Obama’s Change and the Bush Mess : Have We Forgotten to Remember?

Photo montage by Larry Ray / The Rag Blog.

Remembering why we voted for change:
The Bush mess and the blame game

Eight years of Bush, Cheney, and the cynical political puppetry of Karl Rove, succeeded in driving a deep polarizing wedge into the heart of this country.

By Larry Ray / The Rag Blog / February 8, 2010

The montage of photos above is not a cheap humorous poke at George W. Bush. It is, instead, a montage of reminders of who ran this country into the ground for eight years as our president leaving a Gordian mess for someone else to deal with.

How could we so quickly forget those almost daily blunders, gaffes, petulance, and national disgraces we endured? George W. Bush has all but disappeared inside his tony gated community in Dallas. The mess he is responsible for has not disappeared and blame for it should not be craftily assigned to the new occupant of the White House.

It seems to be human nature for us to want to forget times that were embarrassing, damaging, and disappointing. And after the Bush legacy turned out to be a jaundiced irresponsible house of cards, it seems easier for many to develop near hysterical rage at the mess itself rather than at those responsible for it.

Bush’s historic damage could be a national rallying point, like the ruins of the twin towers, pulling us together to work for national change with patience, sacrifice, and understanding. Instead the damage itself has turned into a cheap political blame game. A kick-me sign for the angry and deluded.

Eight years of Bush, Cheney, and the cynical political puppetry of Karl Rove, succeeded in driving a deep polarizing wedge into the heart of this country. Bush projected to the entire world an “our way or the highway” tough guy attitude. Great sound bites, but his “way” made a mockery of truth, reason, and the law.

Sadly, that “join the posse and let’s go shoot up the bad guys” invitation was simple and appealing to lots of Americans. And it still is to a certain group. Suddenly it seemed, we were off to round up and hang Saddam Hussein before you could say “there ain’t no weapons of mass destruction.”

Unfortunately, the Bush folks with their “shock and awe” invasion had not gotten around to figuring out how to pay for that war. They later decided the U.S. would use its big credit card, expecting the Chinese and other foreign buyers to buy our debt to pay for it. Mission accomplished… again.

At the end of the eight year commute from Crawford, Texas, to Washington D.C., huge piles of lifeless post-Bush toxic fat cat Wall Street gambling debt began to smell and grow. Leaders of the party that happily allowed it to happen began to deny they caused the problem — that somehow it was all the new administration’s fault for recklessly spending so much money and trying to “do too much.”

The funereal visage of Republican minority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, sternly casting the blame on the new president is pure Republican looking glass politics. Obama and and his political HAZMAT team hit the ground his first day in office trying to deal with a sea of red ink and the fiscal flotsam swirling around in it. A grave potential for another great depression loomed. Welcome to the Oval Office.

But those who sanctioned their party’s role in letting Wall Street bring our nation to the brink of a major depression immediately began loudly blaming the new leadership for all the problems. That kind of old, cheap political role-reversal tactic should make concerned Americans very angry. But chaos, loss of income, and an almost adolescent expectation of some sort of instant fix makes many reassign blame somewhere, anywhere.

A large majority was eager to welcome the new “Change We Can Believe In.” But before the outgoing tenants could leave town, eight years of hidden party trash and dirty Wall Street linen that had been stuffed out of sight burst the seams of the White House for all to see. It was important to the outgoing leadership that the new tenant somehow be blamed for the irresponsible, out of control problems.

Kentucky Senator McConnell and the unified “No” vote chorus he conducts began immediately to try to fix the new horse race. Using latent and not so latent racism present in so many of their party, as well as so-called independents, they began a steady attack on the messenger, Barack Obama. Easier to blame the black president whom so many already refuse to accept as “their president” for not having cleaned up everything his first year in office than to pitch in and help with the clean-up. Just say no.

Americans who had been unconcerned about buying things with money they did not have, and who gleefully bought expensive houses for nothing down like there was no tomorrow, were now suddenly losing homes, jobs, savings. Suddenly they are all upset and concerned about the economy and want someone to blame. Memories of eight years of suffering Bush and Cheney abuses have drifted to the edges of today’s short memory span, it seems.

The new guy and all his highly intelligent advisers are telling Americans how tough things are with no sugar coating. Obama explains, in detail, the depth of the problems and calls for tough change. Instead of using vapid four word sound bites that sound so good, Obama tackled the unexpected problems he inherited head on, while also repairing America’s tattered international image. The harsh reality of it all seems to many to be “change they don’t want to believe in.” Everything is now grim and uncertain.

