Still Cracked: Kristol
COWARDLY LION: What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the ‘ape’ in apricot? Whatta they all got that I ain’t got?
DOROTHY, TIN WOODSMAN, SCARECROW: Courage.
C. L.: Ya can say that again…
Poor us! We’re just about to bid a fond good riddance to George W. Bush and we believed, in our simple hearts, that William “I’m Wrong About Everything” Kristol would have the decency, or be compelled, to exit the op-ed acreage of the New York Times. But now look! He’s still at it.
At least a/o today, Mon., 1/19/09. Because there he goes again, combining as only he can the pseudo-sympathy of the concern troll, the selective vision of the knee-jerk partisan, the wingnut welfare recipient’s dutiful endorsement of monsters, and the wrong-about-everything wrongness, about everything, of Bill “Yes, Wrong. About Everything” Kristol.
Thus, about the near-departed, this:
…I don’t think keeping us safe has been Bush’s most impressive achievement. That was winning the war in Iraq, and in particular, his refusal to accept defeat when so many counseled him to do so in late 2006. His ordering the surge of troops to Iraq in January 2007 was an act of personal courage and of presidential leadership.
Bill Kristol may be the only remaining human on earth, counting Laura, who believes George W. Bush capable of “personal courage.” As even the Cowardly Lion knew, courage consists of the ability to do something you don’t want to do, at some risk of harm to yourself, or your loved ones, or your football team, or at least somebody or something you care about. Bush, whose every public action up to and during his presidency has consisted of not-displaying courage, similarly did not display it in promoting “the surge.”
What did Bush have to lose? The “political capital” he claimed was his after the election of 2004? His various fantasies (“Reforming Social Security–Now Not As Social And With Less Security”) had been repudiated in 2005. The loss by Republicans of their majority in Congress after the election of 2006 had further devalued that (minimal, largely imaginary) nest egg of influence. By the time of the surge in January of 2007, no one could speak of Bush’s political capital with a straight face, and almost no one except B. “I.W.A.E.” K. wanted to.
His “popularity”? Please. Bush, the structural integrity of whose personality depends on ignoring the outside world, has never had any problem converting the raw ore of others’ disdain, however merited, into the refined gold of self-aggrandizing martyrdom. Being unpopular proves he’s right. After all, those who disagree with him are “the elite.” He–born rich, son of a president and grandson of a Senator, private school, Yale, Harvard, “ranch,” etc.–is a cowboy who lives by his “gut.”
You saw it in his final press conference. The over-burdened military, the botched action in Afghanistan (the Taliban resurgent, relations with Pakistan a mess, Bin Laden still releasing product), Israeli-Palestinian relations as poisoned as ever, the economy in ruins, plus New Orleans still a national disgrace, the obscenely expensive and bungled “liberation” of Iraq, the widespread corruption of K Street, torture and Gitmo and that whole nightmare, and national debts and deficits requiring mainframes to calculate: these are “setbacks” that happened to him. And yet–cocky, smug, and blind to every reality outside his ever-simmering resentments–he has the gall to assure us that, when all is said and done, the “burdens” of the office are “overrated.”
Well, they are if you ignore them, yes.
Kristol tells us, in hushed tones, that Bush (“a man who normally keeps to schedule”) recently spent, not the allotted two hours, but over four hours with the families of the fallen, offering consolation. I’m sure he did, and that he loved every second of it–not because he enjoys seeing others suffer (although he does, if they’re the right others), but because temporarily adopting the avatar of the Deeply Moved Commander is part of his Live Action Role-Playing Game of Wartime President, and nothing moves him as deeply as when, being deeply moved by others, he finds himself deeply moved.
God forbid that, rather than sympathize with widows and bereft parents (after concealing every reality of what killed their husbands and sons from the public eye, prosecuting the war that killed them on the cheap, and dummying up the pretext for the horror that brought this all about), he should have looked past his grandiose, quasi-religious ambitions and Dad-besting fantasies, and not bothered foisting upon us this unnecessary catastrophe in the first place.
What Bush showed in the surge was not personal courage. It was stubbornness. And it was perfectly in character. It was the obstinacy of the proudly self-ignorant aristocrat who knows that Daddy will bail out his business failures, Mommy will yell at him but not require that he grow up, and the world–his world, consisting of his kind of people and their courtiers and sycophants–will always paper over his most egregious failures with a gentleman’s C, regardless of whoever else is killed, maimed, left homeless or terrified, bankrupted, imprisoned, or tortured.
Why shouldn’t Bill “I Am In Error Regarding All Phenomena” Kristol find that praiseworthy? He’s Bill Kristol, and he’s wrong about everything.