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Robert Reich: George W. Bush as Hurricane Isaac

Hurricane Isaac may end up reminding voters of the legacy of George W. Bush.
Image from Flickr via NASA Goddard Photo and Video

By Robert Reich
By arrangement with Robert Reich

There is nothing Republicans would rather the American people forget more than George W. Bush, who doesn’t even have a bit-part at the GOP convention opening in Tampa. 

But W’s ghost may be there, anyway.

The National Weather Service says tropical storm Isaac is now heading for New Orleans, and Isaac is projected to become a Category 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall  late Monday or early Tuesday.

Isaac is very likely to revive memories of the Bush administration’s monumental incompetence in dealing with the needs of Americans caught in Hurricane Katrina.

And if the public remembers the Bush administration’s incompetence with Katrina, they may also recall the Bush administration’s incompetence and its lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq—which led us into that devastating war.

We’re still living with George W. Bush’s legacy … which is a truth that Romney is desperate to put out of our minds. He wants to blame the bad economy, and most of everything else, on Obama.

And the public may recall how George W. Bush took the $5 trillion surplus Bill Clinton bequeathed to him and turned it into a $6 trillion budget deficit by slashing taxes, mostly on the rich, and by creating an expensive new Medicare drug benefit that helped drug companies more than it helped seniors.

The public might even recall how the Bush administration tried not to see what Wall Street was up to when the Street went on a rampage of risky bets, and then, when Wall Street was about to melt down, pushed Congress into approving a no-strings bailout—both of which cost the nation billions more.

Indeed, we’re still living with George W. Bush’s legacy—the last Republican to occupy the White House—which is a truth that Romney is desperate to put out of our minds. He wants to blame the bad economy, and most of everything else, on Obama. 

The GOP was intent on not even bringing up Bush’s name at the GOP convention, because the former president might also remind Americans how little the Republicans care about average Americans, like those caught in Hurricane Katrina, and how much they care about top corporate and Wall Street executives, like those being entertained in Tampa.

But Hurricane Isaac seems likely to remind Americans anyway.

Let us hope and pray Isaac doesn’t cause the disaster of Katrina. We can at least be confident that the Obama administration will respond as the Bush administration didn’t.

But the split screen on the TV newscasts—part GOP convention, part Hurricane Isaac bashing into the Gulf Coast—may nonetheless pose a public-relations disaster for the GOP.

Author Image

Robert B. Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton.

Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future; The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, Beyond Outrage. His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at

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3 comments for Robert Reich: George W. Bush as Hurricane Isaac

  1. Comment by Stephen in Ottawa on August 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    How ironic would it have been, since hurricane names surface alphabetically, for Isaac to have been named George? It is so evident that George W. quietly slid out the back door of the White House when he left, rarely to surface again. His disastrous legacy clearly reflects the wide spread carnage of bad decisions and poor judgement made by a man who was operating way out of his depth and intellect… except that in this case, the financial catastrophe that resulted from his time in office has affected several generations of people who are now drowning in debt across the country. One of the great mysteries of our time will be how did he ever get voted in to a second term? It’s too bad that Obama faced a mountain of challenges that the GOP had created right from day one. Hopefully, his second term will give him a true opportunity to indeed deliver the change he promised without any insurmountable hurdles or barriers blocking his way. It’s up to rational, logical American voters to give him that chance. I don’t want to even think of the alternative outcome with Romney taking the reins of power and foolishly driving the country’s economy at breakneck speed down a proverbial dead end street.

  2. Comment by vanderleun on September 3, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Isaac reminds more of ex-President Obama. Big promise and then a lot of damp people and some more trashed neighborhoods.

  3. Comment by Bill Jones on September 4, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    But we surely are entitled to say
    “heck of a job, Brownie”?

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