Friday, September 18, 2015

Enjoying it less

I am enjoying the Republican race for the bottom, er, presidency a lot less than I expected.

True, the stupidity level is even higher than it was in 2012 when Bachmann and Santorum defined the lower level. This year, heaven help us, they'd be in the top 2 quintiles. Well, top 3 anyway.

It's the meanspiritedness that's taking the joy out. It's hard to believe that I could ever miss Reagan's pollyannish high spirits, and I don't. But it turns out there's worse things in a politician than being an ignorant, superstitious soap salesman.

 And no, I'm not thinking here of Trump. Everybody else is doing that. Penn Jillette already said all that needed saying last year.

I am thinking of Jeb Bush and his hard-to-believe response in the second debate about his brother:

“As it relates to my brother, there’s one thing I know for sure,” Bush quipped. “He kept us safe. I don’t know if you remember, Donald. Do you remember the rubble, you remember the firefighter with his arms around him? He sent a clear signal that the United States would be strong and fight Islamic terrorism. And he did keep us safe.”
The blogosphere jumped on Bush, posting pictures of the flaming world Trade Center.  That was useful but unfair.

Clearly, Bush was not referring to what Bush II did or didn't do prior to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; and we can argue fruitlessly about whether that could have been avoided.

Just as clearly, what Bush III meant was what Bush II did after Sept. 11. So it is fair and necessary to parse what Bush III must think about that.

The invasion of Afghanistan failed but it was at least intended to address the situation revealed by September 11. But no one can assert that the invasion of Iraq had anything to do with al Queda.

And Bush II did not keep Americans safe in Iraq. If you can believe Wikileaks, the total was something over 3,000 killed. (The apparent total during Bush's presidency was 3,771 "friendlies," that is, Americans plus our allies.)

I am old enough to remember how the rightwing savaged Jimmy Carter for saying that the Iran hostage crisis ended without loss of American life. It was clear that Carter was limiting his remark to the hostages, but he was ripped for leaving out the 8 Americans killed in the Keystone Kops rescue mission.

Meanspirited but arguably within the boundaries of fair political discourse.

Bush's statement beggars belief. It was not merely insensitive and callous toward the thousands who died for a mistake (not to mention the tens of thousands who were maimed), but it proves that he doesn't understand anything about what happened.

That ought to disqualify him from further consideration; but Trump's birtherism hasn't disqualified him; Huckabee's theocratic beliefs haven't disqualified him. Fiorina's business incompetence hasn't disqualified her. Walker's cheesiness hasn't disqualified him.

I am enjoying Fiorina. She is a sad, deluded example of the Peter Principle at its most disheartening, sort of like Harold Stassen, who also had some youthful success that ruined him. But she is funny.

Not meanspirited.

But most of the rest of them? A decent person wouldn't stay in the same room with them.

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