let us eat cake
Regular readers will attest that I am no genius. Just one of many (ha ha, I kid). But whenever I've come across a blog that asks what will be the legacy of the Bush presidency, for five years at least my answer has been "His presidency will mark the beginning of the end of the United States' role as world superpower". Generally, my opinion was that we wouldn't notice ourselves in a post-American era until after he left office, but it seems that the end of the empire is all too evident right this moment.
In 1989 I was an intern at the United Nations (yes, this gives me more foreign policy experience in spades than Sarah Palin.)That September, I saw George H. W. Bush give his speech before the UN General Assembly. At that time the Berlin Wall had a little less than two months left to go but the jokes at the UN went that GDR (the acronym for East Germany-German Democratic Republic) stood for Gradually Disappearing Republic. History was flipping over in those days, but honestly, inside the UN there wasn't alot of discussion of re-alignment, or the "New World Order".
I don't even recall what Bush talked about. I think it was fairly standard fare. The General Assembly hall was full to the rafters. I sat up in the gallery, next to a Russian staffer. When Bush concluded, the General Assembly cleared. "Who's next?" asked the Russian next to me. "I think Poland speaks next" I said. "Oh," contemplated the Russian" and then in thick Boris accent he said "Unnn Luckkky Poe-lund!" You see, the president of the United States was always such a big draw that any following speaker was left feeling deflated giving a speech to the backs of exiting diplomats.
Reports from Bush v.43.2 at Tuesday's UN General Assembly speech are that many attendants were anything but attentive.
According to the German journal Spiegel
George W. Bush has grown old, erratic and rosy in the eight years of his presidency. Little remains of his combativeness or his enthusiasm for physical fitness. On this sunny Tuesday morning in New York, even his hair seemed messy and unkempt, his blue suit a little baggy around the shoulders, as Bush stepped onto the stage, for the eighth time, at the United Nations General Assembly.
He talked about terrorism and terrorist regimes, and about governments that allegedly support terror. He failed to notice that the delegates sitting in front of and below him were shaking their heads, smiling and whispering, or if he did notice, he was no longer capable of reacting. The US president gave a speech similar to the ones he gave in 2004 and 2007, mentioning the word "terror" 32 times in 22 minutes. At the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations, George W. Bush was the only one still talking about terror and not about the topic that currently has the rest of the world's attention.
"Absurd, absurd, absurd," said one German diplomat. A French woman called him "yesterday's man" over coffee on the East River. There is another way to put it, too: Bush was a laughing stock in the gray corridors of the UN
The Post American Era. Welcome to it.
Now here is the thing. The last two elections were so close that one was stolen and the next one was so close that it probably was stolen. What got W re-elected after a dismal four years was reportedly "Family Values Voters" meaning not family values at all, but hysterically anti-choice people voting for Bush on the dream and a prayer that he would make abortions illegal and that all cell divisions past the second one would be protected with the might and weight of the full United States Government-all the way up until birth. (And then those babies formerly known as fetuses are on their own.)
In two hundred years and beyond, students of history are going to be baffled by the idea that the right wing fundamentalist hope that women must be forced to bear children that they could not afford nor raise responsibly would be the issue that brought down the greatest superpower in history. This is particularly true because we are also at the end of an era where sustainability is a polite and hopeful word and turning toward an era where every activity of human commerce will need to be sustainable.
I use an easy definition of sustainable as "anything the 6 billion inhabitants of the world can engage in without destroying the earth". The stock market, because it measures progress only in growth is not sustainable. Our shopping malls and markets that produce more waste than useable products that will glut refuse sites and continue to pollute the earth are not sustainable. Having unlimited children and increasing the population further is not sustainable. How the future deals with over population is beyond me. I simply have no idea, but I do know there will be a fundamental shift in thinking between now and then. Perhaps it is a bit like looking back and trying to figure out how a fear of witches could produce hysteria in the new world. We're pretty far removed from the supernatural hopes and fears that guided people in the 17th century.
So, right wing fundie mouth breathers: for bringing us two terms of George W. Bush's reign of error- thanks so much for the Post-American Era. I hope you enjoy your Chinese overlords. BTW, have you heard about their ideas for family planning? Bet you're not too thrilled with those.