by Frances Martel 16 Dec 2013
Prominent American painter and philanthropist George W. Bush—the post-aughts iteration of the former United States President—has managed a resurgence as a beloved personality and even online "hipster icon."
So warns Vanity Fair, asking with dread how a man so "uncool" could be so popular with young people.
President Bush has returned to the public eye in recent months for a number of unlikely reasons. His leaked paintings garnered much attention on Gawker, BuzzFeed, and all matter of blogs with young readers. His letter of support to University of Alabama's Cade Foster, as Vanity Fair's Juli Weiner notes, went viral. And the death of Nelson Mandela turned the world's eye to the United States's efforts in South Africa, of which the Bush Administration's were second to none.
Weiner notes with some alarm that it doesn't seem that liberals and hipsters have forgotten what they hated so much about Bush—that he "is uncool, lame, establishment, square, and odious, etc." Rather, the hipsters reading BuzzFeed, Thought Catalog, New York Magazine, and others are simply too young to remember MoveOn.org and the heyday of the Code Pink protests. They see President Bush as "an Internet-friendly, cat-loving, ironic-hat-wearing painter-cum-Instagram savant," and this is new to Weiner.
The anti-Bush crowd was too busy protesting the Iraq War during his tenure to appreciate the pre-Doge meme genius of the Barney and Mrs. Beazley videos, apparently.
These new admirers of Bush, she continues, have even forgotten that the President was supposed to be dumb. Of commentary on his painting by New York's Dan Amira, she remarks with awe at how Amira seems to think of Bush as "capable of self-reflection." "Bush appreciated art; an appreciation of art implies humanity, according to the enlightened classes; by the transitive property, Bush has humanity," she writes.
She also notes astutely that even the Huffington Post—a publication in part founded to attack the Bush Administration—has gotten on the Bush painting bandwagon, and BuzzFeed (in part a child of the HuffPost generation) has even invited him into their office.
Finding a warm home at BuzzFeed is a far cry from the past for the man who coined the term "rumors on the Internets," and liberals in the media are watching history's disposition turn soft toward a man they spent a decade painting Hitler mustaches over, while being able to do little to stop it. While Weiner accurately points out that any liberal who was old enough to experience the Bush administration in full should be confused and mesmerized by this trend, the folks at Wonkette reacted to her piece with full-on horror:
Okay, arbiters of Internet cool, if this is what you really think — and Christ, we hope not, we hope this is just one journolady writing a thing on a slow news week — we have one word for you: CUTTHATSHITOUTRIGHTNOWGODDAMNIT!
The sudden embrace of President Bush makes sense and is probably overdue since the days when the left considered Julian Assange somewhat respectable and President Obama suddenly fit its definition of "Neo-Con." Young folks who identify as liberal lived the "Change We Can Believe In" euphoria and the subsequent precipitous drop in President Obama's popularity—and not much else.
President Clinton, through his wife, is far too attached to the Obama administration to provide an outlet for nostalgia, and President Jimmy Carter is just too old to have made any dent in the collective Millennial psyche. In light of Nelson Mandela's death, renewed attention has come to President Bush's efforts to fight AIDS in Africa—something even liberals agree was the right idea.
Compounded with his adorable animal paintings and his kind letter to Foster, and the facts that President Obama never closed Guantánamo, has expanded the War on Terror using drone technology, and done little to revitalize the economy, President Bush's image has earned its newfound adoration with the perfect storm of Millennial interests: nostalgia, cute animals, and quarter-life angst.