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Baby Bush: The Worst President in History?

George Bush.JPG

In this mornings mail bag we have this article by Doug Casey of The Casey Report which we hope you find interesting and informative.

I recognize that I’ve antagonized many subscribers over the years with “Bush Bashing.” In January, just after OBAMA!’s election, I said I wouldn’t mention Bush again, his departure having made him irrelevant. I only feel bad that he and his minions will apparently get away scot-free with their crimes; better they had all been brought up before a tribunal and tried for crimes against humanity in general and the U.S. Constitution in particular. But that is objectively true of almost all presidents since at least Lincoln.

Most of our subscribers to The Casey Report appear to be libertarians or classical liberals – i.e., people who believe in a maximum of both social and economic freedom for the individual. The next largest group are “conservatives.” It’s a bit harder to define a conservative. Is it someone who atavistically just wants to conserve the existing order of things (either now, or perhaps as they perceived them 50, or 100, or 200, or however many years ago)? Or is a conservative someone who believes in limiting social freedoms (generally that means suppressing things like sex, drugs, outré clothing and customs, and bad-mouthing the government) while claiming to support economic freedoms (although with considerable caveats and exceptions)? It’s unclear to me what, if any, philosophical foundation conservatism, by whatever definition, rests on.

Which leads me to the question: Why do conservatives seem to have this warm and fuzzy feeling for George W. Bush? I can only speculate it’s because Bush liked to talk a lot about freedom and traditional American values, and did so in such an ungrammatical way that it made him seem sincere. Bush’s tendency to fumble words and concepts contrasted to Clinton’s eloquence, which made him look “slick.”

I’m forced to the conclusion that what “conservatives” like about Bush is his style, such as it was. Because the only good thing I can recall that Bush ever did was to shepherd through some tax cuts. But even these were targeted and piecemeal, tossing bones to favored interests, rather than any principled abolition of any levies or a wholesale cut in rates.

Is it possible that Bush was actually the worst president ever? I’d say he’s a strong contender. He started out with a gigantic lie -- that he would cut the size of government, reduce taxes, and stay out of foreign wars -- and things got much worse from there. Let’s look at just some of the highpoints in the catalog of disasters the Bush regime created.
No Child Left Behind. Forget about abolishing the Department of Education. Bush made the federal government a much more intrusive and costly part of local schools.
Project Safe Neighborhoods. A draconian law that further guts the 2nd Amendment, like 20,000 other unconstitutional gun laws before it.
Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. This the largest expansion of the welfare state since LBJ and will cost the already bankrupt Medicare system trillions more.
Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Possibly the most expensive and restrictive change to the securities laws since the ‘30s. A major reason why companies will either stay private or go public outside the U.S.
Katrina. A total disaster of bureaucratic mismanagement, featuring martial law.

Ownership Society. The immediate root of the current financial crisis lies in Bush’s encouragement of easy credit to everybody and inflating the housing market.
Nationalizations and Bailouts. In response to the crisis he created, he nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and passed by far the largest bailouts in U.S. history (until OBAMA!).
Free-Speech Zones. Originally a device for keeping war protesters away when Bush appeared on camera, they’re now used to herd.

The Patriot Act. This 132-page bill, presented for passage only 45 days after 9/11 (how is it possible to write something of that size and complexity in only 45 days?) basically allows the government to do whatever it wishes with its subjects. Warrantless searches. All kinds of communications monitoring. Greatly expanded asset forfeiture provisions.

The War on Terror. The scope of the War on Drugs (which Bush also expanded) is exceeded only by the war on nobody in particular but on a tactic. It’s become a cause of mass hysteria and an excuse for the government doing anything.

Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush started two completely pointless, counterproductive, and immensely expensive wars, neither of which has any prospect of ending anytime soon.
Dept. of Homeland Security. This is the largest and most dangerous of all agencies, now with its own gigantic campus in Washington, DC. It will never go away and centralizes the functions of a police state.

Guantanamo. Hundreds of individuals, most of them (like the Uighurs recently in the news) guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, are incarcerated  for years. A precedent is set for anyone who is accused of being an “enemy combatant” to be completely deprived of any rights at all.

Abu Ghraib and Torture. After imprisoning scores of thousands of foreign nationals, Bush made it a U.S. policy to use torture to extract information, based on a suspicion or nothing but a guard’s whim. This is certainly one of the most damaging things to the reputation of the U.S. ever. It says to the world, “We stand for nothing.”

The No-Fly List. His administration has placed the names of over a million people on this list, and it’s still growing at about 20,000 a month. I promise it will be used for other purposes in the future…

The TSA. Somehow the Bush cabal found 50,000 middle-aged people who were willing to go through their fellow citizens’ dirty laundry and take themselves quite seriously. God forbid you’re not polite to them…

Farm Subsidies. Farm subsidies are the antithesis of the free market. Rather than trying to abolish or cut them back, Bush signed a record $190 billion farm bill.
Legislative Free Ride. And he vetoed less of what Congress did than any other president in history.

