I was convinced that the only way Barack Obama could win, the only path that didn't lead to Losertown or Wussville, was for him to channel the nation's outrage and eviscerate John McCain. In my dream scenario, Obama would have turned to him at the last debate, cited a few of the scummier examples of the campaign McCain waged, and evoked Joseph Welch's career-killing blast at Joe McCarthy: "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?" I still get a thrill imagining the moment.
Fortunately, Obama and his Davids knew better. They knew there were plenty of rabid lunatics like me blogging away out there, desperate for the candidate to give voice to our indignation and revulsion. And they knew they didn't have to waste a nanosecond worrying about keeping us happy, because what were we going to do, vote for Nader? They knew that what people were starving for after the past decade was not more rage.
Obama set out to run a civilized and reasoned campaign, and he stuck to it. Unlike John McCain, he would rather lose an election than lose his self-respect. And, lo, it turned out that civility and reason were just what the people wanted, and McCain peddled his putrid soul for nothing, because somehow fear and hate weren't selling this year, inspiration and hope were. So I was wrong and I'm delighted to have been so.
The exhilarating feeling of living through this huge moment in American history makes me think I've been wrong about Bush as well. Not in the sense that his policies weren't really that bad, or that the war was justified, or that he wasn't a contemptible excuse for a human, because they were, it wasn't, and he was. But it was wrong to think of the Bush era as America's death knell, because suddenly, with the perspective added by Obama's election, it seems clear that the Bush era was actually America bottoming out before embarking on recovery.
If Barack Obama turns out to be a great president - and based on his raw talent he has a better shot at it than anyone else I've ever voted for - his ascension to power will have been facilitated to a large degree by the ignorance, arrogance, and incompetence of George W. Bush and his gang, who managed to make such a toxic hash out of everything they touched that people were desperate enough to overcome their prejudice and vote for survival, even if it did come with the middle name Hussein. Obama is Bush's legacy, just as Bush was Clinton's.
And let's add another component to the Bush legacy, one that keeps him in the national discourse lest people forget just how low the country can go when they get careless about who they let run it. I propose the verb "to bush," defined as "to fuck up utterly, to fail miserably, to run something - e.g. a nation - into the ground."
Okay, class, use it in a sentence.