HOW COULD HE MAKE US LOOK SO BAD?
The Morning Call is unhappy with a choice it made
There is a scene near the end of the American cinematic classic “Tequila Sunrise” where Carlos, played by the criminally underappreciated Raul Julia, chides Dale “Mac” McKussic, played by Mel Gibson, for putting their lives – and their freedom – at risk. “Friendship,” Carolos begins, “is the only choice in life you can make that is yours!”
The movie film, which also stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Kurt Russell, is all about two friendships, one between Gibson’s and Russell’s characters – high school buddies, sent down different paths in life by sheer dumb luck – the former a (former) drug dealer, and the latter a DEA agent; and the other between Gibson’s character and Julia’s, who became friends in a Mexican prison and then became collaborating cross-border drug kingpins.
We won’t reprint the rest of the Julia/Carlos quote here – because the language is pretty salty – but the gist of it is Carlos complaining to Mac that he had taken their friendship, the choice they made, and destroyed it. “How could you **** it up? How could you make us look so bad?”
We’re feeling a bit like Carlos this morning. And George W. Bush is Mac.
We – Bush and conservatives/Republicans – chose one another. We chose him in 2000, as the guy to return the country to normalcy after eight years of a priapic presidency. More notably, we chose, in 2004, to give him the chance to finish what he started. His leadership and decency in the days after 9/11 were remarkable and appear even more so with the passage of time and in light of the presidencies that followed. He wanted to be our leader, and we wanted him to lead us.
But now, he’s putting our lives and our freedom at risk. George? How could you **** this up? How could you make us look so bad?
As you may know, on Saturday – the twentieth anniversary of the attacks of 9/11 – Bush gave a speech at the memorial in Pennsylvania marking the crash of United Flight 93, the “heroes flight.” The speech was…well…exhausting. The Democrats and the mainstream media loved it, which pretty much tells you all you need to know. Byron York has some thoughts here:
Bush did not explicitly say so, but he appeared to be referencing Jan. 6. And he used the rhetorical trick of denying that there was “cultural overlap” between the 9/11 terrorists and the Jan. 6 rioters before outlining areas of such overlap. They were similar in their “disdain for pluralism,” Bush said, their “disregard for human life,” and their “determination to defile national symbols.” In these, Bush argued, not only was there cultural overlap between the two groups — they actually came from “the same foul spirit.”
With that, Bush joined a group of commentators, mostly but not entirely on the left, who maintain that 9/11 and 1/6 are similar. And they do so in the face of the obvious, enormous differences between the two. The Sept. 11 attacks killed roughly 3,000 people, brought down New York’s tallest skyscrapers, destroyed part of the Pentagon, crashed four passenger jetliners, resulted in two wars, and changed U.S. foreign policy for decades. The Jan. 6 riot led to the natural-causes death of one Capitol Police officer, the shooting death of one rioter at the hands of police, the “acute amphetamine intoxication” death of another rioter, and the natural-causes deaths of two more. Had the 9/11 attackers survived, they would have been charged with mass murder. Most of the Jan. 6 rioters have been charged with “Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building.” Parts of the Capitol were ransacked, but not seriously enough that Congress could not meet and finish its election certification work on the night of the riot. The riot was appalling, and the participants deserve punishment, but it was simply nothing like Sept. 11. To visualize the difference, imagine that on the night of the 9/11 attacks, there was a convention that went on as scheduled at the World Trade Center.
The bottom line: There is simply no comparison in scale, act, motivation, or anything else between Sept. 11 and Jan. 6. And yet now, a former president suggests that those two enormously dissimilar events were actually similar, both coming from “the same foul spirit.”
Three years ago, in the runup to the midterm elections, we gave a handful of speeches in which we made the case that a pattern had developed in American politics in which the people chose a leader who will allow them to push back against the “inside the Beltway” Washington establishment, only to become disillusioned with that leader, once he inevitably becomes a part of that Washington establishment. The fault for this we argued, fell in small part on the people, who were naïve enough to put their faith in political leaders, but in much larger part on the ruling class, which clearly loathed the people of the country and believed, in the true Progressive spirit, that the American people needed to sit down, shut up, and listen to their betters.
Donald Trump, we suggested at the time, would likely follow the same path – UNLESS the ruling class, reinvigorated by a Democratic midterm victory (which we and everyone else in the world were expecting) broke the pattern by impeaching Trump on whatever charges they could think up and then defeating him in 2020, based in part on the “disgrace” of impeachment.
Either way, we argued, the people – i.e. the “country class” – would respond by becoming even further enraged at those who would be their “rulers.” And they’d be perfectly justified in doing so. The ruling class’s heavy-handed pursuit of its own well-being at the expense of the people’s had rightfully made the people frustrated and agitated. They had every right to feel betrayed, forgotten, and overburdened by the pompous windbags in government and the media. And they would react bitterly to any further perfidy.
We’ll note two things about the current state of affairs in this country.
First, we are not saying that there should be any sort of public uprising, rioting, protesting, etc. We’re not even saying that there will be any of those things. What we’re saying is that things are gonna get weird – or weirdER, if you prefer. Just before the 2016 election, our old friend Angelo Codevilla – the originator of the Ruling Class – Country Class dichotomy – noted that whatever the outcome, whatever the American people’s verdict, the country “had stepped over the threshold of a revolution.” That revolution has just entered a new stage. “It is difficult to imagine how we might step back,” Codevilla continued, “and futile to speculate where it will end. Our ruling class’s malfeasance, combined with insult, brought it about.”
The second thing to note is that ALL of this – our speculation, Codevilla’s speculation, all of the obvious country-class frustration – came BEFORE two impeachments, a hotly and ongoingly contested election, the death of George Floyd and the related protests and riots, COVID and the associated BS, and the exposure and targeting of such things as Critical Race Theory in American primary and secondary schools. All of which is to say that if people like yours truly and Codevilla thought the country was a proverbial powder-keg in 2016 or 2018, then today, the fuse to that keg has been lit and is burning quickly.
On Saturday, George W. Bush…well…we don’t have any more powder-keg metaphors, but he made it even worse. He f***ed it up.
George? How could you make us look so bad?