I Guess We Need to Say It Again: George W. Bush Was the Worst
above: Look at this colossal fucking piece of shit. Photo via Rex USA
Americans get stereotyped as stupid, but I think it’s unfair to call us ignorant, exactly—the problem is that we, as a nation, have a short memory. Sometimes this constant state of collective amnesia serves us well, allowing the country to move on from tragedy and put out of our minds the failures and injustices of, but sometimes it results in 47 percent of Americans say that they approve of George W. Bush. That’s according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC in advance of the opening of his new presidential library, which opened today and seems devoted to telling visitors, “Sure, Dubya started wars, condoned torture, dug the country deeper into debt, and watched as terrorists launched the most successful attack on US soil ever, but it was really, really hard to be president, you guys. Would you have done any better? Thought not, asshole.” Even if that 47 percent number is too high, it’s clear that a majority of Republicans still think he did a pretty good job
That’s a fucking disgrace, y’all.
I guess we have to issue a disclaimer: any look back on an ex-president’s record is going to be tinged with ideology and personal beliefs—conservatives really hate Woodrow Wilson, for reasons Glenn Beck can explain to you; liberals despise Ronald Reagan, who’s practically a saint in Republican circles. And parts of Dubya’s legacy are open for debate. You can have wonkish arguments over the pros and cons of Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit he signed into law; you can scoff, as Ron Paul has, at Bush’s expansion of foreign aid or you can note how much good he did Africa. But the big-ticket stuff, the important things he did and didn’t do when he was the most powerful elected official in the world, were all pretty much uniformly awful.
Start with the Bush tax cuts, which were enacted thanks to the GOP’s pathological hatred for taxes and the surplus the government was running at the time. They jacked up the deficit while mostly giving money back to rich people, but the real trick was setting them up to expire in 2010—when, the people pushing the cuts must have known, allowing them to do so would have been the same as raising taxes, which is political poison in America. (Sure enough, after a hideous fight on the edge of the “fiscal cliff,” most of the cuts are permanent.)
Republicans Don’t Have a Ton of Empathy for Strangers
Something inevitable happened. The Senate voted down that bipartisan plan to expand background checks for guns. And, if you take the action-packed headline of the NY Daily News as any indication, Obama is so “furious” about it that he is publicly “slamming” the Senate. Read further: Joe Biden is “on the brink of tears.” This is some dramatic stuff!
This bill was conceived in response to the mass shooting of twenty children in Newtown, Connecticut. Obama of all people should understand that even 20,000 dead children wouldn’t make a difference to the hard-liners. That is, not unless it were their 20,000 kids. Put another way, gun control in America isn’t happening unless a) Republicans learn to spawn thousands of young at a time, like fish, and b) all their Fishpublican-spawn babies are killed with guns. These conditions are both necessary and sufficient.
I’m not saying that Republicans are monsters. I’m not even saying they don’t care about other people’s kids. They probably don’t, but that’s beside the point. The point is, right-wingers of all stripes, from the feisty libertarian to the noble Santorumite, are incapable of learning from the experiences of others. They just can’t help it. Need some examples? Right this way, friends.
“God hates fa—whoa, never mind”
Last month, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced his support of equal marriage rights. Portman said in a statement, and I’m paraphrasing here, that grown-ups who are in love should be allowed to do what they want. He sounds like a pretty chill guy, right? Let’s Google him and have a look at his stellar record on LGBT rights, then. OK, now that we’ve finished doing that, let’s brush the rage-vomit off our keyboards and try to make sense of it all.
In 2011, Portman went on an antigay tirade during his commencement address at the University of Michigan law school. Instead of reading Dr. Seuss and telling those kids to wear sunscreen, this guy boldly subverted audience expectations by ranting about homosexuality for no clear reason. About a hundred law grads walked out on their own graduation ceremony in protest.
So, why the change of heart? Naturally, it’s because Portman learned his son is gay. Portman just wants his kid to have a good life, you see. That’s great and all, very touching, but don’t forget: back in Portman’s salad days of homophobia, he knew about people like his son. He just didn’t give a shit about them.
