October 23, 2008
Pre-writing History

For a glimpse of history to come, see this from Ohollern at his first-rate blog, Donkey Mountain. Rather than excerpting and linking, I’m lifting it intact. As you read, bear in mind the splendid cosmetic surgery that our historians have already done on Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the sainted Reagan. Among others.

When I woke up this morning, something was different. I felt a sense of lightness and hope that I haven’t experienced in eight years. Then it hit me. The Bush presidency is coming to an end. It fully sank in and I truly grasped it. The Bush presidency is coming to an end. Say it with me, brothers and sisters, and say it long and loudly so all God’s creatures might know, the Bush presidency is coming to an end!

I’m aware that my joy might be premature. I well remember that a few months back Bush told some sycophantic interviewer on FOX News that he wanted to “finish strong.” That’s a statement that should give us pause. And, of course, with Cheney still lurking around the dark hallways of the White House like a child thief waiting to pounce, we must all remain vigilant. Still, barring any major catastrophes (a bold hope, I know), we can plausibly assume that in a couple of months, our long national nightmare will be over. Praise be to God and the U.S. Constitution. Praise be to Mr. Madison. Praise be to the United States of America. Take me in your arms once more and let me love you again!

After permitting myself to indulge in this pleasing notion for an unseemly length of time, I regained my composure and came back to cold reality. Or, to paraphrase Shakespeare, the buttocks of the evening gave way to the forehead of the morning. I began to wonder how we’ll explain the dark phenomenon of Bush-Cheney to our posterity. How will we justify ourselves and lay claim to any virtue when we allowed these dense, cold-blooded reptiles to seize power and inflict such grievous harm on the world?


Then a few names began floating through my mind, like lazy clouds that occasionally blot out the sun on a summer’s day. Doris Kearns Goodwin. Michael Beschloss. David McCullough. Suddenly, my stomach began to bloat and churn as if I’d eaten bad Mexican food. Of course, I thought, we’ll explain it away the same way we always explain our sins. We’ll send in the Court Historians.

They’ll unfurl their scrolls and begin scribbling away, doing what they always do best: make history nice. They’ll set to work writing, publishing, speaking, and frequently materializing on C-Span and the Jim Lehrer News Hour. Gradually, an acceptable narrative will take shape. It will acknowledge the misdeeds of the Bush Administration but place them in a context that makes them palatable to the saplings in high school who must, at all costs, be made into patriots. I suspect it will look something like this:

George W. Bush was a man of deep faith. He fervently believed in the rightness of what he was doing. Unfortunately, the devoutness of his beliefs often led him into errors of judgment. He was a good man, a likable man, the kind of guy you want to have a beer with, but, alas, his religious devotion to spreading democracy crashed on the rocks of a world that wasn’t ready for it … His greatest failing was an inability to adapt his beliefs to the vicissitudes of the world, or some such crap.

Bottom line, George was a true believer and the disasters that resulted stemmed from good motives.

It practically writes itself. That’s why legions of no-talent, hack historians will be rolling it off like machines in the next few years. Their books might even include a few photos of George W. standing alone in the White House, back to the camera, staring pensively out the window like LBJ or Nixon. I can Hear Doris Kearns Goodwin now, “He agonized over the the failure of Iraq. His faith simply didn’t allow him to accept that it wouldn’t work. Since defeat was not an option, he doggedly persevered . . . “

The more ambitious historians will tie in the Freudian angle. Georgie was driven by a subconscious urge to outshine his father. His insecurity created a manic striving for greatness that actuated itself in the form of military conquest and nation-building. If the war in Iraq failed, he failed, and that meant his father won. George W. couldn’t face that prospect, so even in the face of mounting disaster he persevered .… In other words, he wasn’t just an illiterate simpleton who didn’t know what the fuck he was doing. No. He was a complex soul propelled by dark subconscious forces that brought about his fall.

Thus the emotionally stunted moron becomes a tragic, Shakespearean figure who the citizens of the American Empire can sympathize with. It worked for Nixon.

If that fails, they can always fall back on what I call the “Cardinal Wolsey Defense.” It was a popular trope during the Middle Ages. Basically, it absolves the King of responsibility for his evil deeds by placing the blame on his advisers.

The King, after all, is a good, decent man who thinks of nothing but the welfare of his people. He doesn’t wilfully act out of purely vain or selfish motives. It’s always his evil counselors who are to blame when shit goes bad. They are the villains! Thus the disasters of the last eight years will be the fault of Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld. Doris Kearns Goodwin, once again, “Cheney took advantage of Bush’s naïveté to implement his own agenda.”

You watch.

That all of this is pure horseshit is irrelevant. This pure horseshit is exactly what your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will be taught about our dismal gray era and the petty little wannabe Cæsar who presided over it all. We know what he really was. They will not. Even if the psychological crap is true, it doesn’t excuse him. All of us have issues and resentments. It’s called life. Most of us deal with them in a responsible way. That’s called being a mature human being.

If Poor Little Silver Spoon Georgie, who was born a millionaire, who was given a pampered upbringing, who was given an Ivy League education, and who was given numerous profitable careers by Big Bad Ole’ Daddy, cant’ figure that out then, well, I guess that makes him an object of some small pity.

That he carried these adolescent neuroses to the White House and used his power to kill hundreds of thousands of human beings makes him a monster, no different than Caligula or Domitian or Lucretia Borgia. He is a mental, moral and intellectual midget. He is evil. No amount of vanilla ice-cream scooped up and slathered over our historical memory by the likes of Doris Kearns Goodwin or David McCullough must ever be allowed to white-wash over that simple fact.

This war is about to end. Praise God.


Posted by Jerome Doolittle at October 23, 2008 09:27 AM
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I hope it goes like the memory one old farmer I knew, who, explaining why his sisters went to college and he didn't always explained: "I grew up during Hoover Days, I went to Hutto college". Which was a neighboring farm, which taught him the craft of farming. No further explanation was needed. "Hoover days" was enough.

This old man was once a wealthy farmer, too, but then Reagan came into office. I never heard him explain the reason for the fall of his farm. But I know what it was. And if I had children and children, they would know.

Let the stories be told to your children. Their memories will live on long past any books that will be written. And then there is the rest of the world, which will give three shits about George, but his name will still be placed in the books they write about him.

The smarter children will always smell out the horse manure in their books. The books will die but the remnant will live on.

Posted by: Buck on October 23, 2008 12:54 PM

The Cardinal Wolsey Defense reminds me of the "If only the Czar knew" of the Russian peasantry.

Posted by: Joyful Alternative on October 23, 2008 2:01 PM

Does anyone actually want to have a beer with George W. Bush? I mean, apart from the fact he's supposed to be a dry drunk... he's not a very interesting wet drunk either.

Posted by: Mahakal on October 24, 2008 2:17 AM

The kids won't read a textbook find out about GWB. They'll read about him on the internet, or whatever it's called then. As long as it is "free", then the truth will always be out there for them.

I don't doubt that there will be biographies written, but how many people are gonna be interested in them?

It's television and radio whee the lies will be told.

Posted by: Buck on October 25, 2008 7:57 AM
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