While hundreds of people are being killed in fighting between Israel and Palestine, with Israel declaring “all-out war” on Palestinian group Hamas, the 43rd President of the United States is on vacation.
And he is refusing to end his vacation to go back to Washington and deal with the crisis. Which isn’t surprising, considering 43’s status as the most vacation-happy president in all of American history, despite the myriad crises that have occurred during his tenure.
That, above all else, will be the legacy of George W. Bush: inaction.
In August, 2001, while on vacation, George W. Bush received an intelligence briefing entitled “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In US.” That briefing warned about terrorist recruitment and activity in New York City and cautioned that Osama Bin Laden was planning to use hijacked airplanes in a terrorist attack. Bush remained on vacation.
In August, 2005, President Bush was on another vacation in Texas. In Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina bore down on New Orleans, threatening that city’s unfinished network of protective levees. It was known well in advance what kind of damage a storm of Katrina’s caliber would do, leaving much of the city underwater and disproportionately harming those too old, too sick or too poor to evacuate. Even after Katrina made landfall, Bush remained on vacation.
Despite what he and his advisers may say, history will not remember George W. Bush kindly–it’s more likely he will be remembered as a modern-day Nero, fiddling away while the world around him burned.
The rotting core of the Bush administration was incompetence, which is timeless. Historians far into the future will still remember what that word means, and that’s the word they will use to describe America’s government from 2001-2009.
That, unfortunately for all of us, will be the legacy of George W. Bush. History will only ever remember him more kindly if it turns out to be easier than expected to fix the messes he created. There is just too little good in the past eight years to build a remotely salvageable legacy out of.