AH, what is so rare as a day that rids of Rudy Giuliani and officially ushers in the Bush Legacy with last night's State of the Union? Here's wishing both men many, many, many, many years in which to enjoy their retirement.
It's tempting to say I want my eight years back, but that would be an insult to the people who didn't survive them courtesy the incompetence, greed, and self-aggrandizing, testicle-free macho posturing of these two.
I've never sat through an entire Bush speech or press conference during his Presidency. I tried, once or twice; frankly, I'm not comfortable admitting I never made it, since I think one ought to do so at least once as the price of citizenship, with mouth closed and ears open. But with Bush, if nothing else, the jaw always dropped sometime within his first fifty words. How did you come to be elected, even in Texas? People heard this guy speak, and then they voted for him. Some more than once. And it's not as if he's simply a bad public speaker, or a clumsy one. He's a What Th' Fuck Is This Guy Brain Damaged? speaker. Which, of course, I know you know, but I bring up for two reasons. One, I've decided to run screaming to the bosomy comforts of (political) nostalgia as a refuge from a campaign I no longer want to hear about (and I'm sticking to that for at least the next ten minutes). And, two, because the fact that this guy managed to get elected President after he was known (it's the first one he had to steal) ought to serve as a partial anchor to reality for all the suddenly-weightless Progressives and Independents flyin' around here like seraphim.
Remember, he was the guy you'd want to have a beer with. He was charming. He winked! And people--people who are paid to comment on the state of our nation--saw, looked you in the eye, and said that it was Good! He'd been misunderestimated! He was an executive, not an English teacher! By that summer they were telling you how much he'd improved! in just the four months since they'd told you he didn't need to.
Remember his February 27, 2001, address to Congress? The one with the hysterical Republican applause breaks pencilled in for roughly every other conjunction, and standing ovations every time he completed a paragraph without announcing he needed to go potty? (It was impossible to listen to, but I do recall him saying that the massive budget surplus, fiendishly and criminally accumulated by the Clinton administration, would more than cover his lil' ol' tax cuts for the foreseeable future. [Standing ovation. Time 0:45])
Remember the White House Vandalism story? That one took less than twenty-four hours from Inauguration to national press. Recall how Ari Fleischer puffed the thing for a month, kept insisting he'd provide proof (the remarkable thing there being there were actually some members of the Press Corpse who asked for some), then turned up with a Polaroid of boxes stacked in a cubbyhole? Remember that he put off coughing up this shocking evidence by saying the WH was cataloging the massive damage, then admitted the cataloging was actually "one staffer" who was "keeping mental notes"? Remember that the GAO would say, two months later, that it could not confirm any extraordinary damage whatsoever? Remember Bush being hailed as a statesman for allowing as how there'd been no damage on Air Force One, something like six weeks and several eyewitness reports to that effect after the story broke and took attention off his rapidly-recognized incompetence?
Remember that six months later the WH came out with a final tally, claiming obscene graffiti in the Executive Office Building, hundreds of "inoperable keyboards" and cut communications lines? All from the mental notes of one flunkey, and despite the President being Bigger Than All That, and, remarkably, just at the time his approval numbers really began to tank.
Remember that this made the Press Corpse famously dislike Ari Fleischer, as demonstrated by the fact that the ones who weren't planted male prostitutes could be seen hoping he'd get his footing crossed up and one of their softballs would break his glasses?
Approval numbers! Bush had no use for them, of course, not being a poll watcher, or a thinker, or much beyond an amateur bicyclist, but remember how fabulous his early numbers were? The man who'd been selected after the crookedest and most acrimony-filled election in a century, at least, entered the White House with just 18 percent disapproval ratings, or so we were told. I'd like to know who the rest of you are.
Selection! Remember that whatever shenanigans the Court pulled were in the service of putting George W. Bush in the White House! Not one of five justices of the highest court in the land was sufficiently rational enough to say to himself, "George W. Bush? Th' fuck'm I thinking?" Remember his selection acceptance speech? The one before the Texas legislature, whose sad Dixiecrat reverberations were loud enough for our keen-eared national pundits to promote the idea that George W. Bush could reach across the aisle? Why, he worked with Texas Democrats! or, as they're known elsewhere, No Longer Mostly Klansmen. The loser of the popular vote, installed by the worst decision since Plessy, at least, barely fucking acknowledged the majority of the country's voters who'd voted against him. You generally get a better consolation handjob just after a landslide falls on you. (It had, unknowingly: before December was out some Bush functionary or other--no commenting on the record!--would be quoted bubbling on about his mandate, the same mandate which would later be given to Iraqi citizens who found themselves in proximity to the National Museum and in need of a little somethin' for the nick-nack shelf.)
Through all of this no harsh words were heard from the mass-market press--except those still being aimed at the Clintons or Al Gore's Beard--despite the fact that had your favorite daughter pulled just one of those stunts you'd have had her written out of the will. Mike Allen's still eatin' good. So's Chris Matthews, Kit Seelye, and Bill Kristol; Andrea Mitchell's still filing for the Liberal Keith Olbermann show. Judy Miller's still drawin' breath. Bush's tough talk on the recently re-discovered Osama bin-Laden gets a standing ovation from Nancy Pelosi as he squeezes out his final hot links before returning to the Crawford Texas of Eternity. (Good Christ, I forgot about Crawford.)
So long, asshole; we'll always have the French Quarter. Too bad about Rudy. He was your last best hope at getting some small respect from our future historians, if any, as in "but the real disaster was still to come". And remember, America's always ready to fuck something else up in the name of its Divinely High opinion of itself, so keep up hope. We're losing an asshole, but nobody's ready to empty the colostomy bag yet.