Whos going to provide the endless fodder for their colums or newscasts? Can they somehow find something (anything) about the incoming administration that could possibly compare to the horror of the last eight yrs. Will bumbling attempts by the Bill O'reilly's, Laura Ingrahms and Oxycotlin Limbaugh to somehow link Obama's ears to the evil that has appeared?
Can they link the Democratic Senate to the re-establishment of the Constitution over the Bible?
When George W. Bush was first elected president of the United States eight years ago, many thoughtful people took a deep breath and braced themselves for the worst. Bush did not disappoint. His presidency has been a catastrophe from almost every imaginable perspective.
This would be primarily an internal American affair if the United States were not the world's most influential political, economic, cultural and environmental power. And in a world that is becoming increasingly international and complex, Bush's simplistic and rigidly narrow ideological perspectives have been in conflict with the diverse and interconnected character of the global community.
Some of his failures have been obvious. His aloof and independent arrogance squandered international sympathy and support following the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. His incompleted military project in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban and al-Qaeda seeded a legacy of escalating political and military turmoil in the area. His unjustified and illegal invasion of Iraq - Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks - created a cause for terrorists, heated the historical tensions between Shiites and Sunnis, and set in motion a series of Middle East crises that continue to ripple throughout the region. And finally, his encouragement of a deregulated free-market economy in the United States has collapsed his own country's financial institutions, while setting in motion an international contagion that has damaged many others around the world and precipitated a world-wide recession of arguably unprecedented magnitude. And these are just the obvious consequences of his legacy.
was Bush's withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001, a decision that has raised global military tensions and encouraged the development of missile and nuclear weapons in Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. Bush's aggressive political and military stance in Central Europe has angered and isolated Russia, making it a much less cooperative member of the world community.
He has violated the Geneva Convention on torture and treatment of enemy prisoners. Against a tide of some 120 nations, he has refused to sign a world-wide ban on land mines and cluster bombs. And he has declined to join the International Criminal Court, a judicial body that could help bring some modicum of civility to global affairs by prosecuting individuals for crimes against humanity.
And then there's the environment. Bush has been an obstructionist on almost every conceivable environmental issue - within the United States and elsewhere. After negotiated concessions by the Clinton Administration handicapped the principle objectives of the Kyoto Protocol to slow global warming by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, Bush withdrew from the agreement, further crippling an international effort that had hoped to address the critical matter of global climate change.
Within his own country, Bush and his senior adminstration have been accused of suppressing, distorting and diluting warnings from the country's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a wide range of environmental issues. Or, as the Guardian Weekly reported (May 2-8/0, "of meddling with scientific findings on climate change, toxic chemicals and power plant regulations, among many other things."
These "many other things" included a US Supreme Court challenge against intentions by the EPA to classify carbon dioxide as a potentially toxic gas - the high court ruled that the gas could be toxic and its emissions were subject to regulation. Bush also subverted efforts to make the US auto industry more fuel efficient and less polluting by preventing states such as California from setting their own tailpipe emission standards. Even after court decisions supported the states, Bush officials still blocked the imposition of tougher standards.
California's governor referred to Bush's move as "insidious" (Ibid.). And an editorial in the Los Angeles Times condemned the move as "a backdoor attempt to thwart the will of the state, Congress, the federal courts and possibly even the supreme court" (Ibid.).
One of Bush's few environmental initiatives was the mandating of ethanol as a required fuel additive to gasoline. But the corn-based biofuel project provides huge subsidies to politically supportive farmers, could cause a net increase in carbon dioxide emissions, draws critical food sources from a tight global supply, and is responsible for causing food shortages, crippling costs and starvation in poor countries.
Jeffrey Sachs, an American and one of the world's most celebrated economists, recently offered his opinion of the Bush years. "To put it crudely, you can't just solve these [complex global] problems with a populist speech based on a gut instinct coming from some religious belief. We just had a President who wasted eight years on every one of these issues.
Wasted them for the whole world, not just for the US. It is because he is an ignoramus actually!" (Globe & Mail, Sept. 13/0.
Ignoramus or not, George W. Bush is responsible for some beneficial effects. As an anachronism, he has shown by example how not to think and what not to do.
As a result, he has created a huge undercurrent of environmental energy in the US that is straining for release. He has vividly demonstrated the failings of an unsupervised free market economic system. And he has set the dark mood for heralding a sea-change in American politics.
History will decide if Barack Obama is the saviour that Americans - and the world - await. Perhaps expectations are unrealistically high. But, for the moment, this new president is offering the hope that is so desperately needed