Every college student is looking for something to do this summer. In the course of my search, I found this question on the Democratic National Committee internship application: “What politician has inspired you most and why?”
In the midst of last week’s political tumult, I hit upon the answer.
Growing up during the Clinton administration, politicians were never inspirational. Bill had that down-home charm, but not a whole lot in the way of exciting programs. NAFTA, (briefly) balanced budgets and the Motor Voter Act, while steps in the right direction, are not the stuff of which historic presidencies are made. His dalliances may have inspired Kenneth Starr, but the Democratic National Committee probably does not want to read about that.
Gore was no better. Actually, Gore was worse. He never inspired anything but Saturday Night Live sketches about his social security “lockbox” and alleged invention of the Internet. Unimpressed, I ended up supporting Nader (Don’t shoot! I couldn’t vote!), but it is difficult to get jazzed up for tilting at windmills.
During the 2000 campaign, Bush came across as a typical, even moderate, Republican. He was clearly misguided but not actually evil. George was a safe, establishment candidate; nothing like the insurgent McCain. He seemed like a bumbler, too. Nobody predicted that he would get much done. George II’s speeches inspired nothing except heart attacks in lexicographers.
Despite those early indications, George Walker Bush has inspired me more than any other politician. Thanks to our 43rd president, I am inspired to fear for America’s future.
George Bush’s relentless insistence on tax cut after tax cut, even in the face of ballooning federal deficits, has inspired visions of a crushing tax burden before I turn 40. He passed a Medicare drug benefit that helped only HMOs; he is looting social security (making me wish that I’d supported Gore and his lockbox). As a result, our generation faces the unpleasant prospect of supporting aged boomer parents without government help. What an inspiration my president is! The under-funded No Child Left Behind Act, which was modeled after statistically discredited improvements in Houston schools, has inspired me to send my unborn kids to private school.
George Bush’s economic record is as inspiring as Herbert Hoover’s. They are the only two chief executives to see the number of Americans with jobs diminish over the course of their terms. Personally, I am inspired enough to start waiting in line at the unemployment office right now. For $20, I can hold a place for you.
But Bush’s inspirational quality cannot be appreciated by looking at his policies piecemeal. The real inspiration starts only when I consider the attitude behind his programs.
Our president’s perseverance is his most inspiring trait. When George Bush gets an idea into his head, absolutely nothing can shake it loose. No matter what the economic situation is, Bush knows that tax cuts are the answer. Entering office with a budget surplus, Bush declared that America deserved money back. Now that the economy is on the fast track to stagnation, tax cuts are the only solution. If the sky turned green tomorrow, George Bush would address the nation to call for tax cuts and a “shock and awe” bombing campaign.
Bush displayed an awesome and shocking disregard for facts in his justification for the War in Iraq. At first, George Bush and other members of his administration suggested that Sept. 11 was traceable to Saddam Hussein. Eventually, though, a total lack of evidence forced President Bush to issue an inspiring retraction.
Iraq’s stockpile of weapons of mass destruction was also subject to the president’s inspiring fear-mongering. Everyone in the administration asserted that Saddam was hiding “massive” stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. On Feb. 5, 2003, Colin Powell told the United Nations, “our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent.” Today, Bush is so confident in the existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destructions that he has already ordered the inspiring withdrawal of the experts who had been searching for them.
Bush’s callous disregard for reality has already inspired me to pluperfect terror, and I worry about the crazy ideas he might stumble across in his next term.
Maybe it is time for us to look into regime change.