Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 311- Another side of the story

Dear Mr. President,

While there may be a few who have forgotten why, exactly, so many of us disapproved of the policies of President Bush, I am certainly not among their number. The former President's recent publicity tour promoting his memoir has provided ample opportunity for him to remind us all why we were so glad to see the sunrise on January 20, 2009. I understand his need to tell his version of events, to make the case for his decision and attempt to persuade many of us to forget the things we knew. I have tried to give the former President the benefit of the doubt. I believe that his Presidency, for all of its many, many mistakes, occurred during some of the most difficult years in modern American history. (The role those mistakes played in said difficulties is certainly not inconsiderable.)

Still, listening to his attempts to defend his record is difficult. A man who basically avoided the press and refused to justify or explain any of his decisions while in office manipulating the incredibly short-term memory of many Americans (and especially of the media) is difficult to watch. I may be so upset that little short of a war crimes tribunal will actually satisfy my need to see President Bush answer for his crimes, but certainly the situation warrants more than the softball questions of Matt Lauer. I have to question my desire to see the former President interrogated. On a practical level, it would be entirely unproductive. No one tortured under his orders will be healed by seeing him answer questions. No one made homeless, injured or killed by the inept handling of Hurricane Katrina will be restored. No one laid off during the recession will be reinstated.

I think my desire to see President Bush explain himself comes from my suspicion that his worldview entirely justified the decision of his Presidency. Because I cannot imagine a world where what he did (and failed to do) is acceptable, I need to understand his perspective. And so, while I will not read his memoir, I will continue to follow his media appearances in an attempt to understand how, exactly, he sleeps at night.

One day, years and years from now, I hope that you will also write a memoir of your time as President. I enjoyed your first two books immensely, and I think that, even if I struggle with your justifications for the decisions I don't agree with, I will at least appreciate the quality of your writing.

(And I'm certain you won't go with quite so insipid a title, if only because it doesn't seem possible.)

Respectfully yours,


1 comment: