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I have always wondered what President Bush will do after he finishes his second term, assuming that he consents to go. He could be a professional brush clearer, a producer of exercise-bike videos or a private elocution teacher for would-be politicians who need to mangle their sentences in order to achieve the common touch.
Perhaps he will be dean of the Alberto Gonzales School of Law in Texas. (Motto: “What’s a Constitution Between Friends?”) Yes, the possibilities are endless for one so talented. As for endorsements, I understand that a company wishing to build a new Titanic is clamoring for his support.
While I know that Bush will be the decider of his future fortune, it seems pretty clear to me that he will become a history professor, perhaps at one of the nation’s military colleges.
The president is renowned for constantly making speeches to those in uniform. Indeed, many of us are surprised that he hasn’t mistakenly given a speech to a convention of ice-cream vendors or even a gathering of clowns. (Wait! That was his State of the Union address.)
Bush’s fondness for uniforms has never been properly explained, but I refuse to believe that Bush prefers the troops because the common taxpayers have a habit of asking pesky questions. Perish the thought!
No, it’s because he is a “war president” and the whole country has been mobilized and even the rich have agreed to tax increases as part of the shared national sacrifice because civilization itself is at stake!
(Editor’s note: The preceding paragraph was sponsored by the American Society to Eradicate Hypocrisy, which touchingly supposes that conservative readers will be moved to think by the force of irony.)
Last week, he spoke before the Veterans of Foreign Wars at their convention in Kansas City, Mo. It was the next-best thing to speaking to current veterans — or, as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld might have said, if you are the war president, you go with the audience you’ve got.
Bush was in rousing form. He gave a history lesson to those boys and gals in the VFW caps like they have never heard it before. This was probably a bit of a surprise to some in the audience because they had made the history he was explaining and surely knew better. Nevertheless, they cheered him to the rafters.
It just goes to show what happens when an audience that perhaps has had one or two beers in the VFW hall over the years meets a president who sat too long on the bar stool during the war of his generation.
Now that we are all sober, just a few million brain cells short of a load, who can remember how history went down? Cambodia? Vietnam? Hard to keep ‘em straight.
Bush’s history lesson may have owed little to scholars such as Arnold J. Toynbee or Edward Gibbon, but with that going for it, this was just the sort of thing that our young people should hear today.
For one thing, his history is so simple and easy. Back in the day, some of us had to write tedious essays on the causes of various wars and it was all a tangle of archdukes, armament build-ups, spheres of influence, commercial rivalry, interlocking alliances and so on and such like.
Not in Prof. Bush’s class. No, sir. According to his theory, all wars are basically the same. Why, I could get a gentleman’s C in his class — and I am rarely accused of being a gentleman.
Sample question: What was the cause of the war with Imperial Japan? Or in Korea? Or in Vietnam? Or in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Correct answer: The enemy hated freedom.
The only challenge is to expand this answer to 800 words. But knowing some of America’s college students as I do, they are the masters of creative double spacing.
If Bush becomes a history professor, I certainly intend to go to his class. In order to get my questions answered, I know I will have to put on the old bush hat or the rakish beret of my former service in Vietnam, where, as it happens, I never got to ask the enemy why he hated freedom because he was too busy hating us for being there.
I love freedom myself. I wonder what part of it our enemies hate? The part where we vote on electronic machines that cannot be trusted?
Gosh, with history explained, perhaps Bush will make math easy. Oh, I forgot, he did that already with his ever-rosy news about the economy. Such is life in the struggle for civilization.
(Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail rhenry(at)postgazette.com.)