‘You are uniquely placed’: An open letter to George W. Bush

Dear George,

Your place in history as of this moment is not particularly auspicious. I have a suggestion for how you can enhance it. Begin by recognizing that you are uniquely placed to perform a pivotal service for your country. Should you do so, your standing in American memory is guaranteed to soar.

Whatever many of us might think about the policies you pursued during your eight years in the White House, nobody ever identified you as a malignant narcissist, or accused you of harbouring an unredeemable soul. Fundamentally you are a decent and moral man.

As you well know, the same cannot be said for the current occupant of the Oval Office. His character is neither decent nor moral. He stands condemned as a would-be authoritarian, congenital liar, corrupt businessman, racist dog-whistler, sexual predator and – perhaps most injuriously to the republic – an abject servant of America’s chief adversary. While embodying these repulsive traits, he has worked to subvert the American constitution and undermine the rule of law. All in all he is a transparent grifter who has debased the highest office in the land. His tenure will leave a deep stain on American history.

We know what you said to Hillary Clinton minutes after the completion of Trump’s inaugural address. You said, “That was some weird shit.” Well, the man’s entire term in office has borne out your succinct analysis – and everybody knows it. Astoundingly, however, the general acknowledgement of his failings has had little effect on a large swathe of the electorate. The folks devoted to his nativist ranting remain determined to ignore his rampant dishonesty and dangerous incompetence. If Trump again squeaks by in the electoral college, his destruction of American norms will resume without restraint.

Here is my suggestion, George: speak directly to Trump’s base. Tell the people who adore him the unvarnished truth. Deliver a speech that transcends partisanship and embraces love of country. Pull no punches. Sound a clear alarm. Tell them that under no circumstances can Donald Trump be allowed another four years in the White House, because if he is re-elected the death knell of American democracy will begin to ring. Finish by telling them in no uncertain terms that you are voting for Joe Biden.

A good number of your colleagues in the Republican party have refused to drink the Trump kool-aid, and have branded Trump as a clear and present danger to the country. None of them, however, have created the impact you could create. You are a former Republican president. Your support of the Democratic candidate would signal the gravity of the moment. A speech like the one proposed would endure as a historic milestone. It could very well determine the difference between a narrow win for Biden and an unmistakable, unassailable landslide.

Please come forward, Mr. President. Step up.

Michael Carin’s most recent book, The Kremlin Papers, can be previewed at thekremlinpapers.com.

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