Friday, December 19, 2008

The Way We Were?

Newsweek has up a series of pieces detailing what cultural works their editors have concluded defined America in the Bush years. The piece on BSG mirrors my own thoughts very well and it's why I'm convinced that the show is still the best thing on TV. I'm so very sad that it will be ending after only eight more episodes. I've never watched 24 so I can't say much about that one.

But what really caught me was a rather lengthy critique that makes some really valid points. I don't agree with everything that the author says, but I do agree with his primary point, that the Bush years have been a series of wasted opportunities for America. I highly recommend reading the piece even though it will take a few moments. The writer has come really good insights and echoes what I have said for several years, that the consumerism mentality of America in this decade is little more than a morphine drip to help us do anything necessary to avoid dealing with the reality of our current situation. And both the Right and the Left are guilty of allowing our nation to chose the cheap route time and time again.

As the curtain closes on the Bush presidency (and on the same day when he yet again trumps common sense and free market principles by bailing out the automakers) this president's ultimate failure will not be the invasion of two Middle-Eastern nations, it will not be the promotion of torture, it will not even be a faltering economy. All those things will stand as a mark on his terms, yes. I believe that history will redeem him on the wars, but I pray that it never will redeem him in allowing torture to become associated with America, and with socializing our economy.

But beneath it all, I believe history will judge Bush most harshly for his failure to challenge our nation in the days after 9/11. Yes, he lead us in some important ways. But the President failed to call America to something better. He encouraged us to go and shop, to act like everything was okay, to trust that the government would take care of everything. Instead, he should have called on us to pay down our debt for the sake of an economy we all knew was heading for trouble, to drive less, to pressure companies to move forward with alternative fuels sooner, to learn more about our world rather than shrinking more from it, to demand more from our government in transparency and competency and demand less from it in the form of handouts. But he did not. And in choosing the path that he did, this President ultimately failed to truly take grasp of the destiny that was within his reach.

Had the President stepped up, I still believe that Bush would now be preparing to leave the White House as a hero. Instead, he's barely going to scrape by with any reputation left. And he has damaged the entire party and our chances in the eyes of the American people.

1 comment:

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