I devote Impromptus today to Elliott Abrams’s new memoir, Tested by Zion. I have a review of the book in the magazine. But I’ve used the column for some extras — for some things that did not make their way into the mag.
Most of these things concern the president from 2001 to 2009, George W. Bush. He is an extraordinary man: smart, quirky, compassionate, vexing, multifaceted, unique. Maybe his outstanding trait is an acute moral sense. Reading Abrams’s book, I sort of got to know W. again. He has been gone for about two seconds. Yet I had sort of forgotten about him.
Whenever I write about him, in a positive way, as I have in today’s column, I get a lot of mail. Mail from people who agree. And they say something like this: “Thank you for putting in those words for W. I agree with you, but I feel I can’t open my mouth. People around me are so hostile to him. Even the conservatives tend to badmouth him. Sure, he made mistakes, but his opponents made more, and they’re still making them. Bush is a worthy man and a very fine leader. Do you think he’ll ever get his due? Conservatives are grudging, at best, and the Left is absolutely vile. The hatred directed at Bush is almost animalistic. Will it ever subside, or are we stuck with it? Will the world ever view Bush sanely?”
I don’t know. I know that the hostiles are louder than the friendlies — much louder. Friendlies tend to sit quiet in the corner, letting the storm in the room rage. In any event, Bush has a lot of quiet support, and admiration. So does Mitt Romney — I see this in my mail, when I write positively about him. I don’t say they have majority support (obviously). But it’s a big country, and they have a lot of support. Non-noisy support. I hope Mitt and W. know this, and I imagine they do.
P.S. Here’s the problem (one of them): Conservatives view Bush as a big liberalish marshmallow. The Left views him as a right-wing monster. This dichotomy is freaky.