Thursday, May 29, 2008

The arc of history

In today’s sound bite-obsessed culture, no one pays much attention to the ebb and flow of history. Last week is ancient history to most, and historical literacy is knowing what last night’s sports scores were.

I find myself listening to more right-wing talk radio lately than I ever thought I possible; certainly more than I care to admit to. Given the state of the FM dial, one can only take the same five songs in rotation for so long, however, and I’m sick of my CD collection, and I continue to resist the marketing hype of Apple, and its iPod (I miss my tape player, in my old car, and its mix tape possibilities). In the strange landscape that is presidential politics in America, it is one of the only places where you catch occasional glimpses of lucidity. For many who’ve drunk the Kool-Aid offered by those on the left that statement probably causes you to think I’ve taken leave of my senses. As they say, politics makes for strange bedfellows. Hell, Rush Limbaugh, as well as Michael Savage are making more sense than the Obama’s minions on the left, the likes of Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and all the rest of the Obama-rama sycophants.

Speaking of right-wing talk show hosts, one of that pantheon’s chattering heads was commenting on McLellan’s shilling of his new book, What Happened (an amazingly lame title of a book that is bound to sell far too many copies than it deserves to), and mentioned how history will ultimately contextualize the presidency of George Bush.

Let me first say that I always thought Scotty McLellan was a lying weasel. Everytime I’d see that sack of shit up at the mike, taking questions, I knew this administration’s HR people had burned through their stack of resumes of qualified candidates. The less said about McLellan, the better, in my opinion. I’ll just say that regardless of how you feel about Mr. Bush, McLellan is turncoat personified. I can’t say I’m surprised, however, given the state of manhood in America. Turn on your friends, your pastor, your family, and even your fucking dog. That’s what loyalty’s become in our time. As Harry Truman once said, “You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” Just have the good sense not to turn him out for political purposes.

Back to my right-wing talk show host. He was making the point that Harry Truman, who is lionized today, by both the right, and the left, when he left office in 1953, with an approval rating of 23 percent, was forced (along with Bess) to pack up his things into his car, and make the long drive back to Missouri, alone, without any secret service entourage. Making that trek, back before the advent of the interstate highway system, was probably a long, painful sojourn. I can see the Trumans, stopping off at one of the many roadside cabins common in the 50s, built for America’s first wave of car travelers.

This host’s point, and I think, mine, is that history provides a much better lens for adjudicating a president’s legacy, than our current stick a wet finger in the air, and decide who you’re for today, way of doing things.

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