Donald Rumsfeld’s legacy is defined by the disastrous Iraq War and America’s disgraceful use of torture

Donald Rumsfeld
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld listens to questions during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on what military leaders knew about the combat death in Afghanistan of U.S. Army Ranger and former football star Pat Tillman, in Washington, August 1, 2007.

  • Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush’s powerful defense secretary, died at 88 on Wednesday.
  • His legacy will always be tied to the Iraq War and torture.
  • Rumsfeld helped push the false notion Iraq had WMDs – the basis for the 2003 invasion.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In the days leading up to Donald Rumsfeld’s death, the US targeted Iranian proxy fighters along the Iraq-Syria border with airstrikes in what the Pentagon said was a “defensive” response to drone attacks on American forces in the region.

The fighting between the US and Iran-backed militias is intrinsically tied to Rumsfeld’s legacy. The 2003 US invasion of Iraq and removal of its dictator created a power vacuum that Iran took advantage of, using it as an opportunity to prop up Shiite Islamist militias and political parties that vie for power in Iraq and counter America’s agenda and troops.

As former President George W. Bush’s secretary of defense from 2001 to 2006, Rumsfeld was one of the main architects of the 2003 Iraq War and a proponent of the torture methods that damaged America’s global standing. He played a central role in selling the false notion that Saddam Hussein was actively developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that posed a direct threat to the US. Later, Rumsfeld referred to his baseless assertions about WMDs in Iraq as “misstatements.”

In one of his most infamous statements about the war, Rumsfeld once dismissed looting that occurred shortly after the invasion by simply stating: “Stuff happens.”

The war was a costly disaster for Rumsfeld’s political career and in far more reverberating ways, with the conflict claiming many Iraqi and American lives while undermining US credibility worldwide.

The “global war on terror,” which the Iraq invasion was fundamentally linked to and began while Rumsfeld was Pentagon chief, has also been an exorbitantly expensive debacle. It’s claimed over 800,000 lives, displaced at least 37 million, and the US government places the price-tag around $6.4 trillion, according to the Brown University’s Costs of War project, which estimated that as many as 308,000 people directly died as a result of the war’s violence.

The 2003 Iraq invasion also helped catalyze the rise of the Islamic State or ISIS, a terrorist organization that has claimed responsibility for devastating attacks across the globe. ISIS was initially founded as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” in 2004. By 2014, ISIS declared a caliphate as it controlled a large swath of territory across Iraq and Syria. ISIS lost its territorial holdings and has seen top leaders killed, but is still viewed as a threat by the US and its Western allies.

“ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and Iran and its militant allies continue to plot terrorist attacks against US persons and interests, including to varying degrees in the United States. Despite leadership losses, terrorist groups have shown great resiliency and are taking advantage of ungoverned areas to rebuild,” the US intelligence community said in its annual threat assessment released in April. The US maintains a presence of roughly 2,500 troops in Iraq as part of the international coalition continuing to fight the remnants of ISIS.

Rumsfeld in his 2011 memoir said he had no regrets about the 2003 Iraq War because it helped take out Saddam Hussein, which he said helped stabilize the Middle East. History tells a different story.

“While the road not traveled always looks smoother, the cold reality of a Hussein regime in Baghdad most likely would mean a Middle East far more perilous than it is today,” Rumsfeld said. “Our failure to confront Iraq would have sent a message to other nations that neither America nor any other nation was willing to stand in the way of their support for terrorism and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.”

Years before the 2003 invasion, Rumsfeld served as the Reagan administration’s special Middle East envoy. At the time, he met with Hussein and offered the Iraqi leader assistance – even though the US knew that Hussein was using chemical weapons against Iran amid a devastating conflict.

Rumsfeld was also a documented proponent of enhanced interrogation techniques – or torture.

In one memo that Rumsfeld signed as defense secretary approving the use of torture on detainees, he wrote a handwritten note asking why they would only be required to stand for four hours.

A December 2008 Senate report also concluded that Abu Ghraib torture scandal was a product of the interrogation techniques approved by Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials.

