Bad Law Professor of the Week
Now I would like to enter these treacherous waters again and venture another prediction: within a year of the day he leaves office, and no matter who succeeds him, George W. Bush will be a popular public figure, regarded with affection and a little nostalgia even by those who voted against him and thought he was the worst president in our history.
This, of course, assumes we’ll forget the heaps of dead bodies, the shredding of the constitution, and the politicization of every square foot of the executive branch.
But it gets worse.
Yes, I know that right now Mr. Bush is associated with an unpopular and disastrously expensive war, with an economic collapse brought about in part by an administration that abhors regulation, with a spectacularly inadequate response to hurricane Katrina, with a precipitous decline in America’s reputation. After all, this is a guy whose name was never mentioned at the national convention of his own party, the guy that John McCain seems barely able to remember (just as after the Enron debacle Bush seemed barely able to remember that he ever knew Kenneth Lay).
Hey, everybody fucks up.
But when Bush leaves office, he leaves behind all those liabilities, even though he had a large part in producing them. The war, the economy, the environment, the Middle East, a newly bellicose Russia — these will all be either McCain’s or Obama’s problems, and Bush will just be someone who shows up regularly and says mildly self-deprecating things about himself on the way to doing some good deed, perhaps in the company of his father and Bill Clinton.
This schmuck actually believes George W. Bush will try to help someone other than himself.
What does Bush have to do? Not much, just be himself, not the wise and inspiring leader of the Western world — he never quite got that one right — but the amiable, funny, folksy and gregarious guy who tricked himself and the rest of us into thinking he was something more. Now he doesn’t have to do that. We’ll not be depending on him, so we’ll be free to like him.
Yeah, it’ll be easy to forget the destruction of two countries, one economy, and the lives of hundreds of thousands. Piece of cake.
It’s one thing to challenge common wisdom, which Fish prides himself on doing. It’s quite another to suggest that day is night, that up is down, and that George W. Bush is anything other than a dangerous sociopath.
Because his general understanding of human nature and of the human condition is false, Fish fails in the specific task of a university scholar, which requires that learning be placed in the service of truth. And this, finally, is the critical issue in the contemporary university of which Stanley Fish is a typical representative: sophistry renders truth itself equivocal and deprives scholarly learning of its reason for being. . . . His brash disdain of principle and his embrace of sophistry reveal the hollowness hidden at the heart of the current academic enterprise.
Mr. Fish, please consider the good of the U.S. educational system and retire.