To people who take our history unsanitized, please, the slobbering over George H.W. Bush’s life by the mainstream political media has been hard to take.
Luckily, the internet is alive with some excellent reads about Bush 41’s real legacy of war crimes, racism, and obstruction of justice (thank you, Mehdi Hassan); his deadly neglect of the AIDS crisis (thank you, Garance Franke-Ruta) and the “dinner-jacketed decorum” he used as a cover for the racism and cynicism that brought us the likes of Clarence Thomas and Willie Horton (thank you, Peter Birkenhead).
And Bush the father was nothing compared to the son — who lied us into war, embraced torture and police-state-level surveillance and, although he may not have lied about everything, lied about pretty much all the big things.
Nevertheless, this is no time to lose sight of the fact that Donald Trump is a uniquely awful president in ways that even Bushian depravity doesn’t rival.
Trump’s uncouth and unvarnished expressions of racism and his barely disguised hatred of women have fed the darkest and most ignorant strains of American politics, empowering white nationalists and misogynists, readmitting language and sentiments into our political discourse that had gradually been disgraced, and generally reversing what had been American society’s reasonably steady movement in the direction of pluralistic enlightenment.
His countless lies, his demonizing of the traditional media and other truth-tellers, his contempt for science, and his divisive rhetoric imperil the American people’s ability to ever find common ground.
And his assaults on the judiciary and law enforcement, his personal corruption, his degradation of government agencies, his possible involvement in Russian interference with our elections, and his embrace of authoritarians and authoritarian ideas have for the first time in modern history made Americans actively worry for the future of their democracy.
If the Bushes are everything wrong with democracy, at least they didn’t threaten it in the ways that Trump does.
Finally, the total lack of empathy that undergirds Trump’s approach to the world puts him in a tiny minority of human beings. So, barring another improbable political calamity, that alone will make him the worst president ever.
George H.W. Bush and his son may well have paved the way for someone like Trump to con, hate, and wheedle his way into the presidency. But even they recognized that they had created a monster.