George W. Bush Will Be Missed

Our lives will be so empty without George W. Bush to push around. Right?

What will we do with ourselves? We're entering one of those weird, usually brief periods without a right-wing boogieman to distract us. Not since the resignation of Nixon has the left been bereft of a focus of all that live-sustaining frothing hatred (during the Clinton years we had Gingrich, remember?). The last time this happened? Carter. And look how well that worked out!

So now we probably enter a weird period of Bush withdrawal. For the right-wing, Clinton withdrawal was thankfully interrupted by 9/11 and President Bush hero-worship and new patriotism and then there were glorious wars everywhere, and a clash of civilizations. For like two years they could all pretend they were heroic patriots in some great generation-defining conflict, when of course they were just the latest ideologues to join and then massively fuck up the centuries-long quagmire of the West's involvement in the Middle East.

Now we can expect perhaps a two-year honeymoon of continuing to blame Bush for everything wrong with this nation (his reign obviously damanged the nation in a number of ways for a generation or more but you can only seethe at an entirely absent boogieman for so long, and Bush will not be very visible after his last-ditch legacy press tour, we're guessing), but then the right will either need to coalesce around a new leader who terrifies and appalls us coastal elites (Huckabee? is he too nice?) or else we'll just turn on our own.

Bush was almost the perfect foil. Your intense dislike for the man personally was a nice distraction from the actual literal facts of what he was doing wrong, too. As a dim, mean, narrow, venal chump he outdid the genial-but-stupid Reagan and Nixon, who was a ruthless self-pitying sweaty criminal, but politically way less damaging. As an east coast scion affecting a Texan good ol' boy persona, we could hate his cowboy diplomacy and attack his elitism. We shall not meet the likes of him soon. Hopefully. Actually another one will probably come around in 4-8 years.

But until then, Obama better watch out.