Human rights groups and civil liberties groups like the ACLU filed unsuccessful lawsuits against Rumsfeld over his involvement in America’s use of torture. Such organizations pointed to this legacy as they reacted to the news of Rumsfeld’s death.

“Rumsfeld may be dead, but other senior Bush administration officials are alive and well and available for criminal investigation into torture,” Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington irector at Human Rights Watch, said in a tweet.

Jameel Jaffer, the executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, tweeted that the “top of every obituary” should state that he “gave the orders that resulted in the abuse and torture of hundreds of prisoners in US custody in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay.”

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Donald Rumsfeld has died at 88

Donald Rumsfeld
Former Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

  • Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has died at age 88.
  • He served in the role under former Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush.
  • Rumsfeld’s role in pushing for the Iraq War became a major liability for Bush in later years.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who served in the role under former presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush and was widely seen as the architect of the Iraq War, has died at age 88.

The Rumsfeld family released a statement shortly after his passing.

“It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Donald Rumsfeld, an American statesman and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. At 88, he was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico,” they wrote.

They added: “History may member his for his extraordinary accomplishments over six decades of public service, but for those who knew him best and whose lives were forever changed as a result, we will remember his unwavering love for his wife Joyce, his family and friends, and the integrity he brought to a life dedicated to country.”

Rumsfeld, an Illinois native, Princeton University graduate, and US Navy veteran, represented a suburban Chicago congressional district in the House from 1963 to 1969.

He was later the US Ambassador to NATO from February 1973 to September 1974 and White House chief of staff under Ford from September 1974 to November 1975, before serving as Defense secretary from November 1975 to January 1977.

Bush tapped Rumsfeld for his second stint at the Pentagon in 2001, and he sought to make the military a leaner organization.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks changed the trajectory of the nation’s history, and Rumsfeld played a critical role in the guiding the military’s response and its initial attacks on Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

US forces toppled the Taliban from their position of power in the country, and supported a new democratically-elected government.

In 2002, Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney set their sights on the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, with US-led coalition invading the country the next year under the rationale of stopping him from launching attacks with weapons of mass destruction.

No such weapons were discovered, and the Iraq War left the country susceptible to internal sectarian violence.

Where Rumsfeld was once praised for his leadership at the Pentagon, he soon became a lightning rod for opponents of the war.

After photos emerged of US soldiers abusing Iraq prisoners who werebeing held at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Rumsfeld was blamed for the incident.

He approved harsh interrogation techniques for detainees, and under his leadership, the country opened a special prison at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which drew international scorn from human rights activists.

Rumsfeld resigned from his position after the 2006 midterm elections, which saw Republicans lose their Congressional majorities after Americans began to turn against the war.

He was replaced by Robert Gates, a former director of Central Intelligence.

This post has been updated. Check back for updates.

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Former Bush chief strategist says US needs to ‘go all in with the Democratic Party’ to ‘guard our Republic’

Matthew Dowd sits on set of Good Morning America in a black suit and red tie.
Matthew Dowd on “Good Morning America,” Tuesday, February 14, 2017.

  • The chief strategist for President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign now backs the Democratic party.
  • Matthew Dowd said people need to put aside “policy and cultural differences” and support the Democratic Party.
  • “It is the only vehicle we can trust to guard our Republic,” Dowd said, while also taking a swipe at Trump.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign is now rooting for the political party he was once up against.

Matthew Dowd, who served as chief strategist for President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, said on Twitter Thursday he now views the Democratic Party as the only option for Americans.

“All the tribes of our nation who care about democracy need to put aside any policy and cultural differences and go all in with the Democratic Party. It is the only vehicle we can trust to guard our Republic,” Dowd wrote.

Read more: Meet the 7 BidenWorld insiders with access to exclusive White House meetings

He said the GOP “has bought into the mendacity from the mad king of Mara lago [sic],” in an apparent reference to former President Donald Trump. He also said the GOP “are a party of autocracy.”

“The Democratic Party is the only path today to protect our nation,” he continued.

Prior to working for Bush, Dowd served as a senior advisor to the Republican National Committee. In 2007, he became a political contributor for ABC News, eventually becoming the network’s chief political analyst. Earlier this year he announced he was leaving ABC.

