The other day I flew to Chicago, where a relative was admitted to the hospital. As doctors try to discover the cause of the illness, "When did the symptoms first appear?" is the question most-often heard. "What happened right before? Had there been any warning signs?" After all, it's only by figuring out what brought on a problem that a cure can be discovered.
Ultimately, of course, you recognize that's the reality in all of life. Until you know what actually has gone wrong, you can't fix it. "When did the pinging in your car begin?," the mechanic asks. What were you doing on your computer immediately before it crashed?
We all know this. We all know that you must find the source of a problem and acknowledge that it is the problem before you can resolve that problem. We know this. We all absolutely know this.
Everybody, that is, except for right-wing Republicans.
Just watch the GOP response should anyone dare suggest the reality that America's economic collapse took place when George W. Bush was president.
"There the Democrats go," they cry, "living in the past, trying to blame George Bush for everything, rather than fixing the problem."
Just watch the GOP knee-jerk response should anyone dare suggest the reality that the war in Iraq, a country that never attacked us and never had any WMD's, began when George W. Bush was president.
"There the Democrats go," they will cry, "living in the past, trying to blame George Bush for everything, rather than fixing the problem."
Watch the GOP twitch should anyone dare suggest the reality that the war in Afghanistan, a country that never attacked us, began when George Bush was president.
"There the Democrats go," comes the cry, "living in the past, trying to blame George Bush for everything, rather than fixing the problem."
Watch the Republicans twist with a convulsive knee-jerk when it's noted that America was attacked on 9/11 when George W. Bush was president. That New Orleans was wiped off the map despite repeated hurricane warnings when George W. Bush was president. That torture was committed by U.S. authority when George W. Bush was president.
"There the Democrats go," they cry on, "living in the past, trying to blame Bush for everything, rather than fixing the problem."
That a secret, closed-door energy policy was developed between the big oil companies and Dick Cheney. That the national debt doubled to $11 trillion. That the budget deficit went from a $128 billion surplus to a $482 billion deficit. All when George W. Bush was president.
And all that the Republicans and Bush apologists can do is stammer and obfuscate, "There the Democrats go, living in the past, trying to blame George Bush for everything, rather than fixing the problem."
In fairness, if I were a far-right wing conservative Republican whose identity was all-entwined for eight years on insisting Bush hadn't screwed up America, and I only viewed politics as a callous game of points, rather than what's good for America, I wouldn't want anyone looking back at Bush either. Good heavens, the very last thing I'd want is anyone looking back at Bush and all the devastation he left behind.
But alas I'm not that. Nor is most of America. Alas. And so we all do look at the problems facing the nation -- so that we can understand their root cause, so that the problems caused by Bush (and that the Republican Party enabled) can be fixed.
It's absolutely fair to say that in his first one-and-a-half years as president, Barack Obama has not fixed all the problems he faces. But if you're going to say, "he hasn't fixed the problems," you must acknowledge what those problems are and how they were caused.
Everywhere else in society, we know -- we all know -- that you can only fix a problem when you can place proper blame to its cause, so that the problem not only can be understood in full and stopped, but doesn't ever happen again.
But no, Republicans say time and again. Don't look at the past, don't keep looking at Bush. Don't keep blaming Bush. Never mind that for eight years of the Bush administration, Republicans didn't skip one opportunity to look to the past and blame Bill Clinton for anything -- real or feverishly imagined. (And continue to.) Never mind that Republicans look to the past for the answer to pretty much everything. What the Founding Fathers said. What the Bible said. What unchanging law said. "I want my country returned to me" is the right-wing eternal mantra, looking back to a time when living was easy, and everyone knew their place. Always looking back. Looking back to "tea parties." Looking back to the "Minutemen." Looking back. Always looking back.
Unless that look back sees George W. Bush.
But when you stand above the devastation, you can't help but see George W. Bush.
Where devastation lurks -- the economy, joblessness, the Iraq War, the Afghan War, Gitmo, torture, the national debt, Katrina, they all stem from George W. Bush. And the Republican Party that enabled him.
It can never be said enough, until all the problems are fixed.
And even then. So that it never happens again. Not in 2012. Not in 2014. Never.