Sometimes I think back on 2000 when W was just the guv from Texas who wanted to be President and wonder if there was any way I could have known how dramatically screwed up everything would be by the time he was done with his eight years of hiring based on ideology over competence, sending our country's best to unwinnable foreign wars, destroying the anti-poverty infrastructure, making sure his corporate cronies are growing fat on massive government contracts paid for by us, and basically breaking my heart for our country on a daily basis. I remember a particular lunch I had with a corporate attorney colleague where we both admitted our apathy towards the current election because we just couldn't see a definite "better" choice between Bush and Gore. Although our personal politics made Gore the obvious choice, we weren't persuaded that he had the strong leadership qualities called for, and, at least while he had been governor, W had actually made some very competent appointments to state government - including people who didn't necessarily agree with his rhetoric but who were very qualified and able. In 2000, having had some experience with him as our governor, he was a different sort of Republican, or so we thought. Turns out we had no idea how right we were.
So I wonder now whether there were signs that he had given, little indications of how neo-everything his policies would turn, how thoroughly he would politicize his administration from top to bottom, how little regard he had for the rule of law if it seemed to stand in the way of his agenda, his contempt for state's rights, his preference for ideology and corporate profits over science, how he would push the Supreme Court so far to the right that Constitutional Law scholars will have ample fodder for decades in sorting out the opinions into something that still looks like continuity of jurisprudence. As someone who lived in Texas during W's governorship I can't help but feel a tad responsible for not being more vigilant in protecting the rest of the country - and the world - from him. I should have seen the signs and I should have done whatever I could to raise the alarm. Doubtful just me on my own would have had much impact, but at least I wouldn't now wrestle with remorseful guilt, wondering if there was something I could have done.
I saw a new bumper sticker tonight that said something to the effect of we're making enemies faster than we can kill them. Things had been going so well for so many years by 2000 that I don't think I could have imagined reading a bumper sticker like that and not being able to muster the usual logical critique to deconstruct the little word byte. I'm finding truth in bumper stickers, but not in the nightly news anymore. January 2009 cannot get here fast enough.