FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Is Bush’s Legacy Really Much Different Than Trump’s?

As the federal government closed shop for a day of national mourning for the late President George H.W. Bush, an image of came to my mind.

It’s an ad by his supporters claiming presidential candidate Michael Dukakis “allows first degree murderers to have weekend passes,” as an image of an African American man, Willie Horton, flashes across the screen. More photos of Horton are shown, along with the words “stabbing, kidnapping, raping.”

I wasn’t even born when this ad aired in 1988. I know it because I studied it in my media classes as a classic example of how politicians stoked racist fears to link black people to crime and further a mass incarceration agenda.

Just last month, President Donald Trump’s political team ran an ad inspired by the same race-baiting tactic. An ad so obviously racist even Fox News stopped running it. It depicts Mexican immigrant Luis Bracamontes saying he would “kill more cops,” and claims “Democrats let him into our country. Democrats let him stay.” (These claims were false.)

The ad was designed to link Central American immigrants to crime just as a caravan of asylum seekers from Honduras was headed to the U.S.-Mexico border.

As I recall H. W. Bush’s legacy, the similarities keep coming.

In 1989, Bush had the DEA lure a teenager to sell crack cocaine just across the street from the White House. They chose Keith Jackson, a 19-year-old African American high school student from Anacostia who, thanks to a very segregated D.C., didn’t even know where the White House was.

After the incident, Bush showed this bag of crack on national television, calling for more prison funding. Jackson ended up serving eight years.

More recently, Trump has been ratcheting up fears about MS-13, a gang. He’s been using the pain and suffering of Evelyn Rodriguez, the mother of a daughter killed by a gang member, as a prop in speeches and roundtables to show people how dangerous “illegal” immigrants are. “These aren’t people,” he’s said. “These are animals.”

All the while, he’s been separating mothers and children at the border and keeping the kids locked up in detention centers.

It’s hard not to see how these two presidents employ politics cut from the same cloth. One demonizing black U.S. citizens, the other demonizing brown immigrants, all in an effort to distract from the real crime — money being funneled up to their rich friends rather than invested in public goods.

How quickly we forget.

The celebrations of the Bush legacy even extend to his son, the still living former President George W. Bush. A recent Tylt online poll asked is “Donald Trump making you finally appreciate George W. Bush?”

Almost 74 percent said they’d #RatherHaveBush. Oof.

The junior Bush’s climb in popularity isn’t thanks to establishment Republicans who wish Trump would just be a bit quieter about his racism. His favorability among Democrats is at 54 percent, compared to 11 percent in 2009.

Why do we condemn Trump but laud the Bush family? Because they weren’t as mean-sounding and could take a joke?

That’s a pretty low standard of decency for a pair of presidents who, together, killed millions in the Middle East and imprisoned millions of nonviolent drug offenders back home.

And it’s a dangerously low standard for us to sustain moving forward. If we keep forgetting or revising our history, we’re destined to repeat it with leaders who may crack a smile and use respectable language, but forge ahead with a Trump-like agenda nonetheless.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
July 22, 2019
Michael Hudson
U.S. Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses
Evaggelos Vallianatos
If Japan Continues Slaughtering Whales, Boycott the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Mike Garrity
Emergency Alert For the Wild Rockies
Dean Baker
The U.S.-China Trade War: Will Workers Lose?
Jonah Raskin
Paul Krassner, 1932-2019: American Satirist 
David Swanson
U.S. Troops Back in Saudi Arabia: What Could Go Wrong?
Robert Fisk
American Visitors to the Gestapo Museum Draw Their Own Conclusions
John Feffer
Trump’s Send-Them-Back Doctrine
Kenn Orphan – Phil Rockstroh
Landscape of Anguish and Palliatives: Predation, Addiction and LOL Emoticons in the Age of Late Stage Capitalism
Karl Grossman
A Farmworkers Bill of Rights
Gary Leupp
Omar and Trump
Robert Koehler
Fighting Climate Change Means Ending War
Susie Day
Mexicans Invade US, Trump Forced to Go Without Toothbrush
Elliot Sperber
Hey Diddle Diddle, Like Nero We Fiddle
Weekend Edition
July 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
The Blob Fought the Squad, and the Squad Won
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
It Was Never Just About the Chat: Ruminations on a Puerto Rican Revolution.
Anthony DiMaggio
System Capture 2020: The Role of the Upper-Class in Shaping Democratic Primary Politics
Andrew Levine
South Carolina Speaks for Whom?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Big Man, Pig Man
Bruce E. Levine
The Groundbreaking Public Health Study That Should Change U.S. Society—But Won’t
Evaggelos Vallianatos
How the Trump Administration is Eviscerating the Federal Government
Pete Dolack
All Seemed Possible When the Sandinistas Took Power 40 years Ago
Ramzy Baroud
Who Killed Oscar and Valeria: The Inconvenient History of the Refugee Crisis
Ron Jacobs
Dancing with Dr. Benway
Joseph Natoli
Gaming the Climate
Marshall Auerback
The Numbers are In, and Trump’s Tax Cuts are a Bust
Louisa Willcox
Wild Thoughts About the Wild Gallatin
Kenn Orphan
Stranger Things, Stranger Times
Mike Garrity
Environmentalists and Wilderness are Not the Timber Industry’s Big Problem
Helen Yaffe
Cuban Workers Celebrate Salary Rise From New Economic Measures
Brian Cloughley
What You Don’t Want to be in Trump’s America
David Underhill
The Inequality of Equal Pay
David Macaray
Adventures in Script-Writing
David Rosen
Say Goodbye to MAD, But Remember the Fight for Free Expression
Nick Pemberton
This Is Heaven!: A Journey to the Pearly Gates with Chuck Mertz
Dan Bacher
Chevron’s Oil Spill Endangers Kern County
J.P. Linstroth
A Racist President and Racial Trauma
Binoy Kampmark
Spying on Julian Assange
Rose Ramirez – Dedrick Asante-Mohammad
A Trump Plan to Throw 50,000 Kids Out of Their Schools
David Bravo
Precinct or Neighborhood? How Barcelona Keeps Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Global Capital
Ralph Nader
Will Any Disgusted Republicans Challenge Trump in the Primaries?
Dave Lindorff
The BS about Medicare-for-All Has to Stop!
Arnold August
Why the Canadian Government is Bullying Venezuela
Tom Clifford
China and the Swine Flu Outbreak
Missy Comley Beattie
Highest Anxiety
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail