Today is the final day of the presidency of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about which image would summarize - also in a symbolic way - these past eight years, this pair and what they have achieved, and I think it’s this image.
During his first campaign, George W. Bush liked to talk about how he was a “compassionate conservative”, and he turned out to be the exact opposite. George W. Bush is a callous, lazy, and superficial man; and his presidency was based on an right-wing ideology that combines extreme nationalism with an almost fanatical belief in the “free market”.
The hooded man is the logical consequence of all of this, the culmination of an obsession with power (and violence) and an utter disregard for basic human needs and suffering - the same combination that not only caused the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also torture and prison camps (many of them secret), a Ponzi-scheme based economy (which at the time of this writing is in free fall), and domestic neglect, with its most extreme result being the abandonment of people drowning in the heart of an American city, in New Orleans, while the President’s plane was flying overhead for a photo opportunity.
Tomorrow, this presidency will be over, but what it brought will remain with us for a long time. I think it’s the realization how truly and massively Bush/Cheney besmirched what people think of as “the American dream” that, to a large extent, is responsible for the excitement about and anticipation of Barack Obama being sworn in as President, even amongst many people who either did not support him initially or who did not vote for him.