He recently appeared as a guest on MSNBC where he also criticized Republicans, saying they have a goal to “stop America’s diversity.”

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George W. Bush says the Republican Party has a shot at future elections if it curbs its ‘white Anglo-Saxon Protestantism’

George W. Bush
  • Former President George W. Bush expressed optimism that the Republican Party will “govern again.”
  • He said it depends on whether the GOP can distance itself from “white Anglo-Saxon Protestantism.”
  • Republicans, he suggested, need to embrace the traditional values the party was founded on.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President George W. Bush said he believes the Republican Party will win in future elections if its members embrace traditional ideals and curb the “white Anglo-Saxon Protestantism.”

Asked about the state of the Republican Party, Bush told “The Dispatch Podcast” he believes there’s potential to win in the upcoming midterm elections and the 2024 presidential election.

“I think Republicans will have a second chance to govern because I believe that the Biden administration is a uniting factor, particularly on the fiscal side of things,” he said.

But the Republican Party will not win by representing ideals tied to white supremacy, he suggested.

“If the Republican Party stands for exclusivity – it used to be country clubs, now it’s white Anglo-Saxon Protestantism – then it’s not going to win anything,” Bush said.

Bush was elaborating on a question about whether he believed the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

A recent poll found that 60% of Republicans believe President Joe Biden won the 2020 election because of widespread voter fraud, a baseless claim that former President Donald Trump and his allies spouted for months.

The poll, conducted by Reuters and Ipsos and published last month, said Republicans also want Trump to run for president in 2024.

“Republicans have their own version of reality,” John Geer, public opinion expert at Vanderbilt University, told Reuters. “It is a huge problem. Democracy requires accountability and accountability requires evidence.”

Bush said in the podcast interview he does not believe the election was stolen from Trump.

Other Republicans have also predicted a GOP win in the future elections – and plan to use Trump’s help to get there.

Sen. Lindsey Graham earlier this year said he wants to leverage former Trump’s influence to ensure that the Republican party takes back the House and Senate in 2022.

In an interview with Politico, Graham said he’ll meet with Trump to discuss the future of the GOP and his role in it.

“I’m going to try and convince him that we can’t get there without you, but you can’t keep the Trump movement going without the GOP united,” Graham said on Friday.

“If we come back in 2022, then, it’s an affirmation of your policies,” he said. “But if we lose again in 2022, the narrative is going to continue that not only you lost the White House, but the Republican Party is in a bad spot.”

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Biden at 100 days is far more popular than Trump was at the same point in his presidency

trump biden
  • Biden is receiving generally positive reviews from voters as he approaches the 100-day mark.
  • Polls consistently show most Americans approve of the job Biden is doing.
  • Trump’s approval rating at the same point in his presidency was far lower than Biden’s.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden is set to hit 100 days since his inauguration on Friday, and poll after poll shows that most Americans approve of the job he’s doing as commander-in-chief.

Biden’s approval rating in multiple polls is also far higher than where President Donald Trump’s favorability stood at the same point in his tenure.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll found 55% of Americans approved of Biden’s performance in office, while 40% disapproved. Comparatively, the same poll from the final week of Trump’s first 100 days found a majority of Americans disapproved of the job he was doing (53%), with his approval rating at just 41% at the time. Throughout his time in office, the numbers-obsessed Trump never saw an approval rating in Reuters polling as high as Biden’s current level of support.

Meanwhile, recent Gallup polling put Biden’s 100-day approval rating at 57%, which far surpasses Trump’s approval rating of 41% back in late April 2017.

His leadership style is markedly different from Trump’s, who spent much of his presidency airing grievances on Twitter while shifting from one self-induced crisis to the next. Biden has taken a decidedly less belligerent tone, hardly ever tweets, and his administration has so far not been embroiled in a seemingly never-ending stream of scandals. These factors could all be contributing to the large gap in approval between Biden and Trump.

Gallup polling shows Biden’s approval rating is lower than some of his other recent predecessors at 100 days: Barack Obama’s stood at 65% at this point, while George W. Bush’s 100-day score was 62%. But he’s not far off from Bill Clinton (55%) and George H.W. Bush (58%) at 100 days.

