Isn't History Written by the Winner?

As the waning days of the Bush Jr. presidency roll on, there is a new project underway, designed to write the “history” of the last 8 years in the White House. I use the term history loosely, as you can imagine, considering Karl Rove is among the architects of the “Bush Legacy Project“. Before you think I’m merely ragging on Mr. Rove, keep in mind he’s the man who’s been behind the curtain in Bush’s show since he was in Texas. He is Bush’s brain ((Buy the book: Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential
)) (as in brain trust). I wonder if Rove will actually be able to rewrite history? That would be a first: the Bush presidency isn’t exactly a victory. I thought history was written by the winner?

Along the same lines, I’m curious about the timing of something else happening now: the release of Nixon tapes. Why now, while the Legacy Project is under way?

Clue: NO, all things being equal, Nixon was NOT worse than Bush, merely more paranoid.  Remember McCain singing “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” — and finding it funny???

Look, for my own reasons I am upset with Iran ((See Time Magazine, 1984, Radio Free Europe, 2004 and, more recently, Baranabas Quotidanius. Also, December 3rd’s Mideast Youth)), but “bomb Iran”????  No way!  That’s very very old school thought processes, outdated and inappropriate, particularly when the U.S. didn’t and doesn’t have a serious (let alone honest) bone to pick with that country. Nonetheless, it was clear as far back as 2005 that the Bush administration was seriously considering just that, ((Source: United for Peace of Pierce County, WA as speeches started dropping the word “Iran” in the middle of talk of terrorism. Fortunately, by then, enough Americans had begun realizing they had been tricked about Iraq and weren’t so easily fooled.

Speaking of paranoia, to me this administration’s biggest legacy will be it’s paranoia-inducing propaganda machine, which, naturally, led to the surveillance machine. From the final months of 2001 ((see Bush address, Septebmer 20, 2001, Sate of the Union address, January 29, 2002, Cincinnati Museum Center, October 7, 2002; for a general overview, Infoplease.com’s Iraq Timeline, as well as thier overview of 2002, and finally this well-documented historic.)), before the American people became convinced we absolutely, positively needed to send our service members into Iraq, I watched with anthropological interest and mounting personal horror as speeches by Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld made a point of linking the 911 attacks with Saddam Hussein, even though there was no evidence whatsoever that the one had to do with the other. I wish I had taken notes at the time of how many times I heard these leaders publicly use the phrase “911” in the same paragraph as either “Saddam Hussein” or “Iraq”, it was Orwellian in its potency. I kept thinking “Surely Americans are smart enough to recognize what’s being done to them”. Apparently not. The power of propaganda depends on an innate human fall: if you hear a lie often enough, even knowing it to be a lie, eventually you believe it to be true.

The fact is, President Bush intended to go to war with Iraq no matter what. The terror attacks in New York simply gave him a means to excuse (and execute) an invasion. He has said so repeatedly for years, and continues to do so in his “exit speeches“.

It seems to me President Bush has never understood two things:

  1. in a world where information is instantaneously documented, disseminated, photographed, videotaped and digitally recorded, when extraordinary circumstances lead to extraordinary events, history becomes set in stone immediately, and
  2. the meaning of the phrase “The buck stops here

No, Mr. President, you didn’t just “happen to be there” when things went bad. You are the one who ultimately are responsible. That’s what it means to be the leader, the President, the Commander-in-Chief. Key word here bineg “CHIEF”. You’re the boss with the power to decide. Yes, you are “The Decider“.

Perhaps President Bush thinks he is a winner. His nearly maniacal ability to perceive the world with rose-colored, “joyous” glasses has been evident throughout the last 8 years. With his trademark smirk, he has giddily skipped to the conclusion of his presidency, apparently unable to even give the appearance of seriousness even when things are… well, dire. ((Exhibit A: Media Matters.com. Exhibit B: The Huffington Post))

Perhaps this time, history will simply be written by the person with the biggest spin.

Perish the thought.

I leave you with Keith Olberman’s take.

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