05 Jan 2009 03:35 pm

Submit Your Mementos

As a new administration begins its service, the country is now looking ahead to a new era in American politics. But now is also a fitting time to look back and to contemplate what manner of an era we have just lived through.

With a view to doing just that, we invite readers to contribute to our Bush Years Time Capsule.

In the space below, submit mementos that you feel best capture the Bush years. Your entry can consist of a photo, a quote, a video clip, a book, a movie, a product -- anything that, in your view, embodies the era just passed.

Submissions will be moderated for decency and appropriateness.

Comments (34)

Make the Pie Higher

(a poem composed entirely of public utterances
by George W. Bush)

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen
And uncertainty
And potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked,
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the Internet
Become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish
Can coexist.

Families is where our nation finds hope,
Where our wings take dream.
Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher!
Make the pie higher!

--Attributed to Washington Post writer
Richard Thompson

Voting in Iraqi provincial elections ended peacefully Saturday evening, and the mood was festive in some places, unlike the violence, intimidation and apathy that marked the balloting in 2005.

"There is a new norm of politics. ... It is truly a proud moment," Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh told CNN. "The distance that we have come is truly inspiring."

Faraj al-Haidari, who chairs the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq, and Staffan de Mistura, special U.N. representative for Iraq, issued statements saying the election went smoothly.

"One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures."
—George W. Bush, U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 3, 2000

Bush boards helicopter to head home after Obama inauguration

When I watched the raw video of bush in the classroom(Pet Goat), I knew we were doomed ....

Colbert at the White House Correspondents Dinner...

When he told us he looked into Putin's soul. (Did he mean sole?)

Vice President Cheney shoots man in the face. Man who was shot apologizes to Cheney:

"My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney has had to go through this past week."

The media reports this and the Village accepts this as normal and appropriate. Sums up the era quite nicely.

Text and video here:

Another submission accurately describes the last eight years this way: "Our long national trip to the dentist (Marathon Man edition) is almost over..." I would add only that the ordeal has been puncuated with healthy doses of laughing gas.


this silly chart sums it up best for me.


The Obama administration looks likely to keep most of Bush's main initiatives: medicare drug benefit, no child left behind (they may modify it, but they're not going to back off from heavy federal involvement in education), tax cuts, war in Afganistan, domestic spying. Even the withdrawal from Iraq looks like it will largely follow a plan Bush has signed off on. About the only substantial change I foresee will be in arbitrary detentions and torture. In that sense, Bush's legacy looks fairly solid. I think that he resembles Nixon in that his actions are much more popular than he is.


Two items
1. The shoe video is a must
2. From the 2000 campaign: a quote to the effect that the President's job is to interpret the laws.

One word: Stratergy.


Our long national trip to the dentist (Marathon Man edition) is almost over...

I agree with ann. Worst president in American history.

There are so very many choices, but I think I would immortalize the incredible lousiness of his political appointments. And nobody better embodies the intellectual vacuum and constitutional disregard better than Harriet Miers.


A time capsule suggests that in a hundred years we want our descendants to open the treasure box and oooh and ahhh over the contents. A more fitting approach to memorializing the Bush debacle is to sculpt a large shoe in a prominent position in Washington so that our leaders and vistitors will remember the harm that Bush and his team inflicted on us and the world. It should be a constant reminder that our government has been subverted and that it can happen again, if we allow it.

The list of his accomplishments is breathtaking. He presided over the first attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. He lied to get us into an unprovoked war. He underestimated what it would take to achieve his ambitions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as a consequence, we continue to pour out endlessly our national treasure. He took billions of dollars in cash to Iraq to "rebuild" its economy, failed to achieve that end, and the money vanished. He let the perpetrator of 9/11 go uncaught for seven years after the calamity. He destroyed our national reputation among our allies and compromised our ethical leadership throughout the world. He set up a concentration camp and endeavored to eviscerate our civil liberties. He dismissed the Constitution as a mere piece of paper and joked that things would be a lot easier for him were he American's dictator. He destroyed American education through his misguided No Child Left Behind program. He stood idly by as one of America's greatest cities was destroyed in a natural disaster, and when he was caught up short, he instituted a rebuilding program that not only failed miserably to rebuild the destroyed American icon but resulted in billions of dollars that simply vanished. He presided over the largest increase in not just the national deficit but also the national debt. He took the longest national expansion of the economy in American history and turned it into an economy that teeters on the brink of depression, and in the process, he forced the whole world economy into recession. In order to rebuild the US financial system, he gave it three hundred billion dollars, failed to achieve the end for which he sought the money, and the money vanished. (Wow. Is there a pattern here?)

