With the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library last week, there is a concerted effort underway to resurrect the reputation of Bush as a leader. Good luck with that. In fact, his presidency was a disaster in almost every conceivable way. But Karl Rove, who more than anyone else is responsible for getting him into the White House, tries his best:
Karl Rove, who has been described by former President George W. Bush as “the architect” of his 2000 and 2004 election victories, isn’t backing down in his defense of the former president’s legacy, saying “he got the big things right.”
“He kept us safe after 9/11, he moved to modernize our tools, provide the tools to fight terror, he called terror for what it was, he tackled the big issues of trying to reform Social Security, Medicare, immigration, education,” Rove tells Politics Confidential, standing outside the new Bush library and museum.
Man, he isn’t even trying. He didn’t actually achieve anything on Social Security, Medicare, or immigration, but he “tackled” the issues by “trying” to do something. Isn’t that inspiring? As for the “big things,” he could scarcely have gotten them any more wrong than he did. The Iraq War wasn’t just a bad idea, it was a spectacularly bad idea that has cost trillions of dollars. And almost every single element of the marketing campaign for the war turned out to be absolutely false.
Fiscally, he couldn’t have done more damage if he had tried to do so intentionally. Launching two major wars while cutting taxes turned a small surplus into a massive deficit and doubled the national debt. In fact, since those decisions are still the primary cause of most of the federal budget problems today, he is responsible for nearly tripling the debt.
And on perhaps the biggest issue of all, the very makeup of our constitutional system of checks and balances and the separation of powers, Bush did more to undermine that system than any president in our history. He was the one who approved of a whole range of clearly unconstitutional actions by the government and initiated the court strategy that insulates those actions from legal challenge, making the authority of the executive branch virtually limitless (and Obama gets an assist as well). Let’s also add to that the fact that he pretty much destroyed any notion that the United States has any credibility at all in criticizing another country for human rights violations with the torture regime he built.
Got the big things right? He could hardly have gotten them more astonishingly wrong.