Biden
President Joe Biden

Since the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had his work cut out for him coming into office at the height of the Great Depression, the 100-day benchmark has been used to grade presidents on their early progress (or lack thereof).

Biden was inaugurated in the midst of a global pandemic and on the heels of a fatal insurrection at the US Capitol that sent shockwaves across the world. He inherited a mess.

Though Washington continues to be dominated by hyper-partisanship, there appears to be growing optimism in the US – especially as it continues to show signs of progress with the pandemic under Biden’s leadership. A recent NBC News poll found 36% of Americans feel the country is headed in the right direction, up from just 21% who said the same in January.

Biden has repeatedly received top marks in polling regarding his handling of the pandemic, which appears to have contributed to his positive favorability rating from American voters.

In the days since he was sworn-in, Biden signed a historic COVID-19 stimulus package and the pace of vaccination in the US has improved dramatically. He’s also introduced ambitious plans on infrastructure and immigration as he continues the fight against the virus.

Under Trump, who consistently downplayed the threat of COVID-19 before being hospitalized after contracting it last October, the US was the epicenter of the pandemic. Under Biden, the US has emerged as global model for the vaccination process.

But Biden is facing increasing pressure to share the US vaccine supply as the virus continues to wreak havoc and overwhelm hospitals in other countries. Earlier this week, Biden announced he’d be taking steps to send more supplies to India, the latest pandemic hotspot where people have literally been begging for oxygen. The US is also set to send surplus AstraZeneca vaccine supplies abroad once the vaccine has received federal approval.

Biden also continues to face criticism over his handling of a surge in arrivals of unaccompanied migrant children at the border, and polling has frequently showing his lowest approval scores are on this issue specifically.

Beyond domestic issues, Biden has taken big steps on foreign policy. Earlier this month, Biden announced that all remaining US troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11, marking an end to the longest war in US history. But he continues to face myriad challenging issues in the global arena, ranging from competition with China to achieving his goal of reviving the Iran nuclear deal.

The 100-day mark can serve a litmus test for presidential progress, but it’s also fairly arbitrary and doesn’t necessarily signify how presidents will fare overall – or how Americans will feel about them by the end of their time in office. When Bush left the White House in 2009, for example, Gallup polling showed his approval at 34% – substantially lower than where it stood at 100 days.

But based on the available evidence, Americans generally feel that Biden is off to a strong start as they begin to see a future not dominated by COVID-19.

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George W. Bush condemns the Republican Party as ‘isolationist, protectionist’ and ‘nativist’ and says it’s scaring people about immigration

Former President George W. Bush on "Today" on Tuesday.
Former President George W. Bush on “Today” on Tuesday.

  • Former President George W. Bush called his own political party “isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent nativist” during a “Today” interview.
  • Bush is calling for immigration reform that he broadly describes as “border enforcement with a compassionate touch.”
  • “It’s an easy issue to frighten some of the electorate and I’m trying to have a different voice,” Bush said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President George W. Bush called his own political party “isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent nativist” during a “Today” interview on Tuesday.

“It’s a beautiful country we have and yet it’s not beautiful when we condemn and call people names and scare people about immigration,” he said. “It’s an easy issue to frighten some of the electorate and I’m trying to have a different voice.”

Bush, who is coming out with a new book of his paintings, “Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants,” joked that his opinion is somewhat irrelevant.

“It’s not exactly my vision, but I’m just an old guy they put out to pasture, a simple painter,” he said.

During an interview with CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell that aired Sunday, Bush said that failing to pass immigration reform during his two terms in office was one of the biggest disappointments of his presidency.

Bush said he wants “border enforcement with a compassionate touch,” and that he isn’t “pro-immigration” because that involves “open borders.”

He called for a stronger asylum process with more judges and courts to handle asylees’ claims and reform of the visa system to allow more workers in to fill “empty” American jobs. Bush also argued there’s a shortage of “manpower” on the border to handle the steep rise in migrants, particularly children, who’ve crossed the US-Mexico border in recent months.

