politics

The legacy of George W. Bush

Posted on 9 January, 2009. Filed under: George Bush, politics, The world, USA | Tags: , , , , |

I’m going to miss him, that 43rd president of the USA. Like I sometimes miss Princess Sarah. The one from Wasilla, not the one from York. Always good for a laugh. Chief-cook-and-bottle-wash George is not as funny, but he always provides one with food for thought that leaves you somewhere between “amused” and “bemused”. Or “bedonnerd.” (Good Afrikaans for seriously p***ed off) Ever courageous, GW displays equal ease flirting with stand-up comedy and global catastrophe alike. He elicits a wide range of responses from me, ranging from the mostly negative – contempt, despair, loathing, hilarity, nervousness, fear, perplexity. And of late, as January 20th looms larger and larger, and I watch GW’s desperate attempts to re-engineer his legacy, I feel pity, wait, can it be, almost a sense of compassion for the man.

“So once I shut down my privilege of disliking anyone I chose and holding myself aloof if I could manage it, greater understanding, growing compassion came to me…” Catherine Marshall

Compassion not only for him, but also for his wife and daughters.

Now stop scoffing, and let me explain. Legacy, you see, is an important concept for me. Stephen Covey said:

“There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfilment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase ‘to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy. The need to live is our physical need for such things as food, clothing, shelter, economical well-being, health. The need to love is our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love and to be loved. The need to learn is our mental need to develop and to grow. And the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution”

I believe most sentient people (and no, that is not tautology,) have thoughts about their legacy. I certainly do. And more so as the years go by. And I’d like to assume that for most of us, the overwhelming characteristic of legacy is positive. Making a difference. For the better. On the people around us; family, friends, colleagues. For the lucky ones, it is about improving our communities, our societies. And then there are the exceptional few who are given a chance to improve the world we all live in, at a national, or even a global scale. Many have the intent, but few manage to grab the opportunity. For me, becoming the president of the USA seems to imply the intent, and infers the opportunity. GW got that opportunity, not only for 4 years, like his father and Carter, but for 8 years, like Reagan and Clinton. All of them left a legacy, some of it better, some of it worse. Reagan and Clinton left more of a legacy, it seems to me, than Bush I and Carter. Probably because they had twice as much time. But the greatest legacy, I fear, is that left by Bush II. Unfortunately for him, it is a legacy of infamy, rather than fame. And I have to believe that a man who served his country both as a governor and a president, aspired, at some stage, to leave this world a better place.
I also believe the man is in constant denial about the cataclysmic extent of his inadequacies. But that is his defence mechanism. And he undoubtedly needs one. For without the denial, there can only be misery. Imagine holding Pandora’s box in your hands, and then opening it. How do you live with yourself? How do you look in the mirror after that? How do you face your wife, your children, your friends, your neighbours? The world? Depression, black and ominous, always threatening to shroud you. Just there, in the periphery of your consciousness. How to hold it at bay, if not by ignoring it? By unsheathing denial, that Excalibur of psychological survival.

This denial has to extend to his wife. In an interview on Fox News the last Sunday of 2008, Mrs. Bush said she knows her husband’s eight years in office was not a failure. Because how do you look at your husband, if you cannot deny this truth?

It must weigh heavily on his daughters. How do you face your father, the grandfather of your future children, if you have to acknowledge the awful reality? When 8 years ago, as young girls, you watched in wonder and awe as the whole world recognized what you already knew – that your daddy was Superman, infallible and indestructible. As daddies tend to be. And now, eight years later, as a young adult, you not only know that he is not, not and not, but the whole world shares that knowledge with you. Not only that, but the monumental failures are not that of an ordinary father. His failures have resulted in poverty, unemployment, misery, division, suffering and death. For millions. What will you tell your children? You can’t run, and you can’t hide. You can only deny. Deny the legacy.

And so I have to pity George, Laura, Jenna and Barbara. Because some legacies are just not worth having.

   
“To show pity is felt as a sign of contempt because one has clearly ceased to be an object of fear as soon as one is pitied.” Friedrich Nietzsche
 
 
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    Welcome to my personal soundboard, where I can muse (you might call it ramble on) about things that interest, irritate, infuriate or impress me. In time, I hope this will lead me to understand the meaning of life, the universe, and me.

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