Tuesday, January 20, 2009

 

The End of an Error



While initially reluctant to make any mention of this, I feel I must if for no other reason than to exercise catharsis: The earth and all its inhabitants will breathe a sigh of relief at the departure today of what some consider [I include myself among these opinion holders] one of the worst presidencies in US history. Although not a card-carrying member of the US Democratic Party, I find myself in total agreement with the words of George McGovern, published in the Washington Post just over a year ago:

Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly "high crimes and misdemeanors," to use the constitutional standard.

From the beginning, the Bush-Cheney team's assumption of power was the product of questionable elections that probably should have been officially challenged -- perhaps even by a congressional investigation. In a more fundamental sense, American democracy has been derailed throughout the Bush-Cheney regime. The dominant commitment of the administration has been a murderous, illegal, nonsensical war against Iraq. That irresponsible venture has killed almost 4,000 Americans, left many times that number mentally or physically crippled, claimed the lives of an estimated 600,000 Iraqis (according to a careful October 2006 study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and laid waste their country. The financial cost to the United States is now $250 million a day and is expected to exceed a total of $1 trillion, most of which we have borrowed from the Chinese and others as our national debt has now climbed above $9 trillion -- by far the highest in our national history.


If I were to decide on a metaphor for the Bush presidency, I would probably choose “wrecking ball” or “bull in a china shop”. Undoubtedly, some of the former allies of said presidency would agree with me on that. ...And as for the fiction of Bush being the “decider”, well this ought to put that one to rest! Good riddance, GWB, and be sure to take your few remaining followers with you on your way out!

The one main chilling lesson that I take away from this horrible administration of the last eight years is the utter fragility of the US governing system. Please make no mistake: The fact that the US was able to sweep aside this mess and in its best democratic tradition elect someone that apparently represents a significant departure from the previous administration is a testament to the strength and resilience of the US democracy and I applaud that. However, that doesn't negate the fact that the system can at times become quite fragile and under certain extraordinary circumstances come very close to self destruction. This is not a good sign. I hope that future generations will recognize what the country has just been through at the beginning of this new century and therefore be vigilant; working hard to preserve the best of what the United States has to offer the rest of the world.

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Postscript: I just couldn't let this go by without including a tribute to the incoming and first Black President of the United States.

Comments:
La fragilidad de la sociedad norteamericana comenzó desde antes de Bush, con la falta de credibilidad de amplios sectores de la población a su sistema político que se reflejaba en al alto abstencionismo en las elecciones. El gobierno de Bush profundizó el problema inyectando desesperanza a su pueblo, desesperanza que, entre otros resultados, amordazó a la sociedad civil norteamericana frente a temas y hechos significativos. Un ejemplo claro de ello fue el silencio ciudadano frente al tratamiento dado a los detenidos en la Base de Guantanamo.
 
For you English speakers out there, my good friend Dr. González Núñez corrected me by making the critical point that the fragility of the US system pre-dated Bush's administration; manifesting itself in the consistently low voter turnout throughout recent decades. He adds that the Bush administration deepened the crisis by injecting the public with a fear and desperation that, among other things, rendered ineffectual any public opposition or outcry (at least initially).

I would like to draw attention to what is perhaps a first attempt to sum up the Bush years. To the question posited by the referenced Vanity Fair article: How did one two-term presidency go so wrong? ...I would begin by saying that there were certainly a lot of props and cheerleaders.
 
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