Bitter and Sweet

It’s been a hard five years, folks, and there’s more hard times ahead. But today let’s take a moment to enjoy a delicious, self-gratifying wallow in I told you so.

Paul Krugman kicks off the wallow:

Bruce Bartlett, the author of “Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy,” is an angry man. At a recent book forum at the Cato Institute, he declared that the Bush administration is “unconscionable,” “irresponsible,” “vindictive” and “inept.”

It’s no wonder, then, that one commentator wrote of Mr. Bartlett that “if he were a cartoon character, he would probably look like Donald Duck during one of his famous tirades, with steam pouring out of his ears.”

Oh, wait. That’s not what somebody wrote about Mr. Bartlett. It’s what Mr. Bartlett wrote about me in September 2003, when I was saying pretty much what he’s saying now.


The truth is that everything the new wave of Bush critics has to say was obvious long ago to any commentator who was willing to look at the facts.

Mr. Bartlett’s book is mainly a critique of the Bush administration’s fiscal policy. Well, the administration’s pattern of fiscal dishonesty and irresponsibility was clear right from the start to anyone who understands budget arithmetic. The chicanery that took place during the selling of the 2001 tax cut — obviously fraudulent budget projections, transparently deceptive advertising about who would benefit and the use of blatant accounting gimmicks to conceal the plan’s true cost — was as bad as anything that followed.

The false selling of the Iraq war was almost as easy to spot. All the supposed evidence for an Iraqi nuclear program was discredited before the war — and it was the threat of nukes, not lesser W.M.D., that stampeded Congress into authorizing Mr. Bush to go to war. The administration’s nonsensical but insistent rhetorical linkage of Iraq and 9/11 was also a dead giveaway that we were being railroaded into an unnecessary war.

Some are not giving up on the Iraq-9/11 connection. Recently Michael Barone published an utterly nonsensical screed in which he blasts people who hold the view “with religious intensity” that there was no Iraq-9/11 connection. “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” he thunders. “We do not know that there was such collaboration. But we also do not know that there was not.”

So let’s get this straight. Barone admits that no evidence has come to light that Saddam Hussein had any connection to 9/11. He admits the 9/11 commission found no evidence of collaboration between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. There is documentation — which Barone doesn’t mention — that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden never liked or trusted each other, but leave that aside. Barone’s point seems to be that people who don’t believe in a 9/11-Saddam Hussein connection — because we have no evidence to support it — are being irrational, or else are trying “to delegitimize our war effort.” Those who hang on to their belief in such a connection in the absence of evidence are smart.


Krugman points out another cognitive anomaly:

… we should guard against a conventional wisdom that seems to be taking hold in some quarters, which says there’s something praiseworthy about having initially been taken in by Mr. Bush’s deceptions, even though the administration’s mendacity was obvious from the beginning.

According to this view, if you’re a former Bush supporter who now says, as Mr. Bartlett did at the Cato event, that “the administration lies about budget numbers,” you’re a brave truth-teller. But if you’ve been saying that since the early days of the Bush administration, you were unpleasantly shrill.

Similarly, if you’re a former worshipful admirer of George W. Bush who now says, as Mr. Sullivan did at Cato, that “the people in this administration have no principles,” you’re taking a courageous stand. If you said the same thing back when Mr. Bush had an 80 percent approval rating, you were blinded by Bush-hatred.

This isn’t just a right-wing phenomenon, of course. A lot of liberal bloggers and Democrats who originally had supported the invasion of Iraq still seem to think they are “smarter” on security issues than those of us who saw what a sham it was from the beginning. Go figure.

Dear former hawks: I told you so.

At the Washington Post, Peter Baker writes that the rats are deserting the ship.

“He has no political capital,” said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster. “Slowly but surely it’s been unraveling. There’s been a direct correlation between the trajectory of his approval numbers and the — I don’t want to call it disloyalty — the independence on the part of the Republicans in Congress.”

We don’t want to call it disloyalty. No, no, no. Loyalty is more important than responsibility to the Right. Let’s call it we don’t want to be tied to this loser when the mid-term election campaigns heat up.

You know something significant is happening when even David Broder notices it.

… the [Dubai port] conflict brought to the surface deep-seated resentments from the Capitol end of Pennsylvania Avenue toward the people around the president — and, surprisingly, toward Bush himself. The harmony that had prevailed during most of Bush’s tenure — the deference that a Republican-controlled Congress has generally shown to his wishes — disappeared. Even the normal circumspection with which congressional Republicans treat the White House withered in the unexpected heat of this dispute.

Broder goes on to wag a finger at Democrats — “Liberals such as Schumer” — for “playing with fire” by trying to “stoke the fever” of “nativist sentiment.” Which of course (cough) Republicans would never do (snort). I think some people have some catching up to do.

But the American People are finally seeing the light. Ron Fournier of the Associated Press writes today that large numbers of Americans are so disillusioned of Bush they might consider voting for Democrats. Wow.

