I'm not a Republican. I think the war in Iraq, and the Terror War in general, is a monumental, epic, hands-down, mentally-deficient clusterfuck. I don't like globalization. I hate being lied to by my government. Practically everything the sadists and trolls in the White House have done for the past eight years has made me nauseous. Sometimes I think fondly about the good-old-days when unpopular leaders were drawn and quartered, or at the very least decapitated.
Still... I think I'll miss Big Dubya when he's gone.
For one thing, he did more for political satire than any other U.S. president I know of -- not intentionally, of course, but he doesn’t have to try. Whenever words fall out from behind that beady-eyed idiot grin, he put food on the table of every pissed-off comedian and editorialist in the country. Lewis Black and Jon Stewart will be able to retire to haciendas in Belize by the time November rolls around -- and they'll probably have to: once their Texan cash cow gets tossed out of office, the salad days are over. They'll have to go back to digging for jokes instead of just reading the news. We might never have the benefit of another wholesale satirical slaughter like we did when Stephen Colbert tore apart the '06 White House Correspondents' Dinner. The loss of the War Chief will be felt far and wide among the people who make us laugh to keep us from crying.
On a more personal note: I owe a lot to George. I was just starting high school when he came into office, so the foundation of my political awareness was developed in the context of Bush's administration. If I'd grown up under eight years of a different president, I might not have the healthy political cynicism I feel blessed with today.
All governments do shady things for selfish interests. Governments lie; governments murder; governments steal. Sometimes these things can be justified, to whatever small extent possible, by keeping people safe -- but acts of cruelty and stupidity are all too often committed for nothing more than profit. It's a sad and uncomfortable truth-- one that most people would rather not think about -- but it's a truth nonetheless. Fortunately, most administrations have the decency to cover their dirty secrets up, allowing us to maintain a comfortable front of naivety. People want to believe their government is a wise, benevolent guardian who watches over them while they struggle through a dangerous world. As long as the government allows us to feed that idealism and doesn't ask us to suspend our disbelief too much, a few high-level scandals and illegal wars won't be much bother. It's like making a good movie: as long as the acting is convincing and the special effects are distracting, the audience will allow themselves to overlook the holes in the plot and the zipper on the monster costume.
Bush and his henchmen asked way, way too much of their audience. Maybe they were unlucky; maybe it was sheer stupidity; maybe they just had too many skeletons and not enough closets to hide them in. Whatever the case, we've been hit repeatedly with the full scope of how diabolically callous our government can be at its worst. I don't think I need to list all the ways the Bush administration has screwed us during the past eight years--I'm not even sure I could if I wanted to-- but the moral of the story, at least for me, is that I'll never completely trust a government again.
I think it's a good thing. While the government -- ours or any other -- has a lot of potential to do good things for people, it has just as much potential, if not more, to exploit them. It'd be nice to believe that the people in control are looking out for our best interests but, as Our Fearless Leader has so aptly demonstrated, they've got no problem taking complete advantage of the power we've trusted them with.