An online magazine called Jezebel bills itself as the “Home of Shiny Happy Ladies.” Jezebel might want to rethink that tag line if a post that Madeline Davis wrote about George Bush is anything to go by. As best as I can tell, the trigger for Davis’s fevered post is the fact that George Bush went onto the Jay Leno show and showed off some of his paintings:
Bush isn’t Rembrandt (despite his joking belief that there’s a Rembrandt hiding inside him), but he’s definitely got some painterly talent — kind of along Grandma Moses lines. I like his stuff. I don’t love it, but I think something like this is rather charming, and shows a nice sense of line, color, and whimsey:
Davis, however, sees a nefarious plot behind Bush’s reinvention as a painter: he’s trying to convince credulous Americans that he’s not evil incarnate but is, instead, “a harmless and adorable, sweet old man.” In an obscenity-laced, embittered, wandering post, Davis brings up every charge, however silly, routinely leveled at Bush. It’s as if Bush is still in the White House, rather than having spent five years away from the job — during which time, incidentally, even as Obama routinely scapegoated him, Bush kept a dignified silence about Obama’s pin-ball karooming from one failure to another.
Having read Davis’s screed several times, two things became apparent: (1) Davis lives in a fact-free zone, and compensates for this with discredited studies, innuendo, lies, conspiracy theories, and personal attacks. (2) Davis is almost certainly engaging in denial on a massive scale, since it’s undoubtedly easier to repeat the rote attacks used against Bush during his presidency than to acknowledge that Obama is a dishonest man and an incompetent president.
Since I’ll be quoting Davis, please be warned that there are a lot of obscenities ahead. Speaking of obscenities, have you ever noticed that there seems to be an inversely proportional relationship between the number of obscenities that a post-writer uses and that writer’s level of knowledge and intelligence? The higher the first, the lower the second….
(Warning: sarcasm ahead.) Let’s start with the post’s elegant, eloquent title: “Fuck George Bush and His Stupid Fucking Cat Paintings.” You might see inarticulate profanity when you read that. I, however, having labored through Davis’s entire post, see an exquisite parallelism, as she gracefully ends the post with a sentence that perfectly echoes its opening. “Fuck George Bush and fuck his piece of shit cat paintings. My 10-month-old sister makes better art than that.” When a post is book-ended by such poetic, expressive speech, you know that there’s going to be some fine stuff in between.
Sadly, Davis, showing that she lacks the true artist’s touch, unbalances her masterful parallelism when, about a quarter of a way into her post, she rather randomly describes Bush, again, as “an [sic] noted asshole who made a bunch of fucked up cat paintings.” One wonders what Freud would make of the fact that, of all the paintings George Bush has done to date, it’s the cat paintings that drive Davis into an F-bomb frenzy.
In the last couple of days, I’ve been rather taken by “epic” things. I loved Jean-Claude Van Damme’s epic splits and laughed at Channing Tatum’s epic spoof. Honestly, though, you’ve never seen epic until you’ve read Davis’s ad hominem insults against Bush. Clearly, in the five years since he left office, they’ve been building up inside her until those cat paintings caused them to explode with volcanic force. Davis describes Bush as a “war criminal,” “one of the most terrible things to ever happen to the United States,” “a reminder that evil exists,” “incredibly harmful,” and “a terrible, nightmare person.” I don’t want to read too much into Davis’s writing, but I get the feeling she really doesn’t like the man.
And why doesn’t Davis like Bush? Oh, the usual stuff, all of which she mashes up into one vitriolic, obscene sentence: “George W. Bush is the war criminal who — in addition to his war crimes — shat on abortion and gay rights, botched hurricane relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and drove the U.S. economy into the ground.” (Hyperlinks omitted because I really don’t feel like sending traffic to al Jazeera, among other sites.)
