Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I read Rick Perlstein's Nixonland and I think it's a great book, but I've gotta side with Avedon Carol here.


My friends at are recommending people send their old shoes to the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

In my humble opinion: no no no no no no no no no no no no no no.

Liberals should not make light of or license the physical assault on the leader of a sovereign state, no matter how much he's deservedly hated. This is not how we do politics, unless we're in favor something tending toward anarchy, or fascism....


Note to Rick Perlstein - With all due respect, my brother, the only thing that usually prevents the rise of murderous tyrants is the realistic fear among leaders that if they abuse the public trust, they will end up with their heads on pikes. The arrogance of our current leadership owes quite a lot to the certainty on their part that nothing is going to happen to them as a result of what they've done.... What's wrong here isn't that a guy threw shoes at Bush. What's wrong here is that having shoes thrown at him is likely to be the only goddamn thing that happens to him.

In Nixonland, Perlstein makes clear how counterproductive violence was for protesters in the 1960s and 1970s; the causes were just, but the public felt attacked, and turned to Nixon and other politicians who were selling backlash (for decades, in fact). In this post, Perlstein talks about anarchy and fascism, but I think it's backlash he's really worried about. I'm usually sympathetic with that concern.

But Muntader al-Zaidi wasn't hurling anything at ordinary citizens. He aimed at President Bush (and his aim, of course, was excellent). The American public knows that. And it was a pair of shoes, fer crissake -- he wasn't going to go all Gavrilo Princip with such a limited arsenal.

I can't even imagine anything approaching justice for Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rove -- but I think it's vitally necessary to sustain some sense of outrage at what they did. We risk opening the door to a repeat of the recent past if we allow the story of Bush's reign to go soft and fuzzy around the edges, if we let ourselves get to the point where we think of him as a clumsy but well-meaning patriot who really did his noble best to steer us through perilous waters. For our future, we have to sustain the notion that his presidency, in so many ways, was an abomination.

So, sure, mail the shoes. We must never let another George W. Bush into the White House, so don't let this man and his cronies ever live to feel a moment of public vindication.

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