Jewish Republicans Actually Exist in California
It was on November 6 at 10 PM that my internal air raid sirens were silenced. Mitt Romney was (figuratively) dead, and the White House was safely back in the Barack’s big hands, having mercifully euthanized the deranged exhibition that was the Republicans’ latest Great White Hope. My parents reacted to the news the same way as when they heard about 9/11; abject horror and panicked phone calls to somebody on the other side of the country. Mom sat in front of the TV, glaring at me in contempt, my dad called me a communist and shouted shit like, “If we wanted to live in the Soviet Union, we would have never left!”
But it’s not as if I was parading my shit all over the place, popping champagne and pulling my nuts out. The emotional impact of another Obama victory really threw mom, dad, and the remaining fragments of the Tea Party into a frenzied depression. You could hear it in Karl Rove that night, but what the hell do my parents have in common with Karl Rove? Where did the Tea Party even find my family? They’re a bunch of ex-Soviet immigrant Jews, all with master’s degrees and PhDs. Their lives are teaching, theater directing, science, painting; hell, one of them is a goddamn yoga instructor and animator. They all live in Ca-lib-forina for Christ’s sake.
My own politics are based entirely on getting high, preferably in India, preferably with Jack White, which makes me the liberal black sheep of the family. I’m the recipient of endless chain emails all titled roughly “MAYBE THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR MIND!!1!1?!!” about Obama eating the wrong end of a hot dog first and pissing on an American flag made of money. I decided to sit down with my family to figure it out while I was in Los Angeles for Passover.
Naturally, I asked to have an actual tea party.
PART 1: “THIS IS SOME GOOD TEA”
VICE: What kind of tea is this?
Mom: Ceylon, it’s my favorite.
Have you been a member of the Tea Party since its inception in 2008/2009?
Dad: Yes, when they first started protesting Obama.
Have you heard of the Boston Tea Party from 1773?
Mom: They explained it on TV when the party was just getting popular but I don’t remember.
Dad: I don’t know what that is.
OK, give me a word or two on these people:
Glenn Beck: honest and strong, Rush Limbaugh: intelligent, Michelle Bachman: conscientious and a decent human being, Bill O’Reilly: snob, Jon Stewart: dishonest but funny, Mitt Romney: very respectable, Bill Clinton: liar, Obama: self-centered, Sarah Palin: fearless, Karl Rove: dislikeable, Joseph Stalin: … murderer
I Partied with Young Republicans at CPAC
The Conservative Political Action Conference is an annual event where prominent right-wingers get together and plot ways to start new wars and keep your wieners out of other dudes’ buttholes. It’s a fantastic time, especially during the after-hours because there is often free booze and all the Republicans are looking to let loose.
This year’s CPAC was at the Gaylord, which is a Convention Center that sits right on the Potomac River in Maryland and has a hotel and restaurants and a park inside of it. The Gaylord is a strange place. It is kind of like Disneyland or one of those fake model neighborhoods that are built for nuclear test sites.
Hanging out at CPAC for the past three days made me realize the GOP is in a weird place right now with a bunch of different factions going at each other’s throats. I’m not so into the old school Willie Horton dog whistling side or the hyper religious Bible thumpers. I do, however, find the Libertarian movement that is happening among the younger Republicans pretty compelling, if only because they are into legalizing dope. Considering that, I figured they were the best crowd to hang with on a night out. So on Friday—after a long day of hearing about God, guns, and gays—I followed a few of the cool young liberty dudes into this big ass dancehall inside the convention center.
The first thing I noticed when I stepped into the spot was that the people had shit allover their faces. It was pretty peculiar, but at least it wasn’t blackface. I stopped this guy to figure out what the hell was going on. But he was pretty short on words because he was playing like a zombie, which is mad annoying when you are trying to ask a question. Then he started waving his weird black clicker thing in my face. I guess it’s some kind of speed networking device. He wanted his thing to touch mine, but I didn’t have one. Sorry dude.
These people were jumping up and down in front of a TV screen. You could tell that a lot of couples were hooking up, so I just figured this was some kind of peculiar conservative mating dance.
