Friday, January 16

Hey, Cowboy, That Brush Ain't Gonna Clear Itself, If You Know What I Mean.


LOOK, Fuckhead:

First thing: just because David McCullough gave Truman a big sloppy tonguebath in 1993, it doesn't mean we won the Korean War retroactively.

Too subtle for you? Well, I'm sorry, but then what isn't?

Let's put it this way, then: first, fifty years post-Truman--it was forty when McCullough's book won a Pulitzer--isn't an historical perspective; it's people on either side of an issue still arguing it in real time, but on faded upholstery. Second, what's said by the sort of historian, or demi-political-historial populizer, who typically answers the call when Newsweek, or Commentary, or Rolling Stone decides to run a Top 100 list, isn't History, either. Last, what Americans have to say about it is only a fraction of the story, though I sure don't expect you to understand that one.

Harry Truman was a man, like you, almost totally unprepared to be President, and who, like you, was of questionable intellect for the job. Like you, he ignored his experienced Secretary of State in favor of listening to cranks, crackpots, and political fixers, to the long-term detriment of his country. Unlike you he had what is usually termed a "personality", as opposed to a series of spasmodic mannerisms and alcohol blackouts driven by a low-grade intellect and held together by ski. And also unlike you, he had some discernable positive qualities aside from never wearing blue shoes with a brown suit.

Any canonization, even elevation to some alternate Calendar designed as a sop for the terminally superstitious masses, requires a lot of Wite-Out. In Truman's case this includes assuming the Cold War was both justified and worth the nearly incalculable cost; pretending that the accidental President reneging on the four-termer's Big Three agreements was warranted because Stalin was a tyrant and Henry Wallace a Pinko; convincing oneself that the handling of Korea made sense, then or now; accepting the idea that select folktales of the semitic peoples directed that payment for the Nazi genocide be made by people who were 1500 miles away and had nothing whatever to do with it; imagining that specious anti-Communism trumped the enormity of Colonialism, even at the expense of our WWII allies in Indochina and elsewhere; dissembling the results of that belief; and, for the contemporary reader, perpetuating the idea that Truman's righteous desegregation of the armed forces was, in fact, carried out at the time.

And look, whatever happened in the interim, at least in 1948 we were sure the Soviet Union existed; compare the endless waste of time, lives and treasure you've sent us on with metaphysical certainty, where the only real enemy may be the one we're creating. Whatever else he did, Truman did not order the bombing of Vienna in 1946 on the grounds that they weren't with us when it counted.

Sure, we can argue these points, if you like, but that's not the point. The point is that the man who confidently (if "confident" is not too feeble a word) invaded Iraq to clear out the vast stores of nu-cue-lar and biological weapons might by now be conditioned to look both ways before he jumps to conclusions based on "what everybody thinks".

This, of course, is not what you're really up to. You don't give a shit about History, where the profit margin is thin; you have, being suddenly left alone in that big House you should have been smart enough to stay out of in the first place--yes, we grant you enough intelligence to have seen the mistake you were making, both personal and in the name of the country you profess fealty to when required; it is your biggest failure, you fucking fake cowpoke, that you went ahead anyway and figured at worst it'd be another Harken deal, and you'd come out clean again--left alone now, we say, the true George W. Bush comes out. And the true George W. Bush turns out to be the one your detractors--fucking assholes--knew all along: vain, supercilious, and stupid, a man whose every public pretense was a lie. You're the guy who "didn't read polls", who "governed from the gut"; now you're fucking pleading for one last shot of attention, while simultaneously pretending that you aren't. It's difficult to believe you could really believe we'd buy it, except we know you, and we know your track record, and we know the shell game your party's run for forty years now. You weren't smart enough, and you got took. We suppose that, to the extent you recognize it, it rankles more seriously than your reputation with the Great Unwashed, because you were always one of the Sharpies so long as you could play with house money. You, and your party, have fully insulated yourselves from the Reality community, which may help you sleep nights, but it's that community which was right about you all along. You're an intellectual disaster and an emotional trainwreck, an incurious ideologue and a criminal sociopath. You're a pathetic liar. And you're not just stupid, you're a fool.

And now you're done.

