he was no saint, and slew no dragon


I feel like I’ve seen the future legacy of George W. Bush, and it isn’t pretty for us progressives. Sure, he’s tied for the least popular President in recorded history, and almost every decent historian has rated him the worst President ever, and he has probably dealt the Republican Party a kidney-punch and groin kick that will reverberate for decades. But I can’t help the gnawing feeling that even when W finally serves out the rest of his eternally-seeming term, he’ll be reassessed by political culture in a way that will make survivors of his regime want to claw their fucking eyes out.

First off, corporate-owned media (sorry to use that hackneyed phrase, kids, but you gotta calls ’em like you sees ’em) won’t allow him to stay a villain forever. It’s never been in their interests anyway, and since 24-hour news stations (as well as salacious non-fiction writers) need reversals to keep their audience interested, we’ll get a flood of articles, stories and books with variations on the title “GWB: Was He Right All Along?”

Secondly, a terrorist attack of some gruesome nature seems rather likely to occur at some point during the next (Democratic) presidential term, which will lead headline writers – and other souls with gnat-like attention spans – to wax romantic about the days of Bush’s tenure when there were no evildoers doing evil on American soil.

Never mind the big one happened on his watch; that argument has never had any traction anyway. Progressives will tear their hair out trying to explain it was Bush’s policies and idiocy that led up to it, but instead, the blowback will be on whatever hapless Democratic president happens to be in office at the time.

As the years progress, whip-smart little fuckwits who are presently stealing crayons from Lucy at toddler group will grow up to worship GWB and perhaps even an aging, corpulent, arteriosclerotic Rove just out of spite. They’ll foment a bizarre resurrection of Bush’s reputation, the same way morons from my age group did with Nixon, leading old-timers like me to sucker-slap them in the kitchen if they say ONE MORE WORD.

A stopped clock is right twice a day, and I suspect Bush will accidentally look prescient. His Neanderthal ideas on alternative energy and his cruel position on stem cells will cease to have meaning, due to leaps in science he would never have predicted or encouraged – in essence, he will be saved by the very science that he and his evangelical cohorts fought to silence. Already, it looks like embryos can be avoided entirely in lieu of adult stem cells, and it feels like some new energy source for vehicular transport (and perhaps everything else) is tantalizingly around the corner.

Never mind the eight years we suffered under his utterly-backward line of sight – never mind the way gays were made to suffer, the poor were vilified, the country went into deep recession, the dollar became almost worthless, the planet heated up, Christianity became national policy and the Constitution was shredded in order to waterboard people with funny last names. George W. Bush will be resurrected because some people will think it’s cute.

0 thoughts on “he was no saint, and slew no dragon

  1. jason savage

    almost every decent historian has rated him the worst President ever
    while i wouldn’t be shocked if this were true, do you have names and sources to back it up?

  2. D

    The first real test will be Bush’s expressed interest in getting on the speaking circuit to, as he put it, “replenish the ol’ coffers.” I suspect he may be a bit disappointed with that, since I would be surprised if he can get the same kinds of gigs that Clinton and his father do. If he finds little interest at the higher-profile groups, and does most of his speaking at second- and third-tier think tanks and religious venues, then that is bound to affect his chances of formal rehabilitation, or at least the timeline.
    On the other hand, there may be more of an audience for his particular insights than I think there is. We’ll see.

  3. GFWD

    I know you are trying to be serious and I don’t want to undermine that here, but I have to say that the following line was one of the funniest images I’ve ever read on your blog:
    “whip-smart little fuckwits who are presently stealing crayons from Lucy at toddler group”
    The problem I foresee for me is trying to restrain my urge to call a little kid a “fuckwit” if he or she tries to take my kid’s crayons or toys.
    Thanks for that phrase today. Good stuff.

  4. Piglet

    I expect he’ll end up more like Nixon and McCarthy than Reagan–there will be a small handful way out in Right Creek who will continue to praise him, and claim that he only did what every other politician does–but really, he’s lost anyone in the “privileged class”–the ones in the suburbs who used to reliably send Republicans to Congress from the Northeast and Great Lakes–who wasn’t a friend of the family or an oil tycoon. The Republican apologists will be scrambling for decades to spin Bush’s failures to mainstream America as due to a betrayal of actual conservative principles (just like they did with his daddy), and to the fucktards as due to the all-powerful “liberal agenda” that was, of course, in complete iron-fisted control of the government, the media and business from 2001 through 2006.
    These are Republicans, remember. They have no loyalty, other than to principles of greed. The only question is whether they see throwing their loyal handmaiden under the bus as the unfortunate side-effect of their wise business decision–or as a fringe benefit.
    The economy is going to continue suck big time in 2008. If you need something to be thankful for in this hard time, be glad that the fruit of Bush’s financial idiocy is dropping while he’s still in office. If it began in 2009, the noise machine would call it the Edwards/Clinton/Obama/whoever Recession until long after we’d all shot our televisions.

  5. Anne

    Honestly, I don’t think Bush’s rep will ever be rehabilitated. Even people who voted for him basically loathe him now. Almost everyone except John McCain (or is it Joe Lieberman?) has renounced the Iraq war.
    It would be different if W had a couple of brain cells to rub together and became, post-presidency, a sage author of memoirs and policy analysis. That’s not gonna happen. I predict his enduring image will be that of a shameful Amurrican yahoo stereotype – every thinking person’s worst nightmare of lowest-common-denominator “democracy” in action.

