by Gaius Marcius
Like many Americans who eagerly awaited Barack Obama’s exit from public office, I was prepared for Obama’s comments, statements, and speeches to continue plaguing the airwaves, but the stage-managed personas of former presidents are not so easy to predict. Obama has thus far remained surprisingly quiet, and Jimmy Carter, normally a fountain of laughable opinions, is seemingly going a bit soft on Trump, so the anti-Trump establishment has called on the unlikely orator George W. Bush to praise globalism and condemn nationalism.
George W. Bush left office with low approval ratings and a reputation as a bumbling public speaker. Millennials probably know more about Bush’s verbal gaffes from Youtube clips than they do about the actual policies of his administration. The media are glad that everyone has already forgotten the awful content of Bush’s speeches, because they can now rehabilitate Bush’s reputation merely by depicting him as an articulate elder statesman and giving him a bit of positive press. For a talk-radio Republican, the idea of Ellen Degeneres and Matt Lauer fawning over Bush might seem inexplicable; just remember that the Left-Right partisan divide is a show put on for the masses, but all of the elites are on the same team. The shift in Democratic opinion of Bush is a great example of the left wing base being led by the nose to whatever conclusion is most convenient for their political masters at the moment.
If we refuse to accept the media narrative and judge Bush using his own words, we will see that the same inept pandering to deadly multiculturalism and ineffective civic nationalism that has characterized Republicans for decades was present from the very beginning of Bush’s 2000 campaign. The Bush presidency may eventually be seen as the final straw that caused the GOP base to abandon cuckservatives and embrace populist nationalism.
Nationalism is a great present danger to the political elite, so naturally Bush equates nationalism with bigotry and White supremacy and then condemns these in religious terms as “blasphemy” against the American “creed” that is available for all races. As usual, there is one special exception to the global rule of pluralism, one tiny country where supremacy and nationalism are the natural rights of the citizens.
Bush is careful not to attack Trump by name, but everyone understands the implied target of his current speeches. One could almost believe that Bush is merely lashing out against the man who defeated and embarrassed his brother Jeb!™. However, even in the 2000 campaign Bush sounded an ominous note when asked about racial profiling and hate crimes. He bragged about the men about to be executed because of Texas’s hate crime law and opined that the government needed to “find and deal with” intolerant Americans.
Candidate Bush in 2000 was an articulate and skillful political operator, difficult as that is to believe today. Bush expressed the right liberal platitudes on civil rights, but he also knew how to pander to the conservative base without ever encouraging real White identity. When questioned about his personal opinion of the Confederate flag in a South Carolina primary debate, Bush never defended Southern heritage at all; he totally ignored the question and deployed a soundbite-ready state’s rights line over and over again. Just for the sake of contrast, consider how Trump talked to the voters of South Carolina, where George W. Bush still enjoyed high approval ratings in 2016.
Bush’s concern for the experiences of America’s minorities did not end with civil rights and racial profiling. Bush was also prepared to use taxpayer’s money and the resources of the federal government to actively improve the economic conditions and net worth of low-income minorities. They made a movie about how that turned out.
The domestic disasters of Bush’s presidency were overshadowed by foreign policy beginning on September 11, 2001. Despite his warmongering reputation in the press, Bush was keen to prevent Americans from realizing the real nature of Islam and its threat to the West, and his personal judgement of world leaders and world affairs was not as shrewd as recent interviews would make it seem. Bush’s vision for an Americanized Middle East was exactly the kind of all-consuming globalism that inspired radical Muslims to fight us at every turn, and it was through a decade of war for this grandiose scheme that the Americans who voted for Trump in 2016 actually learned to mistrust interventionist foreign policy.
George W. Bush deserves some credit for inspiring the Alt Right. Admittedly, he inspired us by exhibiting all the traits and championing all the policies we wish to avoid, but that is an accomplishment nonetheless. If millions of veterans, blue collar workers, and Millennials were persuaded to abandon the GOP establishment due to Bush’s missteps, there may still be hope for a new, nationalist political paradigm. No one in 2000 could see the deep potential in Bush’s presidency. Giving a few pluralistic speeches is not going to be enough to obscure the Bush legacy of collapsing the neo-liberal consensus and ushering in a new age of identity politics.