They would be wise to remember that the American public is, by and large, pretty patient with their President, and it was not until the middle of 2005 that Bush saw his approval ratings begin to plummet, with the bottom falling out during Katrina. That is right- a majority of the country put up with everything until they saw video of their countrymen drowning in New Orleans- I would call that patience, and I remember it well.
John is being very generous here. I wouldn’t call it patience. I would call it being unable to give two shits about anybody who doesn’t look like them and doesn’t live next door. So long as it was brown people in countries we didn’t have to think about, people who dresed funny and spoke some kind of crazy moon-man language and prayed five times a day nobody gave a damn who got killed or how bloody it was. So long as it was a coffin we could drape in a flag and sing a song about, and not too many of them, as if one was okay and two not so bad, everybody was fine with it. There is nothing — let me repeat this for the slow among us —nothing admirable about suddenly waking up to the idea that something that has sucked for years actually sucks, and I wouldn’t call it patience.
The public was not patient with him in 2004; the press was patient. The punditry that characterized him as our manly protector and wanked all day long about “security moms” was the same punditry that would have pilloried a Democrat whose approval ratings wereat 41 percent. A majority of the country thought Bush sucked and his war sucked and the country was starting to suck too. That John Kerry windsurfed and drank green tea, though, that was what was important. Bush hugged a little girl and made her feel safe! Keep up!
I wouldn’t call the way people treated George W. Bush’s government before Katrina patience. I would call it privilege. I would call it oblivousness. I would call it deliberate ignorance of the rest of the world nurtured by a political culture of anti-intellectualism and deliberate obfuscation. Moreover, I would call it callousness. I would also call it repulsive. I would call it horrific. I would call it monstrous. I would call it a million things, and only stop there because the English language only has so many curses, but I wouldn’t call it patience.
(And not for nothing, but plenty of time and conservative ink was spilled trying to convince America that the people who drowned and died on the Gulf Coast weren’t like us either, and therefore were unworthy of our consideration, and should be shoved away in the corners of our brains where we were sticking Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and frankly 2/3 of everybody who was struggling every damn day anyway. That it didn’t work entirely doesn’t mean they didn’t try it.)
If the public was patient with George W. Bush at all it was for the first month or so after 9/11. Shit, even I was patient then. I looked at this shaved chimp in a shitty suit and said, “Okay, buddy, let’s see how you do this.” Hell, it’s not like history’s short on stories about feckless halfwit princes who rise up and become the leaders the times demand. I was willing to concede, despite all evidence until that point that Bush was kind of a dick, the possibility of his overcoming. Lots of other people were, too.
That was fear, though. That wasn’t patience either.