The Library of Modern Day Hubris, or, American Exceptionalism in the Flesh

“Ultimately, the success of the nation depends on the character of its citizens.”
~ George W. Bush on the occasion of the dedication of his Presidential Library

Well I’ll be damned, the world must be turned upside down or at least sideways, when we have to hear international war criminals lecturing us on being of good character so that our nation may succeed.  It really irks me to be lectured to by such a fourth-rate politician as Bush; he isn’t even a very good painter – his work is highly derivative and banal – but add a lot of color, have network TV anchors for boosters, and, voila!, you become a modern day Monet, or at least, perhaps,  a Winston Churchill.

But I’ll admit one could say that Bush did reach new heights in the arts – the arts of duplicity, obfuscation, lying.  And of course he made ignoring domestic and international laws, our Constitution, and humane norms of action into a science.

Indirectly, I guess, his little dedication day maxim is Bush’s way of blaming all us chickens – not him the chickenhawk – for the failure of his policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for the lack of success in the overall real economy.

One last point, about the Bush Library itself (in fact, about any of the Presidential Libraries): George Orwell once made a trenchant observation about autobiography as follows:

“Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful.”

I believe that at least the more recently established Presidential Libraries fall under the rubric of autobiography – and thus Orwell’s observation pertains.

And from what I’ve read in various places about the contents [and lack thereof] of the Bush Library, using Orwell’s measure  the Bush Library is untrustworthy.

To sum up my little rant, let me quote Michel de Montaigne, speaking not specifically about Mr. Bush [The Decider] or his ilk, but about us all in the particular sense as well as the general:

“Can anything be imagined so ridiculous, that this miserable and wretched creature [man], who is not so much as master of himself, but subject to the injuries of all things, should call himself master and emperor of the world, of which he has not power to know the least part, much less to command the whole?”
― Michel de Montaigne, Apology for Raymond Sebond

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(c) Gregory V Driscoll 2013


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