Untrue Man

From The Boston Globe (Op-Ed):

Bush is no Truman

Original DVD cover.

THE PRESIDENT was so down in the dumps that aides decided to surprise him with a party. With the economy sputtering and his foreign policy under siege, the president’s pals thought a light-hearted evening away from the White House would buoy the boss’s spirits.

Cabinet officers and cronies took turns toasting the chief executive, their playful gibes drawing cathartic laughter. Finally, the administration’s gray eminence, the architect of its national security structure, rose to speak.


“The full stature of this [president] will only be proven by history,” he said, “but I want to say here and now that there has never been a decision made under this man’s administration, affecting policies beyond our shores, which has not been in the best interest of this country. It is not the courage of these decisions that will live, but the integrity of the man.”


In the sweetest fantasies of today’s Republicans, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney would be the stars of this scenario. Alas, the president to whom the poignant toast was directed was Democrat Harry Truman. And as documented by David McCullough’s “Truman,” the encomium was delivered by Truman’s secretary of state (and later defense) George Marshall.

Watch, their apologists argue, history will vindicate Bush and Cheney just as it exonerated Truman and Marshall. It may take a couple of decades, but future McCulloughs will come to recognize that the Bush-Cheney invasion of Iraq was transformative – and that torturing suspects was the only real way to fight terrorism.

Neo-cons can stop fantasizing now. Bush is no Truman, Iraq is no Cold War, and Dick Cheney is no George Marshall. The rehabilitation of Bush and Cheney is not going to happen in any foreseeable lifetime.


“The best interest of this country.” Like it or not – and many liberals, to their detriment, did not – the Cold War against the Soviet Union had to be waged and won. After four years of fighting fascism, the last thing Americans in the late 1940s wanted was another war. But Truman and Marshall understood that the United States had no choice but to respond to Soviet aggression.

Bush and Cheney, on the other hand, had choices in prosecuting the war on terror – and invariably made the wrong ones. Instead of finishing the job in Afghanistan against the enemy who attacked us on 9/11, they chose to settle an old score in Iraq against a despot with no connection to al Qaeda.


“The courage of these decisions.” It took guts for Truman to ask Americans to make further sacrifices. He made it plain that a stirring military victory to end the Cold War was unlikely, that diplomacy would continue to be paramount, and that the United States had a moral obligation to rebuild the war-torn world.

What sacrifice did W. ask of Americans after 9/11? Sadly, Bush began emphasizing diplomacy only after his shoot-first, aim-later foreign policy went off the rails.


“The integrity of the man.” The Cold War was a brutish enterprise. But Truman conducted it within the mores of civilization. Come Inauguration Day 2009, when military and intelligence officers are free to speak their conscience, Americans will find out just how unseemly the past eight years have been. Habeas corpus wasn’t the only thing suspended during Bush’s presidency. So was America’s moral bearing.


Students of history looking for a “toast” to George W. Bush’s foreign policy can find it in Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama.

Timothy M. Gay is a writer and historian


Filed under 2008 election, 9/11, Afghanistan, al-Qaeda, Chimpy, Colin Powell, Defense Department, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, humor, Iraq War, movies, parody, politics, Republicans, September 11, snark, State Department, Torture, Wordpress Political Blogs

16 responses to “Untrue Man

  1. If the eyes are the window to the soul, we are in trouble! Oh wait, the trouble’s almost over.
    Never mind.

  2. Happy Birthday, Nonnie! In case anyone asks, “So, you’re a Sagittarius. Where are your arrows?” you can point them here to display your darts of wit.

  3. jeb

    …and the whitewash continues. I just saw his farewell interview with Candy Crowley on CNN. She asked him about torture. He claimed that no one tortured but enhanced interrogation techniques were used. She specifically asked about water boarding and he said that his administration adhered to the law. The discomforting thing is that when you see him say this, you believe he might be ignorant enough to believe that.

  4. i have to make a correction — our fearless dear leader would be LUCKY to have a brain of cement…..

    despite the fact there are on 34 days left — every day that goes by I hate him even more

  5. mah29001

    Seriously, do you care if let’s say the target were Barack Obama? I’m more concern that this incident brings in new light of security breaches in the Green Zone and also even among journalist circles.

    What if a terrorist decided to take an ID of a journalist and use it to gain information of an upcoming “surprise” Presidential visit from Barack Obama? Would anyone of you folks support something like that?

    Obama’s speech throughout his entire campaign was to unite America. Sadly, it’s not true.

  6. karen,
    there are no windows to his soul, because he has no soul. he does have plenty of soles, though, with all the shoes that have been flung at him. 🙂

  7. thank you, neon vincent! 😀
    my son took me out for sushi, and i just got home. it was soooo delish, and i am sooooo full.

    darts of what? ohhhh, wit! thank you, i thought for a moment you said something else. 😉

  8. jeb,
    once i saw candy holding hands with chimpy, the roaring in my ears was so loud, i couldn’t hear a thing he said.

  9. dcAp,
    i was thinking of things other than cement, but you know me–i’m so kind! 😉

  10. mah,
    were you wringing your hands this much when princess sarah was stirring up the hatred during the campaign? i doubt it. this has nothing to do with obama. i don’t think he will be as hated throughout the world as chimpy is, so he won’t have to worry about keds whizzing past his ear.

    if you want to lecture someone about unity, i suggest you begin with the rethugs in congress.

  11. Hey, that is some awesome horse-eye on deh chimpy!
    But. John Candy wasn’t that thin in eighth grade let alone as an adult.
    And speakin’ of “Candy,” Candy Crowley holding hands with Dub has to be the new poster child photo for our incestuous fourth estate. gak.

  12. terry,
    wouldn’t it be nice if we could all airbrush ourselves? it would end obesity in america!

    did you catch the hand-holding, too? it was creepy! i don’t know which creeped me out more–chimpy grabbing her hand and holding it or her not shaking free and screaming ewwwww, what’s wrong with you?

  13. jlms qkw - jenn

    wordpress ate my comment!

    w’s head is full of cotton candy, i think.

    and happy birthday week!

  14. jenn,
    i don’t know what happened. your comment didn’t get caught in the spam filter or anything like that.

    my bday was over 9 minutes ago. well, not where you live, but if you lived in wales, it would have been over hours ago. but thank you! 😉

  15. nightowl724

    I’m sorry I missed the birthday bash, but my internets were down again yesterday and today. So, a belated happy, happy to yunz guys! And, nonnie, I see that you are always funny, even when I’m not here! (If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, is it still funny?)

    In a way, I wish Dubya would live forever so that he could see that he will never be exonerated. Never.

    I wonder how long it will be before shoes are classified as weapons. In the future, after we take off our shoes at airport security, we’ll just leave them there…

  16. nightowl,
    no worries. you know that we bash things every day around here.

    i don’t want chimpy to live forever. why inflict him on future generations. he would still insist that he did the right thing anyway, no matter what the evidence.

    remember the small stink it cause a couple of years ago when a woman’s sports team (or something like that, i don’t remember the details) all wore flip-flops when they met with chimpy? i think flip-flops are soon going to be the law of the land. i feel sorry for those who live in cold climates.