By Bob Cesca: Yes, I get it. Among the children of Barbara and George H.W. Bush, Jeb Bush is considered the “smart and reasonable” one. But that’s sort of like saying, Lotsa’ hammers in that tool box, but this hammer doesn’t hurt as much when you bash it into my skull.
Make no mistake. When challenged, Jeb Bush is capable of being as petty and nearsighted as just about any Republican you can name. He might do it with a smile on his face, but as the famous Shakespeare quote goes (say it with me), “That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.”
On Meet the Press yesterday, Jeb insisted that President Obama should stop blaming his brother, George W., for the condition of things, “I think it is time for him to move on. I mean — look, the guy was dealt a difficult hand, no question about it. But he’s had three years. His policies have failed, and rather than blame others — which I know we were taught that that was kind of unbecoming over time — you just can’t keep doing that. Maybe offer some fresh new solutions to the problems that we face.”
Totally smart and reasonable, yes?
This is typical Republican behavior with overtones of the “starve the beast” strategy. Typically, the Republicans set a nasty table filled with disasters, and then, when the new guy comes along, they blame the new guy for their own disasters. When the new guy defends himself by saying the previous guy set a nasty table filled with disasters, people like Jeb Bush and the others bark at the new guy, telling him to stop playing the blame game. It’s a no-win for the new guy.
Specifically, the Bush team rocketed through eight years of unchecked spending on trillion dollar wars, trillion dollar tax cuts, corporate bailouts and continued deregulation — it was responsible for the final measures that precipitated a massive recession that further bloated the deficit and debt. They did all of this knowing full well that when the bill came due, they’d be long gone. And, bonus, if the new guy was a Democrat, Barack Obama, they could just blame the him for the deficit, the debt and the nightmarish economic collapse. Furthermore, the Obama team would become handcuffed and unable to totally resolve the problem due to all of the spending/deficits/debt that occured under the Bush administration, thus sabotaging the Obama policies and agenda. The “starve the beast” strategy.
When the Obama team rightfully points out that, for example, it inherited a $1.2 trillion deficit for fiscal year 2009 based on spending requests from the Bush White House, Republicans either deny the reality of how the budget process works, like hack liar Dinesh D’Sousa did with Cenk Uygur the other day, or they wave their open hands in our faces and say, “Baaaah! Blame game! Bush derangement syndrome! Not listening!”
But it’s an empirical fact that the current deficits and debt are a direct result of Bush era policies. It’s an empirical fact that in spite of what ought to be done about the recession and recovery — massive government spending over and above the March 2009 stimulus — the Obama White House has actually presided over the lowest year-over-year increase in government spending of any modern president going all the way back to Eisenhower. The Obama White House has also presided over an (inexplicable) reduction in government employees, while Bush 43 and other presidents were responsible for considerable increases in public sector jobs. The deficit under President Obama has slowly been reduced following the massive deficit he inherited in 2009, and every spending bill he signs is required to be fully paid-for due to “paygo” rules he authorized.
Meanwhile, contrary to the myths floating around in both conservative and liberal circles, this president made history by, yes, rescuing the world economy from a second Great Depression. I’ve written this many times before, but it can’t be stated often enough or with enough emphasis. He rescued the economy from a second Great Depression that could have crushed U.S. and other western nations. Since his policies took effect, the GDP is growing again. The Dow has nearly doubled. The economy is creating jobs. And, ultimately, we’re all still kicking around in a relatively stable nation (compared to what could have happened under, say, John McCain and Sarah Palin).
So when the Republicans shout and screech and their eyes bug out of their tiny heads about the deficit, the debt and “failed policies,” it’s perfectly reasonable and understandable that the president would want to correct the record. Jeb Bush, in particular, seems to think the unmitigated shithole that President Obama inherited can and should’ve been resolved in three years. It’s just that easy to — POOF! — obliterate record deficits, debt and economic disasters, especially when those three things can’t necessarily happen at the same time. You can’t cut the deficit to zero in a slow growth recovery following the deepest recession since Depression. As for the debt, the only president who cut the debt in the last 30 years was Bill Clinton, and it was during an incredible economic boom. Nevertheless, how else is President Obama supposed to respond to these charges? Should he accept the blame for something that’s not his fault? Not a chance. And should he accept the blame for not entirely rolling back the deficits and debt, not to mention the status of the economy, to 1999 in three years even though it took 10 years to get here? That’s a totally unrealistic and unfair expectation.
But the Republicans aren’t fair players. They’re liars and superficial marketing gurus who can come up with zingers that fit conveniently onto bumper stickers, but they’re nowhere near capable of debating empirical reality and accepting rational explanations for our current state of affairs.