I was recently asked if I had the “courage” to comment on the conventions. Well, sure, the courage can be summoned, always. It’s no matter of great chest thumping to hide behind the keyboard and cast aspersions here and there. As you’ve seen, I’ve never been shy about that. In the case of politics, however, what I end up with is closer to indifference, though to a degree I do have a number of preferences.
What’s worth mentioning here is the ongoing selective memories displayed by both parties. It’s the phenomena of crowding out one side of the ledger — often the things worthy of note — in order to pound on the errors.
The Carter administration is berated for economic failures, yet the success of the release of the hostages in Iran goes forgotten, let alone credited. You can look in vain for that to be mentioned by anyone as we rattle the sabres against the current regime.
Likewise, people will never stop the chatter of Monica when they talk about Mr. Bill, yet gloss over eight years when we were at war with no one.
And in the other direction, Reagan remains a hero to both parties with little or no mention of the foolishness in Nicaragua or the wholesale dismissal of air traffic controllers purely to affect union busting.
Yet the most bizarre memory block of all is the complete absence of the name of George Bush by Republicans throughout the entire primary marathon and on through the convention in Tampa Bay. Was there nothing that his party can find of a positive nature that they choose to brag about? Was his eight years in office completely bereft of compliment or pride? (Can’t the rich of the G.O.P. at least say something on the order of thanks? You know…”Thanks, George, for making us the ‘job creators?'”)
It’s amazing, really. As Bush barreled into two wars, both parties — Congress was under Democratic control in those days, remember — provided legislative support from the get-go. All that was required was an ill-gotten belief that those ragheads in Iraq were to blame for the destruction of the Twin Towers. For many, Bush was a bona fide hero.
But now he’s persona non grata. Yesterday’s gleaming star, today a dutifully dismissed no-one. Out there cutting brush.
It’s all obvious, of course. The reason for the selective memory, the reason why you will never hear the unmentionable mentioned, is that all Mr. Bush did and stood for economically — and is preciselywhat the R & R boys are running on — failed miserably. Paul Klugman, a columnist for the New York Times and a Nobel-prize-winning economist, put it rather concisely: “If you liked the economic policies of George Bush, you’ll love what you get from Mitt Romney.”
There’s something terribly dishonest about that and not a little scary. But again, the man was there for two terms, and just four years ago. Does he not get some recognition from his party? Can’t they find something? I guess his signing of Medicare D — that is, recalling that — would not seem consistent with Paul Ryan’s designs for an overhaul of Medicare in general.
I’m hardly a Bushie, but wouldn’t you at least think a gentle nod might be in order?
Anyhow, that’s what I’m talking about. This business of demanding perfection — and it was not a quality you ever saw in the 43rd president — is such a destructive thing. It is indeed the enemy of the good. As practiced in contemporary politics, it is both demeaning and completely wrong and is a vicious effort to erase the complete person. Is that what we’re after? Do we demand flawless versions of ourselves?