Tonight, finally...mercifully...George W. Bush makes his farewell address to the nation and begins his move back to Texas, a state so large that presumably he'll be able to stomp around without mucking things up.
It's difficult to remember ATBG - A Time Before George. If I concentrate, I can vaguely recall a time of government budget surplus, economic prosperity, and military restraint. Good times, good times.
Watching the TV box, reading the newspaper, or surfing the Internets over the past few weeks, George's last goodbye has seemingly lasted longer than one of those interminable (and completely unbelievable) action sequences that marked the final arc of all Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Just when you thought it was over, surprise!
Let's assume for a moment that his media tour is simply rote behavior drilled into his head from his years of alcohol addiction. George had one finger touching his nose as he staggered through the 12 Steps of his presidency.
Step 1 - he admitted that he was powerless over alcohol, therefore he decided to have powerful friends get him started in the oil business, buy him a baseball team, become governor, and then president. I fear for Laura as George leaves the White House - where will his power come from now?
Step 2 - came to believe that only a power greater than himself could restore his sanity. God, and Cheney? Check.
Step 3 - turned control of his life over to God. After all, he noted before that he thinks it was God's plan for him to be president.
Step 4 - took a searching moral inventory of himself and discovered his moral cupboard was bare. How else do you balance executing prisoners at a record pace in Texas while staunchly defending embryos and stem cells? Launching military operations in Iraq while denying funds for women's health in Africa? It all fits.
Step 5 - admitted to God, himself, and others the extent of his wrongs. He was a uniter, not a divider. So George came to Washington, pulled a Moses, and divided the Red and the Blue states.
Step 6 - asked God to remove his defects of character. He had earned political capital, and he was determined to spend it.
Step 7 - asked God to remove his shortcomings. So long, Colin Powell, John Snow, Don Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzalez, John Ashcroft, Gale Norton, Donald Evans, Tommy Thompson, Mel Martinez, Alphonso Jackson, Norm Mineta, Tom Ridge, George Tenet, et al.
Step 8 - made a list of all people he had harmed and became willing to make amends. Hmmm...mistakes were made. Heckuva job, Brownie.
Step 9 - made direct amends to such people. Presidential Medals of Freedom awarded to Tony Blair, Tommy Franks, Paul Bremer, and George Tenet. Heckuva job, y'all.
Step 10 - took personal inventory and admitted when he was wrong. Putting up the "Mission Accomplished" banner was a mistake, and not fixing that whole Social Security thing. Daggone it.
Step 11 - used prayer and meditation to improve contact with God. I believe they share the same pair of trousers now.
Step 12 - use his awakening to carry the message to others. Sometimes it's really hard to find a coalition of the willing, y'know?
Goodbye, George. It's going to be hard to forget you, because wherever we look, the carnage that remains will serve as an eternal reminder of your service.