George W. Bush. But it’s long past time that someone looked at the up side of Bush. Here are 10 good reasons we’re going to miss him, in no particular order.
1. Saying “nucular”: Can’t beat having a president with his finger on the nuclear button who can’t pronounce the word “nuclear” (keeps ’em guessing).
2. Picking Dick Cheney: He’s everybody’s favorite unindicted war criminal, and the man liberals love to hate. And he will be missed. Just try getting this worked up about Joe Biden.
3. Reviving Rumsfeld: He was the “Brownie” of defense policy (“heckuva job, Don”) but at least the man had a way with words. From his famous oration on “known knowns, unknown knowns, and unknown unknowns” to his habit of asking and answering his own questions, he was a reporter’s dream – as long as you weren’t expecting any actual information.
4. Provoking Hugo: Bush’s decision to go mano a mano with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez sparked some of the most vivid anti-imperialist rhetoric ever. The high point came when Chavez compared one of Bush’s UN speeches to an Alfred Hitchcock movie, and even proposed a title for it: The Devil’s Recipe. Chavez vs. Obama? More like a chess game than a heavyweight bout.
5. Seeing Vladimir: Who else had the vision to “look into the soul” of Vladimir Putin (or “Pooty-poot,” as Bush called him) and see “a good man”? Would Idi Amin have looked like Mother Theresa if he were still around during the Bush years?
6. Reading Ahmadinejad in Washington: He couldn’t pronounce his name, but Bush did prompt Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to write him an 18-page letter. That makes it longer than Bush’s favorite book The Very Hungry Caterpillar – and a good bet to make it into the Bush presidential library.
7. Palling Around with Tony Blair: Not since Batman and Robin (the original, overweight Batman, not the dark, scary one of recent movies) have two men bonded so closely in the fight against evil and injustice. Too bad they kept choosing the wrong targets.
8. Mastering Geography: As the poet Ambrose Bierce reportedly said, “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” So it was with George W. Bush, who started off with A is for Afghanistan but then got bogged down with I is for Iraq.
9. Besting Sarah Palin: W. ran a bigger state than she did before having the nerve to run for national office (Texas may be big but even he couldn’t see Russia from his front porch). True, he can’t match her ability to create sentences that make you feel like you’re lost in a maze. But his version of mangled language is more quotable (“Bring It On,” “Make the Pie Higher”), and much easier to fit onto a bumper sticker. You don’t need to be Tina Fey to get a laugh out of the way he talks.
10. Playing Cowboy: Much as he enjoyed posturing as a cowboy, W’s “ranch” was more like a suburban house with really big weeds in the back. Foreign leaders who visited Crawford would report back that in Bush’s America the word horse is actually a synonym for “riding lawn mower.” No more quick draw presidency, circling the wagons, or high noon moments. It won’t exactly be “all quiet on the Western front” with Obama, but we satirists will certainly miss the swagger.