What We Do Is Who We Are
“Remember who your dad really is.”
This is the final advice the Bush twins gave the Obama girls.
Impregnated inside that statement was the acknowledgment that many people have a very negative view of their father. Also, it suggests that the reasons for those negative views should be ignored in place of how they are personally treated by him.
People are defined by their actions (and sometimes their inactions), and perhaps George Walker Bush is an amazingly loving father to his daughters. But how he treats his children hardly defines him.
Perhaps the Bush twins should be talking to others who have had quite personal interactions – though maybe not face-to-face – with their father so they can find out who their “dad really is.”
How has he treated the people of Iraq or Afghanistan or Palestine or Bolivia or Venezuela or Africa? What about our domestic freedoms? What about those whose lives could greatly benefit from stem cell research? What about the massive income inequality that has grown due to his economic policies? How many elderly people sought relief in suicide to escape the economic burden that their father presided over for eight long years?
A lot of people have suffered, some more than others, due to George Walker Bush’s actions.
In the book A People's History of the Vietnam War, Jonathan Neale tells how in the late-1960’s many of the White House staff had children (and on occasion, wives) who were protesting the very policies they were carrying out. Some of these men felt torn and sick to themselves.
Jenna and Barbara Bush should take this fathers advice: love and respect your father, but take note that you cannot do so by ignoring what your father has done to so many others. If my daughter does something wrong I will not only speak out to her about it. I will follow through with a parental obligation and work with her to correct her behavior. And that familial obligation is a two-way street. It is poetic injustice to ignore the misdeed of each other and cite the excuse “we love each other.” Being a good parent means more than loving your child. It also means correcting misbehavior, and likewise for the children.
The world knows who George Bush was/is. It seems his daughters need to come to terms with this. There is also the American public’s responsibility to deal with an obligation we did not uphold. We did not do anywhere near enough to stop him.
In a recent article by Amy Goodman, she wrote:
Harry Belafonte recalled in an interview with Tavis Smiley recently a story he was told by Eleanor Roosevelt. She related a public event when her husband, FDR, introduced Randolph and asked him, Belafonte recalled, "what he thought of the nation, what he thought of the plight of the Negro people and what did he think ... where the nation was headed." Continuing the story, Belafonte recounted what FDR replied upon hearing Randolph's remarks: "You know, Mr. Randolph, I've heard everything you've said tonight, and I couldn't agree with you more. I agree with everything that you've said, including my capacity to be able to right many of these wrongs and to use my power and the bully pulpit. ... But I would ask one thing of you, Mr. Randolph, and that is go out and make me do it."
This story was retold by Obama at a campaign fundraiser in Montclair, N.J., more than a year ago. It was in response to a person asking Obama about finding a just solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. After recounting the Randolph story, Obama said he was just one person, that he couldn't do it alone. Obama's final answer: "Make me do it."
Obama has two girls who will follow the same trajectory. They will have to deal with not only who their father is to them but who their father is to the rest of his country, and the world. If all “hope” fails (pun intended) then the American public will again face the responsibility of holding their leader accountable.