This morning’s Op-Ed piece in the New York Times by Ross Douthat will certainly raise a lot of eyebrows, produce a lot of frowns, bring out a lot of smiles and everything in between—and beyond.
For the article is a little bit about the good and a lot about the bad and the ugly of a person whom Americans either love, or love to hate.
You guessed it; it is about George W. Bush.
What makes the article different and interesting, in my opinion, is how the author, while “qualifyingly” giving credit for the good, finds hope, even redemption, in the bad and the ugly.
The article starts with:
Last week, the Census Bureau released a statistical report on the last year of George W. Bush’s presidency. The numbers were brutal. On every indicator, Americans lost ground during the Bush era. The median income slumped. The poverty rate increased. The percentage of Americans without health insurance rose.
It concludes with:
This is not a blueprint that future presidents will want to follow. But the next time an Oval Office occupant sees his popularity dissolve and his ambitions turn to dust, he can take comfort from Bush’s example. It suggests that it’s possible to become a good president even — or especially — when you can no longer hope to be a great one.
In between, Douthat discusses Matt Latimer’s new memoir, “the umpteenth insider look at Bush administration’s dysfunction,” a book that “offers grist for Bush-whackers of both parties,” but then focuses on how Bush, if “destined to go down as a failed president, come what may…looks increasingly like an unusual sort of failure.”
Douthat writes about Bush’s “unusual sort of failure” in a very unusual sort of way. A way that will certainly draw, as I implied at the beginning, a lot of praise and a lot of criticism, from the Bush haters and the Bush lovers, respectively, or vice-versa, or both, who knows—it’s that kind of unusual article.
What do you think?
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.