Wednesday, November 3, 2010

George W. Bush: puzzling, conflicted

This quote from a new interview with George W. Bush is getting quite a bit of attention:
"I faced a lot of criticism as president. I didn't like hearing people claim that I lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction or cut taxes to benefit the rich. But the suggestion that I was racist because of the response to Katrina represented an all-time low."
Okay, I can understand not liking to be called a racist, though taking Kanye West seriously is something anyone in touch with the culture couldn't possibly do. And I might even be able to give him a slight point on the WMD, because I don't think he lied so much as he didn't ask the questions he should have asked of the data and the people bringing it to him, or that he flat-out ignored anything contrary to his gut feeling. Gross incompetence has always seemed more Dubya's speed than anything else. But how on earth can he deny that his tax cuts mostly benefited the rich? That's just fact. Bush could claim that tax cuts for the rich help everyone by extension, but that's a hard one to argue. They sorta did for Reagan, but Reagan's success in taking apart the redistributive mechanisms that let working people share some of that growth mostly ensured that regressive tax cuts would never work that way ever again.

Anyway, this is old news. Bush comes off as something less than the sociopath that some people thought he was, more as someone who is just now grappling with his legacy. Then again, I never thought he was a sociopath, nor Dick Cheney for that matter. Rove, sure, but Cheney's thing always seemed to me to be a desperate attempt at self-justification by a man who, deep down, knows he has committed some horrible wrongs. The energy he projects in his post-VP appearances always seemed to hint at that. I've picked up a lot of self-loathing from him, as though the moral man within him hates what he's become. Which doesn't excuse what he's become at all, or Bush either, but it is interesting.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.