In general, the instinct most people have to not speak ill of the dead is a good thing. In a utilitarian sense, in the event of a death, it doesn’t make sense to unduly add to the pain of people who are already grieving.
It also doesn’t make any sense to do this shit:
CNN’s Jake Tapper, for his part, has been running a wall-to-wall campaign to win the 2018 George H.W. Bush Respect-A-Thon.
Right now, Tapper is a strong frontrunner, having done multiple threads of quotes from Jon Meacham’s rose-tinted biography Destiny and Power and devoting several segments of his show to Bush’s legacy.
The death of a U.S. president is newsworthy, sure. Tapper certainly is well within his journalistic rights to do a show examining the late president’s life. But such coverage in cable news and legacy media inevitably strays right into simpering hagiography for public figures who have long since waived their right to be only remembered for the Good Times. Plus, we literally just went though this shit with John McCain!
I get it—with Trump in power, it’s easy to romanticize the past. The Bushes have cleverly positioned themselves as scions of bipartisan civility in an era where the president is an unrestrained sociopath with the emotional range of a toddler. Trump makes it easy to forget George H.W. Bush was an ineffectual single-term president who is remembered fondly largely because he was personable and because he gave Americans the facade of a just war in the Middle East by defending Kuwait from an Iraqi invasion and then going on to begin our country’s systematic savaging of the entire region. His delay in taking any sort of meaningful action during the AIDS crisis cost hundreds of thousands of lives and he put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. He also allegedly liked to cop a feel when taking photographs with women.
But now that he is dead, let us focus on the important things, like his socks and his sad dog.
MSNBC’s Peter Alexander and several other anchors retweeted that one, but the sad dog was what really took the cake.
Over 46,000 retweets! Why!
Here’s Seth Moulton with a late entry into the Respect-A-Thon:
Here’s Fox News anchor Casey Stegall retweeting one of the painfully bad heaven-arrival comics, this one featuring Bush’s daughter Robin, who died from leukemia at age 3.
Feckless swooning over the legacy of a man who served in one of the most powerful positions in the world is never, ever going to be productive. It might make people feel good, but it does a disservice to all of the people harmed by Bush’s mistakes to whitewash his legacy.
Worst of all, we have all week to look forward to this: Bush will lie in state until his funeral in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, after which we’ll almost certainly get another wave of news cycles about Michelle Obama bringing George W. Bush a bag of Werthers to return the favor or something.