Bad Law Professor of the Week

Stanley Fish is, among other things, a law professor at Florida International University.  Inexplicably, he is also paid actual cash money to write for the opinion page of the New York Times.  I wonder how many ones and zeros died needlessly to post this:

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.

I’ll let R.V. Young administer the coup de grâce (from the Criticism section of Fish’s Wikipedia entry):

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.


I will enjoy his war crimes trial and subsequent public stoning. Does that count?

This guy, like others, and probably like Caligutard himself, thinks that W will be regarded like Harry Truman: reviled at the time, loved from history’s perspective. Um, no. This man has been hellbent on everything that this country was founded on.

Even Reagan is not remembered by everyone as a great leader. I know many people who blame him for the worsened crack-induced problems and cuts in aid to the poor in the inner cities, not to mention the whole greed thing and the cuts to SSI to children who needed it (I know someone who was personally affected by it and she did a raindance when Raygun keeled over).

My warm fuzzies of Bill Clinton are over, precisely because he’s being a douchenozzle to Obama, not to mention the fact that his little scandal helped convince millions in 2000 to vote for W, whom they thought would “bring honor to the White House.” I have no love for H.W. either.

@rptrcub: And don’t forget that Reagan wasted billions on military shit that didn’t work.

@rptrcub: @blogenfreude:

And while we list Reagans’ crimes, can we add a completely inadequate response to the AIDS crisis, the creation of a HUGE cocaine problem in the United States through the Iran-Contra affair (which he then turned to his political advantage), and the creation of the Trickle-down, borrow-and-spend economy that put us in this general cluster-fuck? Thanks.

Clinton looks Lincolnesque next to that monkey-loving bastard.

Oh, and catsup as a vegetable. Gah, the list goes on and on….

Considering what eight years of Bush nuttery did for Reagan and even Nixon’s legacy, I think that one year into a Sarah Palin presidency we’ll be down right weepy for the carefree idiocy of the Original Dumbya.

@Tommmcatt Yet Again: Classic Nation – my favorite bit is the concentration-camp claim (RR spent the entire war in Culver City CA making training films):

For Ronald Reagan was many things, but most undeniably he was a pathological liar. True, he also gave every impression of being an unbelievable moron (which is why Saturday Night Live could once parody his pathetic excuses for the Iran/contra scandal with a skit that depicted Reagan as–get this!–brilliant and competent). His worshipful, if fanciful, biographer Edmund Morris even calls him an “apparent airhead.” The President’s famous cluelessness was so obvious during his years in office that his defenders would attempt to deploy it as a defense of his actions, as if he were a small child or a beloved but retarded uncle. The President tended to “build these little worlds and live in them,” noted a senior adviser. “He makes things up and believes them,” explained one of his kids.

Recall that ol’ Dutch frequently made arguments about history based on movies he half-recalled. He thought he’d liberated concentration camps. He invented what he called “a verbal message” from the Pope in support of his Central America policies, news to everyone in Vatican City. In 1985, Reagan one day announced that the vicious apartheid regime of P.W. Botha had already “eliminated the segregation that we once had in our own country.”


…Genius. And if you think about it, that’s exactly why the Right loves him so much: He clung to his idiocy even in the face of reality. What more fitting Saint could they beatify? Saint Ronnie, Patron of Mendacity and Waste.

But when Bush leaves office, he leaves behind all those liabilities

Have we forgiven Nixon yet? Johnson?

(Actually, we accept LBJ as a tragic figure: Vietnam, yes, but also the Voting Rights Act.)


I forgive Nixon for everything but his Cabinet and their immediate subordinates. Watergate seems kinda cuddly at this point.

All I can say is, I want whatever drugs Prof Fish is on.

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