09 Mar 2010

Stanley Fish Told You So

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Stanley Fish gleefully watches the former president’s public estimation reascend, as Obama’s precipitously sinks. Bush derangement is evolving into Bush nostalgia.

I know you’re not supposed to, but I just love to say I told you so. ..”

Well it’s a bit more than a year now and signs of Bush’s rehabilitation are beginning to pop up. One is literally a sign, a billboard that appeared recently on I-35 in Minnesota. Occupying the right side (from the viewer’s viewpoint) is a picture of Bush smiling genially and waving his hand in a friendly gesture. Occupying the left side is a simple and direct question: “Miss me yet?” The image is all over the Internet, hundreds of millions of hits, and unscientific Web-based polls indicate that more do miss him than don’t.

A perhaps more substantial sign incorporates a sign famous (or infamous) in the Bush presidency. The March 8 cover of Newsweek reproduces the famous 2003 photograph of Bush on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Lincoln. The president is in the left of the picture, striding away from the famous banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished.”

Those words haunted Bush for the next five years, but now, Newsweek reports, they may play differently because — and this is emblazoned on the cover — we may have “Victory At Last.” It has to be said, declare the cover-story’s writers, that “now almost seven hellish years later . . . something that looks mighty like democracy is emerging in Iraq”; and, they add (eerily echoing Bush’s words in 2003), this development “most certainly is a watershed event that could come to represent a whole new era in the history of the massively undemocratic Middle East.”

Of course, one might disagree with that assessment, but the fact that it is made in the lead article of a major mainstream magazine tells its own story. It is a story that intersects with another, the story of the precipitous decline in Barack Obama’s support and of a growing suspicion, found on the left as well as on the right, where it is much more than a suspicion, that the politics of change may have been a slogan with less promise in its future than “Mission Accomplished.” (The imminent passage of a health care bill keeps being predicted, but so far no “victory at last.”)

Meanwhile, Bush’s policies came to seem less obviously reprehensible as the Obama administration drifted into embracing watered-down versions of many of them. Guantanamo hasn’t been closed. No Child Left Behind is being revised and perhaps improved, but not repealed. The banks are still engaging in their bad practices. Partisanship is worse than ever. Obama seems about to back away from the decision to try 9/11 defendants in civilian courts, a prospect that led the ACLU to run an ad in Sunday’s Times with the subheading “Change or more of the same?” Above that question is a series of photographs that shows Obama morphing into guess who — yes, that’s right, George W. Bush.

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One Feedback on "Stanley Fish Told You So"

Jim

In order for Obama to morph into Mr. Bush he would need to grow a pair. Obama has shown himself to be just a empty suit.



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