The ongoing rehabilitation of George W. Bush is, by now, a well-known thing, but it is still capable of causing aneurysm-level reactions when you see it happening.
Take, for instance, Bush’s appearance on the Today show on Tuesday morning. Bush is, lest we forget (who am I kidding, people have completely forgotten) someone whose presidency was, to put it extremely charitably, quite controversial, but would you know that from his appearance on Today? Surprise: you would not.
Now, Today was never going to be a hotbed of interrogation for Bush, because his own daughter Jenna is literally one of the hosts of the show. Should a news program with such an obviously conflicted connection to one of the most significant and controversial figures of the past 40 years be rolling out the red carpet so obsequiously for him? I’ll leave you to guess the answer to that one.
Hoda Kotb (whom I generally have nothing but kind words for, so sorry Hoda) conducted the most feather-light interview possible with Bush, who was on the show to promote a new book featuring his paintings of immigrants (he seems to have avoided painting the agents of ICE, an agency created during his presidency). The pair discussed big topics—immigration, the state of the Republican Party (he’s not thrilled, apparently), the war in Afghanistan—in the manner of two friends musing about their respective Netflix feeds. Kotb let virtually everything sail by in an atmosphere of soothing serenity, even when Bush said things like, “You can’t have a country that has open borders.”
She also gave Bush the opportunity to fear-monger about the pending American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan:
When Kotb asked Bush to reflect on the fact that the U.S. has been in Afghanistan for 20 years, he said, “We went into Korea in ’52. We went into Germany in 42, or 44,” adding, “Time flies.” Yes, the days zoom by when you’re endlessly propping up a global military empire! (No follow-ups from Hoda on that, or any questions about the buckets of blood on Bush’s hands.)
But the most infuriating part of the interview, by far, came when Bush said this:
Yes, that’s right. George W. Bush—George W. Bush!!!—is worried about the spread of misinformation. Well, he would know about that, wouldn’t he??? One of history’s biggest, most destructive liars now gets to pretend like he’s concerned about the degradation of truth in our political landscape. How do you think we got here, you monster?
Today, though, is not concerned with such things, since, as I mentioned, one of its hosts is Bush’s daughter Jenna. So naturally, W. stuck around for some more fun!!!
He did a drawing!
He talked about being married!
He even helped, I kid you not, lead a naturalization ceremony for immigrants. This is on a supposed news program, not the YouTube channel for a branch of the federal government.
George W. Bush—a war criminal, torturer, liar, destroyer of civil liberties—is now soft and cuddly everywhere he goes. I’m going to punch a hole in the wall. It’s sickening.