Were the Bush years worth this?

I just caught myself saying this is so great it almost makes eight years of Bush worth it. Like Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction talking about someone keying his car: "It'd almost be worth him doing it, just so I could catch him doing it. " I asked myself, "Self, if you could go back and control election night, 2000 and be offered the proposition that if you let Bush barely win two terms, you will be rewarded with a solid and decisive win in 2008 by a brilliant, liberal, biracial writer -- would you do it?" My instinct is to say hell yes.

But if I knew what I know now, there's no way I could accept the suffering of so many innocent people around the world, especially the millions of refugees in Iraq and Afghanistan. So I would have to say no -- give it to Gore, who would probably have been a damned good president. Obama would still be out there ready to run a little later in life.

Not knowing what I know now, however, I might have to say yes. Bush back then seemed okay, not my cup of tea but certainly not evil or anything. I'd think: He couldn't screw things up too bad, and I think I'd take the bargain.


Trevor Jackson said...

I see your point, and obviously the death and destruction from two wars, the response to Katrina, and--hell--the response to the 8/6/01 PDB ("Bin Laden Determined . . .") are all great reasons to wish Bush never happened. But the one that's really hard for me to take, no matter how great this week's result, is the lack of leadership in combating global warming. Instead of Gore, we got Healthy Forests and Clean Skies, a diss to Kyoto, and tax breaks for buying SUVs. Every day we don't curb carbon makes the illness that much harder to cure. We had 8 years of those days.

If getting Gore meant no Obama but did get us on a greener path, I'd take that trade. (Of course in any "what if Gore won" scenario, I always have to add that if he'd been unable to prevent 9/11, the right would have had him impeached. Bet.)

Grendel said...

That's another good point. Bush fucked the environment for eight years, and we can't get those back. It makes it that much harder now to get a grip and start reversing climate change. And maybe it's already too late.

Pete said...

No, not at all worth it for me. But the only way to answer this question is to construct counter-factuals, which are fucked in their own way. THat doesn't mean this isn't fun, but we should embark on these experiments with an awareness of the fallacies involved.

But let's say Bush lost in 2000. You could argue that this decreases the likelihood of 9/11, because the transition from Clinton-- a president who was pro-active about Bin Ladin-- to Gore would have been smoother (to say the least). But even if 9/11 still happens, we can be reasonably sure that Gore wouldn't have started two wars out of it that are still going on, seven years later.

We can also assume that the environmental and economic policies would have at at least slowed the crises there, though I'm less certain of the latter than the former, since Clinton's economic policy sort of started us down this shit chute.

But all in all, 8 years of Pax Gora leads to what in 08? Probably, I think, either Lieberman or Clinton LOSING to McCain.

Nothing greases the trajectory of a GOP leader like the relative uneventfulness of successful Dem leadership. It's the irony here. Because when things are working well, we can argue about all the symbolic bullshit--abortion, gays, brown people--that are generally settled matters of policy in other developed, democratic nations (generally-they have their shames too). And those debates, in their sheer silliness, favor demogoguery. And Republicans are better at politics.

The next question is how, in the absence of a war on terror, a President McCain would govern. It's hard to know. He'd find a way to fuck it up somehow, but the likelihood that it would be of these proportions feels unlikely.

Because really the fuckedupitude of the Bush admin really feels like a fuckedupedness of stupendous proportions and extremely long odds. You could argue that if he had chosen someone other than Cheney that things would be different. Consider (what I recall to be) his short list: Powell, MCCAIN, Ridge, Danforth. Anyone of those and the last eight years are something fundamentally different. Bad, maybe, but not bad enough to elect, let alone nominate, Obama.

Was it worth it? Ignoring all the reasons why this question is impossible, let's at least admit this: we don't know yet. But I bet Obama himself, were he being honest, would say NO. Or at least I hope he would.

Jason Marcuson said...

This is a helluva conundrum.

Here's one more thing to consider: Has Al Gore done more to advance global warming as a REAL issue in his role as Not President? I mean, he would have been busy as hell for 4 (8?) years. Like I heard on NPR last night, Obama will now have to focus on "8 million things at once" rather than just the same rhetoric day after day.

Since Gore lost, he really took the global warming initiative to a dedicated, focused level he could not have as president. So I don't know, there's that. Bush was busy going out of his way to destroy the environment, and Gore spent the majority of his time educating people on the truth about what was & is happening...what will continue to happen.

traca de broon said...

The Onion'stake.