The Long View


In Dead Certain, Robert Draper’s portrait of George W. Bush, the president is “keenly interested” in “what history will say” about his time in office. According to the New York Times, he only agreed to be interviewed for the book after he was convinced that Draper was “writing about him as ‘a consequential president’ for history, not for the latest news cycle.” We discover that Bush thinks that history will be “kind” to him. Mysteriously, the NYT piece speaks of the president’s “inner life,” a phenomenon I didn’t know existed, and says that Bush became “reflective” during the interviews.

At the world’s shittiest magazine, meanwhile, Karl Rove gave us the “long view,” predicting that history will view Bush as “a far-sighted leader who confronted the key test of the 21st century.” And so on. There appears to be a direct correspondence between the depths of abysmal failure that an administration can sink to, and the number of times that the verdict of history is invoked by its supporters.

I have written previously about the verdict of history, and how the obsession with it by Presidents and other politicians is a symptom of idiocy, self-centeredness, insufferable narcissism, and total disregard for the real responsibilities of one’s position. And there is yet another curious aspect of all this. The “reflective” public figure (even the shallowest pool can reflect, it would seem) thinks of “history” as a single, authoritative figure, perhaps draped in a white robe, pronouncing its verdict with one stroke of its cosmic gavel. But of course history is simply the discourse of existing individuals, historians and others, who construct narratives and thereby strive to understand the past—in other words, it is always contested, always limited, never absolute or transcendent.

What kind of a creature does Bush think “history” is, after all? Perhaps someone just like himself—a frat boy munching on a Hostess ding dong? Or maybe, among all the other Orwellian echoes in this madhouse of a White House, the notion of rewriting history to favor Big Brother—namely, the Ministry of Truth—comes into play. History will be kind to Bush because some other son of a bitch will alter history and erase the truth like they erased his Texas Air National Guard record.

But let us, for once, allow a strain of optimism to influence our thinking. Let us assume that future historians will be studious, conscientious, and objective—that they will, as Mr. Turd Blossom said, take the long view. Realistically, what will they say? I offer here my own tentative prediction.

“At a critical point in world history,” writes our esteemed chronicler from the future, “after the end of the Cold War, the United States suffered the ascension to power in the White House (through fraudulent electoral tactics on the part of the Republican Party) of George W. Bush, a man who proved to be inadequate in every conceivable way to the task of governing a nation. His two terms in office were marked by an illegal war, numerous scandals, and a wholly pervasive atmosphere of corruption and incompetence. Particularly notable was his attempt to undermine the Constitution in favor of an imperial concept of the Presidency as being above the law, and insistence on the need to legalize torture. Bush was more unpopular, and for a longer continuous period of time, than any President in history. Decades later, the world still struggles to recover from the looting, indifference and denial that became commonplace during the Bush years.

“Over time, Bush has become an archetype of imbecility and mindless hate. In the psychiatric community, ‘Bush’ has become shorthand for ‘sociopath.’ Although history is a field usually characterized by dissension and extreme diversity of viewpoint, the historical verdict on George W. Bush is remarkably consistent—he is considered the perfect jackass, a figure so odious as to be almost pathetic, a blithering fool with the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old, a reckless warmongering thief and liar who left an indelible stain on the country and a stench in the Oval Office, a whiny, self-important braggart who ordered the deaths of thousands so that his wealthy patrons could profit, a man with so little self-respect that he consented to be Richard Cheney’s acknowledged bitch, an historical figure so contemptible, so utterly irrelevant to anything meaningful, that the only reason he’s remembered is because of the sheer magnitude of his failure…” Etc.

Well, my future historian is obviously more colorful than you might expect. But history, you may have noticed, has caught up with satire.

~ by cdash on November 27, 2007.

11 Responses to “The Long View”

  1. Who’s the greatest American? Saint Ronnie. Even people that deservedly hate that fucker – anyone with a working brain – still put him high up there as some great leader. Compared to the lunatic running the show and his monkey puppet, I suppose so, but you’re right about the whitewashing. The future, assuming we haven’t abdicated world dominion to the cockroach, will see Bush as bad, but not as the uber-polarizing fucker that he is, strings pulled by the PNAC fascists.

    As for your last line, when Onion articles from 2001 are more accurate than Delphi or Nostradamus, well, there ya go.

  2. If history will ignore that the bastard was the worst thng to ever occur in our country, then I guess his legacy will be okay.

  3. your history is way too kind to this total moron and embarrassment to the human race.

    what i do find interesting is Bush’s obsession with legacy — that he thinks (with Rove’s insistence) that through persuasion, manipulation and a bit of Goebbels big lies that they can WILL a rosy legacy for this man. That if they tell the world (and the media and the historians) that Bush really is a deep thinking, caring and insightful man — the world will eventually write about it and believe it.

    History will not be kind to George Bush — no matter what outcome happens in Iraq — hey Mussolini made the trains run on time! his complete mantra has been the ends justifies the means — and the ends being the repudiation of his ‘tarnished’ rep.

    There are just too many people on the planet (even those that are still in the bush closet) that are thoroughly repulsed by anything bush. i sort of (oh not really) feel sorry for jenna and not-jenna — they will have to carry the legacy of their coke-head father —- and to no fault of their own. (that family has insensitivity so deep in the gene pool i dont think any of them really care). it will be interesting to see what drops from the skeleton closet when (or rather if) bush walks out the door on 1/20/09 — what his ‘loyal’ allies start to say about him (a la Scotty) when faced with the choice of bush loyalty or millions of dollars.

    selfishly i hope bush and all he touches suffers as miserably as he has made the planet suffer. but as we all know — living well (for all us except members of the bush cabal) is the best revenge.

  4. It is hard to satirize Chimpy’s record of failure, since the most snarky things you can think of to say won’t do his record justice.

    We may yet see the moronic monkey in The Hague for an extended stay. THAT would be the fitting cap to his Reign of Error.

  5. I think that Goebbels would have been saying the same thing about Hitler. We see what the long view of that has worked out to be.

  6. I can’t see how history can be kind to Bush. Does he think that there aren’t videos, transcripts, and mountains of books already written about his lies, failures, idiocy? My gosh, there are volumes of books called “Bushisms” that show’s what an idiot he is. How can history give Bush a handup when it comes to Katrina? No…history won’t be kind, not as long as there is breath in the bodies of all us progressives!

  7. I’m amazed at the very idea of a Bush library. Will the main display in the lobby be a copy of “My Pet Goat” under glass?

    Great post, Dashiell.

  8. Dash-Howard Zinn called. He said he’s really jealous of the fact that you beat him to the punch and will pay handsomely to steal this work from you for his latest edition of the People’s History of the United States. This is some damn fine writing young man. Powerful voice and dead on accurate.

  9. I see no way history can be kind at all to this guy. Saying that I must say that history, with the help of the brain dead Republicans make Reagan out to be the man who broke down Russia all by himself.

    As long as Republicans distorts the truth, even with our history, this guy might come out fairly decent after all.

  10. Interesting, indeed.

    History seems to rest on catchphrases. Reagan’s was ‘tear down this wall’ and thus did the wall fall. Neville Chamberlain was ‘peace for our time’.

    Bush’s will probably be “Heckuva job, Brownie” since it really sums up so succinctly why this administration failed.

    I think the true legacy of this presidency will later be recognized as the point at which the United States lost its superpower status. When future historians write “The Fall of the American Empire” they will find the tipping point within these years.

  11. I like it. “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.” That should go on Bush’s headstone.

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