All five living presidents gathered in Texas Thursday for a feel-good moment at the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, which is supposed to symbolize the legacy that Mr. Bush has been trying to polish. President Obama called it a “special day for our democracy.” Mr. Bush spoke about having made “the tough decisions” to protect America. They all had a nice chuckle when President Bill Clinton joked about former presidents using their libraries to rewrite history.Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post looks at George W. Bush's real legacy:
But there is another building, far from Dallas on land leased from Cuba, that symbolizes Mr. Bush’s legacy in a darker, truer way: the military penal complex at Guantánamo Bay where Mr. Bush imprisoned hundreds of men after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a vast majority guilty of no crime.
It became the embodiment of his dangerous expansion of executive power and the lawless detentions, secret prisons and torture that went along with them. It is now also a reminder of Mr. Obama’s failure to close the prison as he promised when he took office, and of the malicious interference by Congress in any effort to justly try and punish the Guantánamo inmates.
Bush didn’t pay for his wars. The bills he racked up for military adventures, prescription-drug benefits, the bank bailout and other impulse purchases helped create the fiscal and financial crises he bequeathed to Obama. His profligacy also robbed the Republican Party establishment of small-government credibility, thus helping give birth to the tea party movement. Thanks a lot for that.More analysis of the day's top stories below the fold.
As I’ve written before, Bush did an enormous amount of good by making it possible for AIDS sufferers in Africa to receive antiretroviral drug therapy. This literally saved millions of lives and should weigh heavily on one side of the scale when we assess The Decider’s presidency. But the pile on the other side just keeps getting bigger.
Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast:
If you suspect (or hope!) that this is the point at which I’m going to segue into a “maybe George W. Bush has been underappreciated” column, sorry. At the present moment, and certainly today here in Dallas, Bush is being wildly over-appreciated. The rub here for Dubya is not that Democrats detest him. It’s that Republicans have no use for him. How quickly people forget all that talk from so many Republicans about how “we lost our way” under Bush, the big-spending and bureaucracy-expanding statist. Republicans have almost been harder on him than Democrats have. I expect this era of good feelings to last about another 24 hours.Paul Krugman looks at the influence of the austerians:
[...] Rehabilitation is going to be a reach for Bush because more than most presidents, he made his fate. True, he was in office when 9/11 hit, and in that sense history thrust a heavy burden upon his shoulders. (But one he should have done more about after that August 6 warning? Someday, Americans might yet know the whole story about that.) But in legacy terms, 9/11 was an incredible opportunity. Here was a moment when all the world, almost all the world, was feeling sympathetic toward America. He blew that moment terribly. Very few people beyond the conservative base are going to buy his freedom argument. The lessons of the “freedom agenda” were mostly inadvertent or tragic.
And we can only hope Americans remember them. Obama isn’t Bush, thank goodness, and he’s not surrounded by hegemony-mongers as Bush was, but we are entering a danger zone with this Syria news. I just hope that as Obama ponders his options, he remembers the lessons his predecessor still appears never to have learned.
[T]he dominance of austerians in influential circles should disturb anyone who likes to believe that policy is based on, or even strongly influenced by, actual evidence. [...]Arthur Caplan and Zachary Caplan at CNN look at how big Pharma rips off patients:
Part of the answer surely lies in the widespread desire to see economics as a morality play, to make it a tale of excess and its consequences. We lived beyond our means, the story goes, and now we’re paying the inevitable price. Economists can explain ad nauseam that this is wrong, that the reason we have mass unemployment isn’t that we spent too much in the past but that we’re spending too little now, and that this problem can and should be solved. No matter; many people have a visceral sense that we sinned and must seek redemption through suffering — and neither economic argument nor the observation that the people now suffering aren’t at all the same people who sinned during the bubble years makes much of a dent.
But it’s not just a matter of emotion versus logic. You can’t understand the influence of austerity doctrine without talking about class and inequality.
Prescription drugs cost Americans far more than they do people living in many other parts of the world. This is because drug companies spend a fortune on direct-to-consumer sales and marketing (which they don't do in other countries) and because other nations negotiate better deals for drugs than private insurers do in the United States. [...]
A few weeks ago, the Indian Supreme Court took a hard look at the way big drug companies were using patent extensions to keep out low price competition. They said forget it—that sort of tomfoolery will not be allowed. The U.S. Supreme Court would be wise to concur, heed the Federal Trade Commission's complaint and bring pay-for-delay to an abrupt end.
The right prescription for making medicines cheaper and better is to encourage competition, not stifle it with backroom deals where everyone gets a great deal except for the patients.