I detest the Top 10 lists sprouting up daily this time of the year: Newspapers, magazines, television, cable, blogs, whatever. One acquaintance in New Mexico sent a mass e-mail to everyone in her Outlook directory asking each of us to submit our own Top 10 list of whatever we want to rank.
By December every year, these rankings appear with the punctuality of the tides. Top 10 Films. Top 10 News Events. Ten Best Songs. Best 10 Hackeysack Players. Whatever the human activity, someone, somewhere, is busy listing the 10 best.
It strikes me that if you cannot pick the one best – or worst – of something in the course of 366 days (2008 was a Leap Year), you shouldn’t bother. Ten is both a cop-out and lots of work. On the one hand, it lets the compiler hedge their bet; out of 10 anything, someone will agree with you. But it also takes a lot of Goggling to come up with a list. No one can remember the sum total of events in a category so they can be pared down to 10.
Still, an editor is pressing me for a 10 best or worst or indifferent list so I dutifully pull names from my head: Robert Mugabe, the monster of Zimbabwe; Dick Cheney, destroyer of constitutional government and boaster about it on TV; Vin Diesel, for still duping people into buying movie tickets; everyone responsible for creating i-anything. Once started, names began flowing: Karl Rove; Bill O’Reilly; Sean Hannity; Sarah Palin; James Dobson; the last three presidents of Somalia, Abdiqasim Salad Hassan, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and Adan Mohamed Nuur Madobe, as a group; the American Enterprise Institute; Bernie Madoff; Ehud Ohlmert and Ismail Haniyeh.
Then I stopped myself. Looking at the names made me realise I had to tear up the list. There’s only one worst person this year, and it’s an honour he’s received every year since 2000.
It’s A Landslide
In the final analysis, there is only one serious candidate: The Current Occupant. With less than 20 days before finally heading off to Dallas with Laura and his new McMansion, George W. Bush is both the worst person of the year and easily the only genuine candidate for worst person of the decade – even with another year to go.
It isn’t even close; he wins the distinction by a landslide.
In the record books, there’ll be an asterisk next to Bush’s name because a lot of what he did as president was plotted and dictated by others. But this is a mere speed bump on Bush’s road to being America's second-worst president ever. (James Buchanan wins by a nose because he allowed the Confederacy to seceed.) During each year of the 21st century, Bush managed to do something that cut another little piece of my heart out, baby, and the nation’s fundamental principles with it, as well.
2000 – Bush steals the presidential election through fraud, legal manoeuvring and running out the clock.
2001 – Bush blocks federally-funded stem cell research. He removes the United States from the treaty creating the International Criminal Court. He drops out of the Nuclear Test Ban treaty. He gets a compliant Congress to approve the first of three massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. Oh, and before I forget, the worst thing Bush did this year was casually discounting or deliberately ignoring repeated warnings of a September attack inside the United States by al Qaeda.
2002 – Bush begins shredding the Constitution by getting the (un)PATRIOT Act passed. He starts illegally wiretapping Americans. He lets Osama bin Laden slip into the safety of Pakistan while literally in the night scope sights of Army Rangers watching him in Tora Bora from a distance of about 1,500 feet. He creates GITMO and suspends habeas corpus.
2003 – Bush launches an illegal invasion of a sovereign nation that poses no threat to America and then lies about why he did it. He approves torturing prisoners of war captured in Afghanistan and Iraq. He allows Abu Ghraib to happen, thus becoming al Qaeda’s best recruiter. He turns himself into a cartoon character by landing on an aircraft carrier to proclaim “Mission Accomplished!”
2004 – Bush steals a second election, the details of which are just starting to emerge in 2008 except a key witness in a lawsuit – a man who could finger Karl Rove along with other White House and Republican National Committee staffers – is killed in a mysterious plane crash. Bush’s lack of planning for post-invasion Iraq became obvious when the country descends into chaos with Shi’a and Sunni groups battling each other openly while criminals loot and pillage Baghdad, killing or kidnapping citizens by the dozens daily. “Stuff happens.”
2005 – A dozen US attorneys are fired for political reasons. He tries privatizing Social Security. More tax cuts for the wealthy. No Child Left Behind is discovered to be a joke, another political stunt.
2006 – Katrina and Bush allowed one of the world’s great cities to drown. The surge, which he called a “success” because by the time Bush escalated the Iraq war, Sunni insurgents were on the US payroll and ethnic cleansing in Baghdad was completed so violence subsided.
2007 – Bush’s zeal for deregulation, which created a massive, unregulated mortgage banking industry, leads to a tidal wave of foreclosures, bursting the housing bubble. A recession begins, noticed by ordinary folks struggling to earn a living but ignored by Bush. Scooter Libby is essentially pardoned by Bush after being found guilty of compromising national security and then lying to a Grand Jury about it.
2008 – Bush sits idly by as the first signs of economic collapse appear. He presides over the largest economic collapse since the Great Depression. In a series of term-ending interviews with national reporters, Bush said he had a fun eight years.
Heckuva Job, Dubya
George W. Bush – along with his puppet-masters, underlings, cronies, cohorts and co-conspirators – did a heckuva job in destroying the very fabric of what is America. The Constitution? “A goddamned piece of paper.” Waterboarding? “We don’t torture.” WMDs? “The smoking gun.” The economy? “The fundamentals are sound.” POWs at GITMO and who-knows-how-many secret prisons around the world? “
Given all this, and more, how could there be nine other people on the same list of “worst people” as Bush?
So, with apologies to Keith, “George W. Bush: The Worst Person of the Decade!”
May you have a healthy, happy and Bush-free 2009!
*When I was young, oh so much younger than today, I believed that the United States would become completely unhinged at some point in my lifetime. This...