For how can we condemn something that is ephemeral, in transit? In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine.

       -Milan Kundera discussing the French Revolution

Now, there are some who would like to rewrite history – revisionist historians is what I like to call them.

       -George W. Bush

[R]evisionists are like…insurgents: they don’t need to disprove the truth, they need only to make you think that the truth and a lie are equal possibilities-they just need to stop the truth from winning, in other words. 

       –Spencer Ackerman

And so it is that George Bush’s legion of revisionists have already embarked on the quest of softening the jagged edges of preemptive war and applying gauze halos to the photographs of dead Americans floating in the deluge of Katrina.  Karl Rove, one such embellisher with skin in the game, began the task of burnishing the rusted codpiece by gaming the expectations and proclaiming, defiantly, that Bush is “hardly the worst president” ever.  Well played monsieur.  Well played.

Meanwhile, leading the Spartans Army of Northern Virginia  101st Chairborne in their new long war, Victor Davis Hanson launches a fusillade of Clenis Shot (rehabilitation through titilation) in tandem with a psy-ops campaign based on the notion that Bush’s unpopularity is really just one big misunderstanding:

[W]e will come, through the Obama prism, to see that Bush’s sins were largely the absence of rhetorical skills, unfortunate shoot ’em braggadocio in 2003-4 [curv: yeah, that was the only real issue there], the federal response to Katrina, and a certain administration haughtiness about the problems in Iraq between 2002-6, but not most of his policies that included prescription drugs, No Child Left Behind, AIDs relief in Africa, the removal of two odious regimes, and consensual governments in their places, a framework at home to stop 9/11-type terrorism, and good working partnerships with key allies abroad such as Britain, Germany, France, Italy, India, et al, and a pragmatism in handling rivals like Russia and China.

In short, given all that, Obama’s victory (predicated on painting Bush as a Hoover/Nixon redux), more so even than perhaps a John McCain’s, may do more for Bush’s reputation that anyone ever imagined. And the Mumbai mess (over there, not here) will only empasize all this, as an array of old 9/11-era experts who used to warn us about radical Islam, then, in the subsequent respite at home, screamed that Bush fabricated a war against terror against bogeymen, and now in their third manifestation are paraded once more out to warn us about?—why, yes, radical Islam!

According to Hanson, in the end, Obama will be Bush’s own personal Messiah.  Obama and the Islamofascist horde to be more exact – but that’s redundant isn’t it.  In the meantime, VDH needs to better coordinate battle plans with Général d’armée Assroquét whose busy erecting a maginot line consisting of Bush’s purported eloquence, relative to Obama’s verbal inadeqaucies.  Therein lies the potential for future friendly fire incidents, lads.

The footsoldiers might also want to do something to buck up the morale of their increasingly listless Commander in Chief.  Roy elegizes poetically:

Bush has been practically invisible lately. His highest public profile since the last State of the Union address came during his senior-week antics at the Olympic Games. There have been reports of him drinking at a recent summit. Who could blame him? He’s been in the deep freeze for months. His authority has plunged with his approval ratings. McCain’s political kabuki of running against Bush’s policies probably didn’t upset him — he knows how the game is played — but it did remind him why it was necessary. […]

In fact it’s a marvel he’s stayed focused as long as he has. Most of his Presidency, and most of his executive career, has been like that summit — a decision is made, a PR program (usually involving lecterns and backdrops with slogans written on them) is executed, then back to the bunker to collect the data. His famous incuriousness about detail (“Alright, you’ve covered your ass“) probably made the job easy, even fun for him most of the time. But now that no one appreciates the spectacular, graceful ease with which he does barely anything at all, maybe his customary senior-management walk-throughs have become a dreary ritual, like taking victory laps when no one is applauding. […]

Now here he is on ABC, wanly wishing the intelligence on WMDs “had been different, I guess,” and calling Iraq “a do-over that I can’t do,” regretting his inability to guide his own party on immigration, regretting also that “the tone in Washington got worse” — something that, despite the bipartisan advertisement of his Texas tenure, he never, ever attempted in any way to fix — and weakly defending his Administration’s attempts to “safeguard” a financial system that is plummeting toward collapse.

Why does he bother? Because it’s done, and he’s used to doing the done thing. Here too is a ritual that he knows he can execute. I’ve never heard of a CEO who really thought he screwed things up — there are always exigencies, market conditions, and such like that made a mess of a helluva good plan. But I’ve seldom seen a CEO make a stink at the end of his tenure, either, however ignoble. With his fatalistic l’envoi, Bush is showing what, in his world, is class. He could tell us all what a shit deal he got dealt, but two-term Presidents don’t kick. So he just reads the toplines and brasses it out.

He knows we’re disappointed, and it’s not that he wouldn’t have preferred us to be proud but hey, he’s not running for anything anymore except the exit. He never needed us to understand, he just needed us to cooperate, and if he has any fondness for the people he led for eight years, it’s because we did cooperate, right up until it didn’t matter.

Bush also told ABC that he thinks Obama won because people preferred to see him in their living rooms “explaining policy.” Bush was probably thinking about all those televised addresses and speeches he’d made himself, and how relieved he was when these were finished and the secondary could take over.

There may be a method to his Hughes-like reclusiveness.  By attempting to prematurely recede from the collective consciousness, Bush could hope to hasten the advent of nostalgia’s restorative effects.  And why not make a go at it: the American people are as amnesiac as they are forgiving when conforming to the demands of the narrative of national greatness.  When the Iraq War is eventually bent to fit the exceptionalist storyline, the mishapen lump of Bush’s tenure will be commensurately corrected.  

And so it is that history’s little insurgent elves are busy at work with hammer and awl.

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