To begin at the beginning, Davis accuses George Bush of causing 9/11 because he didn’t take seriously briefings in and around August saying that al Qaeda was planning a terrorist attack against America. Her source for that statement is Kurt Eichenwald, who claims that, in addition to an August 2001 briefing to the president that said al Qaeda was up to something, Eichenwald also saw “excerpts” of other documents in which the CIA said something hinky was going on. Even Eichenwald concedes, though, that nobody had any idea what exactly was going on. In other words, even if the Bush administration had responded with the utmost seriousness to the available data, there’s still no evidence whatsoever that the administration had facts sufficient to realize that al Qaeda had decided to hijack plans on September 11 and fly them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Congress. Nor was the available information coherent enough for the hijackers to have been apprehended. That inchoate information never made it to the White House.
Having wallowed in a fact-free world of what “might have been,” Davis gets to the war crimes accusation. Summed up, she says that Bush lied and 4,489 U.S. troops died and almost 500,000 Iraqis died. Oy, where to begin! First of all, Bush acted on the data available to him, data that convinced most world leaders that Saddam Hussein did actually possess weapons of mass destruction. (As it happens, I think that Hussein had such weapons, and took advantage of the ongoing UN debate about invasion to ship them to Syria. Moreover, I wouldn’t be surprised if Assad subsequently use those weapons against his own citizens, prompting Obama to place an asterisk on his previous “crossed a red line” threat to Syria regarding chemical weapons.) One can debate the wisdom of invading Iraq, but there can be no doubt that the intelligence from all credible sources, both American and British, was that Hussein was a regional threat.
And about those war dead. Yes, American troops died in Iraq and each loss is an individual tragedy. Nevertheless, when Bush left office, those losses had meaning and purpose: the Surge had succeeded in turning Iraq around and enabling it to set up a functioning, reasonably democratic government. An intelligent post-war foreign policy would have seen American troops remain in Iraq to maintain those gains, much as American troops remained in Japan and Germany for — let’s see, how many years now? — 68 years after victory on the battlefield. What happened instead was that Barack Obama, without consolidating America’s gains, simply siphoned troops out of Iraq. The region has since destabilized completely, undoing the work that those 4,489 troops died to achieve.
As for the almost 500,000 dead Iraqis, the Lancet study that came up with the initial high numbers was completely discredited, to the point where the numbers could reasonably be called fraudulent. Iraqis certainly died — possibly around 70,000 of them, most of whom were either actual fighters who died in combatant or civilians who died at the hands of other Muslims — and that’s a tragedy, but Davis avoids a larger tragedy by focusing narrowly on a war that could have freed them had Obama not reversed American troops’ gains.
Citizens in a tyrannically ruled country (sadly) always die. It’s the nature of tyranny and it was certainly the nature of Hussein’s tyrannical regime. It’s difficult to count accurately the number who died during Hussein’s dictatorship, since you have to count all the people who died in the war with Iran, the 100,000-200,000 Kurds killed with poison gas (the same gas that was used in Syria?), and the “enemies of the state” whom Hussein and his mad sons “disappeared,” usually after some preliminary torture. Nevertheless, the usual estimate for Iraqi deaths at Hussein’s hands comes in at around 600,000 – 700,000 people. Keep in mind, too, that since Obama decreed that the U.S. should abandon Iraq, at least 16,000 more Iraqis have died in the intervening years.
Oh, and speaking of war dead, I don’t recall George Bush spending hours at his desk once a week personally picking those in Pakistan and Yemen (countries with which we are not at war) who will live and those who will die. Obama does, however, diligently working over his “kill list.” Nor did Bush ever boast about being “really good at killing people” — Obama did, though. Actually, I think the last American before Obama who made that kind of boast might have been Charles Manson . . . or maybe it was the Hillside Strangler.
And then there’s the tired old Hurricane Katrina accusation. Where to begin? How about the fact that reports about murder, rape, cannibalism — all of which were said to have occurred within three days of the Hurricane and all of which were blamed on Bush — were lies? Or the fact that it was a lie that more blacks died in Katrina than did whites? Or the fact that the corrupt New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (a black man) did nothing to help New Orleans citizens, even though he had warning (from the feds) and the means (those infamous flooded school buses)?
