Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Last Bush Binge

George W. Bush tells Oprah this week that alcohol was ruining his family life, so after getting "drunk as a skunk" on his 40th birthday, he just stopped for good the next day.

The former president's media blitz won't exhilarate the political Right or Left but, for the psychologically inclined, there may be some closure--the final chapter in the tale of a middle-aged man who, with no self-knowledge whatsoever, replaced an alcohol addiction with one for power and piety, never understanding what drove him to either and the distortion of reality that comes with both.

The exchange saved his marriage but put the country through hell. At a low point of his presidency, his father's former speechwriter Peggy Noonan wondered why, unlike other presidents under stress, Bush was always in a "good mood."

“Americans," she wrote, "like the president to be the cool-eyed realist, the tough customer who understands harsh realities. With Mr. Bush it is the people who are forced to be cool-eyed and realistic. He's the one who goes off on the toots. This is extremely irritating, and also unnatural. Actually it's weird."

Now he's back, recalling an ancient bumper sticker about his father: "Bush reminds every woman of her first husband."

It's like suddenly seeing that ex-spouse again at a wedding or funeral--old feelings stir, muted but still painful, and you wonder how you survived years together when he starts telling stories with the same clueless confidence that drove you crazy back then.

He's more mellow now, even admitting mistakes like the "Mission Accomplished" fiasco and his failed response to Katrina, but there is still that odd disconnection, harping on rapper Kanye West's accusation of racism as a low point of his tenure rather than 9/11, the death of 4000 troops in Iraq or the crash of the economy in his final days.

Today, George W. Bush seems to be in good shape, alcohol-free, but the rest of us are still suffering from a hellish hangover.


Harley King said...

Amen! It is a hellish hangover. Love that line.

Steve said...

To blame only Bush for all of our problems is very narrow minded, and misses important facts and events that transpired over decades.

Anonymous said...

December 9, 2000: the day evil won.

Anonymous said...

I saw one of bush's interviews this week and as a past bartender he looked like he had been drinking prior to the interview.

Anonymous said...

The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know."

Or maybe that only saying was
The only thing new in the world is
the history that is being rewritten.