Life is so unfair to warmongers, is it not? Then again, the reason our
debates are so poisonous and our nation so divided might have something
to do with the existence of utterly unaccountable members of the
political class that can launch such a war, suffer no real
consequences, and then reliably expect to be defended as “decent” and
“well-intentioned” people who made understandable mistakes. The
unfortunate truth of our existence is that villains do not have to come
out of central casting for comic book movies. They are ordinary,
“decent” people who commit grave errors and terrible crimes for any
number of reasons. Many great evils have found their origins in a
group’s belief that they were doing the right thing and were therefore
entitled and permitted to use extraordinary means.
I disagree, actually. Not with the part about Douthat having absolutely no experience in the world that exists outside the combination Grand Theft Auto/porno that plays in his head. But with the idea that there has been insufficient tragic drama lent to the Bushian storyline in modern revisionism. I think there’s been entirely too much.
Bush was a great leader, misunderstood. His compatriots were loyal, loving men who were misled. Someday the world will bow down in gratitude to anyone who ever called himself Republican, when it becomes clear that they were right all along, yet so beset by criticisms monstrous and numerous it is a wonder they were able to persevere at all. Think of those billboards: Miss Me Yet?
I understand the need to cloak the past decade in grand terms. After all, if these were ordinary, ugly, animal mistakes, then any of Douthat’s friends could make them. Any conservative, ideologically driven, Heritage Foundation Future Douchebag of America could step into Doug Feith’s or Marc Thiessen’s or Ari Fleischer’s or George W. Bush’s shoes and fuck everything up exactly the same way they did.
So those douchebags want there to be something spectacularly sympathetic about the Bush folks because if there isn’t, why, then little poncey lordlings like Douthat would have to ask themselves why all the stupid shit that happened couldn’t have been stopped. They’d have to face the fact that it all could have been stopped, and many many people simply didn’t want to do so.
They put up these walls, and talk in Shakespearean terms about the Fall (and reach for Shakespeare when they really mean Aristophanes, the historically illiterate fucks), in order to distract themselves from the blame they bear. It’s nothing but a way to cope with how terribly easy it was, in hindsight, to completely wreck the world.