“A society that lets George W. Bush go anywhere without a shrieking Greek chorus to remind him of his body count isn’t good for much at all,” Sarah Jones writes. The wretched thing about the shrieking excrescence that rotted in the Oval Office between January 2017 and January 2020 is how living Republicans before Bush look acceptable, even avuncular. The gallows humor the political press praised when he turned it against Trump (“That was some weird shit,” he reportedly muttered after enduring Trump’s inaugural address) he also wielded against subordinates during his two terms; he rarely called a person by anything other than a nickname, often crude and cruel and intended as a reminder to know their place, like British country gentry wiping any memory of a servant’s Christian name. Yet there he sat on CBS This Morning , his eyes a-twinkle and his smile as comfortable as a sun-burnished leather saddle, to pimp his terrible art. Jones:
Beyond these superficial differences, Trump and Bush are more alike than they are different. “Compassionate conservatism is first and foremost springing from the heart,” Bush said during his first run for the presidency. The heart contains multitudes. Malice can spring forth from its depths, too. What does it mean, after all, to be compassionate and then to be a conservative? Bush set the example. To be a compassionate conservative was to oppose marriage rights for LGBT people and abortion rights for women. To lie as recklessly as Trump ever did and lead the country into illegal war. To torture. Bush can condemn the January 6 insurrection and Trump’s rhetoric along with it, but he’s hardly an innocent. Years after Bush left office, Trump would take a middling position against the war in Iraq — and reaped the reward. Trump built on a foundation Bush laid.
For the sake of the zealots, he endorsed a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage while having no problem with gay White House members. He appointed and nominated cronies and mountebanks to the federal government. His contempt for science was the stuff of legend.
And Iraq. Despite the cant about his respect for Islam, almost half a million Iraqis as a result of force unleased by an American invasion based on lies. Not truths later determined to be lies: lies that were lies at the time. The permanent establishment in DC mourned what Trump had done to American prestige worldwide as if the period between 2002 and 2008 hadn’t existed.
Inter the good with George W. Bush’s bones.