Friday, January 23

The Friday Random Ten+5 helps Dubya ride off into the sunset.

As CBS showed Air Force One lifting off from Andrews Air Force Base on Tuesday, carrying George W. Bush for the last time, I realized something: I feel kind of sorry for the guy. Yeah, I know, I've lit into him as hard as I've ever lit into anybody in Washington, but as bad a job as Bush did running the country, I still can't bring myself to believe that he's a horrible human being. If anything, I see him as being a nice guy -- an upbeat, fun-loving, not-all-that-intellectually-deep but nevertheless basically good human being who got swept along by forces he wasn't perceptive or strong-willed enough to manage. He got picked to be the GOP presidential nominee in the first place because he was kind of a blank slate, he had his strings pulled for eight years, and now he's basically been chewed up and spit out by Washington. He was by turns arrogant and incurious, and he certainly never should've become president in the first place, but it still kind of hurts to see someone's reputation so completely reduced to rubble like that.

So is there any way for Bush to rehab his legacy, short of Iraq turning into West Palm Beach in the next five years? I'll admit, the chances are fairly slim, but it could happen. And I have no problem with giving Bush a chance to redeem his good name in the eyes of the American public. In fact, I've got a few suggestions, some of which have already been tried with no small measure of success by actors, musicians, even fellow politicians. This week's +5 is Five Ways George W. Bush Could Improve His Public Reputation And The Way He'll Be Remembered By History.

Make recurring guest appearances on "Saturday Night Live"
During the 1996 election season, Bob Dole came across as a cranky old curmudgeon, but a post-election appearance on "Saturday Night Live" showed the ol' guy could actually be kind of funny when he wasn't blaming Bill Clinton for everything from a nationwide loss of morals to the heartbreak of erectile dysfunction. Four years later, Al Gore went from board-stiff policy wonk to wry, self-deprecating ex-politician in the span of a few "SNL" appearances. So maybe the first step in rehabbing Bush's legacy is going on the show and making a few jokes at his own expense, perhaps appearing alongside Tina-Fey-as-Sarah-Palin or something like that. Or maybe have him appear in a "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketch as himself. The possibilities are endless!

Become Obama's designated ceremony attender
You know, as disinterested as Bush appeared at times in the actual business of policymaking and political horse-trading, he threw himself enthusiastically into the ceremonial photo-op bullshit, whether it was throwing out the first pitch at Nationals Park or getting down with a group of African tribal dancers. Obama's gonna have his hands full steering the economy out of a ditch and sorting out the situation in the Middle East, so he may not have time for that kind of thing, not that he's necessarily the kind of guy who'd be entirely comfortable to begin with -- let's hope he can throw out a first pitch better than he can bowl, at least -- so maybe he should pull Dubya back in and have him be the guy to ham it up at all the ceremonial, non-governing-related events. Maybe that's patronizing, but I think "lovable goofball" is still a better legacy than whatever he's got at the moment.

Tell everyone he relapsed into alcoholism for the entirety of his presidency and he's going into rehab
Publicly humiliated yourself? Done something that by all rights should reduce your public good name to mud? Tell everyone you did it 'cause you're a drunk and go into rehab -- it's worked (sort of, to varying degrees) for everyone from Mel Gibson to Lindsay Lohan. Dubya already has the heavy drinking in his past anyway, so he'd be a natural. And we could all feel sorry for him as a nation, then eventually rejoice in his triumphant victory over alcoholism, instead of looking back on him as the guy who started a bunch of wars and let everyone's 401(k)s evaporate.

Fill in for Regis Philbin
I don't know what it is, but everyone seems to love that show. And somehow I think he'd be able to build a wonderful rapport with Kelly Ripa. Just planting seeds here.

Beat Dick Cheney to death with a shovel
I don't believe that Bush is a bad guy, but Dick Cheney -- now there's a truly loathsome, selfish, unredeemably power-hungry motherfucker. Just a worthless, evil bastard, one who did more damage to the Constitution and the underpinnings of our American democracy than Bush ever could've on his own. Cheney is the guy I think was pulling Bush's strings all along, from the very moment he nominated himself as Bush's VP, and there are few more emphatic steps Bush could take to recognize the causes of his administration's failings and redeem himself in the eyes of American society than to take an active role in ridding us of Darth Cheney once and for all. (By the way, it doesn't have to be with a shovel; dropping him into a vat of hungry sharks, for example, would be a suitably Bond-villainesque ending. I'm willing to hear other ideas here.)

