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Having Fun with Mr. Bush
January 26, 2009 |
Post to the Host:
First, let me say that I have been a fan and steady listener to PHC since the 1970's. I love the joke shows, the folk music, the regular characters, and the monologues, and I will continue to listen. However, I found the Jan. 24th G. Bush skit to be excessive pandering and downright ugly in its execution. Even if every implicit criticism of Mr. Bush is true, this is no reason for your show to indulge in such a nasty personal assault. It was, in my opinion, needlessly cruel and unbecoming. In short, not consistent with the values your show promotes every week. Thank you.
Post to the Host:
I often hear A Prairie Home Companion as I do the dishes from the Saturday night meal...and I heard the Duluth Show and felt very uncomfortable with the spoof on President Bush. I am a Democrat and am excited about President Obama. My feeling is: Enough already! Leave him alone (attacking him only incites those who back him) and we have so much that needs doing. So, let's move on; forget President Bush and deal with the present and future.
Santa Cruz, CA
Your letters, Nick and Frank, were two of many we received that were offended by the Guy Noir (script | listen) sketch in which Mr. Bush flew to Duluth to straighten out the race for U.S. Senate in Minnesota which now is in the courts and no winner yet declared. I wrote the sketch because I wanted to hang onto Mr. Bush for at least one more go. Tim Russell does such a great Bush impression it's just irresistible. I don't suppose we'll do much more with it but you never know. Our Presidents are huge assets in folk culture and always have been: they become cartoon characters, even the most revered of them. And even though Mr. Bush becomes much less interesting now, as the country is exhausted with him, he will always be the genial bumbler, just as Al Gore will always be the stiff trying too hard to be genial, and Bill Clinton will always be the genial satyr and chowhound, and Jimmy Carter the prickly puritan, and George H.W. the mangler of English whose sentences go in three directions at once, and Reagan well, how to describe him? All I know is that Tim does the best Reagan I ever heard and we keep looking for opportunities to bring him back.
I'm not attacking Mr. Bush, I'm having fun with him. Quite different. He will be attacked more ferociously in the next ten years than he was the past eight, simply because historians will start to get their hands on the information. Thirty years from now, Mr. Bush will, I think, be pretty well hung out to dry by history who will have peered far enough into his administration to see what he was doing and how he worked. That's the sort of attack a president has to fear, the devastation of history. (Mr. Obama, being only 47, will likely live long enough to read historians sharply critical of his presidency.) What I'm doing is mere play.
The idea that a man leaves office and we close the doors on him is a pleasant idea, but I don't remember it happening in my lifetime. When people wield so much power, they are held accountable, sometimes mercilessly. Putting Mr. Bush in a flight suit and having him bumble around Biwabik and get whacked in the head and become delirious with self-recrimination is cartoon stuff, playing around with cliches. It's the historians who do the real damage.