How Much Ruin In A Nation: Bush Was As Awful As Il Trumpe, Just No One Cared

There has been a spate of ‘how awful everything is under the reign of Il Trumpe‘ articles. And things are pretty crappy. But things were really awful under Bush 43 too. Katrina was horrible, not just in terms of the death toll, but also in the overt racism evinced by so many Americans–story after story of desperate black Louisianans being told to move along, often at gun point. There was no dog whistling. And Little Lord Pontchartrain did nothing, even to speak out.

Also there was that Iraq War you might have heard of which led to this:

While I agree Trump is doing this, normalizing the abnormal started well before Trump even considered running. If Trump would be Caesar, then the open advocacy of torture by most Republicans was Sulla (though #NotAllRepublicans and, shamefully, there was the tacit acquiescence of some Democrats).

For once you have decided that the mutilation and violation of other people is openly acceptable state policy, you have hit rock bottom. You can not fall any further. While I’m not naive about what the U.S. has done (especially in ‘outsourcing’ torture), it was never publicly acclaimed as a right and just action. Time was, in popular culture, torturers were viewed as evil, not as heroes ‘doing what needs to be done.’

…There is an entire cohort of conservatives (and, yes, some Democrats as well) who have no business being anywhere near public life due to their support for torture (and we should include on that list, Very Serious Pundits who excused such behavior). Likewise, we need to remember that many people openly embraced–and still do embrace–torture.

In a sense, it’s remarkable that it took the Republican Party this long to nominate someone like Trump: the moral rot had set in long before 2015.

The problem isn’t just Trump, it’s that we’ve had a quarter century decline, if not collapse, in many U.S. institutions and much of our political leadership. As Corey Robin (and others) has noted repeatedly, Trump isn’t getting much done, but at this point, he really doesn’t have to–we’re really far gone.

As Adam Smith wrote, there is a great deal of ruin in a nation, but just how much more ruin does the U.S. have left in it? That’s the danger of Il Trumpe.

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4 Responses to How Much Ruin In A Nation: Bush Was As Awful As Il Trumpe, Just No One Cared

  1. Ten Bears says:

    We dropped the ball. We stopped our war, Vietnam, but we didn’t stop War. We held Nixon accountable, but we left a functioning administration, notably Bush, Cheney et al, in place. We left the machinations in place that heve led to what we have become.

    We cut our hair, finished our nearly free degrees and bought overpriced McMansions on the hill.

    The Y2K nuts had it right, they just didn’t quite get their grubby little fingers wrapped around it: historians, if there is a history, will mark the appointment by an ideological stacked activist court of unelected judges of a blue-blooded scion of old school Hitler financing Robber Baron money with limited intellect, less education and no practical experience who was AWOL from the National Guard while I was pulling a Tour of Duty to the highest office in the land as The End of America.

    We are where we are on momentum.

    • The Greatest Generation deserves way more blame than the Vietnam Generation.

      Those men had a duty to tell America that choosing to go to war—even a just war to stop the Nazis—is choosing to cause Americans to commit atrocities.

      The Vietnam Generation explained this, but, in order to protect their own mental health, the Greatest Generation let Americans believe that such horrors were the consequences of *bad* wars, not *all* wars.

  2. It’s frustrating to find a biologist who likes Corey Robin.

    How did one party get so messed up? Corey Robin and others insisted on understanding the 20th Century using Newtonian metaphors for the Darwinian reality of human behavior.

    All the empirical data is clear: human political behavior is not governed by coherent ideology. In the 19th Century the Whigs were the party of internal improvements and the tariff. Their replacement, the GOP, added opposition to slavery.

    Then the 20th Century happened and a narcissistic punk named Vladimir Lenin fucked the entire world. Not only did he destroy his own country and cause the Nazis, but he convinced academics like Robin that the way to be smart, savvy, and oh so avant-garde was to ignore human behavior and get theoretical about politics.

    This gave us the left/right spectrum metaphor and the normalization of ideology politics.

    It’s idiotic to imagine the Whigs somehow lying about the tariff. But the GOP can lie left, right, and center because the media thinks they are defined by “conservatism.” Right and left are things that can’t be true or false. That’s why the media loves them: print what the left says, print what the right says and there you have it: balanced truth.

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