So long, Dubya. It was . . . interesting. And now the Ten:

1. Pet Shop Boys, "One More Chance" (7" mix)
2. The Roots, "BOOM!"
3. Groove Armada, "If Everybody Looked the Same"
4. Morrissey, "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful"
5. The Clash, "Red Angel Dragnet"
6. Shirley Bassey, "Diamonds Are Forever"
7. Pet Shop Boys, "So Hard"
8. Ice Cube, "Check Yo Self"
9. St. Germain, "What You Think About . . . "
10. Badly Drawn Boy, "The Shining"

Your turn, nerds. Lay down your own Random Tens and/or suggestions for Bush's post-presidency activities in the comments.


Reed said...

For what it's worth, Herbert Hoover did a lot of very solid charity work after his presidency (founded UNICEF among many other Children's charities). Jimmy Carter has said, "I think I've been a better ex-president than I was a President." (or something to that effect). That said, I don't see Bush being very interested in doing anything. But maybe he can find a new puppet master to direct him to do some good instead of evil... or at least put a shovel in his hands.

1.Nine Inch Nails, "The Warning"
2.Archers of Loaf, "Backwash"
3.Black Sabbath, "Planet Caravan"
4.The White Stripes, "I think I smell A Rat"
5.Aretha Franklin, "Save Me"
6.Mice Parade, "Guitars for Plants"
7.David Bowie, "Fame"
8.Pink Floyd, "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party, Pt. 2: Entertainment"
9.Dinosaur Jr., "I Know Yer Insane"
10.Cat Butt, "Big Cigar"

Picture Me Rollin said...

At the risk of being a total smart-ass know-it-all, the plane that took off with Bush on board was not Air Force One. It is only Air Force One when "the" president is on it. Just Saying.

DAve said...

One of my other liberal friends (yes, I have more than one - friend and liberal friend) was at the inauguration and echoed a similar sentiment. She said she thought it was a bit tasteless and just wrong that so many people hurled curse words and flipped the bird at Bush's helicopter as it departed, as well as the whole "na na hey hey goodbye" refrains during the ceremony.

I've always wondered what kind of legacy Bush would have today were it not for Cheney. While it's irrational to believe everything would have been different, I believe, at the very least, that things the good things Bush did (tackling the AIDS situation in Africa for instance - here I briefly remove my isolationist libertarian hat) would have polished up the tarnish at least a little bit.

NRBQ said...


Holly said...

Not buying it; absolve him of nothing; find him utterly irretrievable in all things.

1. FreQ Nasty - Oi! Killa!
2. L-Vis 1990 - Change the Game
3. Madox - Duckalicious (Baobinga's Thugalicious Remix)
4. Cadence Weapon - House Music
5. Reso - If You Can't Beat Em
6. Leon Jean Marie - Bring It On (Rusko's Granny Smasher Remix)
7. ZTT - Lower State of Consciousness (Original Munich Version)
8. Santogold vs. Switch & FreQ Nasty - Creator
9. Rob Sparx - 2 Faced Rasta (Reo Remix)
10. Saul Williams - Not In Our Name

dawgfan said...

Not all of us think that Bush was horrible and Obama is the Savior.

Go Dawgs!

mykiec said...

You're about to see the Constitution damaged more in the next four years than Cheney would've done in a lifetime.

Please put down the kool-aid and walk away.

Anonymous said...

(Not a kool-aid drinker.)

mykiec: I'm sorry, I'm having trouble typing from laughing over your statement that someone who taught Constitutional law, and who has appointed to important positions prominent legal scholars who have spoken and written often against the previous administration's "Unitary Executive" theories, is in any way interested in damaging the Constitution. If you're truly concerned about the health of the Constitution, you should be dancing in the streets; this appears to be the American Restoration at hand.

Anonymous said...

Anon- 3:40- From somone who also taught Constitutional law, I disagree whole-heartedly. Take off your liberal glasses.

matt b. said...

Ah, the sweet smell of Socialism that has arrived with change.

It worked so well for the USSR, we've just GOT to try it.

Anonymous said...

Ever notice how many anonymous Constitutional Law scholars show up here?

My suggestion for Cheney (remember you asked, Doug) - chain him naked on a fire ant mound with his nuts covered in honey. In the summer. He would still be getting off light, imo.

Sparrow said...

Anon 9.:06 -

Not just Con Law scholars, but Con Law professors! This truely is an impressive crowd. When an anonymous, self-described former Con Law professor makes such persuasive arguments such as "take off your liberal glasses", I'm rushed back to my days at UGA law. Oh, the memories....

SpartanDan said...

I too cringed at Bush being booed. I certainly understand the sentiment (I'm not sure he could have done a whole lot worse as President, although, as Doug said, I think a lot of that had to do with his advisors), but part of the reason his era was so bad was the increasingly polarized nature of politics - to too many Republicans (and, to be fair, probably a few Democrats too, though it was less noticeable with them not having much power), dissent meant you were un-American. That attitude, that unwillingness to even entertain the thought that a Congressman of the other party might not be trying to completely ruin your way of life and may even have a good idea, more than anything else, is responsible for many of the problems we're facing. Fixing things is going to take all of us working together.

For what it's worth, I think the McCain campaign actually lends credence to the idea that Bush was not the mastermind behind most of the bad ideas. By the time McCain was the nominee, he was echoing many of the same positions, the same "with us or against us" bullshit that pissed me off so much about Bush in the first place, yet he never really seemed comfortable doing so. The nastiest moments from McCain either came from his advisors or Palin or just felt phony. Bush just must not have had the sense or the will to push back against that advice.

1. Bush - Swim
2. Rammstein - Seemann
3. Disturbed - Criminal
4. Seether - Remedy
5. Linkin Park - Papercut
6. Weird Al Yankovic - The Night Santa Went Crazy
7. Radiohead - Climbing Up the Walls
8. Cheap Trick - Mighty Wings
9. Soundgarden - Spoonman
10. Barenaked Ladies - One Week

beast in 'bama said...

At the time of his death, even Richard Nixon was considered a "prominent statesman" and "builder of bridges" with the USSR and China, almost to the point of overshadowing the despicable things he did - or allowed his staff to do on his behalf.

He was even viewed somewhat sympathetically by the media, like some sort of Shakespearean tragic hero.If Richard Nixon can somewhat recover his reputation, anyone can. Is David Frost still alive?

I am going to miss the hell out of "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches." It's the only part of Letterman I've watched over the last three years.

Thank God for Pres Bush said...

I really love your Georgia content & think you're a pretty funny guy, but I'm always amazed at how utterly stupid you are when it comes to American history & politics. You devalue my UGA degree.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Holly. Just pursuing his party's nomination is enough to condemn him--if you're an admitedly non-intellectual, cowboyish type, don't run for the most important job in the world. Just don't. The arrogance implicit in his straightfaced conviction that he was equal to the task is staggering.

Hobnail_Boot said...

The arrogance implicit in anon @ 4:14''s self-appointment as moral judge is staggering.

Bush will likely be judged as a middle-of-the-road president, as the most important thing that took place during each of his 2 terms were events put forth by outside sources (WTC, Katrina).

Anonymous said...

...Both of which he bungled magnificently. Middle-of-the-road? He left office with the highest negative ratings ever recorded, bottoming out lower than Nixon and Hoover. He leaves the economy in aboslute shambles, two wars in only slightly better shape, the infrastructure crumbling, our international standing much lowered, our wealthiest with tax cuts and our poorest with eviction and foreclosure notices. Please.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing about Bush: I would rather have a beer with him than some of the other possible candidates. But, that turns out not to be a very good measuring stick for POTUS. Kind of like electing Otter from Animal House.

SpartanDan said...

Hobnail: A President has to be able to deal with the unexpected. Early on, it seemed like Bush would handle 9/11 well - and then Iraq, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo happened. It never seemed like he handled Katrina well.

Presidents who serve in times of crisis are rarely considered "middle of the road" - that's saved for those who were never really tested in tough times. Either they handle it well (and are considered among the greats) or they botch it (and end up on the bottom of the list).

Anonymous said...

So, what was Truman?

bho said...

JFK botched the Bay of Pigs and Vietnam where many more than 4,000 troops died. He had a number of extramarital affairs. Yet he is conisdered great by many. I'm not sure why. Because he was assasinated?