While the Bush Administration didn’t have quite the same daily drumbeat of hideousness that the current administration does, it was a lot worse than many remember, unless you have sucky hobbies like me, in which case, you followed all the horrors. It was really, really bad. Comrade Atrios gets at why that is (boldface mine):
Most people didn’t really live through the Bush years the way they live through the Trump years. It’s social media. Only weird blog reading nerds had any clue about the full cast of characters of the conservative Wack Pack. Most normies – even people who paid a lot of attention to current events – wouldn’t have had any idea who all of these C-List conservative weirdos were, or what dumb shit thing was said on Fox News last night, etc. People who paid attention knew the big stuff, but the minutiae of horrors and stupidity went unnoticed by most. Now the phone beams it all directly into their foreheads so they have been dragged into this hell I have been living for so long.
But my real point is that the Bush years were full of horrible crazy shit, also, too, even aside from the more obvious stuff. People don’t remember because they weren’t really exposed to most of it at the time.
I do think there is something different, and that is social media, though I think the outrage has, in part, been replaced by fatigue–and that there’s really nothing left to shock people (of course, it can get worse, but no one is surprised by that anymore).
But like Atrios noted, some perspective is in order here: it was bad during the reign of Little Lord Pontchartrain, and many of the exact same things, such as bigotry and corruption were there, but many people didn’t see them. Hell, the plight of black New Orleans residents as they walked through white neighborhoods alone was every bit as racist and vile, never mind the cops who went ‘hunting’. It all didn’t suddenly go to shit in 2016, it was bad long before then.