Essentially, there are a few Presidents whose failures crossed the line beyond mere mismanagement of crises or run-of-the-mill corruption (of which many Presidents were guilty), and entered the category of actively ripping at the fabric of our nation.
Some Presidents who were absolutely reviled in their time (Nixon. G.W. Bush, Carter, even Lincoln who was of course despised by a certain treasonous segment of our country but now tops the list of greatest Presidents ever) are not so bad
You literally just praised Nixon and Dubya just so you can virtue signal orange man bad. Nixon had Watergate. Bush literally lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction in order to invade Iraq, an illegal war we are still dealing with the consequences of, like the rise of ISIS and the European migrant crisis. There's also the war in Afghanistan which we are still fighting nearly twenty years later with next to nothing to show for it, the failure to properly act after Hurricane Katrina, and the Great Recession. George Bush screwed up this country so bad we are still dealing with the aftereffects still felt to this day and you think he's "not so bad"? Are you for real? For god's sakes, Obama was a better president than him and he made this country so divided, it paved the way for President Trump to win in 2016.
Not what you’d expect, is it? But let’s look at this objectively in a balanced and nuanced way with the benefit of historical hindsight.
—G.W. Bush made grievous foreign policy blunders. He was callous and inept in his response to Hurricane Katrina. He lied our way into Iraq. He failed to find Osama bin Laden, leaving that task to his successor. He wasted the lives of American soldiers unnecessarily and untold sums of American treasure. He destroyed Iraq, helped destabilize Syria, and it’s still in pieces. He was practically a war criminal.
—And yet: Bush did not viciously rip at the civic fabric of our own nation. Specifically, he took pains to over and over again explain to Americans that the perpetrators of 9/11 were not representative of Muslims as a whole. He had the opportunity to whip up Islamophobia like you wouldn’t believe: He didn’t. He did not take to Twitter (or the bully-pulpit megaphone-equivalent back then) to bash Democrats on a daily basis — Bush in fact tried to work with Democrats on several issues including immigration reform. Partisanship was bad back then, worse than it had ever been before, but compared to our current era, it was practically chummy.
—Bush passed Medicare Part D, expanding prescription coverage to seniors. Trump did nothing on health access but whinge against Obamacare (while cowardly farming out the work of actually killing it off to the Supreme Court, which never did) and promise a big, beautiful healthcare replacement that never materialized.
—Then there’s that whole Covid thing: The biggest loss of American life in a century, which makes the unnecessary bloodshed in Iraq look like a drop in the bucket.
No question about it: If G.W. Bush was a mildly unpleasant dream, Trump was a cold-sweat inducing nightmare.
The other day Bush came out hard against Trump. But today’s GOP has gone so far Right that Bush may as well not even be part of it. His critical statement was barely covered by any media outlet at all, a sign of its practical irrelevance.
A living ex-President, and the last one to actually win two terms and the popular vote for the GOP, has no sway in the Party’s current incarnation. That says a lot.
"But today’s GOP has gone so far Right that Bush may as well not even be part of it. His critical statement was barely covered by any media outlet at all, a sign of its practical irrelevance."
Yeah, turns out people prefer the guy who got them more money in their paychecks and brought jobs back to the US over a war criminal establishment hack who royally f**ked the country up who only became president because Daddy was president 8 years before.
Covid was the greatest acute loss of American life in a century. It makes no sense to count heart attacks, cancer deaths, car accidents, and other categories of death that remain relatively stable from year to year and from President to President regardless of party. They don’t depend on Presidential policy, so I don’t count them as a point either for or against Donald Trump (or Barack Obama or George W. Bush).
I mentioned the Iraq War and Covid because these were acute catastrophes that can be linked up with specific Presidential policies, actions, inactions, and failures.
Nothing about history is inevitable — the U.S. could have been one of the countries like New Zealand or South Korea or even Vietnam that weathered Covid relatively well because they vigorously implemented public health campaigns designed to tackle it.
We weren’t and we didn’t — and the buck, as Presidents say when they’re being honest, stops here.
"But let’s look at this objectively in a balanced and nuanced way with the benefit of historical hindsight."
It's spelled *subjectively in a *biased and *hyperpartisan way with the benefit of historical *revisionism
"Bush did not viciously rip at the civic fabric of our own nation."
Yeah, he did. Bush and Obama are both responsible for the hyperpartisanship that was present during the 2016 cycle and still plagues the nation today. Bush expanded the military-industrial complex to please neocon pricks like the Cheneys and the McCains which ensured our forever wars would still be going on years after he left, as well as expanding the security state. He also made a complete mockery of the Office of the President (sorta like you're always whining Trump did) and destroyed our economy. Obama continued the forever wars and security state expansion as well as opting for virtue signaling instead of actually doing the hard work of building something Americans could actually benefit from like universal healthcare, proper infrastructure revitalization, free public universities (hell, even free tech schools), or literally anything else. Obama bailed out big banks and businesses, forced people to buy health insurance they couldn't afford, set race relations back by decades, demonized conservatives, and widened the gap between left and right to its widest point yet at that time. Trump did not create the divide, he was a symptom of the divide that already existed.
"Specifically, he took pains to over and over again explain to Americans that the perpetrators of 9/11 were not representative of Muslims as a whole."
Saying that a bad thing done by radical Muslims isn't definitive of all Muslims is fine, Trump said the same things, but it doesn't fix the larger issue of radical Islam. It also really doesn't help if you go blow up their friends and families in an illegal war for years on end.
"He did not take to Twitter (or the bully-pulpit megaphone-equivalent back then) to bash Democrats on a daily basis"
Yes, because mean tweets are equivalent to destroying peoples' lives through wars, incompetence, or crashing the economy. Get real, KylieFan.
We’re not even talking specific policies, though as I’ve pointed out already, Trump’s killed more Americans in a single term than any President in a century.
We’re talking on an even more basic level about a psychological approach to the world and relating with other human beings. George Bush was wrong about Iraq — and at a certain point, he knew it. It weighed on him the same way the Vietnam War weighed on LBJ. Barack Obama was an intensely introspective and self-critical President. You can tell that instantly if you’ve read any of his new memoir.
Donald Trump just plain isn’t introspective or compassionate in the slightest. He lashes out. He projects his failures onto others, he deflects blame. He doesn’t relate. And that’s the main features attracting his supporters to him. His willingness to “tell it like it is” and say, in effect, “f**k your feelings.” In fact, his supporters put this all over their memorabilia.
He winked at and gave aid and comfort to white supremacists throughout his term, in his public statements in the wake of events like Charlottesville and even on the 2020 debate stage. “Stand back and stand by” — words spoken as a commander would speak to his foot-soldiers. A slogan the Proud Boys then slapped all over their materials and t-shirts.
It’s a destructive and divisive impulse, a means of enacting revenge on anyone they consider not “real Americans.” And that category of “not real Americans” just so happens to include most of the country, unfortunately for them.
All this is what we mean when we say Trump is divisive. And it matters. All this sound and fury did translate into policy.