The Greatest Greatness of George W. Bush
Wednesday 07 January 2009

by: William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Columnist

 Take me down little Susie, take me down
 I know you think you're the queen of the underground
 And you can send me dead flowers every morning
 Send me dead flowers by the mail
 Send me dead flowers to my wedding
 And I won't forget to put roses on your grave ...

- The Rolling Stones

To: George W. Bush
From: Your biggest fan
Re: Your imminent unemployment

Greetings, Mr. Bush.

I was sorry to hear about the passing of your cat, India.  Eighteen
years is a long time for a cat - my mother has one that's 20 and still
going strong, if you can believe it - and I'm sure India had a
comfortable, caring life with your family.

I got to spend part of last weekend with an old friend of mine. He's a
bit older than 18, and he's also a troop who recently rotated back
from a tour in Falluja. He just had a baby daughter, and he will be
sent to Afghanistan before too much longer. He did his duty in Iraq,
dealt his share of death and saw his friends die or be ripped to
shreds right in front of him.

He was hollow in a lot of places that had been full before he went to
Iraq. He was not the same man we'd said farewell to. But he was alive,
and if he survives his upcoming Afghanistan tour, maybe he will get
the chance to have a long, comfortable, caring life with his family,
just like little India.

At present, my friend's life is the polar opposite of comfortable, and
he still has Kabul waiting for him just over the horizon. His life is
the way it is because of you, Mr. Bush. You have been the single
greatest influence upon his time in this world; you put him over there
and hollowed him out, and because of you, it's about to happen
again. You were the single biggest influence upon the lives of every
person he knew over there, every person he saw over there, and every
person he killed over there.

It's funny. I was thinking the other day about when I marched in one
of the first large-scale post-inauguration protests against you in
Washington, DC. It was May of 2001, it was The Voter's Rights March to
Restore Democracy, and it was a few thousand people shouting down the
unutterably ruinous Supreme Court decision which unleashed, just as we
then feared, everything that has since come to pass. "Not my
president!" we bellowed. "Not my president!"

It's funny because that memory seems so very quaint to me now. A
stolen election? Pfff. To paraphrase a different president, Americans
get scarier stuff than that free with their breakfast cereal nowadays.
Thanks to you, governor.

My All-Time-Grand-Prize-Bull-Goose-Gold-Medal-Winning Top Five list of
what you've done, in no particular order, and in my own humble

1. You were warned by the outgoing administration when you first took
office. You were warned by the Russians. You were warned by the
Israelis. You were warned by the Germans. You were warned in a memo
given to you by your own National Security Adviser. You were warned by
men like Richard Clarke. You were warned all those times that Osama
bin Laden intended to strike the United States, and still the Towers
came down.

(All those people working on that Legacy Project of yours should go
back to bed, by the way; they are trying to salvage the
unsalvageable. You protected us, they claim? Ha. You're 0-1 on
terrorism and 0-2 on war)

2. Less than a month after those Towers came down, a reporter asked
what you thought we should do. "We need to counter the shockwave of
the evildoer," you replied, "by having individual rate cuts
accelerated and by thinking about tax rebates." I happened to be
watching television and heard you say that live into a camera. The
only reason I didn't throw up on myself is because my teeth were
clenched too tightly for the vomit to pass my lips. I swallowed hard,
grabbed a pen, and wrote down what you said and when you said it.  It
was October 4, 2001, just after nine in the morning. You'd like people
to remember you standing on that pile of rubble in Manhattan, you with
the bullhorn and the heroic pose. I, however, will always remember you
pitching tax cuts to a devastated nation while a pall of poison smoke
still hung in the air over Ground Zero.

3. A few years later, you wanted hundreds of billions of dollars
diverted from other areas of the federal budget and into your war in
Iraq. You took more than $70 billion out of the budget used by the
Army Corps of Engineers in Louisiana to fund the repair and
maintenance of the New Orleans levee system. Katrina struck not long
after you took that money and poured it into the sand, and the levees
failed for lack of funded upkeep. Through this, along with your
disinterested disinclination to help your own countrymen in their hour
of darkest need, you played the very last note for that old, sad, lost
American city. Reflected in those actions are the same budgetary
priorities that motivated you to turn Walter Reed Army Medical Center,
the hospital where I was born, into an abattoir of suffering and
neglect for the wounded soldiers you tore apart for a lie.

