One Last Vent*

By Brian Beutler

Something else from yesterday: ““Did I screw up in this situation? Absolutely. I’m willing to take my lumps,” Obama told NBC’s Brian Williams.”

In his first months in office, George W. Bush… didn’t accomplish much. A significant minority of the country believed his presidency was illegitimate, which tied his hands for weeks. At one point, he nearly caused an international incident with China, but fortunately that crisis was resolved before any of the crazy people in Bush’s inner circle were able to convince him to escalate the situation militarily. That freed the media to stir the country into a panic about shark attacks while Bush et al. ignored explicit warnings of a major terrorist attack approaching from just over the horizon.

The attacks happened, and the president did everything he could to shield himself and his administration from criticism. He also used the incident as a pretext to launch two wars, damage our foreign alliances, advance an unconstitutional national security regime, and enact policies that dragged the country into a fragile new gilded age–one which finally began to collapse around him during his last days in office.

In that entire eight year stretch though, I can’t recall a single admission of error. Sure, there were disappointments, and other people got things wrong. But never Bush himself. Barack Obama’s trying to clean up that mess now, and despite the fact that he has to walk through a political minefield to do so, he’s not afraid to admit when he screwed up. Ta-Nehisi Coates writes, “Some time soon I’ll get over the fact that this dude is an adult.” And indeed, he is an adult. But that gives George W. Bush too much credit. There are, after all, many years between childhood and adulthood and I remember occasionally confessing to error and apologizing for misbehavior, however begrudgingly, before I started grade school.

(*=OK probably not my last vent)