Can we please stop rehabilitating Republican ghouls?
Back in March 2016, I made a prediction:
If, God forbid, Trump is elected, some day, assuming we’re all still alive, we’ll be having a conversation in which we look back fondly, as we survey the even more desultory state of political play, on the impish character of Donald Trump. As Andrew March said to me on Facebook, we’ll say something like: What a jokester he was. Didn’t mean it at all. But, boy, could he cut a deal.
When I wrote that, I was thinking of all the ways in which George W. Bush, a man vilified by liberals for years, was being rehabilitated, particularly in the wake of Trump’s rise.
Thursday’s speech, in which Bush obliquely took on Trump, was merely the latest in a years-long campaign to restore his reputation and welcome him back into the fold of respectability.
Remember when Michelle Obama gave him a hug?
That was step two or three. This week’s speech was step four.
For years prior to that, our image of Bush was emblazoned by the memory of not only the Iraq War, which killed hundreds of thousands of people, of not only the casual violence, the fratboyish, near-sociopathic, irresponsibility, of Bush’s rhetoric of war (remember when, after the Iraq War was over, in June 2003, Bush turned to his administrator general there, Jay Garner, and said, “Hey, Jay, you want to do Iran?”). It was also imprinted with the memory of the laziness and incuriosity, the buoyant indifference, that got us into war, not just the Iraq War but also the war on terror (the original sin of it all, if you ask me) in the first place.
All those now pining for the pre-9/11 George W. Bush, a man who took his responsibilities to the nation — and his duty to its people — seriously, an anti-Trump who, whatever his many flaws, at least had a sense of the gravitas of his office and its burdens, might want to have a read-through to what was going down in the Bush administration circa August 2001.