CPAC’s Blackfacing of Bad Ideas
The Conservative Political Action Conference is the annual king-making and agenda-setting conference for the far right. It was started by American Conservative Union in 1973, with Ronald Regan as one of its first speakers. This year, it takes place at Gaylord Convention Center (heh) in Maryland. We sent Wilbert there to see what all the fuss was about.
My first few hours at CPAC felt a little like being at New York Fashion Week—white people everywhere were asking to take my picture. Even though I’m partial to Mars Blackmon’s explanation for everything, I don’t think it was my shoes. But it may have been the color of my skin.
When I told a tall southerner wearing a pinstripe suit and a wide novelty tie who asked to take my picture this morning, that I wasn’t at CPAC because I loved fracking, free markets, and Jesus and that I was there to report for a magazine, the gentleman looked a little disappointed. He stuck out his bottom lip and then off he went, looking for the next one I guess, which is a pretty tough bid considering most of the blacks at Gaylord Convention Center this week are working as valet parkers. Despite the talk of creating a “bigger tent” for conservativism after Obama whooped the GOP’s collective ass in the last presidential election, I haven’t seen a many black folks actually running around the conference. But can you blame my brothers? Who wants hear that their vote was bought by Obama due to their race-based laziness? Black dudes should, however, come to CPAC for the white women. It’s probably got something to do with the conservative red-meat diet, cause these girls have way more junk in the trunk than your average kale-chomping liberal.
Despite the absence of blacks in the audience, I’ve already seen a ton of brothers on the main stage. Clearly, even though the movement is fairly monochromatic, conservatives want to highlight their diversity and reassure everyone (and maybe themselves) that they aren’t racist—which is probably why everyone and his momma wants a photo op with me. In the first couple hours of the conference, they had a black dude say the pledge of allegiance and Allen West was the first prominent politician to give a speech.
All Politicians Should Talk As Much As Rand Paul Just Did
Yesterday was one of those rare days when you could feel good about something that happened in Congress: Rand Paul stood up just before noon, started talking about drones, and didn’t stop for 13 hours. The point of Paul’s filibuster was to delay the appointment of drone-policy architect John Brennan as the new CIA director and to draw attention to Attorney General Eric Holder’s refusal to categorically rule out drone strikes on US soil, in response to a letter Paul wrote. There was no real hope of stopping Brennan’s appointment in the beginning, but as the afternoon turned into night, some mainstream Republicans voiced their support (like Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell), and there’s now a chance that Brennan won’t get confirmed so easily, or at least not until Obama comes out and says, “We’re not going to use drones to kill Americans in America. That’s ridiculous.” The impressive thing about Paul’s effort, though, was that someone spoke in public passionately and at length about something he believes in, which is a pretty rare sight in politics.
There are tons of filibusters in the Senate, but very few are Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-style oratorical workouts. Thanks to rule changes adopted back in the 60s, it’s enough for a senator to announce that he or she is filibustering a bill, and the chamber will move along to something else unless 60 senators vote to overrule. A few months ago, there were various reforms proposed to change this obstructionist state of affairs—one idea, from Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, would have forced filibuster-happy legislators to do exactly what Paul did yesterday and literally stand up for what they believe in. But those efforts fell apart, since apparently senators are big fans of being able to quietly stall the progress of bills they don’t like. (The Senate is not a great place to get things done.)
Can Ashley Judd Save America?
Mitch McConnell is what’s wrong with America. I don’t mean that if the Kentuckian weren’t the Senate Minority Leader and the most powerful Republican in Congress, we wouldn’t have AIDS or prison or people who aspire to be “the crazy one” on a reality TV show, but McConnell has devoted his considerable talents to making government less functional and politics more partisan. He’s a gray-faced manipulator who travels from backroom to backroom, making sure he gets his way—and most of the time, “getting his way” means “stopping government from functioning, so Barack Obama can’t claim credit for any accomplishments.”
The best summation of McConnell’s “achievements” is in this Atlantic profile from two years ago, where he’s described like so: “McConnell has always been a Republican, though not the kind for whom ideology holds any great importance. What he believes in is winning.” In other words, he’s odious not because of any views he holds, but because he holds none at all. Some highlights from his career:
-Opposing campaign finance reform, even when there were bipartisan calls to do something about the corrupting infusion of cash into elections.
