My comment on Gail Collins NYT column, “Bush Speaks, Badly” on Saturday 3.15.08

Gail Collins has recently begun writing a column in the NYTimes which I very much recommend –sharp, and funny.
The following is a copy of my comment on her column yesterday:

“Dear Gail Collins,

Thank you for another really first-rate column, and so well-written.

But I have to say that, as much as I enjoyed it, it left me with a feeling not too far from despair.
Why? Well, first of all, because time is running out, and “Bush-3” is looming.

It has finally become clear to me that Mr. Bush is a man utterly unembarrassable. To Bush, all the searing comment –and your column was among the most searing– is merely water off a duck’s back.
I find a big clue to my disquiet in your headline, “George Speaks, Badly.” Yes, indeed –how true. But the “joke at Bush’s expense” that is contained therein, is, in my view, the very thing that lets him off the hook.
In other words, we’re NOT REALLY SERIOUS.

We all –and this includes even our best columnists– seem to lack a real sense of outrage. You would think, with all the duplicity, ineptitude, and arrogance that has been more or less on permanent display since the Bush accession, and with all the blood-and-treasure –The Red and The Green– suffering that it has produced, that a sense of outrage might be more accessible to those of us who feel we have a better idea, better values, and a better way of doing things.

I have been looking for some time for that sense of outrage. And –guess what?– I found it recently, in a most unexpected quarter.
Two years ago, in an interview with Charlie Rose, William F. Buckley surprised us all by declaring Bush’s Iraq War “a failure”, and, further, by declaring that if there was in the nation a proper sense of honor, as may be found elsewhere, in the face of that failure, Bush would do the honorable thing and resign. (I thought of this breath-taking rebuke again last week when I observed Mr. Bush’s tepid tribute of banal boilerplate on the occasion of WFB’s death.)
For all the Buckley comity, there was in his words the hard steel of outrage: if Bush had any sense of decency –indeed, if we all had that sense of decency– he could not stay in power. We would insist, and he would recognise his duty to do the right thing.

Instead –why, “he’s having a hell of a time” as he told his audience yesterday. (If “noblesse-oblige” enjoyed something less than a permanently enthusiastic welcome at Kennebunkport, it seems not to have made it at all to Midland, Texas (and not to mention, Washington D.C.)
Instead, he’ll show us! Clearly he is very much up for “Bush-3” –what better way of sticking it to us “nay-sayers”, and nailing down that legacy at the same time?

And he is clearly up for another campaign of fear-mongering beforehand. It worked in 2004: he won that time simply because he wanted to win more than Kerry and the Dems: that much is axiomatic.
And now we Dems, who with our current campaign of intense and prickly nit-picking –and with no serious Iraq plan articulated to counter, let alone trump Bush-3’s “White Flag of Surrender” strategy– have so far come up with, to my mind, nothing more than a finely-constructed, brilliantly-simple Plan To Fail, and seem well on the way to, as the saying goes, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Who would have thought it possible even a short while ago?

A depressing prospect?

I hope so –we heard just this week the cheerful news that depression is actually a Good Thing because it can lead us to change our ways.
Let’s hope that our two duelling-candidates-of-change are paying attention.


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