Presidents like Fillmore and Buchanan languish in American history because they did nothing. George W. Bush was so proactively bad that it seems unlikely anyone will ever exceed him as a failed president. Without a question, the man is the nadir of American history. When we look back at the stolen election of 2000, and our quiescence in the face of his grab for power, it seems truly that we simply misunderestimated the man. Perhaps we forgot that it only takes a single bullet to kill a horse.

Wars of Bush administration

I, an Iranian American, believe if after 9/11 the Bush administration would have accepted the help offered by Iran in finding the people guilty of killing innocent people in America there would have been a new begining of friendship between the two countries. With Iran as an ally the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would already be over. In this case Iran would also have a better government today.

The biggest mistake that the Bush government did, was to put Iran in the axis of evil and refuse to talk to them. There was no greater door opener for the fundamentalist government of Ahmadinajad than shutting the door on Iran in the West.

Now we have to look forward to the new president to try to correct this mistake.

There will be no peace in the middle east without Iran being involved.

Nothing prolongs the life of the Mullah regime more than the threat of bombing Iran. Sanctions make people angry against the foreign powers that impose them and sanctions make them believe, that they are hated.

Wishing you a Happy New Year and some new ideas to make it a peaceful year for people everywhere in the world

Hossein A. Bash

Heckuva job, Brownie!

I submit this video on Abu Ghraib from Youtube, produced by SBS/Dateline.


“Enhanced interrogation methods” indeed.


Maybe instead of listing definitive ways to remember the Bush years, we would be better served by finding some way to forget them altogether.

I intend to begin by forgetting: Iraq, Katrina, attempts to privitize Social Security (in light of recent events), Harriet Myers, Cheney. Others to follow.

Please wish me success.

The worst President in American history.

The mess he leaves Obama never ends--see Andrew Sullivan's blog (1/8/09) posting Tom Rick's thoughts on what will be going on in Iraq this coming year!


I think the reality-based community quote from the NYT Mag piece captures and explains so much about the behavior of this administration. It's rightfully famous already, I think it'll be one of the key quotes highlighted by historians:

"The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''"

At the time it was pretty scary to imagine this really taking hold, and setting an example for future administrations. In hindsight, it'll be the "setup" - the hubris before the "inevitable" downfall. We're all lucky (in terms of discrediting this idea) that the downfall actually happened.


The first presidential debate of the 2000 campaign, in which George W. Bush dismissed Al Gore's reliance on facts and figures as mere "fuzzy math."

We should have known right then how much trouble we were in.


Hurricane Katrina:

On September 1, two days after the storm hit, President Bush said “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”


The president spent a month in Crawford shortly before the Sept. 11 attacks, when critics say he should have been more attentive to warning signs. And during the first week of that vacation, he waved off a memo drafted specifically for him, vividly titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US."

The memo warned of "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks." But according to author Ron Suskind, Bush heard his CIA briefer out -- then told him, "All right. You've covered your ass, now."

The very next day, as Dana Milbank and Mike Allen wrote in The Post in April 2004, Bush ran into reporters while playing golf at a nearby country club and "seemed carefree as he spoke about the books he was reading, the work he was doing on his nearby ranch, his love of hot-weather jogging, his golf game and his 55th birthday."

And Dana Priest wrote in The Washington Post in April 2004: "By the time a CIA briefer gave President Bush the Aug. 6, 2001, President's Daily Brief headlined 'Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US,' the president had seen a stream of alarming reports on al Qaeda's intentions. So had Vice President Cheney and Bush's top national security team, according to newly declassified information released . . . by the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.


History is going to ask why this man was not impeached. He has been a disgrace to this great Country.

"Mission Accomplished" in 2003 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003 -

nuff said...

A president whose folksy speaking style will be judged by history to be a mere punctuation. Oh did I mess up metaphors too?


Deployments of my daughter-in-law, an army doctor, to Afghanistan and Iraq, and son #3, a Navy engineer, to centcom and Iraq. Their positive work, like the work of so many, has been ignored and often trampled by military operations. They are more isolated than those of us who fought in vietnam. This reflects the separations seen throughout this society in so many of its spheres.

"Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter." --George W. Bush, in parting words to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at his final G-8 Summit, punching the air and grinning widely as the two leaders looked on in shock, Rusutsu, Japan, July 10, 2008

I found this quote at http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/blbushisms.htm -- it seems to sum a lot of things up!

Bush explains how he choked on that pretzel -- those were the days!

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

By using this service you agree not to post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, irrelevant, or otherwise objectionable. The Atlantic reserves the right to delete, edit, or move any material that it deems to be in violation of this rule.