Last night I had a terrifying and unusually lucid dream. I was cornered in a train car that was speeding out of control and was headed toward a bridge that had been blown up. I was trying to tell the people who were gathered around and barking at me that the train had to stop and someone had to pull the emergency brake--but they screamed that they would not listen to me because I had called in the wrong vote . . . for American Idol. Because I had done this horrible thing, they said, they were now going to make sure that the winner of American Idol became our next president. "But the bridge . . .!" I shouted. Then I woke up . . . only to read Andrew Breitbart’s column today in which he argues that we are headed toward an American Idol presidency and in which he practically begs Republicans to eschew the model of their Democrat brethren, keep their heads in the coming years, and remember--first and foremost--that the bridge is broken. We need to figure a way to get those guys to pull the brake.
Oh, yeah. He also engages in some political heresy and I am happy to endorse it. He notes that even with all the tumult of the Bush years, he still likes the guy and thinks that, basically, he did a decent job. Did he have failed policies? You bet. Was he, on some level, fundamentally naive about the nastiness in Washington and his ability to prevail there with a "new tone?" Absolutely. Did he approach the situation in Iraq with an overly optimistic understanding of human nature and animating principle in "every human heart" to be free? Certainly. Did he underestimate the power of evil? I think so. But all of these failures were encouraged and drawn out by an opposition party working in concert with (if not in agreement with--and I wouldn’t go that far) the forces around the world that wish to see the power and majesty of the American republic diminished. They were encouraged by people who either do not understand the nature of the threat or who, in any case, are not persuaded that we deserve to prevail. In short, Bush had to fight enemies at home and abroad. He never could do the former effectively, I think, because he did not understand--or, quite possibly--he did not want to understand them. Instead he focused on the bridge ahead that was out and spent his presidency looking for the brake. Maybe, in retrospect, we’ll all come to see that this was the best that could be expected given the circumstances. The surge abroad seems to be working. We still need an intellectual one here at home. It is very hard to blame Bush for not being able to marshal those forces . . . particularly when so many of them were marshaled against him. I wish him peace of mind and of soul as he exits the stage and I thank him for his efforts to keep our country safe during these troubled last eight years.