Like a Double Dose of Dubya: Donald Trump’s Presidency Will Be Like the George W. Bush Disaster - Only Worse

Election '16

In yet another post-election example of wish fulfillment, there are rumors circulating that president-elect Donald Trump won’t actually stay in office all four years because he won’t want to do the job. After Trump met with President Obama, we heard reports that he “seemed surprised” by the scope of the job. We have also heard that Trump won’t want to sleep much in the White House and that he is likely to spend more time at Trump Tower. Then there is the idea that all Trump wanted to do was win, not actually lead. The New York Times reported back in July that Trump stated that he wouldn’t rule out quitting after he had won.

But before you get too excited by that prospect, we need to remember the presidency of George W. Bush, because all signs suggest that Trump will be a lot like George W. — only worse. Trump may not do the job, but that won’t mean he’ll step down, and it won’t mean that his tenure as president won’t screw everything up.

Let’s start with the obvious — there is no reason why Trump needs to stay in the White House or do much, if any, of the job. He can take a play right out of George W.’s book and go on endless vacation while outsourcing the job. Don’t forget that during his eight-year presidency, Bush took 879 days of vacation, including 77 trips to his Texas ranch.

And before you celebrate the idea of the orange-faced goon staying away from Washington, remember who Bush left behind to do the work. As Trump assembles his transition team and floats ideas for cabinet members, there is an uncanny resemblance to the Bush administration. Many think that it was the absolutely horrific team that Bush assembled that fueled the disaster of his presidency. Trump shows sign of doing him one better.

From Mike Pence (our new Dick Cheney) to Michael Flynn (our new Donald Rumsfeld, even if he is sitting in Condoleezza Rice’s old office as National Security Advisor), there is simply no reason to think that the advisors to Trump will be anything but worse, more extreme versions of the team that ran things under Bush. In fact, I am willing to venture that after Flynn takes over we will be wishing for the days of Rumsfeld and his torture memos. Rumsfeld will look restrained next to the guy that Politico calls “America’s angriest general.” And if you thought John Ashcroft was incompetent as attorney general, wait until you see what happens when Jeff Sessions gets going. Paul Krugman described Ashcroft as the worst attorney general in U.S. history — my guess is he’ll have to revise his assessment after Sessions is confirmed.

While Steve Bannon may be no match for Bush’s Karl Rove, Trump has Sarah Palin on a short list for secretary of the interior — a spot that Bush’s pick luckily made largely forgettable. The cabinet picks are still being bounced around and aren’t yet definitive, but there is not one name in the running that shouldn’t be causing you to panic. Trump has no one who remotely resembles Colin Powell on any short list.

Those imagining that Trump will be “a uniter, not a divider” need to remember what actually happened under the presidency of the guy who first uttered those words. Despite the fact that Bush ran under a banner of “compassionate conservatism,” we now have proof that his presidency “began a period of previously unmatched partisanship in our politics.” It’s worth noting that Trump has not once, not ever spoken of compassion as a core political value. In fact he ran a campaign that had dividing our nation as a key goal. So we have every reason to believe that he will make the polarization caused by Bush seem cute.

The fact that both Trump and Bush lost the popular vote is only one of the many pattern matches to their campaigns. From election fraud to election rigging, the campaigns had much in common. Both candidates had highly elite upbringings and yet somehow managed to fashion themselves as folksy, regular guys who would stand up for average America and represent the “silent majority.”

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