The only reason I can imagine why a person who is not “evil” (to use a word he favored), completely uninformed, or thoughtless would favor Bush is because he wasn’t a Democrat. Not that there’s any real difference between the two parties anymore…

As disastrous as he was, I rather hate to put him in competition for “worst president” in the company of Lincoln, McKinley, Wilson, the two Roosevelts, Truman, Johnson, and Nixon. He is simply too small a character – psychologically aberrant, ignorant, unintelligent, shallow, duplicitous, small-minded – to merit inclusion in any list. On second thought, looking over that list of his personal characteristics, he’s probably most like FDR, except he lacked FDR’s polish and rhetorical skills. I suspect he’ll just fade away as a non-entity, recognized as an embarrassment. Not even worth the trouble of hanging by his heels from a lamp post, although Americans aren’t (yet) accustomed to doing that to their leaders. Those who once supported him will, at least if they have any circumspection and intellectual honesty, feel shame at how dim they were to have been duped by a nobody.

The worst shame of Bush – worse than the spending, the new agencies, the torture, or the wars – is that he used so much pro-liberty and pro-free-market rhetoric in the very process of destroying those institutions. That makes his actions ten times worse than if an avowed socialist had done the same thing. People will blame the full suite of disasters Bush caused on the free market simply because Bush constantly said he believed in it. 

And he’s left OBAMA! with a fantastic starting point for what I expect to be even greater intrusions into your life and finances. Eventually, the Bush era will look like The Good Old Days. But only in the way that the Romans looked back with nostalgia on Tiberius and Claudius after they got Caligula. And then Nero. And then the first of many imperial coups and civil wars.

Only by looking at the past can we make sure that history won’t repeat itself. But most of the time, Doug and his co-editors of The Casey Report look at the future. They analyze budding trends for potential money-making opportunities and share that research with their subscribers… usually for two- or three-digit gains. One of their favorite investments of 2009 is a play on an economic inevitability that is almost guaranteed to bring early birds big returns. Read more here.

Your thoughts are of course most welcome.

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Reader Comments (17)

HA! Thanks for this. Sometimes when I hear people claim Bush was not so bad, I become so irrate that all the blood is squeezed from my fore brain to my hind brain and it makes me stupid. Now, Ill just email them, let them sort it out.
Also, the tag OBAMA! is one of the funniest things Ive seen in days. I like the guy as a personality, he seems to want to do good, but he really doesnt get it, does he? And he sooo wanted to be President. What an unholy mess we've become. Though having moved to Munich Germany, a true socialist state, and trying to have my water filter put in by a plumbing company and being told they wont do it because they cant 'guarantee' the filter itself because its used (of course my assurance im just hiring for their labor, the functioning of the unit being my responsibility is incomprehendable to them), I am reminded there is a minimal conscious competency found even in the most clueless of Americans. You pay me money, Iput in your stupid used filter, OK, done, check please....God help us all..

~Laura Holland

August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Holland

It's refreshing to hear a businessman willing to do the math and realize that it was all just talk to justify crimes. Such intellectual integrity is rare these days.

August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Thank you for being one of the miniscule minority of financial commentary writers who have enough honor and integrity (or have any at all) to acknowledge even a few of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" committed by George W. Bush and his minions against the U.S. Constitution and international criminal law, not to mention the terrible damage done to our economy and social cohesion.

To respond to the "superpatriot" apologists for Bush, I am a Vietnam War veteran (drafted--Sgt., Bronze Star), and a descendant of Revolutionary War (and Civil War) veterans, and majored in political science in college. I was reared to be traditional, strongly religious, and conservative, but quickly realized that political "conservatives" care only about the rich and economically powerful AND about holding power, even if they have to steal it (2000 election). The Constitution (and statutory and case law) they pay lip service to, but ignore whenever it suits them.

Remember that Ben Franklin said that patriotism was the last resort of scoundrels.

Hypocrisy is the common currency of so-called conservatives--witness their belated discovery of the federal deficit after Bush Two left. Deficit spending to help the poor and preserve jobs in a "Great Recession" makes a lot more sense to me than throwing uncounted hundreds of billions away killing Iraqis who, every honest person now admits, never posed any threat whatsoever to the West--yet somehow "conservatives" never met a weapons boondoggle they didn't like, and are too stupid to realize that deliberately alienating our allies (not to mention the rest of the world) is a recipe for permanent warfare.

And where were the so-called "libertarians" when Bush was steamrolling the Congress to destroy our Constitutional liberties? Apparently, their preferred liberty is only for the economic royalists.

Now they are defending a dysfunctional U.S. health-care system that costs twice as much per capita, excludes 46 million Americans from coverage, and produces worse outcomes than the health-care of over 20 other nations--none as rich as we are.

For the past three decades, "libertarians" and "conservatives" have been busily turning the U.S. into a third-world country--with vast extremes of wealth and poverty, health and illness, infant mortality, lifespans, and education, etc.

August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBurbox

Please cancel.

Bush was great!!!!!
The credit problem was Barny Franks and Cris Dodd. Bush tried to stop over lending but with the Democrats in control could not.