4. You let Dick "Crazy-Eyes" Cheney do whatever the hell he wanted to
whomever he wanted whenever and wherever he wanted, and be damned to
the damned old Constitution anyway. Cheney once said the vice
president's office was not part of the same branch of government as
the president's office, and he said it with his bare face hanging out
the whole time. Why? He didn't want to give any of his official papers
over to the National Archives, as mandated by at least two federal
laws. Nope, he said, my office is in Congress today, sorry about that,
but be sure to come on back after you drop dead. Or words to that
effect. That's about one zillionth of a percent of what he did,
because you let him pick himself to be your boss.

5. On July 19, 2006, you vetoed H.R. 810. On June 20, 2007, you vetoed
S. 5. Both vetoes killed legislation aimed at funding and vastly
enhancing the reach and scope of stem cell research in America. The
father of someone I know died of bone marrow cancer just after that
first veto; he was adopted, no family could be located, so no donor
match for a bone marrow transplant could be found. With stem cell
therapy, doctors could have taken his own marrow and grown enough
healthy, matching marrow to save his life.  Two other people I know
have diabetes, like millions of Americans.  Stem cell research could
offer them a cure. Someone else I know has multiple sclerosis, and
stem cell research could very well help her, too. She'd write you a
thank-you note for those vetoes, but her right hand doesn't work so
well anymore. She's getting better with her left hand, so maybe that
note can get written next year.

Also, you defied lawfully issued subpoenas and potentially set a
precedent that could shatter the separation of powers. You told the
American people Iraq was in possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax,
38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons - which is one million
pounds - of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent, 30,000 missiles to
deliver the stuff, mobile biological weapons labs, al-Qaeda
connections and uranium from Niger for use in a robust nuclear weapons
program, even though all of that was a lie. You made a joking video
about not being able to find any of it. You outed a deep-cover CIA
agent who was running a network designed to keep weapons of mass
destruction out of the hands of terrorists, and you did so because her
ambassador husband told the truth about you in the public prints.

You gave away our right to privacy by sending the NSA to spy on us.
You turned us all into torturers and butchers in the eyes of the world
with your decision to use Abu Ghraib prison the same way Saddam
Hussein once did. You tried to appoint Henry Kissinger to lead the
investigation into 9/11. You turned the entire Justice Department into
a carnival of political hackery. You championed the economic policies
and deregulation fantasies that have left the financial stability of
millions in ashes. You used the threat of terrorism against your own
people in order to give yourself political cover. You killed hundreds
of thousands, if not millions, of people who did you nor us no harm.

You did all this, and so much more.

From a certain perspective, one could argue that you have been the
most successful president the country has ever seen. Think about it,
because according to your definition of "success," it's true. You came
into office looking to make your friends richer, and to fulfill as
best you could your most overriding personal belief: that government
is the problem, so government must be damaged and denuded to the point
of impotence. Through your tax cuts and your two vastly expensive
boondoggle wars, you made your friends rich. By unleashing Mr. Cheney
and your other minions, you tore the Constitution to shreds and
tatters.  You have achieved both goals in smashing style, so from that
certain perspective, you have triumphed.

Could you also, from the proper perspective, be considered our
greatest president?

Perhaps, someday, if we make it so.

It will be in the best interests of many powerful people if we as a
nation simply dismiss you and forget you ever happened. A lot of news
media people want us to forget you, because in forgetting you, we
would forget the media's vast complicity in your actions and misdeeds.
A lot of rich people making new fortunes from war profiteering and
defense contracts want you to forget they and you even exist, as it
would make it possible for them to do it all again someday. A lot of
politicians who stapled themselves to you would simply adore it if we
forgot about you. The Republican Party would be forever in our debt if
we forgot about you.

No. We will not forget you. We will remember.

We the people are going to save you from ignominious oblivion. We will
remember. You could be the president who doomed America, the worst
president of all time, but we must not, will not let that happen. You
will be remembered differently, because we will hold the memory of you
high, and behold you, and say, "Never, never, never again." We have
tasted the soot and smelled the blood on the wind; we have seen how
fragile our way of government is when placed in the hands of low men
such as you, and because of that, you will be remembered for all time.

Your greatness will be defined by how we rise to overcome and undo
what you have done. Your greatness will stand forever if we never,
ever forget the hard, bitter lessons you taught us. We are responsible
for this republic, for our Constitution, and for each other. We are
our brother's keeper. You taught us that by becoming our Cain. You
nearly slew us, but here we stand, and we defy the place in history
you would relegate us to. We defy you, and by doing so, we rise.

Something like you must never again be allowed to happen to this
country, and if we save ourselves by preventing you from ever
happening again, your greatness is assured. You are the tallest of all
possible warnings, and a promise all of us must solemnly and
stalwartly keep.  If we can damn you to the past, we will save our own

May you live forever, you son of a bitch.