Bush didn’t support former President Donald Trump’s reelection, but didn’t make any public statement before the election. He has said the Jan. 6 Capitol siege made him “sick” and on Tuesday he lamented the pervasiveness of political misinformation online.

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George W. Bush said failing to pass immigration reform was one of the ‘biggest disappointments’ of his presidency

laura bush
  • In a rare interview, former President George W. Bush said he was disappointed he never passed immigration reform.
  • Bush also said that Congress wasn’t “doing its job” to pass reform.
  • Former House Speaker John Boehner made similar comments about immigration Sunday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President George W. Bush said Sunday that failing to pass substantial immigration reform during his eight years in office was one of the biggest disappointments of his presidency.

Bush, president from 2001 to 2009, spoke in a rare interview with CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell that aired Sunday.

“It’s been 15 years,” O’Donnell said, pointing toward the time that has passed between the present and Bush’s 2006 Oval Office address, where he called for a “middle ground” approach to immigration reform.

“Still, nothing’s been done,” she added.

“No, a lot of executive orders but all that means is Congress isn’t doing its job,” Bush said.

Read more: Imagine a 20-car motorcade taking you to dinner. That’s the White House bubble Joe Biden now finds himself living in.

O’Donnell asked the former president whether failing to pass immigration reform was one of the “biggest disappointments” of his presidency.

“Yes, it is,” Bush responded. “I campaigned on immigration reform. I made it abundantly clear to voters this is something I intended to do.”

“The problem with the immigration debate is that it – one can create a lot of fear,” he added. “‘They’re coming after you.’ It’s a nation that is willing to accept the refugee or the harmed or the frightened, to me is a great nation. And we are a great nation.”

Bush said Sunday he supported a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently residing in the US, so long as they pay back taxes and can pass a background check. He told O’Donnell he would support such a plan if it were proposed by President Joe Biden, even if other members of the Republican Party opposed it.

Bush also Sunday explained why he rarely appears in media – a direct contrast to former President Donald Trump who left office this year and frequently releases political statements through his office after he was banned from most social media platforms earlier this year.

“I feel a responsibility to uphold the dignity of the office,” Bush said. “I did then, and I do now. And I think it’s undignified to want to see my name in print all the time. I think it basically sends a signal that I miss being famous and, you know, I want people to see me. Listen to me! And, you know, I don’t. I really don’t.”

Former GOP House Speaker John Boehner, who served under former President Barack Obama from 2011 until his retirement in 2015, made similar comments about immigration during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, calling his failure to pass such reform his “second greatest regret.”

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Every living former president has urged Americans to get vaccinated in a new ad series – apart from Trump who is demanding credit for the vaccine

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama seen in an Ad Council public service announcement released March 11, 2021.

  • Presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton, and Carter appeared in a vaccine PSA released early Thursday.
  • Trump didn’t take part in the campaign, though it’s not clear if he was asked.
  • He also issued a statement saying “I hope everyone remembers” the vaccine wouldn’t exist without him.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Every living former US president has appeared in an ad campaign telling Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, apart from Donald Trump, who has instead released a statement demanding credit for the vaccine.

On Thursday, the nonprofit Ad Council released a public service advertisement starring Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter.

“This vaccine means hope,” Obama said in the video. “It will protect you and those you love from this dangerous and deadly disease.”

Trump was noticeably absent, though it’s not clear if he was asked to join the campaign.

Hours before the campaign went live, however, Trump’s personal office in Florida released a statement in which he claimed responsibility for the vaccines’ existence.

“I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) vaccine, that if I wasn’t president, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all. I hope everyone remembers!” he said, using a derogatory term for the novel coronavirus, which was first found in China.

When asked by Insider whether it had asked Trump to join the PSA, an Ad Council said the project with the former presidents started last December. The spokesperson did not say whether the Ad Council had approached Trump, who at the time was an outgoing president.

The spokesperson added that some of the ads were shot at President Joe Biden’s January 20 inauguration, which Trump did not attend, having flown to his resort in Palm Beach that morning.

