Three quarters of the way through his speech, the President's mouth seized up, as though he were about to say something important that he just could not figure out how to put into words. Alas, this moment would be forever frozen in time, as the media player refused to restart, prematurely ending George W. Bush's address to a gathering of Israeli and foreign dignitaries at the Facing Tomorrow conference, held this evening in Jerusalem.
Snapping a screenshot of this scene, I could not help but giggle at what a great photo opportunity this was, capturing the American leader stopped in his tracks, his mouth wide open. No amount of contempt could sum up the tremendous satisfaction that welled up in my chest as I imagined how speechless the President really looked. The pleasures I've been able to derive these past seven years are few, my revenge fantasies limited to short, ironic moments like these.
Obviously, Bush is an easy target.
Provincial, religious, and inarticulate, he's the most opportune of
prey to have one's adolescent way with. A paradigmatic Philistine, or
an anti-democratic ideologue straight out of central casting, the
President's horrible record lends much credence to his critics, who
blame him for every ill that has befallen the U.S. since 9/11. From a
collapsing economy to the war in Iraq, Bush has left Americans feeling
poorer and more insecure than any President since Woodrow Wilson.
This is why, at least for me, it's important to not over-emphasize the singularity of this moment. As inclined as Americans might be to harangue Israel for being so automatically willing to grant Bush such a warm welcome, it's important to remember that Israel has never been the President's sole foreign supporter. The governments of Tony Blair and John Howard, Silvio Berlusconi and Jose Maria Aznar, were, of equal, if not to greater degrees, supportive and admiring, as is French President Nicolas Sarkozy today.
Though I'd prefer that Israel's Prime Minister not be a member of this club, there was something positive about being forced to watch this evening's proceedings. With his days looking increasingly numbered, Olmert will not be the last foreign leader to have such an intimate connection with the Bush era. That honor will be left to Sarkozy, who, from the looks of it, will end up outliving both besieged heads of state. No great shakes, but at least, for once, it will be a European that will be the last in line, and not another Israeli.