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Waiting to Exhale: End of the Bush Administration

Glen Gibbons
I don’t know about change I can believe in. I’ll believe in it when I see it. But I do believe in hope renewed . . . and fresh air.

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I don’t know at what point it was, exactly, in the last eight years that I began holding my breath.

Perhaps it was even before the beginning, during those weeks of the judicial/electoral coup that masqueraded as the 2000 U.S. national elections.

Probably it happened on September 11, less than eight months after the inauguration of George W. Bush, when the whole world caught its breath at the calamity in New York, Pennsylvania, and outside Washington, D.C.

Certainly, I must have stopped breathing upon hearing the presidential counsel in the wake of that tragedy — for Americans to go shopping, rebuild the economy on the back of consumer debt and foreign manufacturing.

The month after the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I wrote that a chasm had opened before us, and added, “Our actions in the months and years ahead can widen or narrow the gap separating the world from a better future.”

Well, the results are in, and the answer was, “widen.”

I also quoted Friedrich Nietzsche, who always seems appropriate at apocalyptic moments: “He who fights with monsters might take care that he doesn’t thereby become also a monster.”

Yes, we gazed into the abyss, and it into us.

What followed piled hardship upon outrage. A preemptive war without just cause, but plenty of unjust effects. A Patriot Act that shredded the Constitution. Warrantless wiretaps. Easy incarcerations. The “gulag at Guantanamo,” as I called it in a 2003 editorial, invoking the wrath of a couple of readers who thought I should be fired.

And that was before the reports of torture emerged, before water-boarding became presidential policy. Certainly, no one could breathe easy after Abu Ghraib.

But wait, that’s not all. Because just about this time the American real estate market began its breathtaking, unregulated run-up in prices, fueled by negligence among financial wizards and political leaders of all stripes, particularly the Decider in Chief.

These were people who knew better but had mastered the neat trick of looking the other way (and packaging the derivatives) while yet another subprime contract was stacked on the house of cards or another campaign contribution slipped in the back door.

So, the current administration’s doubling of the national debt in its first seven years turned out to be merely the warm-up for our current trillion-dollar meltdown in the global banking system. Bonfire of the vanities, indeed.

(I’d like to offer my apologies to people everywhere for my 1/300-millionth share in the catastrophe visited on the world’s economy by those in the present leadership, who are otherwise too preoccupied to do so themselves.)

If George Bush ever does run into the man with the keys to the kingdom, he’ll have some explaining to do. As for the spectre who is our departing vice-president, nothing more need or can be said. He’s sucked all the air out of the room.

Well, enough ranting for this month. (Thanks, I needed that).

Back to business.

In this issue "GPS and Regime Change", the first of a two-part article about the coming transition in U.S. leadership reflects on the past eight years and what they’ve meant for GPS, and GNSS in general. It concludes that a lot has been accomplished despite the fits and starts.

The article is titled “The Bush Legacy,” but it’s really the legacy of the Bush administration. Another president, John Adams, spoke about the United States becoming a nation of laws, not men. But it is, for all that, also a nation of people as well as laws.

And like all those that came before it, this was an administration of people — people who kept working away through all the bad days and dark hours. Most of them not part of the torture, not part of the wiretaps, not part of the greed. Just folks who got up each day and did the best they could with what they had and where they were. Sometimes holding their noses, if not their breath.

I don’t know about change I can believe in. I’ll believe in it when I see it. But I do believe in hope renewed . . . and fresh air.

So, if you find yourselves in my state of mind, sit back, take a deep breath, and then exhale. It’s over.

Glen Gibbons is the editor and publisher of Inside GNSS. He has a couple of liberal arts degrees.

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