More and more people, particularly Republicans, disapprove of President Bush’s performance, question his character and no longer consider him a strong leader against terrorism, according to an AP-Ipsos poll documenting one of the bleakest points of his presidency. …

… “I’m not happy with how things are going,” said Margaret Campanelli, a retiree in Norwich, Conn., who said she tends to vote Republican. “I’m particularly not happy with Iraq, not happy with how things worked with Hurricane Katrina.” …

… The poll suggests that most Americans wonder whether Bush is up to the job. … Personally, far fewer Americans consider Bush likable, honest, strong and dependable than they did just after his re-election campaign.

Dear American People: I told you so.

16 thoughts on “Bitter and Sweet

  1. even MSM told the people in 2000 that Bush is not competent but not to worry there is Cheney, the adult.

    Just to use a bullhorn and yell ” I hear you” does not make a leader.

    He always had ” not qualified ” written all over him. We only needed
    to open our eyes and think for oursels.

    How stupid the pundits were to say “vote for him, he is stupid but
    Cheney will be in charge” And they still are stupid or bought.

  2. So many people are finally waking up, shaking the hair out of their eyes, feeling the first pounding pain of the hangover, and looking at the president in bed next to them.

    Yesterday I went to Marvin Olasky’s World site, a reasonably well-mannered evangelical blog, and was shocked to read in the comments how many posters are disillusioned. They’re still making excuses, still trying to find something to be positve about, but it’s pretty hard to find..

    I think we might finally be getting through. Maha, you helped. Revel in your schadenfruede; you earned it. Besides, as you point out, we’re not out of the woods by a long shot.

  3. Told you so?
    I saw on Book-TV John Lukacs talk about his book on Churchill. In questioning he responded regarding Pres. G.W.Bush wtih words to the effect – “he doesn’t take a crap without Cheney telling him..”
    The date was 9/23/01.
    Of course . I LOL

  4. Yes, some people are beginning to see that the emperor has no clothes. And for those of us supposedly “blinded by Bush hatred” who have turned out in the end to be right; this is a positive development. What angers me is that despite all of this, including his low approval ratings, his administration’s glaring incompetence in all things that matter and his blatant and proudly proclaimed air of monarchial supremacy, he still gets almost everything that he wants. Despite all of this backlash he still is able to ramrod through, one after another, things that are diametrically opposed to our country’s principals and Constitution. He doesn’t give one measly damn about what the American people truly think or feel or even what is legal. So while saying “I told you so” has a short term warm and fuzzy feeling, I still have to wake up every day knowing that this administration’s agenda is marching forward unimpeded. The Congress, Democrats included, continue to bow to the will of this extreme group that is running this show. If the midterm elections don’t restore some balance and sensibility to our governance then I truly fear for our future.

    So I’ll jump in also with my dose of “I told you so” to my fellow Americans. But it is tinged with a great degree of sadness mingled with fear.

    Pray for our country’s soul.

  5. Thank you for so perfectly saying what I have been feeling (and wanting to scream at the top of my lungs!)…in the interest of family harmony and wanting to maintain certain friendships, I have held my tongue (after giving it my all prior to the election…)… I had hoped against hope that this administration would prove me wrong following the last election (while at the same time knowing chances were slim, especially after Bush’s incredibly arrogant and thoughtless “I have a mandate” victory speech), but sadly, that is not the case.

    As for these newly-critical, former supporters of this administration, rather than appearing “brave”, they appear to me to be incredibly uninformed and unintelligent (at best) or party-before- country traitors (at worst), seeing as they are just now clueing into things that most of us non-professionals have seen so clearly for so long…

  6. Mike (comment 4) is on the money. While it’s great that more and more people are belatedly realizing that they were duped, Bush is just a face, a phony, Texas drawling PR veneer pasted on the front of a powerful political and media machine. For the disillusioned to focus their discontent on Bush not only misses the root cause, but will likely ensure their continued downfall.

    The right’s political machine still runs the media, the Congress and the courts. When Bush proves to be too much of a liability to the machine’s agenda, he will be replaced, much as a board of directors replaces a CEO of a failing company. Sometimes the replacement campaign takes the shape where the board vigorously attacks the CEO before dethroning him, and this is quite a possible future for our petulant boy King – it could be argued that this is what is presently going on in the media and in Congress. And then we’re back to square one – meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    While Bush is an easy and obvious target, it’s the machine’s agenda that must be made visible, attacked, discredited, and thwarted. It’s important to grasp that Bush is mostly an effect and not a cause.

    The entire planet – or at least those of us not in the top 2% income bracket – are waiting for a real opposition to form that can effectively articulate this and lead the charge into the root of the problem. It is a good development that the right is starting to provide cover for this hoped for leader – risky for them. And Paul Krugman was delicious today – thank you.

  7. Wow….Mike and alyosha wrote perfect additions to a great post put together by Maha.

    I so agree….. and my urgent wish is this: we need to figure out how to effectively counter election fraud!!!! I would love to see a timely discussion about actions to take in order to counter hackable machine voting/tabulating [which offers the political machine cogheads the wherewithal for an ultimate secretive destruction of democracy]

  8. I am in a shut-down mode due to it all.

    It’s all so fucking depressing and I wonder what good it does to post our thoughts.

    What are we accomplishing?

  9. What are we accomplishing?

    It’s important to know what’s going on – which is hard to get from the MSM – and to reflect on it and to contribute this reflection to a larger group consciousness, to help move it and everyone reading, forward. I’m incredibly impressed with the speed and power of blogs to develop thinking on a subject, via the contributions of many people, and to disseminate this thinking.

    I liken this to being a soldier in a battle, and both getting and contributing information as to how the battle is going. This allows us to shift tactics, change position, and so on. It would be so much worse, pre-blogs, if we weren’t able to communicate in this fashion. We’d all be isolated and depressed and nearly hopeless.

    There is enormous strength when two or more people agree on something, which is what group consciousness is about. This, BTW is how fads and ideas spread almost telepathically through a culture, it’s known as The Hundredth Monkey Syndrome. At some point, at a mass level, supporting Bush will seem so yesterday, and this realization won’t necessarily happen on a rational, conscious level.

    I experienced this kind of thing first-hand, on the streets of Los Angeles as I was in a large demonstration marching near the Democratic National Convention in 2000. All of a sudden, I intuitively understood how completely out of touch the Democratic Party was with what was going on in the country. The event radicalized me in a way that is hard for me to explain even today.

    Of course, knowing how the battle is going, is important on a more rational level, to devise strategies and tactics, and so on. But it is incredibly important to shift the culture, and this can be done through group consciousness. All of us have our part.

    I know your post Britwit was more of an expression of anguish, a rhetorical question, and not one calling for suggestions, but I’d argue we have much to be hopeful about.

  10. Bitter and Sweet

    George W. Bush, an angry man, bankrupted America
    As the leader of the administration Bush himself must be considered “unconscionable,” “irresponsible,” “vindictive” and “inept” as far as the Bush administration’s fiscal policy. Its also fiscally dishonesty starting with the 2001 tax cut obviously fraudulent budget projections, transparently deceptive advertising about who would benefit and the use of blatant accounting gimmicks to conceal the plan’s true cost — was as bad as anything that followed.

    The deception was found elsewhere, in the false selling of the Iraq war
    It too was inept with the administration’s nonsensical but insistent rhetorical linkage of Iraq and 9/11 was both

    was also both unconscionable and irresponsible like the dead giveaway that Terry Svhiavo should be let to die and stop the suffering.

    The war was unjust and thats an historical fact. Bush will be remembered in a nutshell for that – he brought upon the world an unjust war which erupted into a civil war brought the deaths of untold milliosns of innocent people. Thats good only if your leadership style is to imitate the likes of Adolph Hitler, the volume of death by Joseph Stalin, or the sheer ruthlessness a Pol Pot.

    There’s truly nothing praiseworthy about having initially been taken in by Mr. Bush’s deceptions, as it clearly reflects simplicity and gullibility on a large en masse scale of U.S. minds and hearts.

    For the multitude of liberal bloggers and Democrats who originally had supported the invasion of Iraq, they deserve to be run out of the ranks of progressives because we can no longer afford them to create a cancer within our ranks. They were and are now
    cowards, fools, lemings and weaklings.

    But the American People are finally seeing the light. Thats only because its glaring at them like headlight high beems. The American masses are a shameless bunch of spoiled fools.

    Republican s “not particularly happy with Iraq amd the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina” are hypnotized.

    Richardson proposal in New Mexico to return to paper ballots is the first step toward democratic sanity.

  11. I agree with you,Alyosha, in post # 7. You’re right, that unless America gets educated and understands the mechanics how they were played by the GOP political machine, they will continue to be manipulated well into the future . While I’m glad to see Bush getting his lumps, but there are many others who connived along with him and did serious damage to America who will continue on without be exposed— to the public at large— for what they are, or what they did to destroy our democracy

  12. Britwit…..whenever I start to feel the weight of just how huge is the political democracy-destroying machine…..I then consider just how much worse it would be if we didn’t feel so awful about it…..we would then have turned into unfeeling machine-created consumer units…, I say, thanks for expressing yourself, including depressed feelings…..

    I also think Alyosha is correct in that our expressing ourselves is part of a larger wave, the nature of which we can only sense. Life unfolds in a far more magnificent completeness than could be fit into some linear man-made design, which man-made design limits motivation to carrots and sticks.

    The answer to ‘why’ is in the future… an unfolding world…. all I need to know, or even can know at any time, is the direction I want to head into…..and the ‘why’ of heading that direction will only become clear in the very experience of continuing in that direction. Imagine you have a great urge to go walk deep into a woods. You follow the direction of that impulse…..and once there, as you soak up that place, you know ‘why’.

    I feel the rightness of posting comments and being part of a wave of thoughts connecting…….I am, in some inner way, pulsing with the sense of something good unfolding…

  13. New Orleans drowns, Big Dick shoots someone in the face, and Georgies buddies are letting the darkies in the back door, and his former pick for circuit court judge is a shoplifter and fraudster. But they (as in the idiots that live around me) voted for him because he’s a good Christian.

    Does anyone really question why he’s allocating so much leeway towards faith based initiative’s being involved in Homeland Security Dept? Hey, don’t look now, Franklin Graham is in New Orleans preaching!

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