Is the long nightmare really over? I have to admit that I'm one of those people who thought that the cabal would never actually leave office, perhaps finding some last-second self-declared "emergency" to justify invoking martial law and staying in power indefinitely. Not to be conspiratorial about it, but the Bush Bunch set things up pretty well to linger.
Then again, the damage already has been done, with America's near-future conflicts and occupations determined, the Treasury fully looted, the legal and regulatory architecture in ruins, the High Court well-packed, the climate thoroughly screwed, and the nation rendered a staggering global pariah. Thank you, Mr. Bush, for your foolish consistency, blatant butchery, and profound sense of irony in which whenever you talked about the terrorists it sounded like a moment of self-reflection -- as in your long-awaited and painfully-anticipated farewell speech:
"The battles waged by our troops are part of a broader struggle between two dramatically different systems. Under one, a small band of fanatics demands total obedience to an oppressive ideology, condemns women to subservience, and marks unbelievers for murder... When people live in freedom, they do not willingly choose leaders who pursue campaigns of terror."
And then there is your penchant for cavalier honesty, such as with this quip from Business Week on July 30, 2001:
"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."
Quite amazing that you had the foresight to suggest this eventuality, just over a month before 9/11 -- you are to be complimented on your visionary acumen and historical accuracy. You made the presidency imperial and the executive unimpeachable, letting us myriad mere vassals in the streets know that you wouldn't make policy decisions based upon a "focus group" and that you "don't pay much attention" to that sort of thing. It all reminds me of another famous George who is an important part of the American lexicon:
"The history of the present King is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states... He has refused his assent to laws... He has obstructed the administration of justice... He has made judges dependent on his will alone... He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance... He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power... He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation: For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury... For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments... [For] waging war against us... He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people... He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation... In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."
Okay, so that was just some quaint and obsolete Declaration by a small, radical focus group. Surely, though, you must pay a debt of homage to your forebears, people like Warren Harding, whom history records "was an ineffectual and indecisive leader who played poker while his friends plundered the U.S. treasury." Or Andrew Johnson, who cared not about the tide of history or the emerging views of the people: "This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men."
Those hacks couldn't hold a candle to you, sir. As Keith Olbermann cogently recaps "eight years in eight minutes" by letting your record speak for itself, one can only wonder what might have been if the elections of 2000 or 2004 hadn't been stolen fair and square, or if the Democrats in Congress had either a spine or a dictionary with the word 'filibuster' in it. In any case, it's fair to say that your presidential legacy is pretty well settled at this point. To paraphrase Douglas Adams: "So long, and thanks for all the s#it."
But that was then and this is now, and it's all water under the bridge -- and over the levees and the through the woods -- at this point. So you dithered while dastardly dirtbags demolished downtown Manhattan, cowered while climactic currents and calculated carelessness killed New Orleans, and prevaricated perfidiously to push, pull, and prod the people to war. Who among us could have foreseen that "Bin Laden [was] determined to strike in the U.S.," that New Orleans would be "Gone with the Water," or that "Iraq Turmoil" would ensue while we turned up "No Iraqi WMDs"? Hey, everyone has their bad moments; yours were just remarkably and relentlessly continuous. Mission accomplished, indeed.
And thus we arrive on the doorstep of that wondrous transition from 43 to 44. President Obama likely will be no more a savior or messiah (as some seemingly long for) than we actively demand him to be, but at this point a former community organizer who grew up sans silver spoon sounds pretty darn good. Most importantly, he ain't you, and he might even listen to us every once in a while. That he'll be sworn in under your nose -- inflammatory middle name and all -- in and of itself is worth the price of admission.
We can only guess what the future will hold. Certainly there will be many challenges, and it will take an Herculean effort to right the ship of state at this point. I suppose we owe you, Mr. Bush, a debt of gratitude for exposing the evils of empire and laying bare the threads of theocracy. You gave the lie to laissez faire capitalism and nailed shut the coffin of neo-conservatism. Yes, we've been Enronned and Neoconned, Katrinatized and Iraqified, TALONed and TARPed, Wiretapped and Bushwhacked. And we've learned a lot in the process. We're now a highly informed focus group, us misguided multitudes.
So your work here clearly is done; it's time to move on. We've waited you out, and what's more, found you out -- hopefully in time to turn things around. We're ready to get back to work, and you've got a memoir to be ghost-written and reams of history to try and revise. Now please, sir, with all due respect: get out of the way and don't let the door hit you on the way out.