In two successive days there were two softball interviews of American presidents: On 60 Minutes Steve Croft served nice questions that hardly challenged Mr. Obama’s repetitive colorless and unemotional responses we had ho-hummed for the past two years. The following day Matt Lauer interviewed George W. Bush, who faux drawled in public for the first time in two years in order to push his memoir/apologia to a country (and a world) he almost dimwittedly destroyed. Both interview were somewhat influenced by the post atmospherics of the midterm elections—Bush perhaps assured of the fog of history by Teabaggers who seem to believe Obama created TARP, and Obama acting even more defeated that the results justified.
Let’s begin with Bush’s remark that history will render a judgment on the disputes about his presidency “long after I am dead.” In one sense this is typical of the “I-don’t give-a-shit” attitude of the spoiled ex-drunk brat who by dint of political dynastic and corporate power became President of the most powerful country in the world. But even he knows how well the “big lie” works. It worked to cow a Congress and keep a nation cowering in fear for nearly a decade. It worked to give a military shirker a chance to be “a war president.” Now he wants his version on the record. We heard it all before: the same excuses about bad intel, about Saddam at least “probably wanted WMDs” and, especially, the unprovable negatives that it all protected America from subsequent attacks like 911. Mr. “I-don’t give-a-shit” has no regrets, no second thoughts. He’s the same guy who gave up the bottle for Jesus and trusts his gut more than facts. Although he will be “long dead” when history supposedly sorts it all out or forgets too much to make any sense of it at all, there are a lot of people Mr. Bush has already made dead who are testament to his wretched presidency.
If Bush won’t change, Obama seems incapable of changing. Even Croft seemed unable to disguise his amazement that Obama repeated yet again his intent to “reach out” to the Republicans to join him in furthering is agenda. The man who was elected on a mantra of change seems almost the only one left in the country we who just doesn’t get it—the Republicans aren’t going to change. Bush was a divisive man who called himself a “uniter” and Obama wants to be a “uniter” in spite of the fact that his race makes him divisive. He seems unwilling to admit that there are many Americans, some in Congress, who are racists and who despise the President because of his color. They have not worked with him, compromised, and they will not, and Obama’s presidency is destined for the dust heap of history so long as he maintains the delusion that he can accomplish what the country needs through bipartisanship. He might well end up doing as much damage as a timid conciliator as Bush did as an audacious tyrant.
Where Bush was as defiant and uncompromising as ever, Obama came off as whiny and defeatist—a loser. And loser he was; he lost his base of youth, gays and liberals and progressives, but that only seemed to push him further to the Right where, even if (as he indicated) he considers extending tax cuts for the rich, they will still call him a Socialist and Muslim. The instinct was to turn off both interviews because one is watching two sets of deceptions being foisted on the American public. Bush, a man who has deceived himself for years and Obama, a man who seemingly still believes that he is Barry Obama, the guy who could charm anybody. But neither swaggering brats, not whining wimps are charming.
Bush will likely sink back into West Texas silence, let his Decision Points enjoy almost automatic “bestseller” status and set up some select high-priced speaking engagements to further blur the truth about his administration. When the going gets tough for Obama he heads for Air Force One and some foreign turf where his oratory still plays fairly well—this time to India and Indonesia. One guesses that things aren’t going bad enough with his relationship with Pakistan and I’m still working on the efficacy of his choosing Jakarta as the venue for criticizing Israel for building more housing in East Jerusalem. One supposes that he finds it easier than criticizing our banks for screwing Americans out of their housing.
History will not exonerate Bush, even long after he is dead and trying to get Jesus to buy into that “the world is better off without Saddam and the Iraqi people are free” bullshit. We’ve got data, we’ve got pictures. Obama still has a chance, but he looks like he is going to blow it. When a guy who used to talk hope and change whines through an interview that “it’s really a tough job” and there are powerful corporations and interests arrayed against change and the rich are somewhat deserving of their cupidity and greed, he has already punted the ball. Some people who have nothing to lose go for broke, and sometimes they prevail. Others just lose. And speaking of the balls, there seems to be a deficit of a pair.
© 2010, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 11.9.2010)