Bush legacy talking points

BUSH LEGACY TALKING POINTS…. We learned last week that there’s an “ongoing Bush legacy project that’s been meeting in the White House,” and with help from Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, the group of loyal Bushies have been strategizing on how best to paint the president’s humiliating tenure in a more positive light.

Now, for those willing to help with the endeavor, the West Wing is offering talking points.

In case any Bush administration officials have trouble summing up the boss’ record, the White House is providing a few helpful suggestions.

A two-page memo that has been sent to Cabinet members and other high-ranking officials offers a guide for discussing Bush’s eight-year tenure during their public speeches.

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.

Now, I suspect this effort will fail miserably; Bushies can only ask Americans to doubt their lying eyes so many times. But I find the talking points interesting anyway.

The “keeping Americans safe” argument is pretty hard to believe given the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the anthrax attacks, and the thousands of U.S. deaths in Iraq. The economic argument is just laughable on its face. Bush’s AIDS-related efforts in Africa have, in fact, been admirable, but his insistence on abstinence-focused prevention programs has been dangerous and short-sighted.

I’m especially struck, though, by the “honor and dignity” line. Indeed, the memo specifically argues, “Above all, George W. Bush promised to uphold the honor and the dignity of his office. And through all the challenges and trials of his time in office, that is a charge that our president has kept.”

The meaning of the phrase is deliberately ambiguous, but if we look back at the 2000 campaign, it apparently means “no sex scandals.” Since Bush, as far as we can tell, didn’t have any affairs during his presidency, he necessarily has conducted himself in an honorable and dignified way.

Isn’t this setting the bar a little low? Bush’s presidency has been marred by scandals relating to torture, rendition, ignoring the rule of law, politicizing federal agencies, and the suspension of habeas corpus.

No, there was no Lewinsky during Bush’s presidency. But my standard for “honor and dignity” has always been a little higher than that.