While scandals, failed military interventions, and public cynicism can characterize the terms of several Presidents in American history, few will stand out more than the two terms of George W. Bush. After September 11th 2001, the President quickly went from a public approval rating of less than 50% to nearly 90%. No other president – except for his father – had experienced such a manic shift in the pendulum of public support. Because of this, some historians began to make the claim that Bush would go down in history as one of America’s greatest Presidents. However, these historians (not to mention politicians) caught up in the emotion of the time overlooked the confrontational rhetoric and naïve idealism of the President and his close advisors. In Classical Greek tragedies, the main character (usually an influential public figure) experiences a downfall as a result of hubris. This single word can sum up the two terms of the 43rd President.
“We’re in a lot of trouble!”, said Peter Finch’s character, Howard Beale, in the 1976 film “Network.” And certainly, Americans aren’t the only ones who are “as mad as hell.” As an American currently living abroad, it is easy for me to see the growing cynicism toward the United States and its policies around the world. This is the byproduct of the last eight years, which have been the low point of our tragic diplomacy. There were many missed opportunities following the events of September 11th, including a failure to renew President Clinton’s peace process initiative, and to maintain close relationships with those who were sympathetic.