A political obituary for the Bush Administration
Mission accomplished George Bush. It looks like you’ve made it through two full terms in office, somehow avoiding impeachment, or any embarrassing Nixon-like, early retirement speeches. Yes, for those of you keeping track the expiration date is about to arrive on the Bush Administration, and yet, for some reason it feels less like a President and his cabinet leaving office and more like a television show being cancelled.
It’s hard to imagine after some of the blunders of the last 8 years that too many of his staff will be around Washington as anything more than rabid talking heads ready to pounce every time the other side is having an image problem.
There’s been more and more talk as the economy tanks that “dark days are here” and there will be “tough times” ahead, as if two wars, a washed out American city, and 9/11 were the good old days. But it is true the Obama administration will have it’s hands full trying to face down a new threat or crisis while doing clean up after George and his gang ran through town like over-caffeinated/under-sexed adolescents.
It’s easy to get sentimental as the concept of “light at the end of the tunnel” becomes a reality, but there isn’t much evidence that suggests that when Mr. Bush’s glazed-over gaze delivers his farewell address that anything but an overwhelming sense of relief will wash over me. Surely he’ll make one last grasp to cling to the rhetoric he’s thrown back at us his entire presidency, and maybe that will make some people who used to have a soft spot for him start to go gooey. There are still some people hanging in there with him, as if years from now some treasure chest of information will be unearthed that legitimize some of his more mind numbing decisions.
To be honest, I know it’s easy to take shots at Bush now. Too easy really, ever since the tide of the American opinion has shifted away from him, I haven’t had nearly as many blurb-spouting conversations that quickly turned into blood-screaming arguments with people I thought were my friends until I found out they were Bush supporters. And I’m sure they felt the similarly about me, things were ugly in the middle part of this decade, lines were drawn and everybody on each side knew that they were right. One side was unpatriotic God-haters, the other war-mongering oil-barons. Meanwhile, while the two sides quibbled, Bush got his friends government jobs, got his war-to-settle-the score with the man who threatened his “daddy”, and then did something daddy couldn’t do: got himself re-elected.
What Bush really did was inject a “with us or against us” mentality into the national psyche: for the war/against the war, Red State/Blue State, Conservative/Liberal etc and he did it with as little grace and tact as humanly possible. Even his biggest fans will never accuse him of being a Uniter or a Communicator, he wanted to be the “Decider” so he dumbed down his garbage rhetoric enough to convince one side that anyone not wearing American flag t-shirts was some kind of subversive terrorist sympathizer and anyone who was were brainwashed and subservient. After the Election of 2004 the facade of any Master Plan melted away quickly and his approval rating took a suicide dive, never to recover.
So the media will begin to un-spool retrospectives and endless lines of experts on panels yammering on about what Bush’s ultimate legacy will be: Iraq, Afghanistan, War on Terror, Katrina, PATRIOT Act, torture, Social Security, Immigration, the infamous 7 ½ minutes in the classroom, the US Attorney’s scandal…, you get the idea, but no one really knows. Presidential legacies go up and down like stocks the further they get into the books. In the end, as he takes the long mosey into the sunset, Bush continued, and perhaps strengthened, most people’s inherent distrust of their government and lawmakers, even when the stakes are as high as war. Hopefully history will forgive America for unleashing him.