I think I am. All the presents are unwrapped and stowed in their proper places. All those annoying television commercials for Christmas gifts (e.g., diamond necklaces that say “I love you”, electric razors) that you never see any other time of the year are off the tube. Yeah, the kids are still out of school and we are still looking toward New Year’s, with its’ bacchanalian excesses and glut of mostly meaningless football games. But, we’ve pretty much shot the wad, and are faced with the inevitable challenge otherwise known as “your normal life”.
I really can’t imagine that 2007 is going to be much of an improvement over 2006. After all, Bush and his gang of street thugs are still in power. True, the Dems are going to take over the House and Senate in very short order, and Rumsfeld is gone. Those are hopeful signs. But I am filled with foreboding about what Bush might actually do in his last couple of years to “secure his place in history”. I really think that is mostly what is on his mind these days. He keeps comparing himself to Truman, who was unpopular during the last years of his presidency but history, for the most part, has vindicated. Bush says he is reading about Lincoln. This rather tells me what in on his rather shallow mind. He wants to be remembered, and remembered warmly, among the ranks of the great presidents. And I think he will do a lot in order to secure that. I mean, have we ever had a president in recent years who was planning on building himself a half-billion dollar library intent on securing his legacy, with two years to go in office? Tell me this guy isn’t worried about how history will treat him.
To me, all this seems like maybe the ancient Roman emperors and Egyptian kings who build massive monuments to themselves, part vanity, part in hopes of influencing the opinion of the gods and the populace, in the attempt to secure their rightful place in history. I think that is how Bush views himself. His main concern is not the anarchy that he has let loose in Iraq, or the implications on the entire Middle East. He is worried about how he will be treated by future historians.
This is what is behind his idea for a “surge” of troops in Baghdad. This is his last gasp at winning, even if we now have absolutely no idea whatsoever about what victory might look like. We don’t really even know whom we are fighting anymore. One day, it might be the Sunnis that are shooting at us. The next, it is the Shiites. We are “fighting ‘em over there so we aren’t fighting ‘em over here”, which is just about an insane reason as I can think of. So, our troops are sitting around over there like sitting ducks to be used as target practice for people with a grudge, so those self-same people with a grudge don’t come over here and plant IED’s in the streets of Lompoc or Grand Rapids? That is what our troops are doing?
I have a feeling that what history will be doing with Bush, given that we don’t have a complete breakdown as a country and end up like some Margaret Atwood novel, is a lot of psychoanalysis. They will be asking questions about both Bush and this country, the same way they currently ask questions of the McCarthy era or why were all those Japanese citizens interred in camps during WWII. Historians will be asking what kind of insanity was loose in this country in the first decade of the 21st century that got us into this mess. What kind of psychology drove Bush down the path that he is currently on? Was it all just a sublimated competition with his father? Was the fact that he is was a non-recovered ex-alcoholic with a God complex the thing that drove this country to bankrupt itself and destroy its’ moral standing in the world?
I hope that these are the questions that future historians ask themselves. I just wish more people were asking them right now.