The mistakes W made don’t bother me much. They probably should, but they don’t. I’m not exactly sure why. I guess in general I’m a forward-, not backward-, looking sort of guy. I don’t spend much time blaming people and then getting upset about the people I’ve blamed. What bothers me about W, though, is that even with a 25% approval rating, 75 million Americans approve of the job he’s done — and worst of all, he hasn’t seemed to learn a thing.
In his farewell address W said, “Good and evil are present in the world, and between the two there can be no compromise.” Really? Is that still the way he sees things? Is he incapable of learning lessons from the past? Or maybe he didn’t pay close enough attention — maybe he wasn’t enough in the loop. Perhaps Nora Ephron is right to ask these few pointed questions:
- Who exactly was running the country these last eight years?
- What did the President know, if anything, and when did he know it, if ever?
- Was he capable in any way of even one sleepless night, much less the ongoing insomnia that any sentient person would suffer after so many wrong decisions and pointless deaths?
- Did he mispronounce the word “nuclear” 1) on purpose, in order to make himself seem folksy 2) because he actually thought he was pronouncing it correctly or 3) just to piss us off?
Well, regardless of what he knew (if anything), W’s worldview remains intact (or he desperately clings to it as if it is), in black and white — no grey — not even a hint of mulatto. He can tell what the “good” is. He’s ready to judge what is “evil.” And no matter what, “There can be no compromise” — I guess that means never, and it means in no possible way, forget it, it’s over — put a bullet in it.
Us or them. In or out. That is how he sees the world. You are with us, or you are against us. To my mind, that thinking is… how do you say… fucked up. I say villification is vile; I say that antagonizing and demonizing are not effective methods of diplomacy, techniques for bridging differences, ways to create a safer, more peaceful world. And I would say that W’s tenure proves that point. But it hasn’t convinced him — nor has it convinced 75 million Americans.
No, past mistakes don’t anger me, but I get a little annoyed/worried/confused when people can’t learn from them. I don’t look back, but when I look forward, I still see so many folks unable to let go their intransigent notions of goodness and righteousness and holy virtue — their intractable opinions about right and wrong.
But we have a new president, one who I suspect does not see in black and white, one who sees in color. I suspect President Obama can see the greys and, yes, quite clearly the mulatto. And I am looking forward to a leader who will not declare unequivocally and unconditionally, like a spoiled, pampered, rich teenager — “there can be no compromise.”