Monday, January 5, 2009

Dead Horse Syndrome

Frank Rich's artful summary of the Bush presidency in the Sunday Times left me wondering whether he (and other NYT columnists I admire such as Friedman & Dowd) will be as brilliant and impactful in the post-Bush period as he has been these last 8 years. Yet, after about the fourth or fifth paragraph of this week's column, I began feeling greater and greater discomfort, like being stained and ashamed by reading someone else's sordid diary. Are we perhaps piling on with too much self satisfaction here at the end of it?

A key element that continues to be lacking from the pre-post-Bush commentariat is a sense of individual and collective responsibility for the events of these last 8 years. Bush, as awful as he was, was Our Bush. We elected and re-elected him and That Crowd and mostly sat numbly as our politics withered and our policies contributed to chaos and death around the globe.

This acquiescence of ours in the last 8 years of slash crash and burn is, I think, the source of my shameful feelings while reading Rich yesterday. I was reminded by a dinner talk with Jase last night about a time 30+ years ago when the William Sloane Coffins and Martin Luther Kings--religious leaders I adored--were leading the charge of outrage, protest and civil disobedience to register our disapproval of the insanity that was being perpetuated on our behalf. Such protest has barely peeped these years, drowned out by the ka-ching ka-ching ka-ching of a society enamored of its own success in the Potemkin Village.

I take no satisfaction from Bush's failures. The Iraqi's shoes he ducked a few weeks back struck me squarely between the eyes.

Shakespeare's Marc Antony summed it up sadly and well:

You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason….

sent via Blackberry wireless PDA

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