It's over. Really, it's over.
Numerous times over the past eight years I have discussed the concept of "Outrage Fatigue," the Bush administration's purposeful effort to bury the nation under such an avalanche of cronyism, malfeasance, deception, disregard for the rule of law, and brazenly stacked bullshit that we would simply accept it as the natural state of affairs. Previous presidents found out the hard way that a scandal can cripple an administration. Bush's lasting contribution to the presidency was the discovery that, as animals herd together so that predators cannot target any single member, piling 1001 scandals on top of one another negates the damage any one could cause.
I tried to get up the nerve for a retrospecticus of two terms of this administration of nitwits and thugs. Suffice it to say that like the rest of the nation I am simply sick to death of George W. Bush and everyone associated with him. Once again I think back to the words of the famous epilogue to the Lincoln assassination once the conspirators were executed. The Evening Star noted, "In the bright sunlight of this summer day the wretched criminals have been hurried into eternity…We want to know their names no more." That is the entirety of what Americans want from this administration, this (now ex-) president: to go away. Go away and never be heard from or seen again. Get out of our sight while we attempt to put band-aids on the gaping wounds left by eight years of willful negligence and thundering incompetence. We never want to look at any of the Bush inner circle again unless they are seated next to a team of defense attorneys and attempting in vain to testify for their legal freedom.
In lieu of a retrospective I tried to think of the quintessential Bush moment, the single image or anecdote which can be used decades from now to summarize the experience of living in Bush's America. That is a tall order. Eight years is a long time. I dare you to think over those years and try to remember every disaster, scandal, and legal subterfuge wrought by this administration. No single example can encapsulate everything that happened, but I humbly submit the following as the quintessential Bush Presidency moment: the testimony of Alberto Gonzales, Monica Goodling, and Sara Taylor in the DoJ scandal. That scandal itself is unlikely to be historically relevant, but that testimony…holy shit.
What better sums up the past eight years than Sara Taylor, who went from VP of the College Republicans to White House Political Director in the span of 3 months, testifying about her oath of loyalty to the President? Who better represents the kind of people Bush appointed to run the most powerful nation on Earth than Monica Goodling, the vacuous, unqualified hack from Pat Robertson University whose deer-in-headlights testimony looks more like an SNL skit than historical reality? But if I have to pick one single moment it has to be Alberto Gonzales with that idiotic oops-I-shit-my-pants smirk on his face testifying about all of the things he didn't recall (hint: everything)
I don't really have to stick to a single example, do I? Because the time he denied that the Constitution grants the right of habeas corpus (nearly blowing Arlen Specter's jowls off in the process) is pretty awesome too:
This sole example doesn't provide substantive information about everything that went to hell over 2,922 days, but when I need to show my kids (or more realistically my students) the five minute version of 2000-2008 I will use these videos and say, "These are the kind of people who were in control of the largest and most powerful government in the history of the world." And that, as improbable as it may seem, says it all.
(chime in if you think there's a better Bush-in-nutshell moment)