by Bob Cesca
Rest assured, Mr. President, that despite what you told the Times Online today you won't be remembered solely as a war mongering president.
"Look, I think that in retrospect, you know, I could have used a different tone."
Different tone? Ya think?
War mongering is a significant aspect of your legacy, but I think we can conclude, and without much debate, that your legacy will also be one of criminality, failure and a degree of incompetence rarely achieved by any American president, much less one whose deficit of character is rivaled only by his nearly unprecedented lack of humility in the face of his unprecedented roster of inadequacies.
As it turns out, you won't have much control over your legacy and the history of your administration anyway. You might have some cursory input, but no-one really takes you seriously anymore and anything you put forth will be taken as just another work of fiction; another bit of propaganda.
Your legacy will ultimately be written by those of us who have been actively documenting your presidency in real time -- millions of voices authoring the narrative of your awful regime and preserving it with digital clarity one trespass at a time.
And everywhere we look, we can plainly observe your smirking, affectless footprint.
Death, poverty, war, pain, ignorance, blind patriotism, joblessness, and abandoned homes. And guess what? We're writing it down on the Internets. Your history, Mr. President, is being written at this very moment by those of us who are watching our homes collapse in value and our friends and relatives sent to places like Ramadi and Fallujah and, in some cases, Walter Reed or worse. Your history, Mr. President, isn't going to be settled and published decades from now. It's being published immediately and without the fog of memory to obscure the ugly details.
These ugly details are exhaustively researched and easily accessible.
And as they congeal into a single eight-year narrative, it's my hunch that every tragedy experienced during this dark ride will be regarded as a means to a specific end: your election to a second term and the election of successors who will carry on with your sinister tradition. The centerpiece of this tradition -- the throughline of your presidential narrative -- has been, simply put, endless war for the sake of re-election.
In fact (and contrary to your present lamentation) you wanted war even before you took office. War, by your own definition, would all but guarantee a second presidential term. You told your pre-2000 autobiographer, Mickey Herskowitz:
"One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief... My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it...If I have a chance to invade...if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."
Four years later, as you ramped up your re-election campaign, you told Tim Russert:
"I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind."
You didn't sound ashamed of your tone back then -- when you were running for your second term. Everything you managed to accomplish during your presidency was directed towards maintaining this manufactured "war president" façade. Without it, you would have been either defeated in 2004 or impeached a long time ago.
So how did you do it? History will show that you bought off the American people with $300 checks and massive tax cuts for Paris Hilton and Dick Cheney. You ruthlessly exploited the deadliest foreign attack on American soil and, subsequently, terrorized this nation and its corporate media into giving you more latitude than you otherwise deserved. You attempted to dumb down our public schools because, in your view, an educated electorate is a dangerous electorate -- less susceptible to war mongering and propaganda, right? You ignored the destruction of an entire American city because the majority of its residents probably didn't vote for you or contribute to your campaign for war in the first place. And your entire foreign policy has been constructed around deliberately inciting anti-American sentiment, thus fueling more war.
It turns out, Mr. President, that your only success is something which you appear to be walking back: your war mongering -- your cynical, self-serving and bloody "bring 'em on" legacy -- and, with it, your re-election in 2004.
If you were half the man your dwindling supporters claim that you are, you would own this actual legacy of yours, Mr. President.
If you were a better man, you would own the horror you've created for yourself and generations of Americans to come. You would take responsibility for more than you're your pathetic "tone" and "rhetoric" -- you would take responsibility for all of it: the lies, the casualties, the mistakes, the crimes and the cover-ups. Instead you're presently flying around the world saying that you "wanted to solve this ... in a diplomatic fashion" when we all know, based on numerous reports from insiders ranging from Scott McClellan to Richard Clarke that this is simply is not true.
The historical record of your presidency has unequivocally verified that, even now as you attempt to Windex the crap off your legacy, you're lying about the war. But what's worse is that your administration's objective of fostering endless American warfare continues in Iraq and elsewhere while being endorsed by Senator McCain who has hugged-out any conflicts he might have had with your policies. And, if you and Senator McCain are lucky, the corporate media will crack open its Election Year Mad Libs script and paint Senator Obama as somehow more dangerous to the future of America than you ever were.
Your legacy, Mr. President, isn't just about war mongering. We're going to see to it that your legacy is almost entirely about how you lied us into an unnecessary war as part of an almost unspeakably horrible strategy for re-election -- as a way to mask over your inadequacies as a leader and to somehow delude future Americans into believing that your two-term presidency deserves special renown.
So good luck with all of that "different tone" crap. It's not going to work. Sorry.