Ask Auntie Pinko
Dear Auntie Pinko,
I am very young and have not paid any attention to politics
at all until about a year ago. Now I read and watch a lot more.
I have become a solid Democrat.
Anyway, I have heard a lot of hatred and disgust of Bush not
only from Democratic websites like these, but also among normal,
everyday, people who really aren't into politics. The whole world
community hates Bush with a passion.
My question is, has any other president been treated like this
before? Were any previous administrations hated so much that people
say that they are a threat to the world and civilization as we know
it? While I agree with this statement, has any president been told
this, or is Bush the only one? How bad is he compared to the 42
other men in his position over the entire history of this country?
Lee's Summit, MO
That's a lot of questions, and they have a lot of answers. But
I'm very glad to hear that you've begun paying attention to politics,
and that this has resulted in your identification with the Democratic
Party. We need all the young people who are 'paying attention' that
we can get!
First question: Have any other presidents been treated like this?
To begin with, it helps to realize that when you're actually living
through a series of events, you have a very different perspective
on them than you have twenty or thirty years later, or than historians
conclude eventually. A great many American Presidents have in their
day endured firestorms of criticism, both domestically and in world
opinion. Even in our own time, we needn't look far for similar examples
of relentless negativity and disapproval on the domestic front:
Mr. Clinton's years in office provide a vivid comparison. Like Mr.
Bush, he was incapable of doing anything decent, moral, correct,
or productive, at least to a substantial and vocal segment of the
In their times, Mr. Carter, Mr. Nixon, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Truman,
Mr. Franklin Roosevelt, Mr. Hoover, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Harding, Mr.
Grant, Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Jackson, and even some of our "Founding
Father" Presidents were subjected to withering public criticism,
both at home and abroad. It's a venerable public tradition. Still,
even without the perspective of a couple of decades to look back
through, I would have to say that I am unaware of any President
in the last century who has incited as much profound, widespread,
and freely-expressed dislike in the world community as Mr. Bush.
The charge of being a "threat to civilization as we know it" is
also nothing new. Even during Auntie's own lifetime, this charge
has been laid at the door of a number of Presidents, especially
as humanity developed the capability to annihilate ourselves with
weapons of mass destruction.
The comparison of Mr. Bush with his 42 predecessors is an entirely
subjective judgment that each individual must make for himself or
herself. History cannot form a consensus until considerably more
time has passed - and even then, one person's historical verdict
is another's smear job or canonization. In Auntie's own opinion
- for what that is worth - Mr. Bush is certainly a strong contender
for the "Worst President" accolade, if only for the terrible financial
and foreign policy disasters he's leaving for future generations
to clean up. But even trying to be as analytical and rational as
I can about it, that is still a subjective judgment.
I'm certain that many people have drawn Mr. Bush's attention to
the various criticisms being leveled at him. But it is paradoxically
a characteristic of both a very poor leader and a very good leader,
to carry through what he sincerely believes is the best course of
action regardless of public criticism. We would not necessarily
be better off with a President who changed their policies every
time a storm of public disapprobation was expressed.
With all of that said, I still believe that someday the judgment
of history is going reflect very poorly on Mr. Bush. But that judgment
is not going to rely on how much or how little criticism he receives
today. Rather, it's going to rely on how the policies he implemented
and the decisions he made can be traced to the shape of future events,
and whether they leave a better world for future generations, or
Keep reading and watching, Cameron. But take opinions for what
they are, and use your critical thinking skills to identify facts
and form your own judgments about them. I'm confident that will
keep you voting Democratic for a long time! And thanks for asking
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