The Bare Bodkin

The Bush Legacy

Does anyone really remember what sort of president Bill Clinton was? Have we all forgotten his amazingly sordid character so soon?

He disgraced the Oval Office like no president before him; he was only the second to be impeached; he embarrassed America before the world; known as Slick Willie in his native Arkansas, he almost daily aggravated his own reputation for mendacity; having shunned military service, he finally found a niche he could safely occupy: commander in chief; he assembled a Cabinet (Janet Reno, Donna Shalala, Jocelyn Elders, Madeleine Albright, etc.) who “looked like America”— in a funhouse mirror; he was plausibly accused of molesting several women and even raping one; and he capped his long career of corruption with nakedly venal pardons of his criminal cronies.

No, we have not forgotten, not at all. But after five years of George W. Bush, we are perilously close to forgiving. We never thought we’d miss you, Bill! But we do!

Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post recently noted that of the three great disasters of those five years—the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, and the fiscally demented Medicare drug plan—two were Bush’s own initiatives. Though incompetence isn’t the worst of sins, Meyer- son added, historians are likely to see it as “this president’s defining attribute.” Many Americans aren’t waiting...

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