George W. Bush is doing farewell TV interviews with a view to his legacy. What makes him unique? Here's my personal note for the cosmic time capsule.
I write this as the proud father of a Marine son who served honorably in W's wars. I write this as an author who had one of my many pro-military op-eds (that was published in the Washington Post) glowingly read out loud on Meet The Press by first lady Laura Bush. I write this as a former life long Republican.
Who and what was George W Bush? I believe he was our nation's first sociopath president.
According to the textbook clinical definition a sociopath is person with a disregard for the rights of others. The sociopath is often a charming witty person who stage manages his life to impress others while hiding his true character. His amicable attributes are cultivated to cover his major trait: the violation of the rights of others. A sociopath also shows a lack of regret for his actions... Sound familiar?
It all started when George W. Bush presided over 152 executions while governor of Texas, more than any other modern era American governor. It ended with the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands, including over 4000 American war dead and over 30,000 wounded and counting, after W attacked Iraq, a country that had had nothing to do with the attack on America of 9/11.
What should have told all Americans that W was unfit to serve? W didn't pardon one man or woman on his crowded death row. Before running for the presidency he had already shown himself to be a crass, merciless bully, a man to whom killing came easily.
Following Karla Faye Tucker's notorious execution in W Bush's Texas, conservative commentator Tucker Carlson interviewed then Governor Bush about how the Board of Pardons had arrived at the determination on her clemency plea. Carlson reported that Bush, alluding to a televised interview which Karla Faye Tucker had given to Larry King, smirked and spoke mockingly about her. Here's a quote from Carlson's article. (Talk, September 1999.)
In the weeks before the execution, Bush says, "A number of protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Karla Faye Tucker." "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask. Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them", he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it [the interview]. I watched his interview with Tucker, though. He asked her real difficult questions like, 'What would you say to Governor Bush?'" "What was her answer?" I wonder. "'Please,'" Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "'don't kill me.'" I must look shocked -- ridiculing the pleas of a condemned prisoner who has since been executed seems odd and cruel -- because he immediately stops smirking.
A man who mocked a woman he'd denied a pardon to was unfit to serve as president. A heartless bully is not who Americans want in the White House. He might rather have been a good candidate for psychological therapy. Why wasn't this story the subject of an editorial in every major newspaper when W ran for the presidency? This should have been the headline: "Bush The Merciless Mocked Condemned -- Unfit to Serve."
Maybe W's crass sophomoric attitude toward suffering was why one reason W The Merciless started a completely unnecessary war of choice so blithely and then prosecuted it so ineptly that many more American soldiers died and were maimed during the interminable occupation than during the war.
W The Merciless hid his dead and wounded of his needless war. No pictures of funerals or flag-draped coffins please! Let the 'little people' die without the dignity of having their passing recorded, mourned or protested by the nation. Out of sight, out of mind. Forget the soldiers! Just go shopping!
Burying W's troops (literally and figuratively) was to be stage managed along with everything else. But when his troops needed care W The Merciless (who had sent them into the wrong war with the wrong equipment) fought to stop extra funding for educational and other veteran's benefits saying it might tempt soldiers not to reenlist because they would have better options.
W The Merciless said he believed in the Bible. The Bible says that those that show mercy to those they are in power over will be shown mercy. George W. Bush showed no mercy to the condemned, to his own soldiers or to their families, to Iraq, to innocent men, women and children killed by the tens of thousands in his needless war of choice. The Bible says that those who forgive will be forgiven. W The Merciless forgave no one. The Bible says that those who do something good for the least of Jesus' brothers will have done it as "unto Jesus." W The Merciless smashed the ancient Christian communities in Iraq by unleashing the civil war that sent one and a half million Christians into exile, or to their deaths, reducing the oldest and most vibrant Christian community remaining in the Middle East to a shadow. That's what W the "born-again evangelical" did to Jesus' Middle Eastern brothers, so that is what -- by the Bible's standard -- he did to Jesus.
W The Merciless will go down in history as an inept bungler. But one hundred years from now, if America is still around, and if anyone cares, what W The Merciless will be remembered for is just two things: the many needless death over which he presided, and his total lack of remorse.
In other words W The Merciless will be remembered as America's foremost sociopath president, a man who left the White House with a smile on his face and the blood of hundreds of thousands on his hands. That is his legacy.
Frank Schaeffer is the author of CRAZY FOR GOD- How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back. Now in paperback.