Monday, May 01, 2006

The President of the United States Ridicules Himself

The press is filled with praise for Bush's routine at the White House Correspondent's Dinner in which he teamed up with a Bush impersonator to poke fun at himself. The oddest thing is to see Conservatives glowing at seeing that Bush can make a fool of himself as well as his impersonators.

With the Clinton administration what America needed most desperately was to restore some dignity to the Presidency. Earlier Presidents might have attended the dinner and poked fun at themselves but it is a very different matter to joke about the Presidency in a time when the Presidency has become a joke. There is also a difference between delivering some jokes at a dinner and breaking into what amounts to a Saturday Night Live routine.

Clinton and Bush have both displayed an amazing teflon endurance displaying their faults openly and shrugging off the harping of their political opponents at their personal failings. But while this is a personal strength, it is a Presidential weakness. It reflects diminished public expectations of what a leader should be. The public did not tolerate Clinton's infidelities and deceitfulness because they believed he was a good man, but because they didn't care that he was a bad man. If Bush had any one legacy he had a duty to leave to the Presidency, it was to raise public expectations of the Presidency. Instead Bush has gone down Clinton's path of making a joke of himself and knowing that the public would rather laugh along then demand better of him.

Once upon a time the Presidency was a noble position and the men who occupied it became legendary and figures of almost mythical power, Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan were men who endure in the memory of this country because they countered diminished expectations by ennobling the Presidency. They made mistakes but they nevertheless presented models of leadership and public greatness and that is something we sorely lack today.


Keliata said...

Sad, isn't it? But as with any profession I think it all boils down to personal and professional integrity. Clinton had little integrity and tried to cover his weaknessness up by giving the masses the impression that he was an "average joe."
Bush doesn't have the CONfidence to pull it off as sucessfully as Clinton did (yup, I stressed the first three initials in the word. As someone told me, the root of the word confidence is CON, if you're not confident, fake it. Con people). Bush's stammering, mispronunciation of words like "nuculer" instead of nuclear make him look like a buffoon. All of this self-parody only ads to his image problems. He lacks confidence and it shows.
I agree that the president was once a position of honor that has been trivialized.

Neshama said...

Dear Friends:
I understand where you are coming from, but allow me a digression.

There is a genuine vulnerability, sense of humor, yes - sense of humor, and candidness that comes from MR GEORGE BUSH, that, I think, has nothing to do with the Presidency. As a President, when he is 'handling' an issue or problem, he is sometimes clumsy, but when someone gets under his skin, he can be quite biting! I know people who have met him, and they all say that he is genuine, sensitive, and endearing. As President, he is a 'manager', because his background is in business.

I think the general atmosphere of 'proper-ness' all but disappeared with the Kennedy generation. It's been 'genes' (as in what we used to call them, dungarees) all the way and ever since. Once the clothing changed, everything else did too.

Along with this, out the window went integrity, honesty, accountability, and in their place we find the opposite.

THIS OF COURSE MEANS THE DOWNFALL OF AMERICA, because it is the erosion of the scruples and purpose of the ideology of the founders of America.

It would be interesting to do a line by line comparison of the principles that created early America against the resultant situation we are witnessing today, to possibly reveal which (or more) of the principles had this built-in obsolescence.

Kol Tuv

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