Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bush Hatred Subsiding Already?

Watching the inauguration had an unexpected effect on some people, particularly those who have hated him for so long. They suddenly realized that George W. Bush is not an evil man, after all. Oh, those people have not suddenly stopped thinking that Bush was a bad president. But many who saw the Obamas say a touching goodbye to the Bushes outside the Capitol Building on Tuesday suddenly saw a human kindness in Bush that they never dreamed was there before that moment. The moment was brief, and it was seconds before George Bush stepped into the helicopter. After final embraces, Bush paused and leaned close to Michelle Obama so she could hear him through the noise of the chopper's engines. We could not hear him. But we could plainly read his lips as he said, "Call if you need anything." Those aren't the exact words, but it's close. I wish now that I had written it down. A friend of mine who hated despised Bush for eight years saw it too, and she wrote an email about her reaction. She said she suddenly sees Bush in a new light, no longer evil. Inept, she still calls, but no longer evil. History will be fair to George W. Bush, more fair to him than were so many of his fellow Americans that he protected for eight years. Perhaps not soon or even in his lifetime, but historians will one day note the disproportionate, rabid hatred thrown at him daily, and they will marvel at the intensity of that hatred. On Tuesday, some of those haters stopped hating a man they had painted as the Second Coming of Hiter. The historians of the next generation will have no emotional investment in George Bush, either pro or con. The historians may not be kind to him, but they will not be mercilessly cruel, either. Barack and Michelle learned that George W. Bush is no Hitler. They embraced him, literally. I suspect there will be cordial phones calls between Texas and the Oval Office. Barack Obama knows that Bush is not evil. I hope the rest of America will come to grips with that, too.
I am reminded that author Carol Felsenthal has a good post today at Chicago Daily Observer, in which notes the contrast between the Bush Departure and the Clinton Departure. As all of her columns are, this one is a must-read: If George W. Bush’s approval ratings are any indication, the vast majority of Americans could not wait to see him go. But that said, at least he left in a quiet, dignified manner; nothing like the circus surrounding the White House exit of Bill Clinton eight years earlier. (I tracked Bill’s painfully long goodbye in the opening pages of my book, Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House.) Full Post at Chicago Daily Observer... Subscribe to Chicago News Bench