the global system, the world teeters on the edge of the biggest
depression since the 1930s. The Republicans will not only lose the White
House but Congress, the Senate, and gubernatorial and state elections
across the nation. Not even the dazzling political talents of Sarah
Palin will save them.
Under Bush Jr, the unprecedented levels of sympathy for the US post 9/11
evaporated. Now the international polls can be read as prayers for a
Barack Obama victory. Anti-American feelings? In the Western democracies
they were largely anti-Bush. The invasion of Iraq with its death and
destruction led to Abu Ghraib and torture and civil war. Guantanamo and
rendition unleashed worldwide protest and recruited regiments of
terrorists. Domestic politics saw dramatic attacks on the US
constitution and on civil liberties. Political scandals were two a
penny, such as Alberto Gonzales's mid-term sacking of those US attorneys
he deemed insufficiently conservative.
Bush's ongoing denial of climate change was capped by Katrina, where
Washington's scandalous inaction led to the ethnic cleansing of New
Orleans. Was there a single issue where George Jr got anything right?
While the sub-prime mortgage crisis was kindled before Bush's election
his administration did nothing to head it off. The USSR may be dead and
buried but George Jr has presided over the creation of a new socialist
state: the USSA.
George Jr leaves Washington DC as the most unpopular president in
history. He leaves the US, the Middle East and the world economy in much
worse shape than they were eight years ago. And he leaves the Republican
Party in ruins; it will take decades to repair. As for the Bush dynasty?
The presidential campaign of Jeb Bush isn't attracting a lot of donors.