Friday, October 17, 2008

Last Word on the W Movie

No, I haven't seen it yet and I don't plan on doing so.

However I read a review in Fox News's website that was almost gushing about how even handed it was. Oliver Stone expressed sympathy towards President Bush in a manner that astounded the writer of the review. It was sympathy with a cruel edge though.

Oliver Stone is a master propagandist. His film about the president undermines George W. Bush's legacy in a manner much more effective than the juvenile Michael Moore could ever comprehend. Stone states that he felt sorry for President Bush, citing the effects of a domineering father and a supporting cast of evil geniuses such as Condoleeza Rice. Here is the final liberal position on George W. Bush, a good but weak man manipulated by evil conservatives. Such "sympathy" could destroy the historical legacy of this administration, at least in the short term.

Stone asserts that every statement made by the president in the movie is true and backed by at least two sources. Such is the basis for arguing against inaccuracy. However words can be given context or have context taken away. Words can be delivered by an actor in such a way as to change the original intent of the speaker.

George W. Bush's legacy will remain as controversial as that of Harry Truman. Both men will have their presidencies interpreted very differently for the foreseeable future. Take two of the many looks at Truman made in the past fifteen years. David McCullough's biography, Truman and Arnold Offner's Another Such Victory.

Offner condemns Truman as a backwards provincial whose narrow vision led to disastrous results. Those results included the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan and America's early moves in the Cold War. Using the same statements and facts, McCullough celebrates Truman's middle American common sense as a strong factor in a successful foreign policy. Both men look at the same man's words and deeds to produce wildly different conclusions. Those who disapprove of America's leadership role in world affairs will side with Offner, while those who see the US as a positive force shaping the world will agree with McCullough.

Typically, Offner brushes aside critics of his denunciation of Truman by claiming they are blinded by "Fourth of July" triumphalism. Any idea that someone could legitimately and intelligently believe that Truman made good decisions about US foreign policy is laughed off. One sees the same response to arguments that Reagan played some role in ending the Cold War or that George W. Bush made the nation safe from terror in his presidency.

Hopefully academics will look at Bush's presidency with eyes not blinded by hatred to see the accomplishments made. It took a long time for FDR to get any credit from Republicans. Only recently has Truman earned grudging respect. Reagan is only now being described in positive terms by such unlikely people as Obama. Bush's day should come, but it will be a very long time.

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