Bush Derangement Syndrome

Here’s Mary Matalin on CNN recently, courtesy of Think Progress:

“I was there [in the Bush White House]. We inherited a recession from President Clinton and we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation’s history. And President Bush dealt with it. And within a year of his presidency at this comparable time, unemployment was at 5 percent. And we were creating jobs.”

Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly is a bit one-sided for my taste much of the time, but he pretty much nails Matalin in his write-up: Matalin’s Alternate Universe.

Deep down, I’m pretty sure Matalin knows exactly what she’s doing, though it might take a round or two of waterboarding before she’d admit it. In the case of Dana Perino, though, I believe there’s considerably more confusion between fantasy and reality in that head of hers. Here she is talking to Sean Hannity back in November, in the wake of the Fort Hood attack:

A transcript, again courtesy of Think Progress:

PERINO: And we had a terrorist attack on our country. And we should call it what it is. Because we need to face up to it so that we can prevent it from happening again.

HANNITY: I agree with you. And why won’t they say what you just so simply said?

PERINO: They want to do all of their investigations. I don’t know. All of the thinking that goes into it. But we did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term. I hope they’re not looking at this politically. I do think we ought it to the American people to call it what it is.

I know Perino is a bit of a dim bulb, and I’m sure she would have made a pro forma correction if anyone called her on her misstatement (not that Sean Hannity would be especially likely to do that). But her willingness to spout contrafactual gibberish like that is indicative of a deeper perceptual problem the she, and other Bush supporters, have.

In the minds of Bush loyalists, as abetted by high-profile historical revisionists and moral relativists like Matalin and Perino, it’s the Obama administration that is obsessed with deflecting blame for the president’s failures by pointing to inherited problems. Meanwhile, they spin as hard as they can (and then some) to push the myth that Bush… was not to blame for his failures, and inherited all his problems from Clinton.

Here’s Benen again:

The Matalin pitch, in a nutshell, is, “Sure, Obama inherited the Great Recession, two wars, a job market in freefall, a huge deficit, and crushing debt, a health care system in shambles, a climate crisis, an ineffective energy policy, an equally ineffective immigration policy, a housing crisis, the collapse of the U.S. auto industry, a mess at Gitmo, and a severely tarnished global reputation. But what Bush got from Clinton wasn’t exactly a walk in the park.”

Except it was. After cleaning up H.W. Bush’s mess, Clinton bequeathed a prosperous, peaceful country, held in high regard around the world, with a shrinking debt, and surpluses far into the future. There was a burgeoning terrorist threat emerging, but Clinton’s team provided Bush with the necessary tools and warnings necessary to keep the nation safe. Bush failed miserably, despite having been given an incredible opportunity to succeed.

I know Benen is a partisan, but I think that assessment is accurate. While Bush was in office, the magnitude of his failures made it hard for supporters to reconcile their support for him with his actual performance. That’s why, with the exception of the rally-round-the-flag spikes after 9/11 and in the early days of the Iraq war, the trend of Bush’s support was always down, and why Bush ended his presidency with support numbers in the high 20s, as this graph from Pollkatz shows:


As the years pass it gets easier for Bush supporters to rearrange their memories to reduce cognitive dissonance. As long as they are content to live in a world of make-believe, that’s a perfectly viable approach. But those of us who don’t have the same incentive don’t have to pretend along with them.

3 Responses to “Bush Derangement Syndrome”

  1. enkidu Says:

    “we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation’s history.”
    Sadly wwnj and other sufferers of BDS think this is the gospel truth. For eight long years everything was The Clenis’ fault. Everything. Eight years. Remember? It hasn’t been even a year as yet, but now we have to pretend the last eight years didn’t happen? No.

    I mentioned that absolutely incredible Perino quote here before, but now Skeletor’s wife seems to be taking this to a whole new level. There is about 20% of our populace (perhaps the same nitwits who think the sun goes around the earth, and elves make their engine go) that think this is legitimate ‘debate’. Seriously stupid or seriously deluded? Or just desperately trying to paper over the Worst President Ever.

    Funny thing about observational bias: when a pretty blond woman says something outlandish in her dulcet tones… her slightly smiling face… that earnest tone of ‘I really believe this bullshit I’m laying down!’… it is just so much easier to nod your head and let it slide. But when a bitter partisan harpy (married to the most execrable talking head on the other side btw) cackles some bellicose bullshit, the channel just gets changed instantly.

    I wonder why that is? ;)

  2. Smith Says:

    I figured it out. The collapse of the World Trade Center was actually a delayed demolition triggered by the 1993 WTC Bombing. The towers were magically kept standing for 8 years by the sheer awesomeness of America. That bombing occurred under Clinton, so obviously the WTC collapse was something Bush inherited. The planes were just optical illusions created by Al Gore and his Global Warming Mafia in order to tarnish Bush’s legacy. The explosive residue that the “truthers” talk about was actually from the 93 bombing.

  3. enkidu Says:

    knarly, how in the world did u get Smith’s log in info?

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