By Danielle Ryan
Oh, how easily people forget. It would be difficult to find a greater indicator of the fickle nature of politics or the hypocrisy of the party faithful than these two polls.
Democrats find Donald Trump so utterly loathsome that the man who illegally launched the catastrophic Iraq War, and signed the Patriot Act – stripping Americans of their privacy in the name of fighting terrorism – is enjoying the rehabilitation of his image in the eyes of the party that so vehemently opposed him all those years he was in office.
Loathsome as Trump may be, his sins thus far don’t come close to the list of atrocities committed by Bush.
In fact, Trump’s sins haven’t even come close to those committed by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, whose “humanitarian” bombing, to take one example, helped to utterly destroy Libya — once the richest country in Africa, now a failed state and a haven for the slave trade.
The only thing that changes from one US administration to the next is the packaging and rhetoric. Human nature being what it is, people respond to the packaging far more than they do the policy.
That kind of twisted and dishonest partisanship makes it easy for Democrats (or Republicans) to shout “war criminal!” at one man and cheer on another for doing essentially the same thing on a different day.
Francis Fukuyama, the American political scientist and the author of divisive books the End of History and the Last Man, wrote in 2015: “Compared to Donald Trump, George W. Bush looks like a paragon of statesmanship”.
The View co-host Joy Behar, a supposedly dyed-in-the-wool Democrat who has written a whole book about her hatred of Trump, gushed last year: “I love George Bush now!” Behar’s colleague on the panel Sunny Hostin praised the “more thoughtful” Bush for not instituting a Muslim travel ban after the 9/11 attacks.
Evidently starting wars and actually killing hundreds of thousands of Muslims is “thoughtful” and a lesser sin than temporarily banning their entry into your country.
What has Bush done now to deserve such outpourings of admiration? Not much, really. All he had to do was offer some tepid criticism of Trump’s presidency a few times. He said he wasn’t fond of the “racism” and “name-calling” of the Trump era — and suddenly, we’re all supposed to be nostalgic for the Bush years.
He also paints nice portraits and rescued a dog, more deeds which seem to have helped absolve him of his sins in the eyes of liberals like Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Kimmel.
Polls like these prove what level-headed people have known forever: There really is not much difference, morally speaking, between Democrats and Republicans — despite both parties trying to pass themselves off as paragons of decency.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not painting all Democrats or Republicans with the same brush, but your average partisan is more than willing to whip out the rose-tinted glasses while trying to rationalize support for their preferred candidate — who oftentimes is incredibly similar to other options.
When it comes to Bush, it isn’t just his military misadventures and war crimes Democrats seem to have forgotten either. What about his inefficient and arguably racist response to Hurricane Katrina? Or the CIA’s horrendous torture regime overseen by his administration?
Bush’s detrimental environmental policies were as disastrous as Trump’s are, but those are seemingly forgotten, too. Then there’s the attacks on the media. Bush might espouse the importance of the press these days, but he wasn’t shy about bombing journalists during his tenure in office. These are not things you easily forget if your opposition to them is sincere.
As journalist Glenn Greenwald pointed out on Twitter, Democrats’ newfound love for the FBI is just as confusing as their Bush nostalgia. The FBI is an institution which has been targeting “young, vulnerable Muslims” with learning disabilities and mental health issues to “entrap them by leading them into terror plots and sending them to prison for decades,” Greenwald wrote on Twitter.
“When the FBI is once again seen as a vehicle to punish its political enemies,” Young Turks journalist Michael Tracey wrote, Republican opinion on the agency will “flip overnight”. We know this is true already. When James Comey announced the reopening of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, Comey was cheered by Republicans for that decision and despised by Clinton clan devotees.
Now that the FBI is investigating alleged collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials, suddenly the Democrats have discovered a newfound faith in the agency. Because reality doesn’t matter, policy doesn’t matter — sticking with ‘your guy’ and winning is what matters.
The fact that Democrats find it so easy to whitewash Bush, his terrible domestic policies and his murderous foreign policy highlights the near-total absence of integrity and intellectual honesty in politics today — and none of that has anything to do with Donald Trump.
*Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance journalist. Having lived and worked in the US, Germany and Russia, she is currently based in Budapest, Hungary.
Her work has been featured by Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, Russia Direct, teleSUR, The BRICS Post and others.
Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ, check out her Facebook page, or visit her website: danielle-ryan.com