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“The Bush legacy—where to begin?” this magazine’s staff wondered in our 2008 September+October issue. It was hard to sum up the unrelenting damage done by the “Worst. Administration. Ever.” The obvious place to start was the horror of the Iraq War, which we’d reported on extensively, including a timeline of lie after lie that led to it. But there was more, much more to how Bush tore the government apart.

A great deal of what happened has been flushed out of collective memory—or at least less likely to be mentioned—with the more robustly obvious incivility (if no less evil) ascendent in the tea party and in turn President Trump. Yet disconnecting those strains of Republicanism and teasing out any real change on the right is a bit harder to see when you look back to 2008. At the very least, it’s not worth pretending Bush didn’t set up Trump, and it is harder to pretend Trump is a complete aberration.

Go check out our timeline of Bush’s “reign of error.” Look back at what David Cole said in 2008, with grave concern over the powers of an unchecked executive. And, of course, the lack of calling out a president’s blustering lying surely didn’t help us deal with Trump. All the seeds are there. Comparisons of “who caused this” or “who is worse” likely miss the point—Bush set up Trump more than we’ve probably talked about. In 2008, we wrote a whole issue grappling with how to fix the Bush era. I’m rereading to see what we still have left to do.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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