  6. craighill

    “Never mind the big one happened on his watch; that argument has never had any traction anyway. Progressives will tear their hair out trying to explain it was Bush’s policies and idiocy that led up to it, but instead, the blowback will be on whatever hapless Democratic president happens to be in office at the time.”
    this is the EXACT same argument the conservatives made regarding 9/11 and clinton’s policies. let’s not forget how many times slick willy had bin laden in his sights only to decide he wasn’t that large a threat.

  7. craighill

    …by the way i also think GW is a huge moron who can’t pronounce nuclear but the “it was the prior administration’s fault…” argument we’ve all heard before.

  8. kent

    Heh. Nixon was rehabilitated because Reagan was such a stooge he made Nixon look good by comparison. Hell if you go by public policy, Bill Clinton = Richard Nixon – thuggish paranoia + appetite for busty tarts with big hair.
    Reagan was a royal shitbag, and now people worship him. I don’t know where people get their ideas from any more but it sure as hell isn’t REALITY or HISTORY. Maybe twas ever thus, but I don’t have to like it.
    And the proper term for Bush 43’s term in office is interminable.

  9. KTS

    Too funny, and right on. In the long term, Bush will be seen as one of the worst presidents ever. But not in the short term. Most Americans have short attention spans and no sense of history.
    From the “Say What” section of Doonesbury online:
    “It was almost like a reflex mode. I actually remember saying to myself, ‘If I was a person really deciding who should be president right now, I’d probably vote for Nixon, because I think the country would be safer with Nixon.'”
    — Rudy Giuliani, on voting for McGovern in 1972
    How’s this for a happy thought? Our next president, Rudolph Giuliani! Our trains will run on time. I’m beginning to think the Dems will fuck it up once again.

  10. campbell

    I loved that quote from Rudy. “A person really deciding who should be president right now” — in other words, Mr. Mayor, A VOTER!

  11. Ian

    “All W. was was a squirrelly, inarticulate Reptilian cokehead with no friends and a daddy whose covert connections and Nazi ancestor money helped kick off what will become the New World Order.”
    See, this is why I pay Summer the big bucks.

  12. Piglet

    Reagan was different from Duh (that’s short for “Dubya”), in that Reagan still had a critical mass of popularity even by the end of his term, due to his personal charisma and America being reasonably prosperous during the 80s. Same goes for Clinton. He was everyone’s buddy, articulate, and most people were better off at the end of his term than at the beginning. For that, people will remember both Presidents fondly, and forgive a lot of their faults.
    Nixon, Carter and Bush the Elected presided over worsening economies and came across, respectively, as too somber, too weak, and too goofy. Therefore, their flaws stuck, and their administrations remain less popular (Carter has rehabilitated a little, but it’s due to actions since he was President. His Presidency, like those of Bush I and Nixon, is still widely considered a failure).
    Duh comes across as a petulant little bully, and his economy is what the Hawaiians call “in deep kimchee”. He’ll be remembered as a failure. The unpopular war is just turd-frosting on the turd-cake.

  13. LFMD

    This post reminded me of something. . . . I have noticed over the past couple years more and more little girls on the playground and at my daughter’s school named “Reagan.” I kid you not. And I live in a very pro-Democratic area/state. Gives me the creeps!

  14. Nate W.

    Ian, I’m not sure why you think Bush is going to end up rehabilitated by history. Much more likely, in my opinion, is that the reverse will happen, and that Bush will end up being reviled, much more so among the Republican rank and file than he is now. I agree that there will be revisionism, but I think it’ll be exactly the REVERSE of what you fear it will be, and in ten years we’ll be faced with Republicans who swear up and down that they never liked Bush and never supported him, even though they did at the time.
    If the Republicans lose in November, the primary political reality of the Bush administration will be that the Bush took power with Republican control of congress, the White House, and the majority of state governorships, and left power with none of these. Bush will leave the Republican party weaker than he found it. That’s not a reality Republicans are are going to ignore. They’ll need a scapegoat, and Bush is ready to hand. Who else are they going to blame? It gives the Democrats too much credit to say that the Republican revolution failed because Democrats fought relentlessly and dirty to pull it down – that sounds way too much like the Democrats were better at politics and somehow – gasp – deserved the power they achieved. And they won’t be willing to say that Republican ideals led to bad policies, which turned the public against the Republican party and his president. That’s throwing in the towel. No, what will end up being written is that Republicanism was betrayed at the hands of one of its own, and that, like his father, George W. Bush was an unworthy torch-bearer for Republicanism. What other option do they have?

  15. xuxE

    wait, i know … REALITY TV STAR!! he could do the b-list celebrity circut. wouldn’t that be great? i’d like to see him on:
    dancing with the stars…
    i love new york…
    mc serch’s white rapper contest…
    kid nation (because of his, you know, intellectual challenges)
    trading spaces, especially if he has to make stencils
    too bad he and his family aren’t fat enough for the biggest loser or honey we’re killing the kids.
    also too bad queer eye isn’t around anymore, i’d love to see Carson have at him.
    oh wait, i know, he could do wife swap with bill clinton!
    he’d nosedive so quickly on amazing race i just don’t even think it’d be entertaining enough.
    come to think of it, fuck elections, we should just switch completely to reality shows and let p diddy decide the next election – “making the president”
    has any town agreed to let a reality show pick their mayor? could always start there for the pilot and work our way up through governor, senate, etc. just use one of those small states like rhode island.


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