Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Bush has been Trimmed

This is a little bit after the fact, but I through that Bush's farewell address, like McCain's on election night, was a well rehearsed and dignifying closing moment for the controversial leader. Of particular interest were his points on having the "courage" to make the decisions he made and one final reinforcement of the idea that sometimes simply things come down to being "good versus evil."

Of course, a graceful goodbye does not justify past injustices, but it does put in to perspective how he sees himself, something I've always wondered about. Like Sarah Plain, the popular media defined his character (albeit entertainingly) for much of the population. Have we ever before been able to buy posters containing a list of misquotes by our Commander in Chief? I've seen small, barely forty page books entitled "Our Dumb President," complete with Bush wearing a dunce cap. With constant image readjustment readily available, how can we not think so little of him?

Don't get me wrong, much of the bashing was well deserved. But all the remarks about his policies and presentation only fueled my curiosity in his motives. Does Bush really view his willingness to make decisions as courageous? If he truly means it, why does he see the world in such black and white extremes? Oliver Stone suggests he ran for president after a religious revelation believing he was following God's orders. He further suggests that he was just the puppet of religious fanatics, oil, and the tag team of Cheney and Rove.

When Bush woke up each morning to a security briefing about threats to the United States, did he afterward take a shower, stare in the mirror, and wonder how God was going to tell him to deal with these threats? I hope not, not that it matters much now. But still, I do think Bush had considerable amounts of courage not to allow the United States to become isolated, thinking only of itself instead of world security. Obama brings the promise of finishing up what his predecessor started in a quick and clean manner. I hope after our presence in Iraq has diminished, Obama continues a policy of appropriately aggressive international relations. To wall ourselves off to the world would be just as bad as pretending it's not there. History will see where Bush lies; until then, Obama must use his popularity to reshape our image, with the same dignity that Bush left us on, not denying what has happened, but focusing on what we need to do.

SEMI-RELATED NOTE: Warren Zevon's song "The Envoy" looks at politics satirically as a super hero battle, the title character the president's right hand man who rights the wrongs of other nations. Maybe Bush had the album on his ipod.

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