Where’s The Shrub?

When George W. Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, recently endorsed Mitt Romney reporters asked Romney whether he expected to get the younger Bush’s endorsement. (Let’s call him “the Shrub” to distinguish him from his father, “the Bush.) No one seems to know, and apparently the Republicans aren’t eager to hitch themselves to that particular horse. You remember — the one that led us into two wars and left a huge budget deficit after sneaking into office under questionable circumstances (and the assistance of Ralph Nader). The Republicans in general would prefer if we forgot that and blamed Obama for the mess. As a recent news story mentions, “In a presidential contest dominated by concerns over the economy, government spending and federal debt, the Republican candidates have been loath to acknowledge the extent to which the George W. Bush administration’s policies contributed to those problems.” Indeed.

In any event, it would seem that the Shrub’s silence will be encouraged as Romney hopes to distance himself from what he apparently regards as a political pariah. The Shrub himself also seems to want to remain in the distance — working on the building of the Bush Presidential library at a local university. “‘For now we’re just staying out of it,’ George W. Bush spokesman Freddy Ford said Thursday, declining to comment on a possible endorsement. Ford said Bush was focused on promoting and developing a presidential library bearing his name at Southern Methodist University.” Is it possible to develop a library consisting only of comic books? I’m just askin’.

But it would appear that the Shrub’s father (the Bush) doesn’t seem to want to remember his son’s legacy as 43rd President of the United States. We are told that his picture is hidden in the Bush’s office behind a flag. The Bush was actually a pretty good President, as Presidents go these days. His son’s performance must have been a severe disappointment as the Shrub was clearly on anyone’s list of the ten worst Presidents this country has ever had. Henry Adams thought Grant was living proof of the flaw in Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the Shrub would be even stronger evidence. But then Darwin allowed for occasional anomalies so perhaps his theory is safe.

In any event Mitt will have to soldier on without the endorsement (for the time being) of George W. Bush — though he has that of both the Shrub’s father and his brother Jeb. You remember Jeb: he was former governor of Florida and led the charge to pass a law giving permission for people in Florida to shoot first and ask questions later. So, how’s that working out?

2 thoughts on “Where’s The Shrub?

  1. This is a clever and quite skillfully done column, one of the best of the dozen or so blogs of yours I’ve read so far.The tie in at the end to the Trayvon Martin killing is superb.

    I must say two things though. That Bush Sr. “was actually a pretty good President, as Presidents go these days,” is a claim the correctness of which thoroughly depends–as I know you are aware–on a relative comparison of Bush and the rest of the Presidents we’ve had since FDR departed the scene. We’re talking about a man who ought to have been impeached and imprisoned for the invasion of Panama and who repeatedly lied to the American people about why he thought it essential that we drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait. A CEO manager of empire and protector of American plutocracy. A man who, while campaigning for the presidency on August 27, 1987, had this exchange with journalist Robert Sherman:

    Sherman: What will you do to win the votes of the Americans who are atheists?

    Bush: I guess I’m pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in God is important to me.

    Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?

    Bush: No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

    If he still holds that view, then, like Newt Gingrich, who expressed the same sentiment just a few months ago, we’re talking about a man who thinks that I and many others, including most of America’s scientists and philosophers, ought not to be considered citizens.

    BTW, here’s a not-to-be-missed recent article on what the great radio host Mike Malloy calls “the Bush crime family.”


    Second, when one comes to look closely at the matter, it becomes clear that Nader did not assist George Bush in “winning” the presidency in 2000. I volunteered and voted for Nader that year and I saw him speak at Creighton University in Omaha. I followed the election quite closely. Bush supposedly won Florida, the great point of electoral contention, by 537 votes. Nader won more than 97,000 votes in Florida, so according to Nader’s detractors, he “cost” Gore the election. However, as exit polls show more than 200,000 Florida Democrats voted for Bush and nationwide more than nine million Dems voted for the Republican. Moreover, a study out of the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business suggests that Nader’s candidacy actually helped Gore. “‘Many people would have come in supporting Nader but eventually voted for Gore, and that might not have happened if Nader had never entered the race,’ said William Hedgcock, assistant professor of marketing at UI.” I’ll have to search for it, but another study, if I recall correctly from the University of Minnesota, showed that, because Nader pushed Gore further to left than Gore otherwise would have been, Gore actually ended up with something like two million more votes nationwide than he otherwise would have received. And actually, even if Nader had “cost” Gore the election, I would defend Nader’s candidacy on the grounds that Gore was a terrible candidate, that his policies were far more similar to than different from those of W. (during the campaign I conducted an in-depth comparison), and that under our supposedly democratic form of government Nader had a Constitutional right to run for the office. On this issue, Barbara Ehrenreich wrote one of the best essays to appear in the mainstream media so far during this 21st century (Time magazine, 20 November 2000):


  2. David,
    Thank you for the careful and well-reasoned comment. I grant your first point about “The Bush.” But I was comparing him with other recent Presidents. In a sense I was condemning him with faint praise. But perhaps I should not have done so.
    On your second point, I think you and I are arguing at crossed purposes drawing on different counter-factual data. Neither of us knows whether or not Nader was instrumental in Bush winning that Presidential race. But I cannot help wonder what would have happened if you and others like you had voted for Gore — bad as you say he is, he would have been worlds better than the man who won! I will agree, however, that it would be healthy for this country to have a third-party candidate who was not supported by large corporations, and I supported Nader’s candidacy in principle. I just thought he could never pull it off and that he would win away votes that might otherwise defeat W. I’m not sure a candidate who takes on the corporations would have enough money to win at the National level, sad to say.

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