Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Not all Georges are created equal

By Michael J.W. Stickings

My friend Steve Benen calls this "unusually annoying". I, being rather more profane in my blogging, call it fucking ridiculous:

President Bush honored the 275th birthday of the nation's first president on Monday, likening George Washington's long struggle that gave birth to a nation to the war on global terrorism.

"Today, we're fighting a new war to defend our liberty and our people and our way of life," said Bush, standing in front of Washington's home and above a mostly frozen Potomac River.

"And as we work to advance the cause of freedom around the world, we remember that the father of our country believed that the freedoms we secured in our revolution were not meant for Americans alone."

Yes, that's right, George Bush likened himself to George Washington:

On the field of battle, Washington's forces were facing a mighty empire, and the odds against them were overwhelming. The ragged Continental Army lost more battles than it won, suffered waves of desertions, and stood on the brink of disaster many times. Yet George Washington's calm hand and determination kept the cause of independence and the principles of our Declaration alive.

In the end, General Washington understood that the Revolutionary War was a test of wills, and his will was unbreakable.

The implication that Bush is another Washington deserves little comment. Bush was explicitly likening the wars to one another, but his characterization of Washington seems to mirror his characterization of himself as the man of will and determination who is fighting the good fight for freedom. In other words, Washington waged the Revolutionary War just as Bush now wages the so-called Global War on Terror.

And yet he gets it all backwards. Is the America of today similar to the America of Washington's time? Hardly. It is true that "Washington's forces were facing a mighty empire" and that "the odds against them were overwhelming," but, in the Global War on Terror, America is the "mighty empire" and -- dare I say it? -- al Qaeda and its allies are the "ragged" forces with the odds against them. Of course, al Qaeda's goal is different than Washington's goal -- trust me, I'm not comparing Washington and Osama in the most important respect -- but the terrorists are the revolutionaries now, not the Americans.

Furthermore, I find the notion that the Britain of the Revolutionary era was akin to al Qaeda and America's other terrorist enemies of today rather offensive. Where does Bush think "the cause of freedom" came from? Has he ever heard of the Magna Carta? Or of the Glorious Revolution? Has he ever read Locke? The Founders may have sought independence, but they did not break away from the political theories and traditions that bore them.

Finally, to quote Steve: "[T]o suggest that somehow George Washington would approve of the war in Iraq, and that there’s some kind of parallel between the current war and the Revolutionary War, is just silly, even by Bush’s low standards."

Yes, Bush keeps sinking to new lows. He is no George Washington. And his war is not that war. And he is as delusional as ever.

Question: Which one's the pretend president? (Photo from the BBC.)

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