World media is gripped with US presidential elections these days. Jumpy Indian news channels too are sprinting with their over-the-top obsession “Breaking News” on the poll, without realising that George W Bush still has 11 months left in power.
But what really strikes me is the absence of President Bush from the scene, from the media, from everywhere. In America, even the prominent candidates in the fray are shying away from taking his name during electioneering. While Bush’s Republican runners appear frightened to be associated with his record, Democrats – Hillary & Obama – are too busy fighting each other to mention him.
According to Nielsen Media Research, about eight million fewer people watched Bush’s final State of the Union Address recently compared to last year’s. The total combined audience of 37.5 million was the worst for a State of the Union since President Bill Clinton’s 2000 speech.
“Being ignored is bad enough for anyone,” comments Paul Harris of Guardian News Service. “But when you are President of the United States it must be doubling humiliation.”
Well, then is it time to question the integrity of President Bush! There are already growing doubts about his leadership.
Bush, on almost every key measure of presidential character and performance, has never been popular with the Indian people also. Indian media, however, has always been scared to write about the American president even when he drove the world into a ditch on the false pretext of ‘war on terror’.
I may not be an expert on American affairs but I am a human being. I may not be a US citizen but I am a journalist. I may not be able to properly document the extraordinary political and public opinion failure that Bush’s presidency has become; yet I cannot shrug my shoulders and look away. I may not be a good statistician to record the deep and lasting damage Bush has done to his Republican Party, yet I cannot remain oddly detached, like my fellow journalists, when it comes to Bush’s decline.
Bush’s failed presidency has only provoked deep despair amongst the common men the world over and I have no hesitation to tag him the most consistently unpopular president in modern history.
Its time to dissect Bush’s two-term as American President. Its time to take the collective responsibility for he brought a collective shame. Journalists, writers, authors, historians, philosophers, thinkers, intellectuals and theologians should join in the scrutiny while Bush is still in his office.
I understand that Bush too is asking similar questions to his friends over sodas and sparkling water: “What is the nature of good and evil in the post-September 11 world? What lessons does history have for a president facing the turmoil I’m facing? How will history judge what we’ve done? Why does the rest of the world seem to hate America? Or is it just me they hate?”
The Khaleej Times seems to have the answers. “Bush and Co., especially, remain as detached from reality as at any point during the so-called war against terrorism. Now the president says leaving Iraq would embolden America’s enemies and imply failure. Apparently the disgraceful show in the continuously suffering country has not even remotely struck Washington that the Iraq and Afghanistan chapters of the war have already been lost,” the Gulf daily’s Feb.2 editorial said.
True, the longer America stays in Iraq the more Bush will embarrass himself. His enemies have already been emboldened, and become more so as he haemorrhages personnel and material in a cause that cannot be won. Iraq and Afghanistan are still burning. Hospitals and mortuaries there are still overflowing and George W Bush’s gamble has lost badly.
Six and a half years after 9/11, Bush’s doctrine has made America’s enemies far stronger than they could ever have been. And Bush has only to blame himself for this. He has been on the international scene for nearly a decade. Today, he does not exist as a story. Does he?