From before election day until now, George W. Bush has been visiting -- no haunting -- media venues in an effort to promote his book, Decision Points, to the public. As counterpoint to the marvelous results of NOvember 2nd, it has been delicious kabuki to watch.
Put plainly, Mr Bush no longer is beholden to those who viciously savaged him while he was president. While there is some capitalistic imperative for him to appear with these cretins as they are the keeper of the keys to exposure that translates into Amazon sales and boosted book ratings, it is he who is the hot ticket, the big act in town, the top of the A list. And, any casual student of these interviews will tell you that he has gotten the measure of those who -- for the most part -- took pleasure in savaging him in his latter years as POTUS.
"W" has made the most of his time out of the spotlight. Like a pummeled Rocky, he repaired to his ranch at Crawford, Texas, returned to the basics, became more nimble, developed a piercing jab, and set about dismembering these lead-footed adversaries with disarming candor and genuineness that had them off their guard, ripe for that sharp right hand.
On Oprah, the on-again-off-again pudgy hostess tossed off a remark to the effect that she hadn't seen him in a while to which President Bush replied, "Yeah, where ya been?"
It went like that with most interviews and, of course, he received the royal treatment over at FNC. Hannity was uncharacteristically silent -- no interruptions to spew bullet-points -- and Greta Van Sustern was typically absolutely respectful during her time with him. O'Reilly -- well -- O'Reilly didn't change. Stuff to the effect of "So, Mr Presdent, what did you think of my coverage of you during your presidency? I was terrific, wasn't I? Excuse me while I kiss my image in the mirror over there."
But in the enemy camps, Bush's genuineness more than carried the day. He danced a very elaborate tango with Matt Lauer on the Today show that left Lauer searching the phone book for a few Arthur Murray lessons. The net effect was that Lauer tried to stick it to Bush on the flyover of Katrina and subsequent Kanye West quote. Lauer ended up getting wrapped around the axle with West in a subsequent interview.
Bush had written that it was a low point in his presidency when West declared that "George Bush doesn't care about black people." But in an interview with Lauer taped Tuesday, West said that he spoke in a moment of frustration.
"I didn't have the grounds to call him a racist," West said. "I believe that in a situation of high emotion like that we as human beings don't always choose the right words."
Shown a tape of West's remarks, Bush said he appreciated them and forgave him.
"I'm not a hater," he said. "I don't hate Kanye West. I was talking about an environment in which people were willing to say things that hurt. Nobody wants to be called a racist if in your heart you believe in equality of races."
In a blooper reminiscent of his famed mispronunciation of "nuc-u-lar" — or perhaps a subtle dig — Bush twice referred to West as "Conway."
There was also another memorable West meltdown: He tweeted Tuesday about feeling "very used" by the interview and said Lauer "tried to force my answers. I came there with only positive intent." NBC is airing a longer West interview on Thursday, and wouldn't comment directly on West's tweets.
Others, like Leno ("Thanks for all of the material") fared better because -- well -- they just relaxed and enjoyed "W" as a guest.
But, as Ramirez so ably points out in his cartoon, the real loser was The Real Loser. While George Bush was enjoying his three week return to a now-appreciative public, this clown was doing a post-shellacking whiff tour of Asia and, even as we speak, being driven in his Belchfire V-8 to European meetings where other dignitaries are arriving in their Smart Cars, coolie-drawn rickshaws, and rat-crap powered enviro-mobiles.
Yes, Banquo's ghost has came back to haunt Macbeth again. The Child Emperor must be looking over his shoulder at the specter of his resurgent predecessor. Of course, Bush made a special point of saying he will NOT criticize his successor because "his job is tough enough already". But, in the wake of remarks like that and in light of the flailing that Obama is doing of late, at this feast it is not necessary to point out the turd in the punch bowl.
..one can smell it a mile away.
Yes, Mr President, we DO miss you.
MORE THAN OBLIGATORY EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE FOR FRIENDS: As recounted on Woodsterman's site, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Odie in person and reacquainting myself with Opie and LL. Just as I have hung with LCR and the long-departed (for Florida) Lipton Tea Bag, the conversation was rich with opinions and ideas and made me feel very lucky that such friendships are to be had.
Because I believe similar joy would be derived were I to have lunch or drinks with many others who stop by this humble outpost in the conservative camp, I am sincerely grateful for the pleasure of getting to know, at least via comments and e-mail, Bunni, Carol (Sheeples), Supi, Ima, Fredd, WMUR, MNR, and the others. I fervently pray that we can convene sometime at a blogger's convention and rob shoulders with the great and near-great.
Oh, and by the way, I am NOT the lovely blond in the picture above.