Friday, January 16, 2009

tentatively a convenience

The outgoing president addressed the nation's would-be reality TV viewers last night. I couldn't be bothered to watch. (I did attempt to take in Dick Cheney's final interview on Newshour, which literally put me to sleep; the phrase "since 9/11" has acquired a singular somnolence recently.)

It's a struggle to feel for a metaphor to describe this man's continued affrontery to the intelligence of millions of thinking and caring Americans, but I'd liken it to a serial killer who, in the face of otherwise damning evidence, gets off on a technicality, and then lingers in the courtroom to ponder aloud the unimpeachability of his case. I did happen to overhear a snippet of the speech on the local news which I feel sums up the redundance, the utter zero sum of the past eight years:

You may not agree with some of the tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions.

A bit more longwinded than "l'État, c'est moi", but no less banal.

We recently watched the John Adams miniseries which aired on HBO earlier in the year and which, despite its lengthy, aimless denouement, was pretty engrossing. It was hard to ignore a parallel with the present in the story of Adams' son, Charles, who squandered the career capital of his family name, embarassed himself at Harvard, and died in destitution as an alcoholic. One can't help but wonder if a similar fate wouldn't have befallen our current president had he not availed himself of the cheap redemption of born-again Christianity, not available in the harder times of the late 18th century. Thems the breaks.

WH pressbot Scott Stanzel took care to ensure that no practical jokes would be made on the incoming Obama administration. This, of course, is not the first time a Bush press flack has taken a willfully narrow view of the facts. The profound failure of free market ideology, the gross negligence of FEMA, the slaughter across the Middle East, the indignities of the Patriot Act; these things may not have been practical, but surely they rate somewhere up there with the upper-decker.

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