He was what looked to be a Caucasian male, although something wasn't quite right. His eyes reflected the deepest sadness and defeat the world has ever seen. He looked deflated, diminished; beaten down to the ground. An interviewer was asking him questions and he was answering them with forced personable tones. The text below this sad being read George W. Bush.
The President? Surely, this shell of a man couldn't be the most powerful person in the world. But alas, it was. As I turned the volume up, the interviewer asked this soon-departing President if there was a moment he regrets about his Presidency.
Eight years ago, George W. Bush wouldn't have answered this question. As a matter of fact, eight years ago George W. Bush didn't answer this question; as witnessed in a a scene that is recreated word for word in Oliver Stone's film W. (for the record, I haven't seen the movie). When asked during a press conference if he had made any mistakes, Bush stumbled over his words for a bit and then said that he was sure he had but he couldn't remember any of them. That forgetfulness stands in stark contrast to what Bush said this day.
"I regret saying some things I shouldn't have said," Bush said without missing a beat.
"Bring 'em on."
"Dead or Alive."
It is such a blessing in this country that we have term limits. I don't mean to criticize Bush and say that it is a blessing that he is out of office (although and the majority of the electorate are fairly happy he is, myself included). I am merely trying to say that it is so refreshing to see when politicians come back to life.
For eight years, George W. Bush the person was essentially dead. George the politician, George the Party loyalist and George the President were the only George-es we saw. And let me tell you: they were a drag. In the most technologically advanced media age of all-time, a day of instant access and no barriers, we may have had one of the most secretive, guarded, private and perhaps, dishonest President ever. Bush was elusive; rarely granting interviews, generating cryptic press releases and spending an inordinate amount of time on his Texas ranch.
George the President made controversial decisions and made them in private. The public was allowed very little information regarding the War in Iraq: the reasons for invading, the progress of the invasion and the objectives we hoped to achieve by invading. George the President was simply the man who lived in that White House, doors securely closed, taking consul from shadowy GOP operatives. Some began to use Orwellian imagery to describe his regime and he showed shockingly little self awareness, even as his poll numbers dropped to record lows.
But that George is dead.
And we are now left with the new George; the George that is for all intents and purposes: done. President Bush only has two months and one day left in office. It is in these two months and one day that George W. Bush can finally show the country just who he is. He can finally show us how he feels and what he would have done differently in his Presidency. History hasn't quite yet had the final word on him yet, but it has already said quite a bit. In broad-strokes, we can all concur that he was an unpopular President in a difficult era who started a war that we can't quite fathom the reasons for to this day.
But in these two months and one day Bush has a chance for some slight redemption. I am not demanding, like others, that Bush make an apology. I am merely asking that he show the same honesty and candor for that he did in that interview. In these two months and one day, Bush can go a long way in convincing the United States that he is not an idiot and that some of his decisions had a rhyme or reason. Or in these two months and one day, Bush can acknowledge that he had no master plan and was not prepared for the Presidency. He can use these last two months and one day however he sees fit as long as he uses them to finally tell this country how he feels and what he really thinks is the right course of action and not what those shadowy GOP soothsayers tell him to think. I for one, hope that he uses his last days in office to reaffirm to us all that we are moving into a new age of bipartisanship and tearing the old model of "red vs. blue at all costs" down.
Power is restrictive. You cannot always say what you want to say for fear that those fickle publics will take that power away. You cannot always do what you want to do for fear of alienating those who gave you that intoxicating power in the first place. And you can NEVER be the person you were before because the person you were before was human, imperfect and power is reserved for only the strong and the flawless. But now George W. Bush is free from the burden of the Office.
So it is time to bury George the President and finally hear from George the Person.