Monday, May 01, 2006
Posted by Daniel Greenfield 2 Comments
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.