"History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind." ~ Edward Gibbon
Exclusive to STR
I'm perplexed by anyone who still hates Clinton more than Bush. I've seen this in libertarian circles.
I actually didn't hate Bush right away. I didn't like him or respect him. He was the president, after all. But I didn't loathe him the way I did Clinton . So I can see why, at one point, people might have still hated Clinton more.
After 9/11, I told my friends I was glad Clinton and Reno weren't in power, because the police state would come faster under Democrats. I also thought Republicans were less repulsive on economics. This is largely why I silently and with some shame rooted (but not voted) for Bush in 2000, just as I rooted for Dole in 1996, and for Bush the Elder in 1992 and 1988.
But after a while, something happened. Maybe it was the prescription drug program, which on one fell swoop expanded the welfare state more than Clinton could in eight years time.
Maybe it was the war in Afghanistan . Or the clear deceit in the run-up to the Iraq war. Maybe it was the Iraq war itself, with the torture, the killing, the destruction, all at the cost of a couple thousand or so stolen dollars per American ' and the reluctance to admit this project was, at a minimum, a colossal disaster, morally and strategically, and to put a stop to it.
Maybe it was the massive credit expansion, borrowing and other forms of hidden taxes.
Or the FBI spying on war protestors. Or the whole color-coded alert system and its use as a political tool. Or the Anthrax investigation that ended once it couldn't be pinned on an easy Muslim scapegoat.
Maybe it was the steel tariffs or the attempts to socialize the stock market and force me to pay into a "private account," all while still indirectly taxing me for current Social Security beneficiaries ' and all in the name of market reform.
Maybe it was the proposed TIPS program and Total Information Awareness. Maybe it was the Patriot Act and the end of the Fourth Amendment. Or maybe it was the rise of renditioning, whereby non-terrorists caught in the wrong place at the wrong time have been sent overseas to have their genitals sliced, and to endure other similarly barbarous treatment.
Maybe it was Bush's snide reference to "political capital," his insistence that as president, he didn't have to answer to anybody, his confidence that he alone is The Decider and his boastfulness of the fact that, being a war president, he always has war on his mind.
Maybe it was Sarbanes-Oxley. Bush has claimed responsibility for the most comprehensive corporate regulation since FDR. Or maybe it was his doubling of the Department of Education.
Perhaps it was the expansion of the federal government by more than 50% since Clinton . Or it could have been, I imagine, the further nationalization of the National Guard. I guess the use of martial law in New Orleans , complete with weapons confiscations and the deployment of Fallujah-hardened US troops with shoot-to-kill orders, could have had something to do with it.
Perhaps it was Bush's refusal to veto practically anything, other than a stem cell bill ' though he said he'd veto a bill to arm airline pilots and any restrictions on his war spending ' or his endless use of signing statements by which he insists he doesn't have to follow any part of the law he doesn't like. Maybe it was the unitary executive doctrine, espoused by his Attorney General, that essentially claims he's dictator of the world.
Maybe it was his signing of McCain-Feingold, which he admitted was unconstitutional.
Or it could have been the nationalization of airport security, such that a harmless person was shot dead at the Miami airport as he was running down the runway, and you now might have to see the airport close down if they find a pair of scissors in a trash can, or some other comparable national security threat.
Perhaps it was the amplification of the drug war, the medical marijuana raids, the jailing of bong manufacturers and the new ban on hemp products like shampoos and birdseed ' all under a regime headed by a man who probably engaged in such "youthful indiscretions" himself.
Or perhaps it was the persecution of Martha Stewart ' the typical example of Republican hard-on-corporate-crime posturing, whereby relatively deserving rich people are caged but Big Pharma's CEOs and the defense contractors for some reason never even have to worry about going under.
It could have been the Real ID Act. Or maybe it was the rounding up of all those innocent people after 9/11 and depriving them of due process.
Maybe it was the NSA spying program. Or the attempts to create more and more exceptions to Posse Comitatus so as to allow the military to be used against Americans. Maybe it was the explosion of military-industrial corporate welfare. Or Bush's smug, lying and smirking visage, on TV night after night, reassuring us that he loves our freedom and the principles laid out in the Constitution.
Perhaps it was that Bush said he'd do all he could to find the 9/11 killers, only to turn around and close down the bin Laden Unit, ignore his intelligence agencies, detain and abuse persons who were captured by the Northern Alliance for a cash reward, and wage a war on a totally unrelated country, out of some family grudge or corporate welfare interest or neocon dream or something other than national security, to say nothing of human rights. Maybe it was his repeated stonewalling of attempts to have a real 9/11 investigation. Or his refusal to testify under oath at such hearings, or without Cheney there to help him.
Maybe it was the first time Habeas Corpus was expressly suspended since Abraham Lincoln.
Or maybe it was the new dedication to explicitly Wilsonian foreign policy goals that we started hearing in the State of the Union speeches and Inaugural Address, with the implication that the Republicans have now taken over where the Democrats left off under LBJ as the party most devoted to reshaping the whole world via the Crusader State.
Maybe it was one of the times he or his administration lied about Iran and claimed the prerogative and possible willingness to drop nuclear murder on the Iranian people.
Or maybe it was some combination of all these things, but at some point ' I don't know ' I just started hating Bush and doubting his supposedly good intentions.