First a bit of humor...
I read earlier today that President Bush was going to be joined at his farewell address by real American heroes. I couldn't figure out if they meant teachers and firemen or his collection of G.I. Joe action figures.
If his departure goes on any longer, Bush will end up going on the road with The Eagles for another farewell tour.
BA-dum-bum! Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week. Remember to try the waitress and tip your veal!
And then on to the serious stuff...
When Richard Nixon died, I remember my father being outraged at the accolades being heaped upon him given his actions as president. I wonder if many of us will end up feeling the same way at some point in the future about George W. Bush? Henrik Hertzberg sums it up all rather well in this week's New Yorker:
The President-elect’s performance can’t fully explain the public’s welcoming view of him. Part of it, surely, reflects an eagerness to be rid of the incumbent. A gangly Illinois politician whom “the base” would today label a RINO—a Republican in Name Only—once pointed out that you can fool some of the people all of the time. We now know how many “some” is: twenty-seven per cent. That’s the proportion of Americans who, according to CNN, cling to the belief that George W. Bush has done a good job. The wonder is that this number is still in the double digits, given his comprehensively disastrous record. During the eight years of the second President Bush, the unemployment rate went from 4.2 per cent to 7.2 per cent and climbing; consumer confidence dropped to an all-time low; a budget surplus of two hundred billion dollars became a deficit of that plus a trillion; more than a million families fell into poverty; the ranks of those without health insurance rose by six million; and the fruits of the nation’s economic growth went almost entirely to the rich, while family incomes in the middle and below declined. What role the Bush Administration’s downgrading of terrorism as a foreign-policy priority played in the success of the 9/11 attacks cannot be known, but there is no doubting its responsibility for the launching and mismanagement of the unprovoked war in Iraq, with all its attendant suffering; for allowing the justified war in Afghanistan to slide to the edge of defeat; and for the vertiginous worldwide decline of America’s influence, prestige, power, and moral standing.
The televised “legacy interviews” that Bush has granted have been notable for the interviewee’s shruggings-off of responsibility for what he has wrought, abroad and at home. He’s sorry about the inartfulness of “dead or alive” and “bring ’em on” and “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED,” but not about the war or its conduct. And in a discussion of the economic catastrophe he is about to bequeath to his successor, there is this exchange, with ABC’s Charles Gibson:
GIBSON: Do you feel in any way responsible for what’s happening?
BUSH: You know, I’ve been the President during this period of time. But I think when the history of this period is written people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over, you know, a decade or so before I arrived as President, during I arrived as President. I’m sorry it’s happening, of course. Obviously, I don’t like the idea of people losing jobs or being worried about their 401(k)s.
A nice epitaph for “compassionate conservatism”—feckless to the end. And the end, at long last, is nigh.