I've been waiting for this night to come for a long, long time. It's finally here. A thousand miles or so east-southeast of here, a beaten man is sleeping in a room for the very last time. By this time tomorrow, he'll be lying in a bed of obscurity.
One can only hope.
So tonight becomes the last opportunity for me to put the words "president" and "George W. Bush" together. Stare at that for a while. It has quite a calming affect on me.
My great-great-great-great grandchildren will open up their history books one hundred years hence to the years 2000-2008, and instead of a long, detailed description of the nightmare that was this presidency there will only be a blank page, save for the words "what the hell were they thinking?" smack dab in the middle.
That's the true legacy of this president, that somehow, we gave him another shot. The first four years weren't bad enough, I guess.
I'm supposed to thank GWB for making sure that there hasn't been another 9/11 since, well, 9/11. Yet somehow I doubt that he was the one who has been on sentry duty lo these many years, because if he were, he had've managed to shoot himself in the foot fifty-seven times by now.
Far be it for me to tell anyone what to think, but we must remember that after 9/11, a great majority of the world sympathized with us. This stayed true even when bombs fell (rightly) on Afghanistan. That war went so well that Cheney and the boys had some bigger drums delivered to the Oval Office and spent the next year banging louder and louder, and We the People did nothing except collectively wet ourselves with fear, and let the one hundred members of the most exclusive club in the world (yes, even with Roland Burris) tell them that firing up the war machine in the direction of Iraq was A-OK.
War beget chaos, chaos beget insurgency, insurgency beget torture, torture beget blah blah blah.
(And at the Capitol Building, they ate "Freedom Toast" for breakfast, and had "Freedom Fries" with their burgers at lunch...)
We must always remember the way this president used 9/11 to further an agenda of misconceptions, fear and arrogance. From the moment he decided to invade Iraq, he has perpetually tap-danced on the memory of every innocent person who died that day. It is the most shameful part of his term. America is a very different place now then it was six years ago, especially across the oceans.
Failure on a level so extreme, so unprecedented, cannot solely be the responsibility of a single human being. It cannot rest on the shoulders of only a certain few.
It can, however, have a poster boy.
This was a president who sent over 4000 American soldiers to their deaths, a fate they freely and honorably accepted as a possibility when they volunteered to do a job that I never could--due to a profound lack of courage--in a war with the moral basis of a pebble. This was a president who never once asked the people of his country to sacrifice a single goddamned thing while these soldiers sacrificed everything they were, and everything they would ever be.
Gerald Ford was 93 when he died two years ago. No former president has lived longer. I hope George W. Bush shatters that mark; I hope he sticks around for a long, long time. I hope he has the memory of the celebrations going on around the world tonight and tomorrow, rejoicing that his term is expiring, for forty years. I hope that as he grows older and older he lives in an expanding state of terror of what his creator has in store for him when his time comes.
I hope he is scorned everywhere outside the four walls of his home. I hope he feels the fingers of judgement pointing at him wherever he goes. I hope he comes to know exactly how pathetic of a leader he was. I hope the clouds of regret rain over him for forty years of day and night.
I do not hate the man. I hate the damage he has done all over this world; I hate the divisiveness of his spoken words; I hate that a man so unqualified, so unfit for the office somehow found himself in it for two full terms. I hate that my son had to live for a year with this man as the president.
I hate that this night did not come sooner.
So let us be done with him. Let him sneak away into history, where he foolishly believes one day he will be deified. The same sun that has risen for the last eight years will rise tomorrow, but surely, it will be brighter.
President Obama is not and will never be the be-all, end-all messiah that some build him up as. He doesn't need to be. He will screw up plenty. He will have much of the country shaking their heads in disagreement at times. He's a politician--what else would we expect?
But he is such an upgrade over what we have been forced to tolerate for the last eight years. It's as if we've all been driving Yugos and when we wake up tomorrow there will be Mustangs in all of our driveways.
(Wow. That was an analogy on par with, well, something bad. I need to go to bed.)