And now you imagine you can fool us, when the only people left to fool are those saw through you all along, and those who learned the hard way.  And now you imagine how satisfying it will be when, in forty years' time, some blip of a marketing opportunity causes someone yet unborn to write about how misunderstood your Presidency was, how tough you had it, how you tried. And that somewhere, on hearing the news, your nurse will prop that smirk on your face one final time, and you'll get to laugh at the suckers one last time on your way to Hell.

So long, fuckhead. May your retirement be a long, long one.


D. Sidhe said...

Um. After a week of this sort of arid and bracing retrospective, only one question really occurs.

Why the holy fuck are you not a respected and oft-quoted professional writer while David fucking Brooks is reduced to trying to sell dull pencils in a computerized global newsroom? Is there a write-in ballot somewhere that will let us make the NYT replace Maureen Dowd with you? Why does *anyone* listen to George Fucking Will?

Also, can you do Jeb, too, so we have something to mail around in four years when our republican relatives are back to being optimistic, memory-addled morons?

Okay, that was more than one question. Sue me.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say how much I've enjoyed your retrospective. Hell, I've enjoyed all your writing, but particularly the recent trip down the memory hole.

I second the D. Sidhe's comments above. Why aren't you in my LA Times instead of the Doughy One?


Hattie said...

Yes, why not? And the papers wonder why no one reads their crap any more and why they are losing subscribers and ad revenue and going bankrupt.
They are keeping the good people out and publishing the same old horses' necks we have been stuck with for years.
Thank god for the Internet.

R. V. Dump said...

Riley: 4, Punditsphere: 0

Larkspur said...

Yes to the above, and yet...he's never going to have to worry about next month's rent, or if he'll have access to the best medical care money can buy. I do.

Maybe he'll have another 30-some years of being snubbed and perhaps having to forego international travel in case he gets arrested for war crimes. But he's never ever going to be hungry. He'll never have to hitchhike. He'll never even have to work one more goddamn day in order to get money to pay people so he can live in a house and buy food and pay for electricity.

I hope his great-grandkids hate his guts. I hope that when Laura nudges him to pick up the wee ones ('cause he won't think of it on his own), the babies scream in disgust and he has to hand them back. I hope his great-grandkids are so horrified that they devote their adult lives to making things better for everyone. And I hope their mentor is the appropriately horrified grown-up child of Mary Cheney and Heather Poe.

That would be kind of nice.

Anonymous said...

I second, third, & fourth the above comments. Nice one, Doghouse. I quoted you extensively over at DKos, hope it gets you some traffic. You've earned it.


Kathy said...

I used to wonder why the hell Bush was always clearing brush? What's wrong with brush, unless you want to put cows on it, or build something. It made less sense than Regan's chopping wood, which also annoyed me. I used to chop wood to burn for HEAT, not fun, and it was a real bore; plus the chance of loosing a finger or toe if one was careless. That senile shriveled old raisin chopping wood! Ish.

Mo MoDo said...

Enough with the sugar-coating. Tell us how you really feel.

Ignobility said...

Nobody does a rant better than you. Kudos

Anonymous said...

I've been enraged by Bushes, daddy & sonny, for so long (the 88 campaign came close to giving me a literal, not figurative, ulcer) that I'm burnt out.

There is no Hell. Usually I'm glad about that, in a general way - - but there's no human justice for the Bushes either. Sonny, and apparently Daddy, will never have a clue about what they've perpetrated.

To me, the great mysteries of the recent 8 years of death, lies, and unhappiness are (a) the fact that someone who'd been a complete, obvious screw-up all his life, in the estimation of all who knew him including his own family and himself (as evidenced by the booze and blow), somehow managed to convince himself it'd be OK to become the most powerful man in the world; and (b) the fact that a significant proportion of my fellow citizens couldn't see his screwup-ness until it was way, way too late.

You've come close to clarifying (a) in my mind, I guess. I'll never really understand (b). It's not like it was hard to see.

Li'l Innocent

Keifus said...

I try to avoid comment when I have nothing to add, and often I even succeed. Besides, someone below already wrote "Fuckin' A," which was my impression then, and even more so now. So with nothing to add but another fuckin' A, I say damn, what a brilliant series. Fuckin' A.