An alternate universe

AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE…. It’s a close contest, to be sure, but I’d argue that of the various sycophant hacks still singing George W. Bush’s praises, none is quite as embarrassing as Fred Barnes, the Weekly Standard editor and Fox News contributor. He’s fully immersed himself into a virtual-reality world in which Bush and Cheney are triumphant heroes, wrapping two successful terms.

Slate‘s Jacob Weisberg noted this morning that it’s a “brainteaser” to come up with “ways, however minor, in which Bush changed government, politics, or the world for the better.” But while credible historians debate whether Bush is an abysmal president or the most abysmal president, there’s Barnes. In his latest gem, published in the new issue of his magazine, Barnes insists Bush’s presidency “was far more successful than not,” and Bush’s “courage” not only “merits special recognition,” it exceeds that of Ronald Reagan. Seriously.

To prove his point, Barnes points to Bush’s “ten great achievements”:

1. Bush stood up to “global warming hysteria,” and helped undermine the agenda of “alarmists.”

2. He endorsed “enhanced interrogation,” “secret prisons,” and “wireless eavesdropping.”

3. He seized unprecedented executive authority, and ignored congressional attempts at oversight.

4. He offered “unswerving support for Israel.”

5. He signed the No Child Left Behind initiative.

6. He delivered his second inaugural address.

7. He signed the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

8. He pushed the Supreme Court even further to the right.

9. He improved U.S. relations with Japan, South Korea, and Australia.

10. He created a “fragile but functioning democracy” in Iraq.

Note, of course, that lists of some of Bush’s biggest failures also contain some of these same “achievements.”

I wonder what the weather is like in Fred Barnes’ universe.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.