Think Progress noted the White House memo going out to administration officials as “a guide for discussing [the] eight-year tenure” of the most unpopular president since presidential approval ratings were first measured:
Titled “Speech Topper on the Bush Record,” the talking points state that Bush “kept the American people safe” after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, lifted the economy after 2001 through tax cuts, curbed AIDS in Africa and maintained “the honor and the dignity of his office.”
The document presents the Bush record as an unalloyed success.
It mentions none of the episodes that detractors say have marred his presidency: the collapse of the housing market and major financial services companies, the flawed intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, the federal response to Hurricane Katrina or the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
I think we can all agree that your presidency has been a failure when the strongest talking point you can muster is “hey, the worst didn’t happen!”
Thankfully, the Simpsons pre-emptively satirized this argument years ago:
Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
Lisa: That’s specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, dear.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn’t work.
Lisa: It’s just a stupid rock.
Lisa: But I don’t see any tigers around, do you?
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
Even if President Bush’s unfalsifiable claim that he kept us safe were true, let’s remember that his strategy of “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here” resulted in the murder and maiming of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the displacement of over 4 million during Iraq’s 2006–7 civil war.
The evidence is overwhelming that, for the majority of foreign fighters in Iraq, the U.S. occupation itself was the decisive factor in their radicalization and mobilization. Many of these fighters are now returning to their home countries, taking the training they received in Iraq to destabilize the region and attack U.S. interests.
Because of the Iraq war, democracy has once again taken a back seat to stability in the Middle East. To cope with the regional destabilization resulting from Iraq, President Bush effectively abandoned his “democracy agenda” and threw his support behind the very authoritarian governments who were themselves the primary focus of Islamic extremist grievance in the first place.
But never mind all that, because George W. Bush has a rock that keeps away terrorists.