Because We Won't Have Him to Kick Around Much Longer (Part 1):
Let us say, and why not, that you're a guy who loves to jack off in public. Any chance you get, you whip out yer dick and spank that monkey like it's stolen some bananas. It doesn't matter where: on the bus, at a playground, hell, just at the window of your apartment with the blinds up and the curtains parted. You get into an amazing cycle of sexual inspiration, because, see, nothing turns you on more than wanking where others might see you, which, of course, makes you wank where others might see you, which turns you on, which...It never ends. Sure, there may be problems along the way. Sometimes you might have to run from the cops. When a woman looks at you and tells you how tiny your dick is, that might shame an ordinary man. Not you, though. You wave that lil' ol' pecker at her and choke that chicken like it poked a hole in the feed sack. Now, let us say, and, indeed, why not, that after all the times you've yanked it on overpasses and in the booths at restaurants, jizzing onto passing cars and against the underside of tables, after you've seeded most of the city, you're finally caught. Arrested. And you're in the courtroom facing the judge. You might admit you have a problem. That maybe in prison you could get help. That you'd devote your life to wiping your semen off lamp posts and park benches. But if you're George W. Bush? Why, you just drop your pants in front of the jury and rub it out one more time.
So it was that outgoing President Bush sat down with ABC's Charlie "Weeble-Shaped" Gibson for one of what will surely be an endless series of exit interviews. What's fascinating about the interview, other than the usual parade of Carroll-esque non sequiturs, obvious statements spoken as if they're great revelations, and general rambling bullshittery, is how often Bush comes to the brink of admitting actual, conscious sin and error before veering away. If he was in a confession booth with a good old-fashioned Irish priest, that bad-ass motherfucker of the cloth would be throttling Bush through the lattice, screaming, "Say it, you bastard, say it."
For instance, Gibson asks Bush if the election was a "repudiation of the Bush administration." El Prez answers, "I think it was a repudiation of Republicans. And I'm sure some people voted for Barack Obama because of me." Oh, so fuckin' close to confession, but then he follows up with "I think most people voted for Barack Obama because they decided they wanted him to be in their living room for the next four years explaining policy" and then, just to make sure that stupid people understood him, he adds, "In other words, they made a conscious choice to put him in as President." Damn, nice to know that it was sentient beings who were in the voting booths of America.
The interview continued like that, with Bush stating some disappointing thing that happened on his watch without recognizing his role in any of it: "I think one of the big disappointments of the presidency has been the fact that the tone in Washington got worse, not better" or "[T]he biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn't just people in my administration." Shit has happened during his presidency, he's willing to admit. What a man.
The Rude Pundit's favorite head-slapping moment happened just after that last statement. Gibson asks if the intelligence was right, would the Iraq war have happened, and Bush at first interprets the question in his favor, speculating about Saddam Hussein, "[I]f he had had weapons of mass destruction, would there have been a war? Absolutely."
Then Gibson clarifies, asking if the intelligence was right about the actual facts, not Bush's beliefs, to which Bush says, "You know, that's an interesting question. That is a do-over that I can't do. It's hard for me to speculate." So after speculating, he refuses to speculate. Goddamn, it takes a confidently dumb person to do that without caring or correcting himself.
Other favorite moment? When Bush told about a conversation he had with Stephen Hadley about life in retirement: "I said, wouldn't it be interesting for baby boomers not to retire in nice places, but to retire -- during their retirement, go help people deal with malaria or AIDS." Before you shudder at the thought of Bush in the Ugandan landscape giving a child a heavy dose of Atripla when all the kid has is a cold, the President added, "I'm not suggesting that's what I'm going to do, but it is the kind of thing that intrigues me."
It's all almosts. He talks endlessly about history's judgment while saying he doesn't care. He wants redemption, but the price of such grace is to admit you've sinned, and when you see these interviews with the man, all you can think is that you've never seen damnation so clearly in someone's lost eyes.