-In 1994, being the first person ever to use a filibuster to stop a bill from being referred to a House-Senate committee, which would negotiate a final version of the bill (a routine practice).
-Saying to the press, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president”—in other words, not passing laws or reforming government waste. All he wanted was to win an election, years down the road.
What Are Republicans For?
Not that long ago—it was last year, though it feels like a lifetime ago—I wrote a column that could have made my reputation, and almost began to, but instead it made me sick. It was called “What Are Women For?”, and though it might have seemed like something a pundit had spent a night at a desk assembling out of notes and bookmarks and tabs, I actually wrote it in about 30 minutes at a coffee shop. I was more or less unemployed, I was wondering how long I could last in that state, and I had a deadline I wanted to hit.
When the column was published, I received an avalanche of criticism from outraged, irritated women and liberals, and the conservative establishment didn’t offer a peep in my defense. Rather than embracing my role as the bro version of Ann Coulter and try for a maybe-lucrative career as a conservative pundit, as the angry little controversy gave me a chance to do, I wanted to go back in time and arrange that the whole thing never happened.
On the one hand, politics, like gossip, is the art of talking about strangers. You goad people you don’t know into having a reaction, and, as a rule, the intensity of that reaction translates into success. On the other hand, as I suddenly realized, there’s very little joy in spontaneously inspiring real people you’ve never met to despise you, as if a piece of writing you produced was not just something with your name on it, but was actually you.
And sure enough, as I came to realize more slowly, when you publish things online and live most of your professional life on social media, what you write really is the closest approximation of you that almost anyone on earth can access.
“This might be a good time for Republicans to redouble their commitment to the reality-based community.” - David Brooks, NY Times, 11/7/12
Greetings! In light of this week’s election, your local GOP committee is sending out this quiz to gauge our party’s commitment to reality. As a registered Republican, your input is crucial to determining future party direction. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers!
A. THE LATINO VOTE…
1: Is something we’ll need to earn in the next election cycle.
2: Is a fad.
3: Wouldn’t be an issue if Eisenhower had built that wall.
4: Is an anagram for “Vain Tootle.” Case closed.
B. REPUBLICANS LOST WOMEN VOTERS BECAUSE…
1: The GOP talked about rape too much.
2: The GOP didn’t talk about rape enough.
3: The GOP forgot to rewrite the Wikipedia entry for the 19th amendment.
4: They just kept shrieking and shrieking.
C. THE TEA PARTY…
1: Limited the options of Republican candidates.
2: Should be honored for their pep and zing.
3: Will have to work like the A-Team now that the Constitution has been suspended.
4: Actually won a majority in both things of Congress. Media? Hello??
D. HURRICANE SANDY WAS…
1: A national tragedy best kept out of politics.
2: A convenient showcase for hyping big government.
3: Known about for months, or years, in advance.
4: A good use of CGI. Not great. But good.
What Sort of Person Hates Obama?
Congrats to Obama! But before you start planning your Obamarama dinner party, take a moment to consider the forgotten and distressed. Although in your bubble of liberalism you might think that everyone would be thrilled about America’s gradual progression towards a political system which might actually do something right someday, in fact large swathes of America are furious about it.
It doesn’t seem right, after such a win for democracy and liberalism, to mock those less fortunate than ourselves, so I’ve compiled a selection of tweets that can help us to empathize with Republicans everywhere, as well as to answer the question: What sort of person hates Barack Obama?
- Time off school
- Louis Vuitton trainers
- The snack Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
- Special effects make-up
- The Bible
- Louis from pop band One Direction
Trisha Paytas likes:
- Her breasts
- Being a mix of “Woody Allen and your local hooker”
- Tall Men
- Christina Aguilera’s hair
- The idea of being entirely supported by an oil tycoon
Ted Nugent likes:
- Taking pictures of dead things
- Venison jerky
- Pictures of women holding guns
- Slaughtering pigs from helicopters with machine guns