Archive for December 30th, 2009

Aught Lang Syne: The Shoe Toss

After John S wrote what, in blog terms, amounts to a thesis on the presidency of George W. Bush earlier today, I figured I’d be a bit more visceral.

In my older less vulnerable years, when I consider our 43rd president, my first thought will be of his physical reflexes, of the moment when George W. Bush proved that he could dodge the shoes of journalists as well as his administration did their questions.

It is hard for me to imagine any other sitting president of the United States inspiring enough ire to compel a foreign journalist to take off his shoes and fling them one at a time at him. It is harder still to imagine America itself being as amused by the whole situation if it had happened to any other president in our history. I doubt there would have been editorials extolling the journalist as a hero, top 10 lists for why the whole event was “completely awesome,” or dozens of Internet games that allowed you to play the role of the first-person shoe thrower if some Soviet scribe had thrown his footwear at FDR in Yalta.*

*A perhaps unfair analogy for several reasons, the least of which is the lack of the Internet in 1940s USSR.

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Aught Lang Syne: George W. Bush

Thus far, our retrospective on the 2000s has focused mainly on “trivial” pop culture issues: things like what books we liked, which movies were good, whose album was the best, what sports team was the most memorable, etc. We’ve completely ignored things like 9/11, the war in Iraq, and the recession. Part of this is merely out of prudence: We like to show restraint in areas that seem to require some expertise. It’s also been out of charity: Unlike Mark Antony, we come to praise the Aughts, not to bury them, so focusing on the darker aspects of the Aughts is beyond our stated purpose.

Any look at this decade, though, would feel horribly insufficient without a look at the presidency of George W. Bush. Like no other single individual, President Bush defined the Aughts. Indeed, Bush may have defined the Aughts more than anyone has defined a decade since Julius Caesar—his global impact is that wide.

At this point, though, criticizing Bush is kind of like setting fire to an already beaten and bloodied horse carcass. After all, the failures of Bush are common knowledge by now, right? Continue reading

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