Wednesday, December 17, 2008


On George W. Bush's watch, we've seen the trashing of the US budget, the city of New Orleans, the US investment banking industry, the US mortgage industry, the US global reputation, the nation of Iraq, and now the Big Three US automakers.

Bad as this sounds, it utterly obscures the savage and ongoing pain that Bush and the Republicans have delivered to average Americans and Iraqis. Pain is too small a word for lives rubbed out and homes and farms lost and lifetime savings wasted by fraud, for a severely trashed job market, for a flood of lost businesses, for homes wrecked and families separated by financial disaster. I don't know that Americans younger than 80-something have any real frame of reference for what has been unleashed on this country.

A handful of men and women, propelled into office by election fraud and a corrupt Supreme Court, have done graver and in some ways more enduring damage and brought more anguish to American families than anything since the other gigantic Republican-induced disaster, the Great Depression.

I'm not trying to state the obvious. It's just that it occurs to me that most of us take a mechanistic view of these developments. We've been told so often that the causes are incomprehensible, complex, remote and technical that we retreat into a kind of dull stupor to numb the anguish.

But the causes aren't remote and incomprehensible. They're all too easy to see. Each of these catastrophes was brought about by an intentional White House policy. All were driven by some combination of greed, dishonesty, flawed ideology, arrogance, and recklessness. These -- even ideology -- are schoolyard sins, only in this case writ infinitely larger. I mean, they're not at all incomprehensible. Everyone knows what they are and what they accomplish.

But I suppose that if go there, we also have to look at ourselves, at our own role in enabling these cataclysms. Apathy, paralysis, support for that flawed ideology, endorsement of those fraudulent officials. That's asking the walking wounded to pile on more pain. Not likely, and probably at this moment not wise either.

But at some point, we have to take at least enough responsibility to explain to our children why this happened, honestly and clearly enough for them to avoid our mistakes.

It's a heck of a record, isn't it? A heck of a job.