In President Bush’s last press conference, he seemed thoughtful, almost jocular. A long way from “I am the Decider” and the self-convinced stridency of most of his eight year term, though glimpses of that creepy spectre sneaked out from time to time.
When queried about the current state of the GOP, he cited previous declines – including after his father’s presidency – and also periods of ascendancy. He seemed confident it would happen again, but cautioned that the party needed to convey a message of compassion, of openness.
The problem with that is his focus on the message rather than the reality, the words versus the actions.
Ths “compassionate conservative” has been neither.
Policies of pre-emptive war, massive transfers of wealth to the elite, opposition to and undermining of long-fought and hard-won regulations to protect the environmental and economic welfare of the nation, gutting of the middle class in support of free market and free trade principles are not compassionate, any more than campaigning against the lifestyles of people whose values are different from yours. And conservative values – smaller, less-intrusive government and fiscal responsibility and accountability – don’t seem to have a place in his world, except insofar as they benefit people like him: white, wealthy, heterosexual and part of the power elite of this nation.
Much of the rest of his press conference was spent explaining and rationalizing the blunders and miscalculations great and small, as examples of leadership. And while not claiming his choices would be vindicated by history, he still seemed to have little sense of what a tragic impact his lack of leadership has had on this nation and the world. America is poorer, less safe and more embattled on more fronts than at any time that we haven’t been involved in a global war. Human rights and the valued privileges of American citizenship have never been more imperiled since the McCarthy era. The shadow of Gitmo loomed large in the background.
One thing that did give me heart was the following statement by the soon-to-be ex-president:
“When I get out of here, I’m getting off the stage.”
It would not cause me much concern if he exited the stage and began dedicating himself to a worthwhile task: defending himself against charges of high crimes and misdemeanors. Unfortunately, he and his defenders may be able to shield themselves with assertions of inability to foresee, ignorance, being misled by bad intelligence and other such hogwash.
I hope that the Obama administration will support Vice President Biden, and that the American public will hold them to the promise to investigate, prosecute and bring to justice those involved in the acts of ill-will and criminality that have so severely damaged our country, at home and abroad.
May the Higher Power of your choice support you and all Americans in the long effort before us to rebuild a nation that can proudly claim to be “the land of the free, and the home of the brave”.