And so it happens.
George W Bush has finally left.
And as he bows out, as he turns away from the mics and walks off the stage, there is a sense of empathy. Perhaps even pity.
He cut a sad figure didn’t he, near the end? You had wished that it would end for him, but you could finally, wistfully, also appreciate that dogged, almost stupid, sense of determinism that had gotten him so far in the first place.
And in a sense, that feeling of pity, of being a bit sad now that he’s gone, is a bit outrageous to contemplate.
This was after all once the most powerful, most reviled man in the world. He was the man who stood as the leader of a superpower.
And this was a vengeful, ferocious, all-conquering superpower. It had defeated the Red hats by the early 90s, a force that had looked to rule the world at one point.
But you felt that Bush never deserved it.
Sure, he was the leader of an invincible force, but wasn’t all his success because of everything his dad had done?
Of course, his father was a much greater sour puss, and had a massive stick up his ass, but he was original. He was there first, and he got there in his gruff, grumpy demeanor.
But this guy – didn’t he inherit all this power while sitting there with a dumb smile on his face and a sense of entitlement in his approach?
Of course he had his strengths. He was a wild young man once and then he settled down in a loving relationship with his wife, who was a big reason behind his calmer demeanor. And yes, even though he would often appear completely clueless on how to lead during adversity, on a personal level he would greet adversity with the best he could give.
How many times had Bush looked to be all but out, but he would come roaring back with what this author calls, to use a sporting term, a “fuck-you 100?”
But that still didn’t make him the right man to lead. I mean, what about all that he had on his side?
On one hand, there were Rumsfeld and Cheney.
Here were people mastered in the art of backstabbing, of deceit. They were the ones who could slowly torture their opponents for eons before dismissing them with a quick, brutish death.
They were the ones who could be relied to make the big, boastful statements of superiority – the ones that would fire up the troops and irritate and infuriate the enemies.
And then, there was the fucking spin-god, Fox News.
In many ways, Fox worked because it gave this outward expression of being completely outrageous, while actually performing with a cruelly calculating intensity.
It didn’t matter what the conditions were or what the situation was, Fox could spin something out of nothing. It could fight back enemies by getting inside their heads and convincing them that they were a piece of shit.
And lest we forget, what about the sheer military might at the Great Leader’s disposal?
After all, he had some of the most remorseless soldiers, who would take perverse pleasure in inflicting unspeakable acts of cruelty.
And if that didn’t work, he had the biggest stockpile of nuclear weapons hanging out, chilling at no.7.
And despite all this, did he not lose face in Iraq?
Wasn’t his mighty army absolutely decimated by rag-tag mercenaries? Weren’t they brought crumbling down, bloodied and bruised, by a few fanatics?
Yes, you may say that at least Bush had the surge, and he did win back some of his pride with that. Perhaps, but wasn’t that down to Petraeus and his genius?
So what is this sadness for? For this man who inflicted such cruelty and so many hope-shattering defeats on the world? Shall we mourn when our tormentors depart?
We salute him once for being someone we could hate. Hate is one of the most primal of emotions, and it takes great strength to withstand it.
We remember that for however much we demean his achievements, and how sheltered his path was, he got there, and he got there because he always believed in himself and the way of thinking he stood for.
You might not appreciate his intelligence, but you must always be able to recognize when an opponent has been worthy.
Farewell then, Goerge W. Ponting.
*Yes, Ponting was a much better cricketer than Bush was a President, but LOOK AT THEIR FACES!
(All photoshopped images have been created by the author. All other images have been linked to their original locations. To view these, just click on the picture.)