The wind soared mellifluously -- Barack Obama blew them all away:
When all the living former Presidents are together, it’s also a special day for our democracy. We’ve been called “the world’s most exclusive club” — and we do have a pretty nice clubhouse. But the truth is, our club is more like a support group. The last time we all got together was just before I took office. And I needed that. Because as each of these leaders will tell you, no matter how much you may think you’re ready to assume the office of the presidency, it’s impossible to truly understand the nature of the job until it’s yours, until you’re sitting at that desk.I, I, I, I. Couldn't help noticing convicted felon Silvio Berlusconi, the bada-bing Italian president, in the audience. He's not in our club, you know, we American presidents are all family men. We don't own strip clubs -- we just help private equity vultures strip assets. We don't cheat.... on our wives. Hmmm.... Bubba? It depends on what the meaning of is, is. But back to Barry Windrip. Absolutely right, the post-presidency thing is like a support group; the club really is confronted with the Herculean task of serially holding each other up and holding each other unaccountable for high crimes and misdemeanors. And I-I-I Obama, even more than Bush, desperately need the next guy (or Hillary) to never hold me accountable for drone assassinations, for Gitmo, for continuing to outsource torture to black sites. Today's homage to Bush is nothing less than a dog-whistle plea for clemency from future club members.
The first thing I found in that desk the day I took office was a letter from George, and one that demonstrated his compassion and generosity. For he knew that I would come to learn what he had learned — that being President, above all, is a humbling job. There are moments where you make mistakes. There are times where you wish you could turn back the clock. And what I know is true about President Bush, and I hope my successor will say about me, is that we love this country and we do our best.Sorry, should have said the presidency is a humbug job. We all make mistakes, which is Newspeak for politicians committing felonies. I know this is true about Georgie. And he knew he was he and I was him even before I knew it myself. His gut told him. So here's hoping that my successor will tell the same lies about me at my own special lie-berry day.
So we know President Bush the man. And what President Clinton said is absolutely true — to know the man is to like the man, because he’s comfortable in his own skin. He knows who he is. He doesn’t put on any pretenses. He takes his job seriously, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He is a good man.
But we also know something about George Bush the leader. As we walk through this library, obviously we’re reminded of the incredible strength and resolve that came through that bullhorn as he stood amid the rubble and the ruins of Ground Zero, promising to deliver justice to those who had sought to destroy our way of life.President Bush, he is the man. I lifted that part about his sheddy reptile skin directly from the puffball interview he gave to the Dallas Morning News last week. He is one comfortable lizard brain, is George. If we weren't all comfortable with who we are and the crimes we commit in the name of freedom, we couldn't sleep nights. And please, folks, forget everything I ever said against the Iraq War when I was running for my first term. George, as he stood in the rubble that day at no personal risk to himself, was salivating over what a perfect excuse 9/11 would be for the invasion, what a lucrative opportunity for Big Oil, for Bechtel and Northrup Grumman and Boeing and Blackwater and General Dynamics and Halliburton. As my old pal Rahm once said, "Never let a crisis go to waste." And Afghanistan.... still there, always will be. There's gold in them thar hills, drones in them thar skies. Enriching the plutocrats is what is meant by "our way of life" -- just in case I was not being perfectly clear.
And finally, a President bears no greater decision and no more solemn burden than serving as Commander-in-Chief of the greatest military that the world has ever known. As President Bush himself has said, “America must and will keep its word to the men and women who have given us so much.” So even as we Americans may at times disagree on matters of foreign policy, we share a profound respect and reverence for the men and women of our military and their families. And we are united in our determination to comfort the families of the fallen and to care for those who wear the uniform of the United States. (Applause.)Forgive my boilerplate jingoism. Weasel words: "solemn burden" = lying our complacent asses off with a straight face and pretending it's a huge drag. "Profound respect and reverence for the men and women of our military and their families" = we'll say a prayer, but forget about those benefits even after ten years of soul-crushing deployments. With the exception of Bush Sr. and Jimmy Carter, the good old boys in the Exclusive Club have never put their own hides at risk. Their families will never have to put themselves at risk. That's for other people's sons and daughters. And if they do come back, they will wait months and years for their disability claims to be chained-CPI'd or even denied, they'll commit suicide at the rate of 22 every day, and their PTSD and traumatic brain injuries combined with their weapons expertise will make them more dangerous than the foreign terrorists we speciously claim are trying to destroy our way of life. But when the Homeland Security secretary warned about such an eventuality, her report was maligned by the offended wingnuts across the beloved aisle and across the reactionary spectrum.
No one can be completely ready for this office. But America needs leaders who are willing to face the storm head on, even as they pray for God’s strength and wisdom so that they can do what they believe is right.George always listened to his gut. Like all of us, he left whatever vestigial conscience he may once have possessed at the Oval Office door. Because when it comes to killing and maiming and spying and torturing and giving ourselves and the criminal financiers who destroyed the entire world economy free rein, we the members of The World's Most Exclusive Club will simply blame it all on our invisible friend in the sky.