Nobody ties scattered pieces together like Frank Rich. His essay in New York magazine looking back on the decade since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack against the U.S. is about as damning an indictment of the George W. Bush administration and its cronies as you'll find. If Bush and his cohorts were capable of feeling shame, this would make them crawl under a rock. The squandered opportunities for uniting the nation in genuine common cause, for instilling a new sense of national purpose, and for making the nation stronger rather than weaker, are enough to make one weep.
It's hard to choose one passage to quote, and you should definitely read the whole thing (it's not too long), but here's a taste:
By portraying Afghanistan and Iraq as utterly cost-free to a credulous public, the Bush administration injected the cancer into the American body politic that threatens it today: If we don’t need new taxes to fight two wars, why do we need them for anything? But that’s only half the story in this alternative chronicle of the decade’s history. Even as the middle class was promised a free ride, those at the top were awarded a free pass—not just with historically low tax rates that compounded America’s rampant economic inequality but with lax supervision of their own fiscal misbehavior.Correct: the attacks themselves were not the cancer, but they gave cover to it -- and to those responsible for spreading it.
The one thing I think Rich overlooks is our collective responsibility for letting these amoral assholes lead us down this path. Too many of us were ready to believe that the way we live doesn't cost as much as it does.
Just read it, okay?
(Thanks to LongReads for the link.)