This is my [hopefully not too] awkward first post. While I’d like to write about the Gospel or something more strictly theological (since politics have been invading every facet of American existence for the past 21 months…maybe with the exception of the rural South), I am choosing to write about the current American President, George W. Bush.
Comedic persona Neil Hamburger (one of the most inappropriate comedians I’ve ever heard) once told a joke during a stand-up routine that went about like this:
“Hey, is it just me? Is it just me or is George Bush the worst president in the history of the United States, huh, am I right?” The anti-Bush crowd during this routine–not unlike the national crowd, which according to at least one poll is composed of 70% of Americans–cheered at this rhetorical question. Hamburger continued,
“Which makes it all the harder to understand why his son, George W. Bush, is in fact the best president we’ve ever had.” This punchline was followed by a wave of “boos” from the displeased crowd.
It seems possible that we live in a “post-Bush” culture, one that ignores the fact that he exists or at least looks forward to the day when he will cease to. Though I would not consider myself as a “fan” of Bush’s presidency to nearly any extent, I find it perplexing that our culture is so infatuated with hating him. Perhaps we don’t realize that Bush is ten years younger than John McCain, which means that we potentially have another decade or more of President Bush in the public eye.
He’s a truly fascinating person. If you’ve not seen Oliver Stone’s W., I suggest you do. It’s a well-crafted caricature of Bush’s adult life and the various people who have surrounded him. I left the theater with a far more empathetic attitude toward the man, who is portrayed as a simple guy who was caught up in a wave of dirty politics. The guilt of the Bush Administration is really shifted toward Dick Cheney in the film. Maybe I’ll post something about how impressive the film was, especially for a film that only took half-a-year to shoot, edit, and release.
But in addition to the empathy I gained toward President Bush, I was also filled with a sense of mourning; mourning for a man who has been painted as a villain in our culture by not-as-much-fault-as-America-thinks of his own. He is already among the deceased presidents of our generation–Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan–yet has been painted with more dishonor than Herbert Hoover. He’s still in office until January, yet we replaced him with an over-publicized bout for the seat of the 44th President of the United States nearly two years ago.
Any conclusion or resolution? Maybe we ought to not view those in the public’s eye as demigods. Maybe we ought to not expect our political leaders, nor any other person, to make the perfect decision every time. Maybe we ought to demonstrate a little grace toward those who we label as unlovable. As I’ve said, I’m no fan of George W. Bush as the Commander-in-Chief, but I’m fairly certain that he did what he believed was best for America most (if not all) of the time.