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The Lamest Duck Ever

11.02.2005 08:09 | DISPATCHES

Now does he feel his title
Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe
Upon a dwarfish thief.
-- Shakespeare, Macbeth

Like Herpes, presidents last a lifetime.

Watching the world crumbling around our peevish president one year into his second term has led me to the mental exercise of imagining George W. Bush in 2025. When he leaves office at a fit 62, the black joke of his presidency will only deepen. Never will there have been less use for a two-term president so otherwise available for use. Who will believe that he had even a small hand in the writing of his memoirs? A legacy of disastrous policies is one thing, but when you aren't even accorded the respect of having developed or understood them, who could possibly care about you? Nixon and Kissinger both lived to see themselves vilified, but at least they were still respected as minds by quarters within their own party. Bush will live to see his name become shorthand for failure and incompetence on a scale unknown in modern American History.

Even "Hapless" Jimmy Carter successfully fashioned himself an author and roving missionary peacemaker. Reagan's fading personae and Cold War accomplishment was strong enough to survive scandal; Alzheimer's answered the question of what to do with his post-White House years and helped enshrine his myth in mist. Clinton will be around to help craft and build upon his legacy in multi-clause sentences for as long as his heart pumps blood to his brain. Gerald Ford--well, he wasn't really president, but his wife will forever be a hero to pill-popping alcoholic power-wives everywhere.

And what will Bush be good for in 10, 20, 30 years? Part of the GOP brain trust? On what subject will his authority be sought? By whom? Goodwill ambassador? To Whom? Seriously, try to imagine a single issue that the president will leave office having any authority on whatsoever. Or an institution that will want anything to do with him. In 2008 he will be just as clueless and more universally despised as he was in 2000.

His father may have disappeared after the White House into the netherworld of Carlyle Group acquisition, but first Sr. co-wrote a serious book with Scowcroft and is generally believed to have at least understood the world he helped shape. None of this can be said about his son, who may become, should Clinton die, America's leading spokesperson with a Secret Service detail. Is it too late to give Al Gore an honorary two terms?


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