Three weeks ago, I read an essay by Geoffrey Wheatcroft, “The Odious, Graceless, Self-Serving Exit of an Odious, Graceless, Self-Serving Man.”
Of course, the article is about the British Prime Minister’s sudden resignation a little more than three weeks ago.
I read it again this morning and was amazed at how a good part of Wheatcroft’s piece could perfectly apply to another politician on another continent, starting with the lead, “Boris Johnson’s entire life has been one of scandal, outrage, and betrayal.”
The lead concludes with “This time, finally, he couldn’t bluff his way out.”
While Johnson indeed could no longer bluff his way out, millions of Americans hope that one day, finally, such will be the case with “The Former Guy.”
With apologies to Geoffrey Wheatcroft, here are some of the parts of his essay that so strikingly apply to the sad predicament our country finds itself in.
The reader is asked to “fill in the blanks” in some places, but that should not prove to be difficult.
• He is something quite unusual among politicians, or indeed among everyone: a man who has never seriously believed in anything all his life apart from self-advancement and self-gratification…
• Now [he] leaves behind a poisoned political landscape.
• We are now faced with a gruesome leadership contest between some of the most unimpressive and unappealing men and women in [_____’s party] for a long time…
• Much worse than all that has been [_____’s ] legacy, his assault on democratic norms and constitutional propriety…Some of this is in consequence of [_____‘s] own incurable temperament and ungovernable appetites…
• As [_____] gets back to making money and disfiguring national life in some other way, he deserves absolutely no sympathy: He lived by the base instincts of his party, and he perished by them.
And here is the wishful thinking part, slightly adapted to a potential future moment:
…a delusional [_____] apparently went to bed believing he could bluff it out and get away with it yet again, as he has bluffed out and gotten away with scandal, outrage, and betrayal all his life. Only on waking early on [a future date] did he accept the inevitable and began drafting his odious, graceless, and self-serving [farewell] speech, boasting about the “incredible mandate” he had won in the [November 2020] election, bleating that it was “eccentric to change governments when we’re delivering so much,” and blaming his fall on the “herd” instinct of his former followers who had abandoned him.
One discussion on “wishful thinking” frames the phenomenon as “a form of escapism that can help us build our goals, strategies, or find solutions to various problems.”
Should such wishful thinking become reality, perhaps we can once again turn our attention to building respectable goals and principled strategies to solve the real problems America faces.
Geoffrey Albert Wheatcroft is a renowned British journalist, author, and historian.
His books include Churchill’s Shadow: The Life and Afterlife of Winston Churchill and The Strange Death of Tory England.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.