I’ll bet you didn’t realize it at the time, but Iraq was in pretty good shape when George W. Bush left office back in 2008. There were a lot of structures still standing and it was estimated that 37 Iraqi families had lost only one member and they were distant cousins. Best of all, it was a democratic nation. Small matter the fact that Iraq had never shown any particular interest in being one. We knew better. Just look at us!

It is surprising that Mr. Bush has been so hesitant to trumpet the little-known success of one of his administration’s premiere endeavors. For some reason, the eldest scion from our Grand American Family opted to retreat into a hyper-reclusiveness that Greta Garbo might have admired.

I wondered if our former chief executive has been maintaining this low profile so that his brother, Jeb, might have a better shot at the Oval Office in 2016. Jeb is the one whom the family later acknowledged had the brains, an admission that struck most of us as too little, too late.

Aristocratic tradition that dates back to the Stone Age dictates that the eldest son gets the preferential treatment. Back then, it was a matter of who got the biggest club. So, the Bush family upheld an old tradition and the country somehow managed to withstand the clubbing he gave us.

Americans have an admirable reputation for forgiving and forgetting and Jeb might even win the election if it was held in 3016.


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I can see his opponent’s strategy if he tries to run two years from now -- banners stretching from coast to coast asking, "Do you really want to go through this again?"

And while I’m on the subject of going through something again, the founding members of the AWC (Always Wrong Club) are hollering for another military intervention in Iraq. Paul Bremer, Paul Wolfowitz, and the Prince of Darkness himself, former Vice President Dick Cheney, have taken the impassioned, if predictable position that it is President Obama’s fault that sectarian violence in Iraq has escalated. The president had the temerity to honor an agreement signed by Mr. Bush in 2008 that United States would begin withdrawing its troops from the country in 2011. I’m assuming that Halliburton dividend checks have subsequently suffered.

This new position is something of a reversal as far as Republican politics are concerned. When Mr. Obama took office, the standard outcry was that it was taking him far too long to clean up the various messes that the Grand Old Party had made during the Bush II years. (A notable exception to that, of course, was the reform that the administration proposed to rein in Wall Street greed and reduce the chances of another economic meltdown. In that instance, there was no need to rush headlong into these things.)

The one aspect of George W. Bush’s public life that might be called gracious was his retirement from it. All other potential motives aside, it is quite possible that Mr. Bush is aware that, given the fact that there was hardly an aspect of the nation he took an oath to serve (twice) that wasn’t in tatters when he left office, he has graciously opted to retreat into a relative invisibility. Rendering bad paintings is a lot less dangerous than promulgating bad policy.

Not so with Mr. Cheney who, very likely, bears a significantly larger responsibility for the greatest foreign policy blunder in the country’s history than does the easily persuadable Mr. Bush. With his trademark sneer firmly in place, the man who hawked the war in Iraq the way an ambitious vacuum cleaner salesman might peddle his product door to door, had the almighty gall to snipe at Obama because the president has declined to attenuate a morass that has consumed the lives of 4,500 American service men and women, inflicted hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties, and cost a nation that is only inching its way back from a major recession over a trillion dollars.

But Dick Cheney never encountered a problem that a good-sized bomb couldn’t solve unless the problem was near the ranch in Wyoming. You have to ask yourself, listening to current right wing rabble-rousing war talk, what they expect the United States is going to do in the Middle East? We have bridges regularly collapsing in this country, people sleeping on sidewalks, and dying for lack of affordable medical care -- and we are supposed to continue pouring money down this insatiable black hole; a place that has been fraught with savage sectarian violence for centuries?

How ironic that this man, still spewing his hatred-for-profit doctrine, was the recent recipient of a heart transplant. The former vice president, no doubt, received all kinds of preferential treatment while military personnel, scarred both mentally and physically from the wars Cheney was so instrumental in instigating, have to take a number at a veterans hospital and just hope that the help comes in time.

Alden Graves is a Banner columnist.