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The Rest is Silence

I’d like to know what Kyle Smith thinks of Will Ferrell’s one-man play about former President George W. Bush. Instead, the New York Post’s writer spends eight of 11 paragraphs moaning about a joke in which Bush/Ferrell’s “moment of silence for the troops” is interrupted by a fake phone ringing.

The problem is, during what turned out to be merely a pause to set up the punchline, I actually was thinking about our war dead, and so were a lot of others. Left and right, we all believe, or supposedly do, in honoring the sacrifice of our servicemen and women.

Here, Hollywood is letting its mask slip. Ferrell and his director Adam McKay are so confident that everyone shares their contempt for Bush that they slosh over into contempt for all things associated with Bush: the show includes cracks about Texas, Christianity, and finally the military.

Roy Edroso has a little bit of fun with this, but it almost makes me nostalgic. The “Bush=Troops” equivalency was a foundation of our political discussion these last seven-odd years, as omnipresent as “Meet the Press.” Attacks on Bush’s judgment were interpreted, on the cultural right, as attacks on brave American soldiers, marines, sailors. This strikes me as quaint not just because Barack Hussein Obama is now the commander-in-chief of those men, but because no one in America now believes that Bush didn’t fumble some element of the war in Iraq. Sen. John McCain’s comeback in the 2008 GOP primaries was more or less predicated on that argument.

Obviously, a big part of Democratic strategy over the next four (or 40) years will be to remind voters that they disliked George W. Bush, and why they did so. A big part of Republican strategy will be bragging that this congressman or that senator actually opposed Bush, as Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said on “Meet the Press” yesterday. You can see why supporters of the ex-president still want to pivot off any discussions of how Bush failed, even if it’s a joke from the guy who starred in “Melinda and Melinda” and “Semi-Pro.”

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