My name is John and I am a contrarian. I ask for sympathy. Nestled somewhere between pessimism and cynicism on the worldview spectrum lies contrarianism. As far as I can remember, I have always been a contrarian. I can’t help it. It’s not my fault.
I thought the media coverage of George Bush and his death was a bit much. There is no tragedy or surprise when a 94-year-old man dies. But I guess it was a slow news week — the California fires had been put out, Mueller was editing his report, and no alligators had gotten loose in a Florida mall. Suddenly every braying news donkey had an opinion or a reminiscence to share.
Prior to all the coverage, I had pretty much forgotten about Mr. Bush. I remembered him as a nice rich guy who jumped out of airplanes on his birthday riding piggyback on a skydiver. His presidency was similar to Fred Hoiberg’s tenure as Bulls coach — nice guy, not particularly successful or memorable. He was certainly no Phil Jackson.
The news media really emphasized what a good husband and father he was. It annoys me when actors, professional athletes and politicians get credit for doing what they are supposed to do. Most everyone I know has a busy difficult life, but they love their spouse and kids, and none of them have a limo, helicopter or plane at their disposal (except Batman, but I don’t know him).
Can we please stop talking about the Greatest Generation? My dad and uncles all survived The Great Depression and fought in World War II, but they were quite aware that that happened decades and decades ago. They didn’t make a big deal about it. It was called duty. Citizens did their duty. Enough already.
Speaking of history, the Founding Fathers, you may recall, fought a war to escape the tyranny and privilege of monarchy. All the pomp and ceremony for our presidents when they live and then die seems a little too regal for me. They are just men (irony noted). I would think a presidential library, naming rights to the Houston airport and having your face and name on coffee cups and placemats should be enough for anyone. No need for a federal holiday, multiple services, train processions, ad nauseum.
I do appreciate that the funeral orgy may have been therapeutic for the country. President Bush’s passing was a reminder that not that long ago our President was a decent man who tried his best for the good of the whole country. This, of course, is in such obvious and marked contrast to the cartoonish mendacity and buffoonery of the current president. But then Red Lobster is a feast when compared to medieval gruel.
My point here is a bit larger. Percy Blythe Shelley, more famous today as the husband of the currently celebrated Mary Shelley, wrote:
I met a traveler from an antique land,
Who said — “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert … Near them on the sand
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on those lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”