As much as I'd like to hate Bush's guts, I can't seem to rouse myself to anything more than a lukewarm contempt. No matter how vile he might be personally, any president relies on the self-protective nature and expedient mechanisms of the government as a whole in order to actually do anything. The current controversy surrounding Obama's unwillingness to investigate Bush and his lackeys for possible war crimes and other political fuckery is understandable, but although I agree in principle, I think a major point is being missed. Investigate Bush? Great. But if we think that is going to solve anything in and of itself, we're fooling ourselves.
My real anger is directed at the hundreds of millions of people who think that politicians should be held to a higher standard of integrity than they themselves should be. I can't speak for citizens of other countries, but I've come to believe that the stereotypical hambeast who tries to return a DVD player they just moments ago grabbed off the shelf of the local Walmart is a pretty good representation of the average American. These are the same people who vote for presidents based on the opinions of their moms and a few articles they've read in the paper. If even a larger minority of Americans actually had any integrity, our government would reflect this, but too many of us are busy trying to get away with shit ourselves to do any more than pay lip service to the concept of accountability in our elected representatives. And they know it, too. Prevarication is a part of our cultural heritage.
For the record, I think that a serious investigation into the war in Iraq, the breakdown of the economy, etc., is the right thing to do. However, for it to be any more than a token gesture, such an investigation would have to extend to the structure and guiding philosophies of the government itself, and we as a country would have to have the courage to recognize the fundamental problems that allow these kinds of events to occur in the first place, and make sweeping and drastic changes as indicated. In the absence of a cultural imperative for accountability, honesty and the willingness to learn from past errors, that's just not going to happen.
And frankly, if it's just going to be a token gesture to salve our consciences, I think it might do more harm than good. Whatever Obama does now needs to be decisive, including his mistakes.
Despite the fact that Obama is part of exactly the same edifice of obfuscation and bullshit that I've been shrieking about, I still harbor some hope that he might be able to turn things around to some degree. I think that is going to depend more on his personal character than directly on his competence as the President (although that's certainly important as well, and is greatly dependent on his character). He has everybody's attention; anything he does now will be remembered, and maybe even emulated. A little honesty from him, especially if it means making some hard, painful, but effective choices, could go a long way towards contributing to the sea change that's needed if we're going to grow as a nation.
We're not a nation of laws and foreign policy, we're a nation of individuals, and we could seriously use some strong leadership.