This is a series of essays, "The End of the Bush Era." It is a list of what I believe are the most prominent successes and failures of this prolific politician who, for better or ill, is going to become an indelible part of history.
I still remember when George W. Bush got elected president in 2000. There was a big hullabaloo around the Florida recount that I didn't pay much attention to (I was only 16!), but we were just waiting for when he would win. This is no big secret: Bush got the Muslim backing in 2000.
Al Gore was drab, uncharismatic, indistinguishable from Bush, and represented the status quo, and his pick of Joe Lieberman for Vice President didn't sit well with Muslims, who, for better or ill, saw in Mr. Lieberman someone who may not bode well for Middle East peace, being a Jew.
"Our candidate" won in 2000, so we got our way. Christian conservatism has a lot in common with Muslim conservatism, so socially, we swing generally the same way. The backing for John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008 by the Muslims is largely because we've decided gay marriage is a far less significant issue than say, prisoner abuse, or illegal invasion.
Bush very quickly lost Muslim and (for slightly different reasons) other Americans' backing, and I remember in 2004, there was a campaign out called "ABB." Anybody But Bush. Not really a clear endorsement of John Kerry who was on the Democratic ticket, but representative of how quickly and deeply his support evaporated.
I was in university at the time, in Singapore, and I watched the elections very closely. I was working for the school paper at the time, so me and a friend of mine arranged for a non-scientific poll: we approached people at the bus stops in NUS and asked them questions about the election. Most people didn't really care about the elections, thinking they're untouched by them.
How wrong they were. Bush got the popular vote that year, and set the world on a course to further disaster.
The American elections affects everyone. They are the world's largest economy by far, and they are truly a superpower. This is both hard power (military) and soft power (economic and diplomatic). They are also a source of innovation and (despite what may have happened these past 8 years), I still believe, generally a source of good in the world.
Most of the game-changing innovations come from the United States, and they still take the majority of Nobel Prizes in the sciences. As recently as last year, they dominated the Nobel Prizes, bagging the awards for Economics, Chemistry and Physics.
It's American companies like Microsoft, Apple and IBM that fuelled the IT revolution which has created millions of jobs and incomes worldwide, and it's an American company that has made the first fully viable electric car. We use American ingenuity and know-how in every facet of our lives today.
Let's be fair: the world rides on America's innovative coat tails.
If the Nazis won in World War 2, or Soviet Russia during the Cold War, we'd be in a very different world, and, I think, not a better one.
The fact that I even have to consider what the world would be like had the Nazis or the Soviets won is indicative of how badly the past 8 years under George W. Bush has been. The world is left reeling from failure after failure after failure of the Bush administration, and we're soul-searching. What just happened? How did it come to this?
How can one man be so brazenly incompetent, yet so enduringly popular among his people, and manage to remain in power so long, and do so much damage?
Far better politicians have failed for far fewer and graver faults.
What follows is a series of posts on all the things I believe Bush did right, and all the things I believe he did wrong. One of these lists, I get the feeling, is going to be longer than the other.
Other articles in this series: