Archive for Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bush no demon but he won’t be missed

November 2, 2008


Almost eight years ago, just after the election of George Bush, I found myself in the company of some academicians who were consoling one another by sharing jokes about the newly elected president. Periodic fits of despondency troubled the jovial mood. Dire prophecies were exchanged. Bush spelled doom. America was going to become a plutocracy. A new age of ignorance and barbarism was upon us. A pall of despair would descend. Then someone would summon up a Bush joke and another round of therapeutic chortling would begin.

Mockery is an attempt to disarm something that threatens us. But many found it impossible to make fun of Bush. They were mortified by his election. A kind of hysteria gripped them. They roamed the streets like zombies, accosting strangers and venting their grievances about Bush. When Michael Moore's "Farenheit 9-11" came to town, Liberty Hall filled up like a revival tent with Bush haters, holding hands and reaffirming their loathing of Bush. A "Bush Growl" supplanted conventional greetings.

A friend of mine moved to England because he couldn't stand the thought of living in a country presided over by Bush. A visiting family member left a Bush joke book in our house, like a talisman to ward off evil spirits. Bush-haters thought of themselves as enlightened intellectuals. But they seemed possessed with the kind of fervor usually associated with religious fanatics.

Shortly after his election, before Bush had actually done anything, someone told me she wanted him to fail - so that he wouldn't be back for a second term. I was astonished. Bush didn't appeal to me. When his robotic voice came over the air, I winced and turned the radio off. But I couldn't imagine wanting him to fail. For the good of the country, shouldn't we want the president to succeed, even if he says things like "misunderestimate?"

Bush seemed incurious and lazy, but those qualities might be preferable to nervous activism in a president. It worried me that he didn't read the papers and said that his staff told him all he needed to know. Shouldn't everyone do a little thinking for himself? I cringed when he pumped his fist and shouted, "Feels good," as the bombs started falling on Baghdad. Ditto when he suggested that people show their patriotism after 9-11 by shopping.

When someone didn't show him proper deference, he said, "Do you know who you're talking to?" That indicated an unpleasant mixture of ego and insecurity. In short, he was not my kind of guy. But most politicians make me want to gag, and I couldn't believe he was a monster or an idiot.

For me, the first sign that something was really wrong was Bush's protection of the steel industry, a violation of his own profession of faith in free markets. He started off promising to deal with the looming crisis of middle class entitlements and then signed the Medicare drug benefit, a prodigal contribution to the fiscal train wreck that looms ahead. The current bailout of financial institutions reveals an administration that is fundamentally statist, indistinguishable from the opposition party's fondness for government solutions to all our problems.

As far as Bush's Iraq adventure is concerned, I defer to Zhou Enlai's famous comment about the impact of the French Revolution: It's too soon to tell. But even if it eventually provokes some improvements in the Middle East, that would be accidental. Bush should get no credit. He went into it without considering the consequences, without any understanding of Iraq, without a plan. It exemplified the ignorant, bullying hubris that gives America a bad name.

For a long time, I tolerated Bush on the theory that unpopularity is probably a good sign when you're dealing with an ill-informed, fickle and self-indulgent public and that anyone who is so universally despised must be doing something right. It took me a long time to come around. But I'm a slow learner. At last, I have seen the light. No one will be happier to see him go than I. For one thing, I won't have to put up with people foaming at the mouth and ranting about Bush. But I worry about them. What will they do after Bush is gone? Who will become their bete noire?

Goodbye, George Bush. You are not solely to blame for the plight of our country. I refuse to demonize you. But you won't be missed. On the other hand, who am I to turn to? Neither of the candidates speaks to me. For the life of me, I can't understand how anyone can say, "I'm a Democrat," or "I'm a Republican." I have no idea what either party stands for. As far as I can tell, the Republican Party doesn't even exist. Whatever is left of it needs to spend 10 years in the wilderness figuring out something to believe in.

The country's a mess. The politicians are busy making things worse. Americans have become so fearful, so insecure that they're ready to fly like children into the arms of Uncle Sam. Obama looks promising. But what does it say that so many look to him as a miracle worker who will magically "transform" us and save us from ourselves?

It doesn't bode well. But it's a gorgeous autumn on Spider Hill. Nature moves on in timeless rhythms, unperturbed by our jerks and jitters. The leaves are turning. Wild geese are in the air. If Britney Spears were running, I'd vote for her.

- George Gurley, a resident of rural Baldwin City, writes a regular column for the Journal-World.


tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 4 months ago

"the more shrill and panicky the McSame/bimbo ticket supporters become." Shriek "Noooooo..."Shriek EarlyShriek Often

Jason Bailey 9 years, 4 months ago

George: Get a life, man. Your party is the party of tolerance and is even named "Democrats" yet when actual democracy is exercised and the people cast their votes, you guys foam at the mouth and spew nothing but hatred.Your party is the party of intolerance, hatred, bigotry, and the holocaust of abortion in this country. It's evident in your article that this is true and I've personally witnessed it in talking to anyone who claims to be a staunch Democrat.You said your friend moved to England because he couldn't stand Bush...good, hope he stays there. We need less elitists in this country who think the system of elections where the people choose, not elitists, is broken so whenever the system doesn't go their way, they take their ball and they go home. They're not going to play hoo.If Obama wins on Tuesday, you will see Conservatives rise up to fight against his policies in the arena of ideas and in the political system. Contrary to how your side works through emotionalism and the media and vitriolic hatred.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

" For one thing, I won't have to put up with people foaming at the mouth and ranting about Bush. But I worry about them. What will they do after Bush is gone? Who will become their bete noire?"This makes absolutely no sense. You spend an entire column describing what a disaster Bush has been, and then deride those who expressed similar opinions. What is your point?

deec 9 years, 4 months ago

I think someone went off message. We're doing red-baiting now. Didn't you get the memo?

kugrad 9 years, 4 months ago

Cheney, on the other hand, IS a demon, if not the mythical Satan himself, and also will not be missed.

coneflower 9 years, 4 months ago

America has had enough of our government gutting the Constitution, destroying the economy, treating the wealthiest 5% at the expense of the rest, and sending Americans off to kill and die to make the Middle East safer for oil profiteers. Americans care about health care, peace, jobs and prosperity for all, and the freedoms we had before the Bush administration changed the laws protecting us. The Republicans have had their run, and America is sick of them. We've seen what one-party rule by them has wrought. It's time for a change.

jonas_opines 9 years, 4 months ago

This was one of the better columns I've read in a while.Who wants to bet on how far into this article Jason actually read before he let loose that post of ridiculousness? It doesn't seem that he read past the England mention at all. You should try again, Jason, because you now look like a fool, having missed the entire point of the column through your inability to divorce yourself from your own partisanship.

coneflower 9 years, 4 months ago

Larry:Please try to get your information from credible sources in the future. And get help for your irrational fear.

jonas_opines 9 years, 4 months ago

Oh yeah, and. . . . "If Obama wins on Tuesday, you will see Conservatives rise up to fight against his policies in the arena of ideas and in the political system. Contrary to how your side works through emotionalism and the media and vitriolic hatred."Haha. Tell another one. If you see this as true, you must truly be half-blind.

4paz 9 years, 4 months ago

"If Obama wins on Tuesday, you will see Conservatives rise up to fight against his policies in the arena of ideas and in the political system. Contrary to how your side works through emotionalism and the media and vitriolic hatred."I hope this is true, but evidence to the contrary has been rampant in this election. Just yesterday someone who professes to be a Christian sent me an email claiming that the "Book of Revelations describes that anti-Christ as a 40 year old man of Muslim descent". First it's the book of Revelation, no "s". Second, it says no such thing. In fact, it was written 400 years before Islam became a religion. These kinds of tactics make McCain supporters look very bad, and make me question a person's religious beliefs. How could someone who believes in the Bible not know what it says? If conservatives continue to be represented by people like this, then you will continue to lose. If however, you would like to come together as Americans and try to solve problems that are within the scope of government to solve, then your ideas will be welcomed. If you just want to destroy the other side through lies and the manipulation of ignorant people, then please just stick to posting on forums, and stay out of the way. There is work to be done in this country.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 4 months ago

Republicans have short memories about the party. Unfortunately Reaganomics has permeated our local and state governments so this is the decade to not vote for republicans. Allowing local developers to control our city and county governments plus the planning commission =voodoo economicsIsn't it odd each time our nations financial institutions crumble there are Bush family near by and a McCain still in office? Are they not declared republicans?Who has history with financial institutions going south such as the savings and loan scandal? Republicans! The Most Reprehensible of the Keating Five. The story of "the Keating Five" has become a scandal rivaling Teapot Dome and Watergate ... repub latest escapade into Syria is just another violation of international law just like Iraq. The USA government does not have unlimited authority around the world.The repub party is largest law breaker in our nations history:CRIME: Who hosted the Iran Contra secret illegal sale of weapons? Republicans! Who brought the nation Iran Contra number 2? Republicans! Which party illegally spied on the democrats to win an election? Republicans! Watergate! Which party held secret energy meetings and refused our elected officials its' content and who attended? GW Bush and the republicans!CRIME: Which party lied to congress and the world,went against military advice and created the worst strategic blunder in the history of the USA aka Iraq War? Republican Party!Which party has held secret oil deals with Saudi Arabia?Republicans! Secret Oil deals for Iraq Oil- Republicans! AGAINST DEMOCRACY : PNAC's policy document, "Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination. Many PNAC members hold highest-level positions in the George W. Bush administration.

coneflower 9 years, 4 months ago

I take issue with the notion people think Obama is a "miracle worker." He has, however, single-handedly managed to change the face of politics in America, succeeding wildly by running a positive campaign. I heard him speak in Kansas City. His speech was about his plans - detailed and specific - and vision for America. He barely mentioned his opponent, and when he did he addressed specific policies and his record. McCain-Palin's speeches are all attempts to smear their opponent, often deceitfully. Obama also understands the issues that Americans care about. We do not want more unnecessary wars. We want health care and jobs. Succeeding by running a postiive campaign on the issues and his policies, against an opponent's campaign based on lies, distortions and smears: maybe that is a miracle after all.

4paz 9 years, 4 months ago

We just received a rotocall from Laura Bush endorsing Lynn Jenkins, so I guess not all candidates are trying to distance themselves from Bush, but I guess Laura probably would have done a better job.But, I'm regressing. Let's leave the last 8 years behind us now. It's time to think of the future. People can either look towards the future or get left behind. That's their choice, but we can't continue what's been happening even before Bush came to power. I don't know if it was, because Nixon was forced from office, rightfully so, despite some of the good things he did or what. But it's time to stop petty squabbling and get down to work.

jonas_opines 9 years, 4 months ago

Man, I wonder if Right-thinker Ever realizes the irony in his calling anybody else as given over to irrational hatred and bizarre viewpoints.

Tom McCune 9 years, 4 months ago

Dear Neocons:You had your turn at the plate and your clean-up hitter grounded into a triple-play:- Viet Nam 2.0, and- The Great Depression 2.0, and- The Salem witch trials 2.0It's time for the other team to take a turn at bat. BTW, the Republican Party just really needs to split into two parties. It is just a weird coalition anyway of people who mostly hate each other that was formed purely to make some numbers. It needs to split into:- The Christian Conservative Party (for poor and stupid people), Sara Palin, chair- The Moderate-Libertarian Party (for smart and wealthy people), chair TBD

4paz 9 years, 4 months ago

Jason,What have you done to counteract those people who have sent out lies and innuendoes? What about these emails claiming all sorts of things about Obama? They aren't discussing the issues, but fear-mongering. If you truly want to discuss different policies and perhaps find common ground to help solve problems, then why be so divisive? We recently had a Texan Republican leader in Congress who refused to talk to Democrats. He proudly proclaimed it, as if these fellow Americans were beneath him. Is this the way to unite the country? Is this the way to run a country? Perhaps, in a dictatorship, but not in the US. Why not be a part of the solution? If we don't work together, we might as well declare our country a failure. I'm not ready to do that. Jason, are you willing to work together to solve the countries problems? Or will it just be more of the "my way or the highway"?

deec 9 years, 4 months ago

"Hammer and sickle"? See, I knew we were red-baiting this week!

Mike Blur 9 years, 4 months ago

George W. Bush may not be demonized by the columnist at hand, but I'll tell you this much. I'm a constructive deist--I believe in a God that created this universe, and I try to adhere to a utopian vision of what my God would want His world to be like. My belief in God is the reason why I do such mundane things as post on comment forums under my real name and do other things like drive attentively, tip my servers and bartenders 30-plus percent, and be courteous to others who are serving me. The reason why I do these things? I'd like my CV to look clean on the day of reckoning that we all will face. Yes, I believe in an afterlife, and I believe in an ultimate "Decider." And, I'll say this much at this moment, I'd rather have my CV on hand at the pearly gates than Dubya's.

Jason Bailey 9 years, 4 months ago

@Duplenty: Your point? I'm happy that I added a little mirth to your world but your point is devoid of anything other than personal attack, like so many others in this forum. Name-calling and attacking the person is what one does when he's out of anything intelligent to say.Since you have no point, I'm moving on.@4Paz: I'm happy to work with anyone on any issue but I will not compromise my fundamental beliefs to do so. For instance, I do not believe that government has any place in the lives of people outside of those enumerated in the Preamble of the Constitution or specifically given by an Amendment. Anyone who believes otherwise is contrary to my essential core of beliefs. Those cannot be compromised, thus, the problem with polarization in America today. You have a faction of people like me who are sick and tired of what our nation is becoming while a bunch of Obama-ites who want to take FDR and Johnson's programs, put them on steroids, and raise the hammer and sickle above the Capitol building. There's no way to compromise there.

jonas_opines 9 years, 4 months ago

"Those cannot be compromised, thus, the problem with polarization in America today."How is an amendment to the Constitution not compromising the original document?"You have a faction of people like me who are sick and tired of what our nation is becoming while a bunch of Obama-ites who want to take FDR and Johnson's programs, put them on steroids, and raise the hammer and sickle above the Capitol building. There's no way to compromise there."Yes, it's a good thing that this is an absolutely ridiculous interpretation, then.

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