As George W Bush spends his final days in office, I thought I would share the essay I wrote on the hypocrisy of the anti-Bush bandwagon in Not In My Name: A Compendium Of Modern Hypocrisy.
George W. Bush is bad, right? Absolutely everything about him is evil. Whatever else we may disagree on, we can all agree that Bush is bad and therefore we are good. Right? That’s about as high-minded as any discussion of Bush gets, which is ironic given that it is Bush who is supposed to be stupid and not his detractors. However, the Bush basher will immediately cover their ears if you try and point out another side to the man.
So never try and tell a modern hypocrite that George W. Bush has been widely praised by leading aid workers for his radical and positive approach to poverty and famine in Africa. Don’t waste your time informing them that, throughout his career, Bush has championed the rights of immigrants. Neither should you bother reminding them that, once he became president, Bush filled senior governmental positions with unprecedented numbers of brilliant, black politicians. They simply won’t be listening.
It was Sir Bob Geldof who first flagged up Bush’s brilliance on Africa. ‘You’ll think I’m off my trolley,’ he said, ‘but the Bush administration is the most radical– in a positive sense – in its approach to Africa, since Kennedy.’ Sir Bob contrasted this to Europe’s ‘pathetic and appalling’ response and Clinton’s record: ‘he did fuck all’. Many aid charities have echoed his praise for Bush. Bono, too, has had many good things to say about him. None of this is good enough for your modern hypocrite, though. For them, Bush will always be the devil incarnate. Funny, isn’t it, how people who contribute no more to the cause than buying a white wristband should feel so comfortable hurling abuse at a man who has done more than most on the planet to help Africa.
He has not just helped bring aid to impoverished Africans, he has also helped bring hope to those living under harsh regimes. In 2005, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak jailed an opponent who was planning to challenge him in the presidential election. Bush pressured Mubarak – who prefers to run for the presidency unopposed – into releasing his opponent. When private pressure didn’t work, the Bush administration made its disapproval public. Then Condoleezza Rice cancelled a planned trip to Egypt in protest, Mubarak relented and Dr Ayman Nour was released.
Not that any of this will stop his detractors from thinking Bush is racist. So it’s hugely inconvenient for them to learn that in 1994 he passionately opposed a bill in California that would cut access to public services for illegal immigrants. He is actually a hero of many immigrants in America: for instance, his share of the Hispanic vote increased by nine per cent during his first term as president.
So, no, it’s not just Midwest bible-bashers who voted for Bush. While we’re on the religion issue, did you know that Bill Clinton publicly referred to Jesus Christ more times than Bush did? Bush averaged 4.7 times a year while Clinton averaged 5. 1 annually. Similarly, during the 2004 presidential campaign, Democrat John Kerry made a campaign speech in a church in St Louis and used a biblical quote to attack Bush, who never campaigned in a church and never quoted from the scriptures. However, when Bush mentions faith he is bad, but when a Democrat mentions faith it’s fine, almost groovy!
Intellectuals at English dinner parties have long enjoyed poking fun at Bush’s mangling of the English language. He acknowledges his weakness in this regard but shrugs, ‘You know, life goes on.’ Or in other words, ‘Let the European snobs sneer all they like, ordinary people in the US know and appreciate where I’m coming from.’ But how they love sneering! They also like pointing to the controversy over his 2000 election victory. However, just as they attack him with allegations of foul play, they simultaneously overlook similar allegations made against the Democrats. Cheating is either wrong or it’s not – it ill behooves us to condemn it only in some instances and not others.
Hypocrisy with a more chilling streak is found in those who like to suggest that Bush and Blair orchestrated 9/11 and 7/7. Yet, when it comes to the embarrassing lack of WMDs in Iraq, none of these conspiracy theorists stops to think that, if these men arranged terrorist outrages in their own cities, they might just have been able to stretch as far as fabricating evidence of WMDs in Baghdad. Likewise, the same people who say that Bush engineered 9/11 are also quick to point out how he sat frozen in shock in that classroom when he first learned of the atrocity. You can only imagine what the modern hypocrite’s response to 9/11 would have been had they been in Bush’s shoes. Probably something like, ‘Quick! Give them what they want so they stop!’
There’s sometimes a genuinely insane dimension to the anti-Bush bandwagon. At a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations in September 2005, Bush was seen passing a note to Condoleezza Rice. The contents of this note brought him fresh abuse from his detractors who used it as yet more confirmation that he’s the most unpleasant man ever to have lived. And what was the content of this controversial note? It read, ‘I think I may need a bathroom break? Is this possible?’ A man who’s been in meetings all day wants to make sure he follows the correct etiquette about using the bathroom. How terrible.
Of course, for most Bush bashers there is the wider issue of anti-Americanism at stake. These are the people who so enjoy mocking Americans as overweight and American television as dumbed-down crap. Funny, then, that they still manage to be such passionate fans of Michael Moore, who carries a bit of weight himself and makes, in my opinion, the most simplistic documentaries imaginable.
Of course, there are things about Bush that aren’t great: it would be silly to overlook his record on abortion and gay rights for a start. However, the truly silly ones are those who blindly bash Bush whatever he does or says. Has there ever been a less intelligent, less discriminating or more sheep like political movement than the anti-Bush bandwagon? It is one of the most hypocritical movements of all time, that’s for sure.