Davis even brings up the tiresome canard, first raised after Katrina, that Bush didn’t care about black people. It’s hard to prove a negative. Certainly, there is no spoken or written evidence that Bush ever spoke slightingly of African Americans or advanced policies, especially economic policies, that harmed them. It’s worth pointing out in that respect that, even if one assumes solely for the sake of argument that Bush was anti-black, Obama seems to care even less about them. During his five years in the White House, blacks in America have ping-ponged back and forth between economic stagnation and collapse. The old segregationists would have been proud of the social and economic havoc wreaked on black America during the Obama administration. Obama’s got the lip service down just fine, but at a practical level, his presidency has been a disaster for American blacks.
Davis runs out of steam after attacking Bush for racism, so she never gets around to developing her claims that he destroyed abortion, gay rights, and the economy. Pardon me if I’m confused, but I don’t recall George Bush signing any federal laws that made abortion illegal or that discriminated against gays. It’s true that he did not force all Americans to pay for every woman’s abortion, nor did he announce that federal law recognizes gay marriage. What’s also true, though, is that while he was personally pro-life and anti-gay marriage, his policies in both regards were merely continuations of Clinton-era policies.
When it comes to the economic collapse, Davis’s inchoate attack fares no better. As you undoubtedly remember, the trigger for the collapse was the housing market, which had been turned into Swiss cheese thanks to Clinton-era Democrat-spawned policies forcing banks to give loans to people who were manifestly bad credit risks. The banks sought to offset this risk, and money-men sought to benefit from this risk, by bundling bad loans. Home prices and bad debt increased in tandem until the entire thing collapsed. While it collapsed on George Bush’s watch, Davis probably is unaware that Bush and other Republicans saw the potential for collapse and tried desperately to avert it — only to be repulsed by Congressional Democrats who continued to insist that banks continue to make bad loans so as to redistribute home ownership to those who couldn’t possibly pay.
Reading her fire-breathing post, it’s clear that Davis has lost her way in a fever-swamp of Bush hatred. Presumably, since Bush has been gone from the scene for five years now, this hatred usually lies fallow, but is periodically resurrected by exposure to cat paintings. (Incidentally, real art critics concede that some of Bush’s paintings have a naive charm. It’s that Grandma Moses thing I mentioned.)
Davis is quite obviously a very angry, frustrated person. If I were playing armchair psychiatrist, I would say that she keeps stoking her rage at George Bush so that she doesn’t have to deal with her disappointment about Barack Obama. After all, denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, and it must be hard for a die-hard Leftist to be presented with laundry-list of Obama’s sins — sins that manage to offend his base, the center, and (predictably) conservatives. Here’s a short list of the things that Davis is probably able to ignore only by keeping her wrath focused on the politics of the past:
- Biggest debt in American history
- Biggest deficit in American history
- Kill lists
- Boasts about killing people
- NSA spying scandal
- IRS abuse of power scandal
- Failing on ever metric with the Arab Spring, especially in Egypt, when he threw his weight behind the now-despised Muslim Brotherhood
- Benghazi scandal, including lies and dereliction of duty before and during the attack, and lies after the attack
- Alienating America’s allies
- Fast & Furious scandal
- Immoral silence when Iranian tried to stage a revolution against the Mullahs
- Passivity about Syria which led to a chemical massacre, which led Obama to lie about his previous statements in order to avoid having to square off against Assad
- Incremental inflation
- Longest “recession” in history (which I think, contrary to economists’ carefully drawn lines, qualifies as a Depression)
- Accusations of fraud in employment numbers before an election
- Disastrous employment and income rates for black Americans
- Obamacare — massive fraud in the inception; massive incompetence in the execution
It’s late, I’m tired, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. Suffice to say that there’s enough there to keep any good Progressive’s eyes fixed firmly on the past so as to avoid Obama’s and Progressivism’s spectacular and corrupt implosion in the present.