Predicting George W. Bush’s Presidency

More than ten years to this day, George W. Bush was inaugurated as president. Upon this event, The Onion – a famous satirical magazine – published an article titled “Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is Finally Over.

The article humorously blasted Mr. Bush, predicting an array of disasters that would occur under his tenure. This was in January of 2000, when Mr. Bush had been president for less than a month and long before 9/11. In predicting these disasters, the authors were making educated guesses about a Republican president might do wrong.

Ten years later, it’s eerie just how accurate the authors were. For instance:

During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.

“You better believe we’re going to mix it up with somebody at some point during my administration,” said Bush, who plans a 250 percent boost in military spending. “Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?”

On the economic side, Bush vowed to bring back economic stagnation by implementing substantial tax cuts, which would lead to a recession, which would necessitate a tax hike, which would lead to a drop in consumer spending, which would lead to layoffs, which would deepen the recession even further.

That sounds exactly like the Iraq War and the 2008 financial crisis. The Onion even predicted exactly what type of war Mr. Bush would create – a “Gulf-War level armed conflict.” And he did!

There are other amazingly specific predictions, all of which turned out to be right. Take growing partisan conflict:

‘We as a people must stand united, banding together to tear this nation in two,’ Bush said.

Or widening inequality:

‘Much work lies ahead of us: The gap between the rich and the poor may be wide, be there’s much more widening left to do.

Or the deficit:

We must squander our nation’s hard-won budget surplus on tax breaks for the wealthiest 15 percent.

There were several things which The Onion missed; it wasn’t able to predict Mr. Bush’s failed response to Hurricane Katrina, or his incredible unpopularity worldwide. All in all, however, the article’s accuracy is pretty impressive having been written just after Mr. Bush’s inauguration.

I look forward to reading what The Onion will write when the next Republican president is inaugurated.

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