Friday, January 16, 2009

Bush by the numbers

Well, with President Bush's grand goodbye over -- in his farewell speech Thursday night, he asserted he always had the nation's best interests in mind -- history can now begin debating and framing the quality and qualities of the Bush Presidency.

But what about the quantities of the Bush Years?

Can't argue much about numbers. So Harper's Magazine generated one of its famous Harper's Indexes, and lined up the stats and counts that puts a solid framing around the last eight years in our country -- numbers all fascinating, some funny, many scary, others just weird.

Some of my favorites from the Bush Years Harper's Index:

Year in which a political candidate first sued Palm Beach County over problems with hanging chads: 1984

Minimum number of Bush appointees who have regulated industries they used to represent as lobbyists: 98

Hours after the 9/11 attacks that an Alaska congressman speculated they may have been committed by “eco-terrorists”: 9

Minimum number of calls the FBI received in fall 2001 from Utah residents claiming to have seen Osama bin Laden: 20

Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated by the USA PATRIOT Act, according to the ACLU: 50

Portion of Baghdad residents in 2007 who had a family member or friend wounded or killed since 2003: 3/4

Number of all U.S. war veterans who have been denied Veterans Administration health care since 2003: 452,677

Seconds it took a Maryland consultant in 2004 to pick a Diebold voting machine’s lock and remove its memory card: 10

Percentage change since 2002 in the number of U.S. teens using illegal drugs: –9

Percentage change in the number of adults in their fifties doing so: +121

Number of words in the first sentence of Bill Clinton’s memoir and in that of George W. Bush’s, respectively: 49, 5

Rank of Bush among U.S. presidents with the highest disapproval rating: 1

And my all-time most favoritist:
Minimum number of times that Frederick Douglass was beaten in what is now Donald Rumsfeld’s vacation home: 25
Hard to argue with numbers. But I guarantee this list will generate lots of debates over everybody's most favoritist.

Read the list here.

Subscribe to Harper's here.

Watch Bush's speech in two parts -- part 1 here, and part 2 here. Or listen to it here. Or read it here.

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As a side note (or, perhaps, actually, a pointedly relevant note), yesterday NPR's All Things Considered aired an illuminating and wee-bit chilling piece quantifying Dick Cheney's influence in the Bush Administration. Listen here.
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