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The Ghost of George W. Bush
by Allan Freedman
George W. Bush’s greatest victory—the congressional election of 2010—arrived at a point in history when the pendulum for economic growth had begun its ascendancy, having been pushed by a federally funded $500 billion bailout to Wall Street’s banks, some too big to fail, and the insurance corporation AIG, again, too big to fail, as well as the $750 billion job creation stimulus. These actions were insufficient in propelling the pendulum faster and the potential for job growth became too far distant to register on the American voter.
Although employment figures are still too low, the unemployment rate has stabilized, and the policies of the Obama administration, the Congress and the Federal Reserve Bank are shown to be working. Manufacturing and business profits have been rising. But this didn’t and doesn’t fit into the Republican narrative.
As the 2010 campaign played out, the Republicans and the voters, as if by magic, forgot Bush’s damaging deregulation policies which had brought about the economic and social turmoil. Political rhetoric stressed the notion that Democratic policies had failed in restoring jobs which were lost, ironically, through Bush policies. Deregulation of federal agencies, from Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton, came with a vengeance when the Bush Administration weakened key agencies through a climate of laissez faire. Chairman Christopher Cox in 2006 cut the SEC budget by reducing the effectiveness of its investigative staff, which led in great measure to the corruption of the derivatives market that created havoc throughout the nation’s financial markets.
Soaring home foreclosures when added to this brewing stew, and fanned red hot by the hammering Republican noise machine, and with the cooperating campaign of the right wing media, became a scarlet letter tagged on the backs of the Democratic Congress. The bitter irony of the Democratic defeat is that the Republicans successfully put the blame for the economic disaster on the Democrats, while keeping the Bush tax cuts in order to reduce the size of the federal government and fatten the fat cats.
The Obama healthcare reform act is seen as endangering Republican chances to return to power for many years, and so the total negative and demagogic assault on the legislation.
These words by Jonathan Swift, I believe, describe today’s political scene: “When a true genius appears, you may know him by this sign—that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”
Philip Roth’s 1971 book, Our Gang, is a satire on the Nixon administration well worth reading for its parallelism with the Bush administration.
It’s time for an accounting of the Bush administration for its incompetence and inadequate leadership when almost everything was for political gain before anything else. Pain and irony, and a satirical account of the Bush years and his greatest victory will be a fitting record by a writer worthy of capturing the shenanigans of the Bush team’s cast of characters in this era of the lost years of America’s rise to greatness.
Allan Freedman, Buffalo
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