Whoever your current pick is for the next president (tomorrow!), if you're like the vast majority of Americans you won't miss the current one very much. It took war, death and destruction to keep Bush's poll numbers up from 2001 to 2003 - poll numbers which quickly dropped when it came time for him to actually govern and the American people got a glimpse inside his head. Finally, we arrive at five years of sub-50% polls that culminated in the lowest presidential approval ratings of modern history, and for good reason.
Bush hasn't had much time lately to work on what his team calls "legacy stuff", so let's do a little recap for his benefit:
- A 58% increase in the federal budget, the largest since the last two-term "conservative" president, Ronald Reagan.
- Little to no transparency in government, defense of cabinet members who have committed felonies and made gross errors in judgment, and a belief that going with your "gut" is the same as doing the "right" thing. This leads to excuses, redefinition of words and outcomes, demonization of countries and individuals who don't prescribe to your worldview and a dangerously shortsighted view of the world at large.
- A massive increase in the American military industrial complex all over the world, with all of the lapses in responsibility that this entails. Equivocating the deaths of soldiers with a jingoist fight for "freedom" that results in hundreds of thousands of dead on their side, thousands dead on our side, and a huge economic and moral burden on our country, all while undermining American freedoms and liberties at home.
- Dragging irresponsible Blackwater goons into war zones and New Orleans.
- Doing much to undermine the moral character of our country by endorsing and authorizing torture methods prohibited by international conventions and basic decency, performed on people in secret prisons who have had no charges levied against them, all in the name of freedom and liberty. Assertion of the States Secrets Privilege whenever your actions are questioned, effectively removing any recourse your citizens or other branches of government might have to question your methods.
- Secret unconstitutional wiretapping programs undertaken with private corporations, massive unconstitutional powers given to the TSA and a million-name-strong terrorist watch list that burdens the lives of ordinary Americans, most of whom are innocent and have had no formal charges pressed against them.
Most of us should agree that, whatever their faults, neither McCain nor Obama will do as much to damage our country as Dubya managed. Still, it worries me that both candidates seem very, very sure of themselves and their moral prerogative toward election (arguably W's greatest failing). Whatever DailyKos might say, Election 2008 isn't really a choice between an unambiguous nincompoop (four more years of Bush!) or a perceptive, miracle-working Golden Boy sent from above to assuage the memory of Bush. (As much of the tired Obamessiah rhetoric you hear from the Right, it's hard to deny that Obama seems that much more appealing to America after a failure like Bush.) Still, it's a testament to the appeal of Bush that despite his knowing participation in modern travesties of liberty and due process, I still like the guy personally.