Friday, September 21, 2007

Ancient Greece knew all about these guys...


Cast your mind back to those half-remembered, drowsy days in school, when your teacher droned on about Greek mythology. Remember Daedalus and Icarus? Quoting directly from Wikipedia:
Icarus is a character in Greek mythology. Icarus' father, Daedalus attempted to escape his prison at the hands of King Minos. Daedalus fashioned a pair of wings for himself and his son, made of feathers and wax. Before they took off from the prison, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, as the wax would melt. Overcome by the sublime feeling that flying gave him, Icarus soared through the sky joyfully, but in the process came too close to the sun, which melted his wings. Icarus fell into the sea in the area which bears his name, the Icarian Sea near Icaria, an island southwest of Samos. --Wikipedia entry
Let's take this synopsis and, with a little rework, apply it to Bush the Elder and Bush the Lesser.

Bush Senior's political exile since his humiliating rejection at the hands of American voters in 1992 has been long and desolate. Who knows what bitter hopes and grudges he nursed in his isolation as he endured insult and injury from angry Republicans? Imagine him on his fishing boat off the coast of Kennebunkport, rocking back and forth in a deck chair, fishing rod in hand, sun visor shading his glowering visage, muttering to himself: "Read my lips, damn you! Read my lips." Even those of us who despise him are compelled to shudder at that awful fate!

But the Greek gods were a cruel lot, weren't they? It was never enough to destroy the objects of their wrath. They would torment them endlessly, as they did to poor Prometheus. And so it has been with Bush the Elder. The gods, in their cruelty, allowed him, for a brief time, to hope for redemption. Alas, alas!

When Bush the Lesser emerged on the scene, long about 1994, being elected governor of the (enlightened) state of Texas, Bush the Elder was no doubt shaken from his dark musing. He glimpsed a beam of sunlight, an egress from his tormented state. After all, if the son could ascend to heights that the father had been denied, would not the ensuing glory allow for a reexamination of what was largely deemed a failed presidency?

At first, perhaps it seemed too much to hope for. Bush the Lesser was an unlikely savior, given his checkered past. But hope is a heady wine, and there must have been any number of courtiers bending to whisper into the old man's ear, urging him, encouraging him, enticing him. At last, he succumbed to the temptation of hope and went into action.

Carefully, Bush the Elder fashioned wings. He groomed his erstwhile wastrel son, surrounding him with hand-picked and trusted advisers. We must imagine that advice and caution and the accumulated wisdom of a man-who-has-fallen were imparted from Elder to Lesser, lest the latter "fly too close to the sun."
In the fullness of time, the day of truth arrived (Florida, 2000). The old man swallowed hard, sent his oldest and most trusted advisor (James Baker) to clear the last obstacle, and kicked his son, his last hope, out into the atmosphere.

At first, all was well. Junior soared in ecstasy, post-911. With both houses of congress on his side, and with 90% approval in the polls, he seemed unstoppable. He pushed ahead with his Iraq adventure, with his Social Security reform, with his slash-and-burn politics. Despite the warnings of Elder Bush through proxies like Brent Scowcroft, Colin Powell, Alan Greenspan, and others, Junior soared ever higher.

Well, the fickle wings of political capital have melted, and Junior is spiraling down to his historic crash-landing. At present, Junior's job performance meets with the disapproval of approximately 60% of those same people that sang his name in the days when Osama bin Laden rivaled mighty Hades in the rumor of his dread. Now there is no stopping his descent. His name is bandied about, already, as one of the worst presidents in the history of the republic. His legacy appears doomed to be limited to a military fiasco in Iraq, the drowning of New Orleans, the subversion of the Constitution, and the bankrupting of the US treasury.

Let's return, now, to Bush the Elder, back on his fishing boat. He's sitting there still. But this time there is no bitterness. Rather, in the tradition of true Greek tragedy, there is only sorrow and grief and an acknowledgment of his own folly. His breath comes out in soft, shuddering sobs as he helplessly watches his last hope, that flawed human being that sprang from his loins, descend toward the pitiless seas. Now old and frail, he raises his gnarly fist, more like a talon than a human hand, and waves it weakly at the cruel sun. "I dared to hope!" he warbles. His balding pate wobbles on its neck like that of an old stork rendered flightless by age. His chin falls forward. "I dared to hope," he mutters into his bony breast. His elbow bumps the martini in the cup holder of his deck chair, sloshing liquid onto his slacks. He emits a long, soft moan. The glare of the sun is merciless.

Let's drop the curtain on this sorry scene...

Icarus drowns...

1 comment:

PapaK said...

But wait, there's more, as always.

From today's Washington Post:

Report Says Hussein Was Open To Exile Before 2003 Invasion -- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/26/AR2007092602414.html?nav=rss_world