Trump said last year he would get the vaccine, but did not say when, and did not say whether he would follow the likes of Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence and get his shot live on TV.

However, it was reported earlier this month that Trump and first lady Melania Trump quietly got the vaccine in the White House in January.

Trump vaccine Operation Warp Speed
President Donald Trump speaks during an “Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit” on the White House complex, December 8, 2020.

Trump has long claimed responsibility for securing a vaccine for the US, despite his Operation Warp Speed vaccine-development scheme deemed a failure that was beset with issues and widely criticized.

Members of the Biden administration has said that they inherited no coronavirus vaccine distribution plan from Trump White House, with a source telling CNN they had to “build everything from scratch.”

Days before Biden’s inauguration, White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that Operation Warp Speed would continue in the Biden administration, but that there was an “urgent need to address the failures of the Trump team approach to vaccine distribution.”

Biden later called the vaccine rollout under Trump “a dismal failure.”

Trump missed his administration’s target of administering 20 million doses by the end of 2020 and Biden is aiming to administer 100 million doses of the vaccine in his first 100 days in office, or by April 30.

Biden’s plan appears to be on track and the vaccine rollout is well underway, prompting states like Texas and Mississippi to abandon mandatory mask wearing.

However, Biden said the move was premature and an example of “Neanderthal thinking.”

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Democratic presidents keep having to save the US economy after Republican presidents run it into the ground

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President Joe Biden greets former President Barack Obama for the inauguration of Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • Since the 1990s, GOP presidents keep running the US economy into recessions.
  • And then Democratic presidents come in and save the economy.
  • Democrats should remind voters of this every chance they get.
  • Michael Gordon is a longtime Democratic strategist, a former spokesman for the Justice Department, and the principal for the strategic-communications firm Group Gordon.
  •  
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Repeat after me: The last three Republican presidencies ended in economic turmoil. And their Democratic successors had to clean up the mess. Voters need to be reminded – again and again – that putting Republicans in the White House puts our country in recession.

Republican recessions

It seems quaint compared to 2008 or our current crisis, but President George H. W. Bush ended his one term in office in recession. After what was then the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in US history, in July 1990 the country entered a recession that saw unemployment rise to a peak of 7.8% in June 1992.

His challenger Bill Clinton made the economic pain that families were feeling the mantra of his campaign and handily beat Bush, who came across as out of touch with working Americans.

One of Clinton’s first legislative achievements was an economic recovery bill that, among other things, put a greater tax burden on the wealthy and increased tax credits and wage subsidies for the working poor. As a result, during his eight years in office, Clinton oversaw economic growth that averaged 3.5% annual GDP growth but topped 4% throughout his second term. Unemployment fell from 7.4% to 3.9%, and the labor market added an average of 2.9 million jobs per year.

Cut to President George W. Bush and his policies that cut taxes for the rich, grew our national debt and trade deficit to record levels, left the US dollar severely weakened, decreased regulation of Wall Street, and ultimately helped bring about the Great Recession. 

The Great Recession was man-made, caused by reckless lending by financial institutions – not the result of the natural cycles of our economy. The devastation was – and continues to be – enormous, with America more unequal, less productive, and poorer because of the severity of the crisis.

President Barack Obama came to office needing to help bail out entire industries that our country runs on. The depth of the decline was the worst in 80 years, and the recovery Obama initiated was slow – but effective. 

After taking over in early 2017, former-President Donald Trump maintained the Obama recovery in some ways – but in other ways economic disparity grew deeper. Then, he treated the pandemic more like a political issue than a health issue, and the economy went into freefall on every metric. Millions of jobs were lost – some for good. Unemployment still sits at 6.7% despite some improvement in recent months, with communities of color hit hardest.

Now, as part of the promise of President Joe Biden, we will get through the pandemic and renew our economic strength in turn: another Democrat fixing a Republican mess.

Carter boomerang

Older voters will recall that President Jimmy Carter became the favorite Republican punching bag after his four years in office ended in economic calamity. So many negatives for the economy became associated with Carter – malaise, stagflation, the misery index – that Republicans held onto the White House for 12 years straight, the longest continuous streak in nearly 70 years. The fear of going back to the Carter years kept voters on edge and Republicans in power. 

