Tag Archives: nixon

Trump, Bush, and the Curse of Memory

The worst thing about Donald Trump is that he’ll get to come back.

There are many terrible things about Donald Trump The Presidential Candidate, to be sure, more than I care enumerate in this space. But the worst thing of all about him is that he won’t have to pay for any of these sins. He won’t be punished for empowering an army of nazis (online and off), or stoking revenge fantasies among a sizable portion of the electorate that will be impossible for the next president to douse, or even for being a goddamn creep of the highest order. This is all next-level awful, and bodes ill for the presidential elections of 2020 and beyond, when another fascist with sharper political skills and a modicum of impulse control could play the Nixon to Trump’s George Wallace.

But even if we wind up with an actual race-baiting Putin-worshiping monster in the White House 4 or 8 or 12 years from now—someone who will have marched there on a road Trump paved—Trump himself will not receive the slightest blame for it, and he will not only be unrepentant, but will not be forced to answer any hard questions about the horror he has unleashed.

This won’t happen because Trump is a psychopath who can compartmentalize the segments of his consciousness like a serial killer, or because he’s a self-proclaimed multibillionaire who can spend his way out of trouble, although these factors certainly help. This will happen because no one will call him to account. On the face of it, this seems impossible; surely Trump will have to answer for something he’s done during this election. But American political history—particularly that of the last 20 years or so—provides ample evidence to prove this, and the hyper-accelerated pace of media and life in general guarantees it.

Continue reading Trump, Bush, and the Curse of Memory

It’s the Little Things

Last week, the front page of the Daily News featured the official portrait of President-Elect Obama, the one that will be featured in every federal building. When I saw the pic, it suddenly dawned on me: After today, I’ll never have to see George Bush if I don’t want to.

If I go to the DMV, I won’t have to see his Alfred E. Neuman smirk. When I go to the post office, I won’t have to avert my eyes from his vapid, incurious stare. If I get called to jury duty, I won’t have to studiously avoid looking at his pampered, entitled face for hours on end.

When Bush appears on TV from not on, it will only be to nervously defend his monstrous legacy, He’ll only appear on Fox News every now and then to prop up some more
fiction about how his administration “inherited” every evil thing it did or
caused or allowed to happen.

So I won’t feel obligated to keep watching him because he just might make some announcement that will make our lives even worse. Like, “Oh, by the way, we’re invading France. Just ’cause. Try and stop me, assholes!”

In fact, I wonder if even Fox News will continue to defend the Bush legacy. Because before long, defending Bush won’t be necessary for anyone anymore. Even people who will oppose Obama at every turn will do so on terms defined by the new political reality he represents, not by the rotten scraps Bush left behind.

I never want to see this asshole again, for any reason. I can learn nothing from even hating him anymore.

On MSNBC, Chris Matthews just articulated something I felt but couldn’t quite put into words until now. He got offended when someone compared Bush to Nixon. In his opinion, Nixon was a tragic figure, almost Shakespearean, felled by his hubris and ambition.

That’s the primary difference: Nixon was a fascinating man, and Bush is anything but. You can imagine Nixon wandering around San Clemente, wondering where he went wrong, even feeling some remorse for his evils at times.

We’ll continue to study Nixon. We’ll study the Bush Presidency, but Bush the Man will stay untouched by historians. There is nothing under his surface to touch.

When a tornado hits, you examine the wreckage, and you look at the meterological causes, but you don’t study the tornado itself because it doesn’t exist. It touches the ground, destroys everything in its path, and dissipates into the air from whence it came.

Don’t you understand? Now we all can ignore Bush. Even people who agree with him on certain political issues, so they felt forced to defend him even in his most idiotic, clueless, wreckless, monstrous moments. Conservative, liberal, it doesn’t matter–we’re all free of this moron now.

We all can choose to ignore him for the rest of our natural lives. I know it seems hard to believe. We’re all like battered spouses who’ve finally escaped an abusive mate–even though it’s all over, it’s still hard to believe that it’s all over.

This realization is probably the smallest thing that will happen today, or in the next few months. But after eight years of Bush, it feels huge.