Monday, March 20, 2006

Just a droplet in time's bottomless bucket of dumb...

Sometimes I find myself wondering how Bush will be remembered fifty years from now. Of course no one can predict such things, but it seems to me that he has little chance of being viewed kindly by history. I imagine that he will always be cherished by his ever-dwindling coterie of apologists and ideologues, yet I suspect that as the nation grows out of his odd reign, their practiced rhetoric will only grow feebler, their intellectual parlor games more risible. Our grandchildren will come to our nursing homes and ask how we could have ever elected such a man and many of us will lie and say we had nothing to do with it. Only a paltry few will still have the shamelessness left in their old bones to thunder about how all those history books are “biased” and the Bush Administration really was the crowning age of the republic.

To a large extent, Bush’s place in history–at least in the short run–will depend on what the conservative movement chooses to do with him. At the moment, it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll make him over into another Reagan, always their favorite repository for misty-eyed nostalgia and factually-weak hagiography. The professional rightists appear far more inclined to dump Bush onto the pundit’s scrapheap as a sad example of someone who, for whatever reason, failed to execute their faultless and grand vision. Bush is too tainted for them, he’s loathed by too wide a spectrum of people. The conservative movement is, in strategy at least, a practical entity. Saving their own skin is far more important than preserving their former figurehead’s vanity. They’re not going to tie their snake-oil business to a leprosy-ridden barker. With Bush set to leave office, and with the 2008 elections promising to be difficult and contentious for all sides, they’re going to be too busy to devote much time to their spent vessel, especially one with an abiding popularity problem and a not-too-stellar track record on virtually everything.

However, we can expect that, when liberalism and the Democrat party once again find themselves ascendant, the rightist opinioneering squad will mount a full-court press to convince America that the Bush years were a sepia-toned era of peace, prosperity, and honest government. This will be, to say the least, a hard sell, but if nothing else they’ve proven themselves capable of selling a lot of atrocious shit. You can expect a lot of hot air being farted around by well-dressed guys who couldn’t get a job at Stuckey’s but somehow became foreign affairs analysts on Fox news, plus the standard Hugh Hewitt-style hackery where tinhorn pundits, with their charming disregard for irony, declare any person or organization who refuses to worship Bush to be atrociously biased and not worth a moment’s time. However, they’ll have to coordinate this with the main show: endless and furious attacks on their array of enemies.

And this is, pleasantly enough for liberal Democrats like me, the best Bush can hope for–to be a beacon of lost glory for the right in their interminable rhetorical war. With any luck, the nation at large will have caught on to these people’s shabby tricks by then and their attempts to turn Bush into their twangy Che Guevara figure will even further sully him to posterity. At that point, both the President and the claque that reached their apotheosis in his administration will spiral downwards into that cultural space somewhere between infamy and obscurity.