Sunday, November 02, 2008

Fitting end of the Dubya era?

Feels like a rather awkward one to write, even painful. Kind of an obituary of a relationship? Not really close enough to call a friendship, though maybe I just don't know what friendship is supposed to mean. Most clearly a former employer, but we also had more than a few drinks in the local bar over the years, and I recall being invited to his palatial house one time. Even one of the few people I saw on both of my trips back to the States...

However, I'm deliberately attempting to protect the identity of the person I'm writing about here. Just a privacy thing for me, but I'd be uncomfortable if someone wrote this sort of post about me by name, so it's intended as a philosophic courtesy... For convenient reference, I'll call him Mr X.

The unique aspect of Mr X that motivates my writing is that he was the only Dubya supporter who I both personally knew and personally had high regard for. Actually, I was quite surprised, almost shocked, to find out that he was supporting Dubya Bush. There aren't many Dubya supporters around here, and the few I knew mostly seemed obviously flawed in ways that made me regard their political leanings as part of a flawed package. (For example, a Dubya-supporting moralist who admitted that his morality justified cheating on his wife, apparently because he felt everyone did. He was on his second or third wife by that time...) I've kept in touch with a number of old friends and acquaintances, and none of them were supporters of Dubya--but this one fellow stood out.

My recollection is already rather fuzzy, but I think I asked him a few years ago about what was going on in the States these years. It was a kind of open-ended query, but I was quite surprised to find that he regarded support of Dubya as a normal thing. At first, I figured it was just a Texas-local business thing, since most of his customers are in the rich or super-rich classes that Dubya describes as his base. I thought he was just playing along to make money. Such a well-educated and intelligent fellow couldn't really be drinking the koolaid, could he? However, he eventually managed to convince me that he meant it.

There was a lapse, and then we started discussing it again. I don't remember all the details of the discussion, but I never felt like he offered a rational defense of his position, and I suppose he felt the same way about my side of it. I remember that he wanted to make some kind of a wager about a prediction on the anti-Saddam war--so I referred him to my long list of predictions, written around 2001, but he evidently wasn't interested. Sadly, those were predictions of harms and damages that Dubya might do or at least be responsible for, and it turns out that all of my worst fears were realized--with compound interest. Worse than that, I missed plenty of other areas of harms I couldn't even imagine--and even though I was painting with a very broad brush there.

A couple of his later email messages finally convinced me there was no point to the discussion. At one point he tried the extremely weak argument of Dubya as the fellow you'd like to have a drink with. Fundamentally a flawed argument if you believe that Dubya is a teetotaller and if your idea of "with" means you aren't drinking alone. He actually approached it sideways, however, citing as his evidence a video of Dubya's self-deprecating humor at the White House Correspondents' Dinner a few years ago. That was the same year that Stephen Colbert did the extremely funny and rather devastating closing presentation that showed the actual limitations of Dubya's sense of humor--when Dubya stalked off in a huff afterwards.

At that point I felt that there wasn't much sense in continuing the discussion, so I blew it off. It's one thing to disagree about what is funny, but I really felt like asking how Mr X felt about Dubya's earlier attempt at humor at the same dinner a few years earlier. I was thinking about the extremely tasteless video about searching for Saddam's missing WMDs. Thousands of Americans and far larger numbers of Iraqis have died for that sick joke--with a running tab of something like $600 billion to date (for the direct and acknowledged costs). Or should I have commented about all the unintended humor of Dubya? Not much basis for discussion there, since I think the options are incompetence, stupidity, or a simple lack of respect for his audiences. Having nothing good to say, I said nothing.

Later he followed it up with some pretty crazy stuff about a gun-related lawsuit resulting from Katrina. My fuzzy recollection is that he was happy some policeman had been successfully sued for trying to disarm potential rioters in the aftermath of the disaster. Church of the Second Amendment, eh? Sorry, but I just don't see the relationship to the well regulated militia" there. Actually, I see the Second Amendment as having a very clear intention--that was completely overturned by the American Civil War. It was written in the context of a recent and successful insurrection, and it was their intention to make sure the federal leadership wouldn't do exactly what President Lincoln did do. The real question of the Second Amendment should be whether or not the Civil War was worth the cost--which we're still paying. At least that's how I interpret the former Southern Democrats who are now the Reagan Republicans with the decisive voting bloc in Texas and several other states of the Confederacy...

He sent a couple more pieces after those, but there didn't seem to be much reason to respond to them, either. Having nothing to say, I said nothing--but I kept thinking about it, and it continued to bother me. Hence this venting.

Conclusion? I guess it's that Dubya was lying (again) when he claimed to be a uniter rather than a divider. Good riddance to bad rubbish, but we'll all be paying for Dubya's miserable failures for a long, long time to come, no matter who takes over to clean up the mess.

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As a blogger from before there were blogs, I've concluded what I write is of little interest to the reading public. My current approach is to treat these blogs as notes, with the maturity indicated by the version number. If reader comments show interest, I will probably add some flesh to the skeletons...