This weekend, all five living former presidents attended a benefit for the victims of recent hurricanes. There, George W. Bush—who’s best remembered for using his office to launch America’s endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq under false pretenses—cracked a joke to former President Barack Obama while former President Bill Clinton spoke about the “calamitous disaster” of Hurricane Harvey.
Obama laughed with a toothy grin, and both men struggled to regain composure like bored middle schoolers getting antsy at a school assembly.
The incident made its way to the internet, where scores of people with woefully short memories began writhing with nostalgia for the good old days when Bush was president:
It’s far from the first time that the should-be-war-criminal’s legacy of lies, torture, and mass surveillance has been whitewashed—remember his beloved dog paintings?—but he’s found a totally new vehicle for this rehabilitation tour. Put 10 years between the Bush administration’s atrocities and then compare him to Donald Trump and suddenly, Bush looks pretty good to desperate liberals! Most recently, Bush was roundly praised for lightly criticizing the 45th president, even though he didn’t actually use Trump’s name.
It might be tempting to buy into this ahistorical bullshit, given how bad and stupid things feel right now.
Here are but a few humble reminders to hold in your mind’s eye as you compose that HELLYA DUBYA tweet:
- George W. Bush orchestrated a worldwide torture regime.
- George W. Bush championed programs, passed in the name of post-9/11 national security, that disproportionately affected Muslim Americans and oversaw the creation of a massive warrantless surveillance system to spy on American citizens.
- George W. Bush gravely oversold (read: lied) about the strength of the U.S.’s evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, which was used as a chief reason to invade Iraq and caused the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
- George W. Bush presided over the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina (something the people laughing over his joke at a hurricane relief benefit should remember).
- George W. Bush is currently, as we speak, raising money for the Republican nominee for Virginia governor, Ed Gillespie, a man who’s somewhat distanced himself from Trump while still running a campaign fueled by the same anti-immigrant rhetoric.
So give me a fucking break about W., OK?