August 10, 2004

"What if he's right?"

Erstwhile Bush-loather Tom Junod faces a question that has been nagging at him. The article appears in the September Esquire, which I had grabbed from the rack at the beauty salon today, meaning to scan for info about facial hair on male models and celebrities. Waiting out the drying of "Cajun Shrimp"-colored nail polish, I finally tore myself away from a description of what it feels like to be bitten on the head by a leopard and read the Junod article. It's a good enough read, though the two main points are: 1. Take me seriously because I hated Bush, and 2. Terrorism is really very important. There's a lot of riffing along the lines of comparing Bush to Lincoln but claiming not to be comparing Bush to Lincoln. There is some snappy, Esquire-y writing, which is fun to read despite the sometimes annoying pseudo-hip tone that mixes breeziness with heavy-handed moralism. I did like this part:
The [Civil War] was, from first to last, portrayed as his [Lincoln's] war, and after he won landslide reelection, he made a vow not only to stay the course but to prosecute it to the brink of catastrophe and beyond: "Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.' "

Today, of course, those words, along with Lincoln's appeal to the better angels of our nature, are chiseled into the wall of his memorial, on the Mall in Washington. And yet if George Bush were to speak anything like them today, we would accuse him of pandering to his evangelical base. We would accuse him of invoking divine authority for a war of his choosing, and Maureen Dowd would find a way to read his text in light of the cancellation of some Buffy spin-off.

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