He was one of my more sober and saner friends. So it was surprising to see him so worked up, so inexpressively frustrated by his inability to remember most of what happened during the last ten years.
“I get flashes,” he admitted, “sometimes full blown images that bring back those events. But mostly they’re gone.”
“For instance…” I prodded.
“Like this budget mess,” he explained. “I get so worked up by Obama spending so much money. But then I get one of these flashes and I remember, oh yeah, Republicans were in charge for the last ten years. It’s like I totally forgot they spent incredible sums on a small war that was totally unnecessary! Shelled out billions to Halliburton, Blackwater and other Republican-supporting friends, with no accounting, no auditing, no…”
“Okay,” I said, trying to calm him down. “Anybody could forget a trillion-dollar mistake like the Iraq War.”
“Yes, but I forget it all. You hear me screaming about the cost of healthcare reform, but then…sort of hazily…it comes back to me that Republicans voted in prescription drug coverage for seniors that forbade the government from using its buying power to negotiate lower prices with the drug companies.
“How could I forget something so egregiously wasteful as forcing the government to pay list price!”
“Do you remember Terry Schiavo…?” I asked tentatively.
“Only when I find myself arguing against ‘death panels’ or some other leftist intrusion into people’s lives.”
“How about the fact we Americans tortured our prisoners?”
“I still don’t believe Americans in the employ of their government would commit acts of torture. Of course that depends on how you define torture…”
“One man’s torture is another man’s enhanced interrogation!”
“You do remember a number of people died from those enhanced interrogation sessions?”
“Not really. At most, I remember some Fox TV commentator offering to get waterboarded to show what pussies the liberals were.”
“Well this is pretty bad,” I sadly acknowledged. “If what you say is true, you probably have no memory of the Great Financial Collapse that occurred the last year of Bush’s term?”
“Is that why we’re suffering 10% unemployment? And here I was thinking Obama had ruined our economy in merely a year’s time.”
“Do you recall Dick Cheney outing a CIA spy to get back at her husband for writing a New York Times Op Ed piece?”
“I vaguely recall something.”
“Or that we had advance information about Al Quaeda’s plans to attack us, and that the CIA titled its August 6, 2001 Presidential Briefing: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”?
“No, I don’t.”
“How about tax cuts?” I pursued. “Do you recall Bush and his Republican majority cutting taxes twice at the same time he was borrowing money from the Chinese to pay for two wars?”
“Is that where we got the money?”
“Or that President Bush violated our constitution any number of ways—by reading our emails, intercepting our phone calls, telling lies to lead us into war, using the Justice Department to go after political enemies, using the levers of government to create a permanent Republican majority…?
“You protest about Obama bankrupting the country,” I concluded, “and yet you forget that Republicans practically picked clean the Treasury’s pockets.”
“Wait, before you go on, just tell me,” he shouted, almost in despair. “Was there anything that George W. Bush and his Republican majority in Congress did right during the last ten years?”
“Do you remember Hurricane Katrina?”
“Sure,” he said, almost smiling. “Wasn’t she an exotic dancer…?”