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.