Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An intellectual discovers another Bush blemish - he's too aloof

George W. Bush -- plush with family money and a taxpayer-funded retirement package that few will ever enjoy -- may be at peace with his decision not to "sully the presidency" with trivial matters like, you know, defending conservatism, but as one who will be forced to help fund his retirement, I am not.

And it's not the money part that bugs me. It's the "at peace" thing that does. In fact, I'll go counter to conventional wisdom and submit that it is a quiet self-centeredness at the root of this strategy.

Consider that Bush is "at peace" with his decisions to take the fall for issues that were not his personal issues to take the fall for. What the 43rd president still apparently does not get is that his presidency did not and does not belong to him and him alone.

As he said yesterday on the Rush Limbaugh Show -- under some pretty stiff and repeated questions on the topic by Rush --

I've discussed this with other people in my administration, when they call me a liar should I have called them names, and my attitude was no then, obviously, and I still feel very strongly that's the way a president ought to conduct himself.

That sounds very high-minded. Perhaps it is. Or perhaps it's the feelings of a man who has forgotten just who owns the presidency. And it doesn't change the fact that when Bush was called a liar, we were called liars by extension. His presidency belonged -- and still belongs -- to all of us as well. And by "us," I mean those who supported and defended him along with sharing his values (or what we thought were his values).

Thus, when he failed to defend himself, he failed to defend us -- which is precisely why we elected him. Day after day Bush was trashed unfairly, illogically, and inaccurately -- along with all of his supporters -- yet his White House never uttered a peep of resistance. What? Did they think they were in this by themselves?

And if it were simply a matter of a distant bitter memory, it would be bad enough.

But it is not distant and not really a memory. Public opinion polls indicate that just about as many Americans still blame Bush (and thereby us, his supporters) for the bad economy as blame Obama. One can certainly chalk a lot of this up to ignorance on the part of many Americans. But it is not mere ignorance alone.

It is ignorance driven and multiplied by the fact that while Democrats who actually helped "drive the car into the ditch" were out in public slamming Bush and capitalism and conservatism in general for a souring economy in 2007 and 2008...the mild-mannered man from Texas was luxuriating in his self-righteous "new tone" strategy of not sullying the presidency.

Well that's just great. We all get sullied instead.

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