August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBush was great!!!


August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterB

Obama is trying to do worse.
This is what we need to focus on as investors.
Your obsession with Bush is a distraction.
Quit it out!

August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterS

Thanks for the resource. The articles on the Federal Reserve are great.

August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterR

…and yet here we are again, more Bush Bashing.  “The Worst President in History?”  I will not delve into more detail on your article (who wrote it). 
You’re looking at the rear view mirror of life and won’t let go.  Try looking ahead of you in the windshield of life.  It should scare the hell out of you. 
Let’s just drop me from both your Gold and Silver site’s which I have enjoyed until today. 
Just cancel my subscription…..Please.

August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterR

How about that? So you livened things up a bit and where are we now? Right back at square one again. The question really is not rehashing all this over and over again, but what could, or should be done about it? And there lies the rub.
You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time (supporters of Hussein Obama's health care package), but you can't fool all the people all the time (unless they are Liberals or Democrats).

August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Ell

What small-minded comments. Those who assume that Mr. Casey supports Obama's policies simply because he has scathingly and truthfully spoken about Bush's policies should stay tuned. I am sure the Obama diatribe will be even better. I cannot wait.

August 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjames madison

you were ok until this a.m. post

and you probably think Obama is the best

August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterP

We don't rate either of these two men, but we are Brits and don't rate Gordon Brown either. Guess that puts us off side with everyone.

August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGold Prices

What a piece of trash article that was by Casey. I have never seen such an inept article from him. Now I know why I never agreed with his comments on PMs. You must be a flag burner and smoking some burnt bread crumbs. You probably supported the Clintons correct? Stand by loser, because President Bush will be remembered as one of the finest US Presidents around after all the pot smoke is cleared from inept bashers like yourself. After reading this article I am terminating further subscription with this communist news letter. No wonder you don't live in America. You are pathetic Casey.

August 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJerry C.

Ya gotta love folks, both right and left, who get their knickers in a bunch because someone has disagreed with their opinions. What I find most interesting is their Sarah Palin technique in communicating said frustrations.
Instead of a substantive argument, with, er, actual substance of information and references, like they taught us in high school English, they become bullies and whiners and cancellers of subscriptions!
My goodness, such thin skin! Such little capacity for reasoning and discourse!
What a bunch of losers we've created in this country, incapable of substantiating even the simplest of arguments. In the end its not about who one likes or dislikes, its in their deeds. But with all that blood in your hind brains, your poor fore brain hasn't a clue. I know the feeling...

August 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Holland

Thanks much for your newsletter. I appreciate the insights you share, useful and/or entertaining.

Might you have any interest in a somewhat different definition of a Conservative? I won't begin to defend George Bush because I don't think he stood up to most of the criteria as I'd define them. I don't know that I'd put him in contention for being the worst President but he did immense harm to the country in some ways.

It seems to me that a Conservative is someone that seeks to defend and/or put forth values, and standards of behavior, which have proved timeless for all healthy and prosperous civilizations. Those values certainly include things like fiscal responsibility and the related respect for gold and disdain for fiat currency. Those values also include personal freedom and a very limited role for Government. However, I believe truly conservative people also understand that personal freedom can only exist to the extent that personal responsibility prevails. For that reason a conservative would strongly support and defend the classic definition of marriage and family and would hold the highest regard for God and those who honestly do their best to understand Him and behave as He would want. That also implies acknowledging life's imperfections and doing whatever possible, on a personal level, to address them.

I whole-heartedly support many of the Libertarian goals. I believe both the Republicans and the Democrats are completely corrupt, some more actively than others. I would eagerly join with most 3rd party candidates to try to reestablish some of what our Founding Fathers designed for us.

I look forward to your future newsletters. I hope you don't take this as pompous and sanctimonious. I only mean to share what I believe to be the more positive aspects of one of the philosophies you defined in your article.

Take care,

August 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterP

After the terror attacks of 9/11 ( I was about 400 yards away from the South tower that horrible day) we all kept waiting for the next attack, but GWB kept us safe since then, wether you liked it or not. At least four attacks were prevented right here in the five boroughs alone, thanks to Homeland Security. How soon some of you seem to forget this. I used to think Jimmy Carter was the worst President of all time - I KNOW he's the worst EX- President of all time, until Huessien Baraka Ogga Booga, that is. Filled his cabinet with confirmed Communists and tax cheats, and ran our deficit up a trillion-dollar flagpole in less than a year, with more to come. True, W won't be in anyone's hall of fame, but we'e done a lot worse.

Note to "BURBOX": If our healthcare system is so "disfunctional" (85% of Americans are happy with it- while Congress has a 21% approval rate) how come you don't see Americans getting on planes and heading for Britan or Canada for their treatments? Oh, and if you're a Viet Nam vet, then I'm Soupy Sales. The only "military experience" you probably have is the ten years you lived at the Salvation Army.

August 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoeBronx

Bush was one of the best presidents the USA ever had.

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertom Lummly

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