But it’s been almost 50 years since Carter took office, and despite their superior record Democrats have failed to capitalize sufficiently on the economic strength they repeatedly ushered in and make it synonymous with their brand.

Much like the GOP did with Carter, Democrats need to make the Bushes and particularly Trump their punching bag for the next generation. The Democrats need to make it clear that they are the stewards of steady, strong economic growth and are always cleaning up after the GOP.

In most election years, voters think first about the economy and their own pocketbooks. That is the primary driver of most elections at most levels. Every Democrat needs to make the contrast in economic success their mantra – for the sake of the party and the country.

Repeat after me: The last three Republican presidencies ended in economic turmoil.

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Mitch McConnell announced he will get a COVID-19 vaccine ‘in the coming days,’ and Congress will be receiving a shipment of the vaccine

GettyImages mitch mcconnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gives the thumbs-up to the media after the Senate voted to confirm Betsy DeVos as education secretary on Capitol Hill on February 7, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The historic 51-50 vote was decided by a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence.

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he will receive the coronavirus vaccine “in the coming days” to boost public confidence in the shot.
  • “The only way to beat this pandemic is for us to follow the advice of our nation’s health care professionals: get vaccinated and continue to follow CDC guidelines,” McConnell said in the statement.
  • McConnell is the latest of a number of prominent politicians who are planning on receiving the vaccine to boost public confidence in the shot — including President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President Mike Pence, and former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he will receive the coronavirus shot “in the coming days” to demonstrate the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last Friday for emergency use – the first vaccine to be greenlighted in the US.

Shipments of the vaccine rolled out overnight on Sunday to be administered to frontline healthcare workers, and a number of prominent figures are volunteering to publicly receive the shot to boost public confidence in its safety.

In a statement released Thursday, McConnell said he was eligible to get the vaccine “because of government continuity requirements.”

Alongside frontline healthcare workers, Congress will also be among the first to get a shipment of the coronavirus vaccine, Politico reported.

“Vaccines for federal agencies and officials across Washington have been arriving at Walter Reed Medical Center in recent days,” according to the Politico report, “and thousands of doses are expected to be designated for the House and Senate, though congressional leadership offices said they have no information to provide.”

Capitol Physician Brian Monahan wrote in a letter to McConnell, obtained by Politico, that Capitol Hill will receive “a specific number of COVID 19 vaccine doses to meet longstanding requirements for continuity of government operations.” It was not immediately clear what other members of Congress will also get the vaccine alongside McConnell.

“The small number of COVID 19 vaccines we will be provided reflects a fraction of the first tranche of vaccines as it is distributed throughout the country,” Monahan continued, citing the Politico report.

McConnell said he was “disappointed to see early public sentiment that shows some hesitation towards receiving a vaccine,” citing data from an AP-NORC poll showing that a quarter of American adults are unsure if they will receive the vaccine.

“The only way to beat this pandemic is for us to follow the advice of our nation’s health care professionals: get vaccinated and continue to follow CDC guidelines,” McConnell said in the statement.

A polio survivor, the Republican senator from Kentucky said he understands “both the fear of a disease and the extraordinary promise of hope that vaccines bring” but hopes that Americans will accept the vaccine.

“Even with a vaccine, I will continue following CDC guidelines by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing my hands frequently,” McConnell said. “I would strongly encourage everyone to continue following these important guidelines. It is the only way we will defeat COVID-19 once and for all.”

Read more: Secret Service experts are speculating in group chats about how Trump might be hauled out of the White House if he won’t budge on Inauguration Day

McConnell is the latest of a number of prominent politicians who are planning on receiving the vaccine to boost public confidence in the shot that was produced in record timing.

Earlier this month, former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton volunteered to publicly receive the vaccine to show the vaccine is safe. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Mike Pence also followed suit earlier this week.

“I don’t want to get ahead of the line, but I want to make sure we demonstrate to the American people that it is safe to take,” Biden told reporters Wednesday. “When I do it, I’ll do it publicly, so you can all witness my getting it done.”

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