One of the worst side effects of the Trump administration is how it has kindled #TheResistance’s love for things like the FBI (you know, that organization that used to spy on Martin Luther King Jr. and tried to get him to kill himself) and George W. Bush.
As the Chapo Trap House crew has said in so many words, liberal centrists have a strong affinity for procedure and typically don’t disagree with their Republican opponents on matters of foreign policy, particularly bombing the shit out of other countries. Therefore they are inclined to look back on Bush II with nostalgia because for all his speaking gaffes and pandering to religion, he observed the norms and decorum that liberals love so much.
In reality, the politics of George W. Bush led directly to those of the Tea Party revolt under Obama and to Trump, and that ought to be obvious for anyone who can remember anything past the last decade or so.
Growing up conservative in the 90’s, I heard plenty of conspiracy theories about the Clintons. Yes, sometimes the word “socialist” was thrown around. But in general the rhetoric against Bill Clinton centered around the rather tame (by today’s standards) Republican charge of “tax and spend.” Apart from this, it was all culture wars- Clinton was allegedly friendly to the LGBT community, his Surgeon General wanted to teach teenagers how to masturbate (which was absolutely evil, because teenagers couldn’t possibly figure out how to do that on their own), and so forth. Of course there was the fringe that said Clinton would bring about the New World Order, UN invasion, etc. but that was still just fringe. You’d even hear conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh make fun of such people. The were an embarrassment to the conservative establishment and thus had to be sidelined.
Then something changed after 9/11. Liberals weren’t just about tax and spend or same sex marriage. They wanted to surrender to the enemy in the War on Terror. They wanted to make America weak. They hated Christianity and Judaism but loved radical Islam. Hating the liberal was no longer about policy- they were an existential threat to the United States and the American way of life. We were at war, after all.
Now at this point some liberal defender might chime in and point out that the rhetoric of the Bush administration itself was not so radical. Sure, Bush would say things with disturbing implications, such as “you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists,” but that was about as far as it went. Unfortunately by focusing only on Bush’s words one misses the the forest for the tree.
Outside the administration was the active right-wing noise machine led by Fox News. This gave the White House a form of plausible deniability. When the administration was more or less compelled to admit it had not found the weapons of mass destruction it sought in Iraq, armies of pundits assured millions of Republican viewers that those weapons had in fact been secreted out of the country before the coalition forces could find them.
At the same time, the Bush administration also directly contributed to the kind of hatred toward the press that would become a key feature of Trump’s administration. Bush himself once insisted that progress was being made in Iraq, but that the American people were not being told due to media bias. This only helped contribute to this idea that news which doesn’t fit your political views is “fake” and can be dismissed.
And while liberals point out how tolerant Bush’s administration was toward Muslims, they forget that most of his base wasn’t getting their ideas about Muslims from the president, but rather from the aforementioned right-wing noise machine. Books such as the hilariously inaccurate Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). In her 2002 book Slander: Liberal Lies about the American Right, then rising-star Ann Coulter wrote: “Liberals hate America, they hate flag-wavers, they hate abortion opponents, they hate all religions except Islam, post 9/11. Even Islamic terrorists don’t hate America like liberals do.”
Got that? Liberals hate America more than Islamic terrorists do. Post 9/11. Imagine for a second that you’re a person stupid enough to sincerely believe rhetoric like this. If you saw yourself as a true patriot- hell, if you just saw yourself as someone who would rather not see your way of life and standard of living destroyed, what would you do to stop people who you were told hate your country more than the people who literally killed themselves just to take hundreds of your countrymen with them in the process? Would your disagreements with other citizens about politics still be about tax hikes and funding for public broadcasting? Are you going to give a shit when the presidential administration, which you know nothing about apart from the occasional sound bite on cable news, says it’s important not to hate Muslims as a group?
All of this hatred set the tone for the right under the Obama administration. Obama was even worse- a “Marxist,” a “fascist,” and worst of all- a secret Muslim! To some this must have seemed like surrender- a man with the name Hussein in the White House! Bush may have been gone, but he never mattered. The right-wing noise machine that had propped him up and sold his war dropped him like a hot potato and just kept right on pushing a large portion of America further from reality.
George W. Bush, of course, did not run Fox News, but he owed them his presidency. The two went hand-in-hand, just like with Trump today. If we trace the rise of Al Qaeda-style terrorism to the aftermath of the siege of Mecca in 1979, we can trace the Trump phenomenon to Fox News and George W. Bush’s administration, which both collaborated to convince millions of Americans that feelings matter more than facts, and that many of their neighbors, co-workers, and family members are secret traitors who want to see America under Marxist Sharia law.
Oh yeah, there was one other thing Bush did that was pretty bad, even worse than anything Trump has done thus far. What was it? Right- he invaded a country for no legitimate reason, killing at least 100,000 people, destabilizing the entire Middle East which has had violent repercussions lasting up until this day, and severely weakening Americans’ faith in their government and destroying its credibility worldwide in ways that would provide great opportunities for regimes like Russia and China.
So yeah, there’s that.