Tail Gunner George?
George Bush is one of those guys people love to hate. Perhaps it's his smirk. Maybe it's the way he talks down to people while simultaneously sounding like an uneducated oaf. Some people don't like the way he lounges atop the podium during speeches, says "hard work" at least five times per speech, or habitually rubs bald heads wherever he finds them. Then there's that whole "insane policies" thing, but don't get me started.
Many who harbor a visceral dislike of him use various analogies to describe him. Anti-Christ. Blithering idiot. Insane madman. But most often, they mention what they see as uncanny similarities to Adolph Hitler.
Now I dislike the guy too, but I can't say he's much like Hitler. As far as I know, he hasn't gassed anyone and he lacks that Teutonic efficiency that Hitler had in spades. His speeches are mumbling lullabies, not crowd-grabbing exhortations to crush the enemy. All things being fair, I take issue with anyone who seriously suggests Dub is much like Hitler. I just don't see it.
That doesn't mean there aren't valid comparisons. Dub favors Harry Truman, although that's a stretch. I favor a politician a tad short of full-blown Hitlerian evil, but still loathsome enough to have a political philosophy named after him - Joe McCarthy.
Tail Gunner Joe and Brush Clearing Dub share a similar view of the world - a place fraught with danger with conspiracies and booby traps around every corner.
For Joe, it was the Commies. Despite an American Communist Party so weak it could barely scrape together a quorum, Joe believed they were ready to march into Washington and depose the government.
George feels similarly about Al Qaeda. To him, they're masterminds of unfathomable capability who can manage to strike anywhere and everywhere at will. While they're probably more powerful than the pitiful Commies of the 50s, they're still a bunch of zealots living in Pakistani caves and too poor or inept to have a good wedding photographer come by to shoot their amateurish videos. In short, a reasonable threat, but not one that will bring the country to its knees unless we have no plan.
Oops. I forgot about the plan thing there for a minute. My bad.
Joe and Dub share other traits too. Joe strode the world stage like the new gunfighter in town - tough, mean, and ready to take on anyone. However, he usually limited his asinine inquisitions to those least able to fight him off. Meanwhile, he drowned his abysmally low self-esteem in the alcohol that eventually helped kill him. He was a bully of great renown who incessantly picked on the weak, but was frequently upstaged when taking on an opponent of strength.
Both men also share a pathological fear of dissent. Joe clamped the lid tight on his investigations, hunted down dissenters, and squashed them like Commie bugs. George is just the high-tech update - a man who taps phones, gathers computer data, leaks juicy details, and smears everyone who has even a mild disagreement with his disagreeable policies.
But in the end, it was their over-inflated images that took them down a few pegs.
When Joe ran out of "bad guys" to chase and shenanigans to pull, he faded away rather quickly. George is nearing the end of his rope too.
The "political capital" he claimed in both terms was squandered in much the same way Daddy Bush squandered his after Gulf War I. Dub failed to deliver as a "uniter, not a divider". The much-vaunted solidarity of his own party collapsed like the Maginot Line after George screwed them repeatedly and publicly. And now, his powerful base has eroded into a deep chasm because he preferred vacationing in Crawford to addressing their issues - gay marriage, abortion, and so on - in any meaningful way.
The final historical analysis will be the same for both men. Today, we view McCarthy as a grandstanding boob, so carried away with his own self-serving preening that he personifies politics at its worst. I think future generations will view George similarly.
He'll be a man remembered for his spectacular failures and the fact that he one-upped Joe in at least one category. Joe was merely a Senator, a man whose position confined his damage to a relatively short span of time. George has proven his damage can be unbounded and much more far-reaching. Future generations will look back at George and see the beginning of the end when it came to Constitutional freedoms. They'll see the enormous damage he did to his own party and, by extension, to a two-party system so weakened by the hubris and vitriol that our current governmental forms may never fully recover. And finally, they'll look upon him with contempt because in all likelihood, they'll still be paying the bills for his folly long after he's gone.
I'd say that's a truer picture of the man than Hitler, and I think it will be richly deserved.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, June 07, 2006