Those in a blind state of denial include many of Obama’s own majority party Democrats who, much like Senator McConnell, want to ignore reality so they can fight for their narrow political interests just like the elephant was not in the room.

Playing a blame game will not haul us out of the huge mess we are in. Taking a minute to reflect on the montage of photos above might, however, help us remember where a majority of this mess came from and why a majority voted for change.

But change rather than sound bites requires a lot more of Americans. Health care for all Americans has been shoved aside for more than 70 years because it requires dedicated support and buy-in. Genuine Republican support in drafting a National Heath Insurance plan could have made that a reality. But it was easier to vote no and play like we are on an all expense paid weekend in Oz. But the curtain has been pulled back.

President Obama clearly believes that a positive American spirit will ultimately prevail. A majority of Americans clearly still want the change they voted for and should not let a small but loud populist uproar from pontificating short-sighted dour losers drown out reason and resolve.

The natural instinct has always been for progressive and truly involved Americans to pitch in and be part of a solution to tough problems. Throwing blind tantrums and brewing up more anger at feel good tea-parties is good only to fill the endless dead space of side-show cable TV.

[Retired journalist Larry Ray is a Texas native and former Austin television news anchor. He also posts at The iHandbill.]

The Rag Blog

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4 Responses to Obama’s Change and the Bush Mess : Have We Forgotten to Remember?

  1. Sid says:

    Thanks Larry:
    I’ve only seen one good study done on the drop in Obama’s pole numbers, that on 538.com, and it proved that the fall is mostly from the disillusioned left for Obamas centrist dithering… not from the independents and the right for his ‘Maoist’ policies.

    There’s a hard 30% of the American body politic that would never accept his policies even a white Obama… so a black Obama is clearly not in the cards. There’s another 15% that learned about politics and socio-economic theory from 1980 forwards, at Ronnies knees, and they just cannot admit they and their hero were wrong… in spite of the proof having been well and truly cooked into the pudding by Bushco. Neither of these groups will every understand what you and I see in your collage.

    That leaves a scant 10% that took Obama to victory, and they are not righty’s rueing an imagined liftward shift (as the MM would have it), but lefties who rue his very clear rightward move.

    To explain it, he’s either playing the longest, most inside game of Shogunate political strategy ever… or is clueless. I’m, obviously, hoping for the former, and it may in the end be the only way to get to that 45% who can’t change quickly. In either event, he’s allowing, as you point out, too many to forget why we voted for him in the first place… including, just possibly, himself.

    It’s really hard to tell sometimes.

  2. Obama as Two Movie Characters

    1) In Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 42 is the number from which all meaning could be derived. Bush is Obama’s 42. Pick any of Obama’s examples of dismal performance(and there are many) and his administration’s explaination is; (wait for it)IT’s ALL BUSHES FAULT!!! aka 42.

    2) Dennis Hopper’s role as The Deacon in the horrible movie Waterworld was to give rah rah speeches to his rag tag shipmates rallying them to row for “Dry Land”, aka Hope and Change. He offered a promise of a better future but had no idea how to find his way to it and was desperately seeking an answer. He quickly learned that it was useful to distract his crew from the dismal lives they were leading.

    Given three more years of Obama’s polarizing style, record deficit spending spree, and inability confront those who seek to destroy us, people will be yearning for the good old Bush days. Reminding the voters about Bush will only work to Obama’s detriment.

  3. Sid says:


    Sure, blame the Black guy for being ‘polarizing’, not the racists. That’s not even original. As to ‘blaming Bush”, please tell me how many became unemployed in the last months of the Bush presidency. Tell me who was the Secretary of the Treasury and who was the President when TARP was passed and the very financial superstructure trembled. Please tell me how many jobs the Bush presidency in 8 years created. FActs, man, Facts. Do they mean nothing?

    As to ‘confronting those who seek to destroy us’, there was no one in Iraq who sought to destroy us… they were in Afghanistan. And how many soldiers are now in Afghanistan? How many were there in 2007?

    I asked before, but do you even think about the facts when you write, or is it all just a case of ignore the facts and full speed ahead with the talking points?

    And I’m still waiting to find out about those taxes you complained about that Obama has raised and that you are paying.

  4. Sid you constantly ask me to defend claims which you attribute to me which arent claim I have made, or assumptions that your making which I am not. Responding to your comments is like trying to nail jello to a wall. I tend to ignore you in the same way i ignore traffic noise.

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