If only this was always true. Unfortunately, history has a tendency to be written by the people in charge. For example, I find it rather disgusting that President Abraham Lincoln promoted himself as a racist. Mr. Lincoln was no man with sensitivity for black people and yet black people love him. He freed the slaves! Trust me, if Mr. Lincoln could have met his goals and keep black people as slaves, I’m sure he would’ve died a much happier man. Mr. Lincoln suffers from no stern judgment. And if it can happen for him, why can’t it happen for Mr. Bush?
I was rather appalled to hear the suggestion that the future would be much kinder to President George Bush. This man has wreaked havoc on the United States and the entire world. He will forever be linked to this second war on Iraq under the guise that the United States had the right to initiate preemptive wars against perceived yet totally unsubstantiated threats. We will find the weapons of mass destruction. We will chase Osama bin Laden through the gates of hell and around the flames of perdition until we find him. Mr. Hussein defied United Nation mandates and so the United States had to defy the United Nations in order to prove to the world that no one should be defying the United Nations. The reasons the Bush administration gave for promoting war is as long as the war itself.
Mr. Bush turned a blind eye to the suffering in New Orleans. The other day in his final press conference he held fast to his claim that the federal government moved quickly because the Coast Guard was there plucking people off the roofs of their houses during the storm. Because the local Coast Guard was unhampered by bureaucracy and didn’t get the memo that the lower part of Louisiana did not receive federal disaster area recognition and didn’t wait for approval to come through proper procedure in order to act, Mr. Bush wants to claim the actions of a few helicopters as indicative of a prompt, and it is implied sufficient, response by his administration to cover the lame effort put forth by FEMA. If I recall properly, Mr. Bush said heckuva job Brownie and not heckuva job Coast Guard.
Mr. Bush let oil companies define his energy policy and then looked surprised when those companies started making record profits earning as much as a billion dollars a week while the public suffered with paying four dollars a gallon for gasoline. Mr. Bush put people with sympathy for polluters in charge of the EPA.
Mr. Bush ignored the signs that a financial crisis was looming and instead stuck his head in the sand with claims that the foundation of the economy was strong. Plugging the hole that people were beginning to fall through when it was a relatively small problem never registered on Mr. Bush’s brain. We had to wait until large companies were failing before reacting. Mr. Bush enacted a policy of too big to fail, too small to help. By the time the government began to react, it was too late. A stitch in time would have saved a huge national collective headache. There is the Valerie Plame fiasco which could probably be summed up as No Spy Left Behind. And don’t forget how the Bush administration would manipulate science to deny doing anything about global warming or to fund any science that conducts research with stem cells from embryos.
There is a long list of Mr. Bush’s associates who have sulked away into obscurity, or soon will be. There’s Attorney General Roberto Gonzales, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield, Chief Advisor to the Vice President I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a butt load of white house press secretaries, Julie Myers of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Christine Todd Whitman of the EPA, the former director of FEMA Michael “Brownie” Brown, Thomas White the former Interior Secretary, Elaine Chao the Secretary of Labor, Paul Wolfowitz the former Deputy of Defense Secretary, and the master king pin of all Karl Rove.
Mr. Bush points to his No Child Left Behind policy as one of his few successes. But for the past eight years the government has mandated that schools teach children to take a standardized test in order to compete for their funding instead of teaching children the three R’s. Mr. Bush likes to point to his drug policy for seniors as another success. Let’s see, we’re going to counter a war that has cost millions of lives and destroyed families and robbed our national treasury with the fact that our senior citizens no longer have to go to Canada to afford their prescriptions. Classic Bush.
When I initially heard Mr. Bush say that he will be vindicated by future historians I had to laugh to myself. Ain’t no way in hell people can forget the depth of this administration’s inclination to manipulate facts and distort truths. Nobody’s memory is that short. No history book’s pages fade that quickly. I held on to this notion for about a month or so.
But then I got an epiphany and I realized that there is very good potential that Mr. Bush could be remembered as one of the best presidents this country ever had. I heard a report that President-elect Barack Obama will be using a Christian bible that once belonged to Abraham Lincoln to take his inaugural oath. Mr. Obama will be delivering his inaugural address within sight of the Lincoln Memorial. For a while now, Mr. Obama admitted that he has been using the presidential policies of Abraham Lincoln as inspiration for his strategy for picking his cabinet by reaching out to his political opponents as well as by reaching across the political divide to the other party. Mr. Lincoln’s influence is all over Mr. Obama’s political image at this particular moment.
On the surface this will sound like a good thing to a lot of people. But Mr. Lincoln was no benevolent agent for the black community. While the black community has been trained to love Mr. Lincoln because he was the great white man that freed the slaves, Mr. Lincoln was also a racist and a bigot who felt no inclination to truly abolish slavery and make the black community whole. Mr. Lincoln admitted that he was never in favor of bringing about social and political equality between the white and black races. Mr. Lincoln said he would never support voting rights for black people. Mr. Lincoln was a good example of racism of his time. Yet, his reputation for racial compassion remains one of the greatest products of propaganda in America. This man’s character has been so thoroughly whitewashed that the majority of black people are more than happy to worship this man’s name. The first black president worships this man as well, a man who said he would rue the day that blacks and whites would be free to marry.
So if such a flip of the original script can happen for Mr. Lincoln, why can’t it happen for Mr. Bush as well? History is written by people who control the present. The history of today will be written by people who control the future. If the people who control the future think favorably of Mr. Bush they’ll put so much spin on the reputation of his presidency that a black hole couldn’t suck up all the lighting used to favorably distort his image. The stench of this presidency will be described as little more than the pleasing fragrance from a thorn free rose. Mr. Bush too can be whitewashed. Depending on who controls the future all it takes is time.
History may have a long range perspective that passes stern judgment on tyrants and vindicates people who fight for equality and the end to oppression. That’s a pretty thoughtful expression and one we’d all like to think holds a lot of water. Vindication sounds good. But another thoughtful expression that holds even more weight is the one that says those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.