Frank Rich: Bush 'goofed it up and got away with it'
Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert invited New York Times columnist Frank Rich to his program on Monday to needle him about his pleasure at Barack Obama's inauguration and his incessant criticism of George Bush over the last eight years.
"Why did you never give the guy a fair break?" Colbert complained, in his best fake-conservative pundit style. "The entire time, you just hammered him. ... Did you just keep beating on him hoping for a Pulitzer to drop out?"
"He just gave us one reason after another," Rich explained. "He ended up being Hoover, with an economy that's the worst any of us have ever seen."
"So there's going to be a giant dam built for him, is what you're saying?" Colbert asked. "One of the modern marvels of the world?"
Hoover Dam might not be the best precedent for Bush supporters to invoke. It was originally christened after Herbert Hoover when construction began in 1930 during his presidency, but his name was removed from the project by Roosevelt's secretary of the interior and was restored only when anti-Roosevelt Republicans took control of Congress in 1947.
"Is there nothing positive that you could say about [Bush] at all?" Colbert continued. "I mean, the surge worked. We have democracy in Iraq. We have democracy in the Palestinian territories. We have democracy in Afghanistan."
"We have democracy in the Palestinian territories -- we got Hamas," Rich replied. "That was good. We empowered the Taliban in Afghanistan."
Rich acknowledged that Bush "did do some things. After 9/11, he united the country briefly. He went after the people who actually attacked us -- for a few months. He did increase funding for AIDS in Africa. But that's like getting the extra credit question right when you've flunked the rest of the exam."
"Is he the worst person ever in the history of mankind?" Colbert asked plaintively?
"No," laughed Rich. "He's not even close. ... He's smaller than life, is my feeling. ... He showed that you could get the most powerful job in the world and just sort of goof it up -- and get away with it for eight years."
This video is from Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, broadcast Jan. 19, 2009.
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