George W. Bush is no longer president of the United States, but it’s obvious that countless people still despise him — even here in Canada.
He was greeted by plenty of protesters at recent speaking engagements in Edmonton, Saskatoon and Montreal.
In Montreal, it took a group of riot police and cops on horseback to hold back a crowd of shoe-tossing citizens.
The estimated 250 protesters on hand chanted “Bush go home” and waved signs with messages like “War criminal go home.”
In Edmonton, hundreds of protesters turned out to display signs that said “Bush lied, 1,000s died” and “Bush is a war criminal.”
A protester named Marilyn Gaa held a three-metre-tall black-clad Grim Reaper with a sign on his back that said: “GWB I am your biggest fan” and on the front, “Thanks for 8 great years.”
In Saskatoon, protest organizer Peter Garden told the media: “George Bush has blood on his hands.”
The protesters describe Bush as a war criminal for a variety of reasons, including starting the latest war in Iraq based on allegations that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction they say he likely knew to be false.
As well, they say he never got the United Nation’s permission to invade Iraq and allowed the torture of terror suspects in such places as Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Some critics of the 43rd president describe him as a hypocrite for promoting himself as a born-again Christian while approving dozens of executions in his previous job as governor of Texas.
Others accuse him of stealing the 2000 presidential election from then-vice-president Al Gore, who scored higher in the popular vote.
What is clear is that Bush is probably the most polarizing figure in American politics since President Richard Nixon.
His popularity soared after the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks, but an August 2008 poll showed that 41 per cent of Americans surveyed thought Bush would go down in history as the worst president of all time.
Whether history eventually judges him that severely is difficult to say, but there’s plenty not to like about Bush.
The antipathy many people feel for him has much to do with his smugness and the popular but mistaken view that he is an idiot. (A report claiming Bush had the lowest IQ of any American president of the last 50 years circulated in 2001 and was widely accepted but eventually proven to be a hoax.)
The various linguistic errors made by Bush during his speeches — colloquially known as Bushisms — help to fuel the view that he isn’t that smart.
But to be fair, Bush is not an idiot. Suffice it to say, as celebrated Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward once did, that Bush is simply not a deep thinker.
It’s OK to protest against Bush visiting Canada — that right is essential in a democratic nation. However, it’s a little too late to make any difference.
President Barack Obama has the power now, not Bush. And thank God for that.
Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.