Miss Him Yet?!
by Jack Landsman, Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 07:14:39 PM EDT
There’s something terribly shocking taking place and I must admit a failure to anticipate it this soon: The creeping rehabilitation of George W. Bush. He was a uniquely failed president. So miserable was he, his popularity collapsed (not over anything huge, except the negligent loss of an iconic American city) less than a year into his second term. And his crushing unpopularity never relented. Quite the contrary—on January 20, 2009, minutes after his successor had been sworn in, millions of his erstwhile subjects treated the 43rd president to an iconic farewell.
As testament to our collective amnesia, many are now insisting the semi-retarded ersatz cowboy doesn’t look like such an ogre in the rearview mirror. Apparently this includes polite company like Peter Beinart, Mo Dowd, and Eugene Robinson.
Byron York had the story in the Washington Examiner a couple of days ago:
"It's time for W. to weigh in," writes the New York Times' Maureen Dowd. Bush, Dowd explains, understands that "you can't have an effective war against the terrorists if it is a war on Islam." Dowd finds it "odd" that Obama seems less sure on that matter. But to set things back on the right course, she says, "W. needs to get his bullhorn back out" -- a reference to Bush's famous "the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!" speech at Ground Zero on September 14, 2001.
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson is also looking for an assist from Bush. "I…would love to hear from former President Bush on this issue," Robinson wrote Tuesday in a Post chat session. "He held Ramadan iftar dinners in the White House as part of a much broader effort to show that our fight against the al-Qaeda murderers who attacked us on 9/11 was not a crusade against Islam. He was absolutely right on this point, and it would be helpful to hear his views."
And Peter Beinart, a former editor of the New Republic, is also feeling some nostalgia for the former president. "Words I never thought I'd write: I pine for George W. Bush," Beinart wrote Tuesday in The Daily Beast. "Whatever his flaws, the man respected religion, all religion." Beinart longs for the days when Bush "used to say that the 'war on terror' was a struggle on behalf of Muslims, decent folks who wanted nothing more than to live free like you and me…"
Karl Rove even relinquished his butterscotch scone long enough to chime in:
For the moment, with Obama failing to live up to expectations, Bush-bashing is over. It's all a little amusing -- and perhaps a little maddening -- for some members of the Bush circle. When I asked Karl Rove to comment, he responded that it means "redemption is always available for liberals and time causes even the most stubborn of ideologues to revisit mistaken judgments." But won't these Bush critics shortly return to criticizing Bush? "This Bush swoon by selected members of the left commentariat is temporary," Rove answered. "Their swamp fevers will return momentarily."
The conservative movement has been having a blast in the Obama era. Out of power and free of the Bush albatross, they’re content with gleefully firing away at the current failed crew. Watch Charles Krauthammer the next time he’s on television snarking Obama; at times he looks like he’s going to burst out of his clothes with smug self-satisfaction.
In terms of Bush’s performance after 9/11, the Bullhorn Speech was admittedly a brisk, brilliant moment, but the conciliatory tone Bush struck otherwise was perfunctory decency.
Beinart, Dowd and Robinson can’t be serious. An imagination as foggy and paranoiac as mine shouldn’t be necessary to envisage President Bush lending his shit-eatin’ certitude to the Cordoba Initiative opposition. (In terms of opposition to the mosque, I’m aligned with Dr. Dean; although I’ve resisted the temptation to be truly frightened by any of this.) This was a particularly nasty and desperate president who once described his opponents this way: “However they put it, the Democrat [sic] approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses.” Lincoln-esque, isn’t it? It was Bush’s tendency to become unhinged in uncertain electoral situations or in handling combustible cultural issues; like the one the 44th president stupidly meandered into here recently.
All of this is relevant to the drama surrounding the upcoming midterm elections. Apparently voters aren’t much swayed by promises to improve upon all the unprecedented legislation we’ve achieved for bankrupt financiers, insurance companies, and so forth. This is a recipe for debacle and Democrats can expect an unlikely, super-undeserved Bush recovery to persist thereafter. Rather than clinging to O’s oil-soaked coattails, a case has to be made that there’s no zero-sum calculation in assessing the current boss and the old one; that some of us Democrats are actually opposed to bailouts and corporate servitude.
Shitboy’s nascent redemption guarantees the possibility of anything despite the bleak electoral outlook of August 2010. The Recovery Summer never materialized, but a Recovery Winter next year may be in the cards... and it runs right through Des Moines.