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Bush, Cheney Ruin One Last Election (for McCain)

As we enter the final 24 hours before finding out who will inherit the cataclysmic mess they left behind, let us pause to reflect on the two men that have so significantly shaped the electorate and, indeed, the country as a whole: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

First, we must find George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, no easy task given the habitual reclusiveness of the latter and the more recent shyness of the former. President Bush, an intuitive campaigner if nothing else – and his record suggests nothing else – has been a practical no-show on the campaign trail this year [www.nytimes.com], for which John McCain must be eternally grateful. Having previously beat out Richard Nixon, the latest poll from CBS shows George W. Bush usurping the once-untouchable Harry S. Truman to become least popular president in American history [www.cbsnews.com]. A more self-reflective individual might put two and two together and consider the possibility that his public stature was at least tangentially related to his policies, decisions and personality. Not W. In his mind he is a victim of history, the right man in the wrong place at a bad time who did his best and is certain history will vindicate him. Despite his fingerprints decorating the economic crisis, America’s diminished standing in the world and the unfolding clusterf@#& in the Middle East, he sees the tarnished image of his party and the obstacles to John McCain’s succession as somehow unfair, instead of being directly responsible for them. The increasingly likely possibility of an Obama presidency – and decreasingly likelihood of any sort of legacy-saving events in his final hundred days – is cause for “sadness,” [www.washingtonpost.com] as he might mourn the accidental death of a friend, regardless of the smoking shotgun in his hands.

Which brings us to Dick Cheney. If it’s possible for anyone to be even more reviled than George W. Bush, it’s “Fourth Branch.” From his cartoon-super-villain governing style to his Billy Idolesque whiplash smile, Dick Cheney’s disregard for facts, public opinion and the U.S. Constitution make him toxic to any Republican running for any office. But you don’t get approval ratings as rock-bottom bad as W and Dick by making good decisions. And so Dick Cheney offered John McCain and Sarah Palin his ringing endorsement this weekend [www.huffingtonpost.com]. With his sub-.200 average in public approval [www.pollingreport.com] even worse than Bush’s, it’s safe to say that even some of the hardcore Republicans that make up the McCain/Palin base don’t like him. Naturally, the Obama campaign couldn’t be happier with Cheney’s endorsement, and why not? Given Cheney’s track record of being wrong, they couldn’t have asked for better news in the closing hours of this election.

– Michael Turner