Most of those analyzing George W Bush’s years as President will offer a legacy of questionable decisions, confusing policy, and abject failure. But the evaluation of any administration should be rooted in actual results. A historical comparison reveals that the Bush years might not be the disaster they seem.
I, George W
Both conservative and liberal media have hammered aspects of George W Bush’s reign, including the war in Iraq, economic disparity, unwarranted firing of federal judges, increasing national debt, the failure to capture Osama Bin Laden, etc..,. The list could continue until my hands cramped. However, if the W. Bush presidency is looked at through the prism of the Roman Emperor Claudius (10BC-54AD), the subject of Robert Graves’ seminal historical novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God, one realizes that Bush may deserve more credit than he is generally given.
Parallels between Claudius and George W are evident. Claudius was a stammering, afflicted member of a royal family who considered him unsuitable for governing. George W also possesses a certain lack of grace with spoken language. And while Claudius was left to study history (a laughable undertaking for a “royal”) at the outskirts of his family, George W founded several oil exploration companies, all funded by family and friends, all of which lost money. Bush persevered, however, and was elected Governor of Texas. He then won the presidency in an unlikely manner, as it was his opponent who had garnered the most votes. In his ascension, Claudius was named Emperor by Palace Guards just hours after Caligula, the sitting Emperor, was stabbed to death. It helped that Claudius was the last surviving member of the ruling line.
Claudius, however, had little desire to be Emperor. He hoped for a restoration of the Roman Republic over the dictatorship that his family had engineered two generations earlier. According to Graves, Claudius had a plan to insure that restoration. He would govern so poorly that the Roman Senate would have no choice but to rise and re-establish the Republic. Instead, Claudius found an assemblage who for the most part did not care how they were governed as long as there was money to be made and food to eat. Although Claudius ultimately failed to reinstate the Republic, his attempt was a noble one.
George W implemented a similar strategy. His head-scratching, imperial governing was no accident. Instead of letting corporate interests and the moneyed elite rule in perpetuity, Bush hoped to incite the average American to reclaim the rights and powers that the Founding Fathers had bestowed him. Every move was designed to force the masses into action. Perhaps because of the incessant heat or a mediocre educational system, Florida wasn’t able to help George W achieve his goal in ‘04. But after four more years of effort, Bush seems to have succeeded. We are only days away from the Obama Administration.
Clearly, George W took it upon himself to return our Democratic Republic to the people. It is the only way that his actions make sense: Reading The Pet Goatto school children for seven minutes after finding out the country was under attack; misleading the country into an unneeded and unwanted war; positing the executive branch above the legislative and judicial; practically ignoring one of our greatest cities in the aftermath of a natural disaster. If not to cultivate outrage and force the American public into responsible action, then why? George W went into his Presidency with a plan and he executed it well. The citizenry demanded change. Mission accomplished, indeed.
(This post contains updated content from a previous Hangover post. Enjoy the encore presentation.)