Do I Applaud This Speech from George W. Bush?Charlie elaborates:
I really don't know. We're on dangerous ground.
I watched C-Plus Augustus give a speech on Thursday morning that went off like a bit of a grenade in the national dialogue. A very long portion of it obviously was an attack on the current occupant of the office George W. Bush once held, and it was very effective speech, and I agreed with every diphthong, and I have no idea how to feel about that.Here's the rest:
We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions – forgetting the image of God we should see in each other.
It’s hard to digest the phrase “degraded by casual cruelty” from a man on whose watch the United States formally became a nation that tortures people, and a man who willingly employed Karl Rove, and who accepted renomination in front of an audience wearing Purple Heart Band-Aids to mock John Kerry’s service in Vietnam. Also, too—Swift Boats.
America is experiencing the sustained attempt by a hostile power to feed and exploit our country’s divisions. According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social media platforms. Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed. But foreign aggressions – including cyber-attacks, disinformation and financial influence – should not be downplayed or tolerated. This is a clear case where the strength of our democracy begins at home. We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our electoral system from subversion.
Voter cadging. Purge lists. Florida, 2000 and Ohio, 2004.
Our identity as a nation – unlike many other nations – is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility. We become the heirs of Thomas Jefferson by accepting the ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence. We become the heirs of James Madison by understanding the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution. We become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Warrantless wiretaps. Patriot Act. Military tribunals. Gitmo.
This speech is the sharpest point yet for those of us who have looked at big talkers like Bob Corker and Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse, who criticize the president* without actually opposing him on any significant issue. It is something of a dilemma for those of us who have been saying that the president* is not an aberration, but the inevitable result of conservative politics, and that the Republicans should not be allowed to pretend that he’s not. What Bush did today—give a speech—is pretty much all he can do at this point. But, still, what elected him twice were the same politics that elected the incumbent. All the latter did was turn up the volume by being more shameless, more incompetent, and infinitely more of an asshat.
So, do I applaud? Do I marinate in my cynicism and remember that this proud defender of American democracy lied the country into a foreign policy debacle that is still ongoing, and that is now overseen by someone who couldn’t find Iraq on a map…of Iraq? Of all the strange places that the last election has taken this country, this has to be one of the strangest. You have to watch every step. The past is clutching your feet here like poison vines camouflaged as the comforting tendrils of citizenship.