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Popular Topics in Social Sciences
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Topics In the News
 
George W. Bush: We Must Not Forget
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 04/25/13
Last updated on: 04/25/13
 
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As the nation's attention turns to the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, we must not forget the former president's cynical attempt to enshrine discrimination in the Constitution of the United States. His shameful legacy should not be obscured in the name of bipartisanship.

On April 25, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum will be dedicated in Dallas to great fanfare. Planned as a bipartisan affair, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will join former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton in paying tribute to "W.," notwithstanding the fact that Bush was, by any reasonable standard, the worst president in American history. Indeed, most of the current difficulties in which the United States finds itself may be traced to his irresponsibility and failure of leadership.

Among the most toxic part of Bush's legacy is his cynical manipulation of American homophobia to win electoral advantage. Most of the state constitutional amendments that ban same-sex marriage were promulgated by Republicans in the presidential election years of 2000, 2004, and 2008 in an attempt to use same-sex marriage as a "wedge issue" to motivate their "religious right" base. The strategy was devised and promoted by Bush's "brain," Karl Rove.

Like many of Bush's strategies, it was morally bankrupt yet successful, at least in the short run. The exploitation of homophobia was no doubt responsible for his narrow re-election victory in 2004. The combination of a marriage amendment and voter suppression in Ohio is widely credited for Bush's win in the crucial swing state, which gave him an edge in the electoral college.

In February 2004, Bush doubled-down on the Defense of Marriage Act and endorsed a Federal Marriage Amendment that would have enshrined a ban on marriage equality in the Constitution of the United States.

In an interview on April 24, 2013 with Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning, however, Bush refused to answer questions about same-sex marriage. He told Rose, "Yeah, well, I'm not, I'm not weighing in on these issues, as you know, because I've made the decision to get off the stage."

One hopes that Bush's refusal to discuss the issue now reflects a measure of contrition, or at least recognition of the destructiveness his cynical grab for power caused.

More likely, however, Bush's refusal to own his legacy is simply a recognition that the country has moved on and that marriage equality is now, except in the reddest areas of the country, more likely to function as a wedge issue for Democrats than for Republicans.

But if Bush wants to forget his role in promoting homophobia, we must not.

Below is a video of the news conference in which Bush endorses the Federal Marriage Amendment.

 
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