Bush or Cheney: Who’s the Bigger Bogeyman?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


George W. Bush or Dick Cheney—who’s more frightening to liberals? Some progressive political strategists seem to believe the answer is Cheney.

This past weekend, Democracy for America, a grassroots progressive founded by Howard Dean that recruits, trains, promotes, and funds progressive candidates, sent out a an email signed by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The piece focused on the current fight over whether to extend the Bush administration tax cuts for folks who make more than $250,000 a year. Leahy’s email read,

To this day, America’s top income-earners—households making more than $250,000 a year—aren’t paying their fair share in taxes. Letting these tax cuts for the wealthy continue for another decade would saddle middle class Americans, our kids, and our grandkids with an additional $680 billion of debt, largely payable to the Chinese government.

The Bush-Cheney tax cuts for the wealthy are wrong. Thankfully they’re set to expire this December, unless Republicans in Congress get their way and renew them indefinitely.

With debate set to begin on the Senate floor as early as next week, we don’t have a lot of time to get this right.

Leahy asked recipients of the email to sign a petition urging Congress to allow the tax cuts for the rich to expire. And in his note, he repeatedly referred to these breaks as the “Bush-Cheney tax cuts.”

Yet the email’s subject line put it a bit differently. When a recipient spotted the email in his or her inbox, the note was titled, “Dick Cheney’s Tax Cut.” The guy at the top was missing. The point of a subject line for a mass email is to get the recipient to click and open the message. DFA’s consultants must figure that Cheney is more of a motivator for their target audience than Bush. That prompts a question: should Democrats this campaign season run against “Cheney Republicans”?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest