Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Verdict of History

How will history view President Bush? The answer is: Who cares? The whole idea of a President trying to secure his “place in history” is narcissistic beyond belief. We’ve heard the same rubbish for the last three decades—during Clinton, Bush I, and Reagan too. It’s the essence of junk politics that our discourse is taken up with such things instead of actually looking at what a President has done, or might do for the people of the country.
The fact that Presidents think about securing a place in history, rather than how best to serve the public, is an indicator of the megalomania that has overtaken the office. But it also seems a result of the portrayal of politics on television. During the week of the Harriet Miers fiasco, in which I believe the Libby indictment also occurred, I was watching a network news show and an anchor asked a reporter, “This has been a very hard week for the President. How do you think he will try to bounce back?” You see, it was a hard week for the President. Not for us. We’re just the spectators at a kind of national soap opera, with Bush and all the other politicians as characters. And what we want to know is: How is Bush doing? Is he holding up? How will he cope with this new crisis? It’s as if none of what happens at the pinnacle of power has any real consequences for us, as long as we can enjoy watching our cable TV.
I don’t care if it was a hard week for the President, or a good week. I’m not invested in the contest between competing political factions for who gets to be the next celebrity, the next President, the next history maker. I am indifferent to what strategy the Republicans are planning next, or for that matter, what the Democrats should do to counter them. Politics is not entertainment, or a horse race. Right now, politics is life and death, for millions of people around the world. And the rotten things that are being discussed so blithely now in the corridors of power could mean a jail cell or a death sentence for an innocent person down the road.
Nevertheless, I do know what history’s verdict will be: the people in power wasted years of time, years of opportunity, and for nothing. They could have talked about helping the environment, helping our kids, fostering justice and fairness in our society and our schools, promoting peace, working together on things that matter. But they wasted our time on Iraq and Iran, on hatred of immigrants and people of color, on trying to push women back in their place, on demonizing gay people, on encouraging phony religious values, on fear. They lied and they stole and they killed, looking only for their own short-term political and financial gain, ignoring the future and the real problems we face. That’s what history will say. If there is any history left.


Anonymous said...

Hi Chris. This site is great. You are an amazing writer. Is your book completed yet?

Chris Dashiell said...

Thanks very much. The book is not finished, and it looks like it might take until next summer to be completed.
Is this Homebase? (I only ask because you know about the book.)