For the past few weeks I've immersed myself in all things W. I sat through the badly done but nonetheless unsettling Josh Brolin movie, which depicts Bush as someone who sought the presidency for two reasons: first, to prove to his father that he wasn't a total f--- up, and, second, because he was inspired to do so by God. Exactly how much is true and how much is the customary license that Oliver Stone takes in his films, I'm not sure.
Now I'm reading the controversial Curtis Sittenfeld novel American Wife, a fictionalized account of Laura Bush's life in which the narrator, Alice Lindgren, falls in love with and marries political scion Charles Blackwell but can never lay to rest her feelings for the boy she killed in a car accident as a teenager. I liked the first half immensely -- it's the kind of novel that makes you resent when anything impinges on your reading time -- work, kids, meals, etc. But I'm finding the second half, which stagnates around Alice's marital turmoil, hard to pick up.
The merits of both movie and book aside, why is this my W. moment when I've tried so hard to ignore all things Bush over the previous seven and five-sixths years of his presidency?
It could be that this is an exercise for me akin to gorging on all the foods considered bad for you the day before you plan to start a diet? But that analogy doesn't really hold up, because if I were about to enter South Beach's spartan hell, I'd go for the food I love -- ice cream, crunchy Cheetos, and Reese's Cups -- whereas there's nothing I can think of that I crave about the 43rd president of the United States. There's certainly nothing I'll miss when the January 20th inauguration rolls around, whoever No. 44 may be.
So I have to conclude that I'm doing the equivalent of holding my finger up to the flame to gauge how much it hurts. We've all been burned by George Bush's decisions and watched the country decline under his governance. Maybe this is about acknowledging the pain before moving on to a new day.
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