Wednesday, January 21, 2009
"And like that he was gone. Underground. No one has ever seen him again." - Kevin Spacey, "The Usual Suspects" (1994)
On this day, when the whole world turned out for the Obama inaugural party, I tried to imagine what President Bush was thinking. Was it his legacy that worried him ? Or clearing brush at crawford from tomorrow ? Unease about the nameless enemies who shall stalk him ?
Or was he just glad it was all over ?
I looked up Bush's inaugural speech today and compared it to that of President Obama(remember the suffix!).Both speeches were from the BBC's website. Strangely, I thought I discovered a lot of similarities.The same reference to the American way of life,freedom,democracy,removal of racial injustice,leading the world,reference to American history among others. Of course, they did have significant differences. Bush spoke of weapons of mass destruction, war and had more biblical references. Obama spoke about the crisis, reaching out, global warming, non-believers and promised radical action.
And all that I agonize over is this - Will Obama influence history or shall he be swayed by it? Bush signed the No Child left behind Act,called Darfur "genocide", and led an ill-fated attempt to tackle the illegal immigration issue square on its face. But perhaps his most unsung hurrah is the huge aid that he oversaw for AIDS relief in Africa,not to mention the loan waivers for the struggling countries there.And for those who crow about the financial mess that Bush caused, one might want to read this statement from the 2007 report of the US treasury on hedge funds - "As we noted in 1999, "[i]n our market-based economy, market discipline of risk-taking is the rule and government regulation is the exception.We look forward to further progress as these principles continue to inform our actions and strengthen our vibrant capital markets."
Yet,think of Bush and the most defining moments shall seem 9/11,Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and the Katrina disaster.
Hopefully, Pres.Obama will fare better, and history will take a less jaundiced view of Bush's years at the White House. In his inaugural speech, Bush spoke of "the American story - a story of flawed and fallible people, united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals."
He may have well been describing himself. Au revoir, Dubya.