By the way, I can't say that I think that Mr. Bush at his worst is as bad as President Clinton was. That's eight years down the American drain right there. The first eight, those post-Cold War years, thrown away by a narcissist and a crook. For the nomination of worst ever president, I can't, I really, though I have many, many quarrels with President Bush, I cannot believe that people would say he was worse than Mr. Nixon or Mr. Carter, just to stay in modern times...or Kennedy.
He was responding to this article.
Hitchens also had something to say about presidential power since 9/11:
CH: I mean, there's no question. I'm really glad that it wasn't Al Gore who was in charge that day. He might have declared martial law, because look what Clinton and Gore did just after Oklahoma City, which was relatively a pin prick event. They passed a law that the ACLU says is the most repressive in American history, the Anti-Terrorism and Death Penalty Act, an absolutely beyond believable violation of civil liberties that didn't, in its provocation, didn't rise anywhere near 9/11.
HH: Now Wilentz also writes, "No previous president appears to have squandered the public's trust more than Bush has." Let's go back a little bit further to Lyndon Johnson.
CH: That's flat-out ludicrous.
CH: I mean, he can't...do his ears hear what his voice is saying? I mean, he knows better even without turning over in bed. President Johnson was really not believed on anything after the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, and probably rightly not. President Nixon had to cop a plea which I seem to remember Justice Holmes regarded, ruled was an admission of guilt, rather than face impeachment after being caught lying, and using the apparatus of the State to lie. And if...by the way, Mr. Wilentz means, or Professor Wilentz means things like the Niger uranium as deception and credibility, well, he's got to go on the same rethink everyone's going to have undergo when they realize that claim originally was true.
Let me ask my readers if they think that Wilentz' article should be taken seriously? After all, here is an historian--supposedly reputable--who is assessing the history of the Bush Administration before his term of office is even over. And before there can be any historical perspective on the monumental changes Bush unleashed in American foreign policy; and specifically in the Middle East.
This seems to me just another attempt to manipulate "history" --or what people think is history--by distorting the present reality so that is conforms with your preset notions. It smacks of a desperate need to hold onto outdated ideas and policies that never worked to begin with; but which are looked at longingly because change is difficult to deal with.
All you need to do is keep in mind that many people like Wilentz said pretty much the same thing about Ronald Reagan while he was in office, then changed their tune within a few years when the consequences of his policies bore fruit internationally.
I'm willing to wait for history's judgment on Bush. He's not finished yet. But a lot of people are trying to do him in.
Remember the bit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail?
The Dead Collector: Bring out yer dead.
[a man puts a body on the cart]
Large Man with Dead Body: Here's one.
The Dead Collector: That'll be ninepence.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm not dead.
The Dead Collector: What?
Large Man with Dead Body: Nothing. There's your ninepence.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm not dead.
The Dead Collector: 'Ere, he says he's not dead.
Large Man with Dead Body: Yes he is.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm not.
The Dead Collector: He isn't.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm getting better.
Large Man with Dead Body: No you're not, you'll be stone dead in a moment.
The Dead Collector: Well, I can't take him like that. It's against regulations.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I don't want to go on the cart.
Large Man with Dead Body: Oh, don't be such a baby.
The Dead Collector: I can't take him.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I feel fine.
Large Man with Dead Body: Oh, do me a favor.
The Dead Collector: I can't.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, can you hang around for a couple of minutes? He won't be long.
The Dead Collector: I promised I'd be at the Robinsons'. They've lost nine today.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, when's your next round?
The Dead Collector: Thursday.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I think I'll go for a walk.
Large Man with Dead Body: You're not fooling anyone, you know. Isn't there anything you could do?
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I feel happy. I feel happy.
[the Dead Collector glances up and down the street furtively, then silences the Body with his a whack of his club]
Large Man with Dead Body: Ah, thank you very much.
The Dead Collector: Not at all. See you on Thursday.
Large Man with Dead Body: Right.
With a whack of his club, the noted historian makes a desperate attempt to silence uncomfortable reality.