I Miss Bush

The Poor Get Poorer, Presidents Get Worse

SEATTLE—I miss Bush.

Stop the presses and shut off the RSS feeds: the bashiest of the Bush-bashers is starting to appreciate the Exile of Crawford.

I haven’t forgiven George W. Bush for stealing two elections, starting two wars, bankrupting the treasury and doing his damnedest to turn the U.S. into a fascist state. He deserves one of hell’s hottest picnic spots for refusing to lift a finger to bring the 9/11 murderers to justice. Bush was stupid. He was vicious. He should be in prison.

He was the worst president the U.S. had ever had. Until this one.

On major issues and a lot of minor ones, Obama is the same as or worse than Bush. But Bush had an opposition to contend with. Obama has a compliant Democratic Congress. Lulled to somnolent apathy by Obama’s charming manners, mastery of English (and yes, the color of his skin), leftist activists and journalists have been reduced to quiet disappointment, mild grumbling and unaccountable patience.

I don’t care about window dressing. Sure, it’s nice that Obama is intelligent. But policies matter—not charm. And Obama’s policies are at least as bad as Bush’s.

Guantánamo was but the beginning of Obama’s betrayals. First he ordered the camp closed—not immediately but in a year. Now he’s expanding the U.S. concentration camp at Bagram—where 600 innocent men and children are being tortured—so he can send the 245 Gitmo prisoners there. In the Bush era, Gitmo POWs received legal representation. Obama has ordered that the POWs sent to Bagram not be allowed to see a lawyer.

You saw the headline: “OBAMA BANS TORTURE.” But it was a lie. Obama’s CIA director told Congress that there’s a “review process that’s built into [Obama’s] executive order” that allows torture to continue. Leon Panetta said the Obama Administration will keep using at least 19 torture techniques against detainees. In addition, Team Obama will “look at those kinds of enhanced techniques to determine how effective they were or weren’t and whether any appropriate revisions need to be made as a result of that.”

As editorial boards of liberal newspaper tut-tut and the feds convene committees, the screams of the victims pierce the night.

Bush was the biggest spender in history, running up a $1.8 trillion deficit with wasteful wars and tax cuts. But next to Obama, Bush was a tightwad. Glamour Prez hasn’t been around six months, yet the Congressional Budget Office reports that he already has quadrupled the deficit by an extra $8.1 trillion. “The total debt held by the public [will] rise from 57 percent of GDP in 2009 to 82 percent (!) of GDP in 2019,” reports U.S. News & World Report.

Obama is sinking us into financial oblivion 72 times faster than Bush.

Where’d the money go? Mostly to insurance companies. Banks. Brokerage firms. Who used it to redecorate their offices and give themselves raises.

Against logic and history Obama claimed his bailout package would create jobs. Instead, unemployment has risen by 1.3 million. Has Obama’s plan saved a single homeowner from foreclosure? Reporters can’t any.

I liked Bush better. He wasted our money when the economy wasn’t quite as sucky. And he didn’t insult us by pretending to care. Come on, Barack, smirk! Truth in advertising!

I know: he’s a politician. Politicians break promises. As the presidential scholar Stephen Hess says: “There are some pledges that a candidate reverses when he becomes president because things look different. He knows things that he didn’t know then.”

“Some”? Obama hasn’t even tried to keep a single major promise. He hasn’t gotten rid of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” His ballyhooed “cap and trade” law on emissions is toothless. Remember Obama’s pledge to renegotiate NAFTA to strengthen environmental regulations? Forgotten.

In Obama’s case, “things look[ing] different” has meant giving in to entrenched dirtbags, like the spooks who read your emails and the entrenched Pentagon torturers who don’t want us to see photos that make Abu Ghraib look like child’s play.

(An official familiar with the photos in question tells me they include, among other atrocities, U.S. personnel sodomizing a child.)

Obama has done more damage than Bush. And no one’s stopping him. Which makes him worse.

Sorry, Mr. Bush. If I’d known what was coming, I would’ve been nicer.

(Ted Rall, President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, is author of the books “To Afghanistan and Back” and “Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?”)

COPYRIGHT 2009 TED RALL

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About the Author

Ted Rall
Ted Rall
Setting himself apart from the herd with a unique drawing style and a take-no-prisoners approach, Ted Rall began editorial cartooning in the 1980s with a handful of alternative weekly newspapers whose editors saw his photocopied work hanging from lampposts in New York City. In 1991 San Francisco Chronicle Features began syndicating Rall’s three-times-a-week editorial cartoons syndication with newspapers including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Des Moines Register and Philadelphia Daily News.

Universal Press Syndicate picked up Rall’s cartoons in 1996. Today the man often called “the most controversial cartoonist in America” appears in more than 100 newspapers throughout the United States, ranging from the Washington Post to the Village Voice.

His trademark “Generalissimo El Busho” is an iconic caricature of President Bush. It has drawn criticism from conservatives. He was called “treasonous” by the right-wing Weekly Standard and “anti-American” by the Wall Street Journal’s conservative editorial page. The Right Wing News website named him 2003’s “Most Annoying Liberal” and was named number 15 in Bernard Goldberg’s book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America. He has received numerous death threats.

Rall has also won awards, including the 1995 and 2000 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards for Outstanding Coverage of the Problems of the Disadvantaged. In 1996 he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Rall also draws non-political strips for MAD magazine and cartoon journalism for EurasiaNet, a news website about the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

"Editorial cartooning is an intrinsically negative medium,” Rall says, “but I’m an optimistic person. My hope is that, by calling attention to hypocrisy in our government and the inward focus of American culture in an amusing way, things will change for the better.”

Four collections of Rall’s cartoons have been published: Waking Up In America, All The Rules Have Changed, Search and Destroy, and America Gone Wild, as well as three award-winning graphic novels, My War With Brian, Real Americans Admit: The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done! and 2024, a parody of Orwell’s 1984. He edited an influential three-volume anthology of edgy alternative weekly political cartoons, Attitude. He wrote the bestselling 1998 “generational manifesto” Revenge of the Latchkey Kids.

Rall covered the war in Afghanistan in cartoon form, where his harrowing experience—3 of the 44 journalists with whom he traveled were killed—led to the critically acclaimed book To Afghanistan and Back. He released two books of prose during 2004, Wake Up, You’re Liberal: How We Can Take America Back From the Right and Generalissimo El Busho.

Rall’s most recent book is Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?, a detailed analysis of the region in prose and cartoons.

See his books from NBM!

3 Comments on "I Miss Bush"

  1. Isn’t this supposed to be a comics blog? If I want to read Michelle Malkin Lite, there are lots of other places I can do that.

  2. @jeffk: Then why don’t you go to those other places?

    Ted, you say: “Now he’s expanding the U.S. concentration camp at Bagram—where 600 innocent men and children are being tortured…”

    I’m a huge Obama-bashing, right-wing, neo-con nut job. But that accusation is pretty bold. Can you back that up?

  3. @Jeff

    Because I *don’t* want to read Michelle Malkin Lite. I apologize if my comment was too nuanced for you.

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