It was Ann Richards, famous Texan, who gave us the definitive descriptions of the George Bushes. That "he was born with a silver foot in his mouth" for the elder and "all hat and no cattle" for the younger. But, being doers, instead of talkers, we mis-understood what those descriptions really meant.
We were wrong to think that George H. W. Bush, despite his occasional verbal gaffes, was well-meaning. We should have recognized that a man, who vilifies a candidate for the Presidency of the United States by comparing him to a rapist and then denigrates that man's respect for a rule of law as in instrument of justice, does not mean well. We should have recognized that a man, who employs the political tricksters Richard Nixon first brought to Washington, does not mean well.
Why were we misled? Ann Richards got that part right in her 1988 keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention. Modest, law-abiding middle Americans find it almost impossible to comprehend that evil roams about the heartland and lurks in the hearts of mild-mannered men.
Good people are easy to deceive. It's not a matter of good people doing nothing. Putting the blame on good people is itself a deception.
But, to get back to the hat and the cattle. Ann Richards applied that to George the younger and, while there are all kinds of variants available for translation, the basic meaning of "all talk and no action" is pretty standard. And we got that wrong, too.
That's because people of action, people who have goals and work to achieve them, ascribe to the preconceived notion that action is good. Work is good. So, people who just talk are, at best, a disappointment. But, that's not how idealists see it.
(Yes, George W. Bush is referred to as an idealist. That's because he had an idea [democracy for the Middle East] and then tried to make it come true, without realizing he didn't know how).
What these modern day idealists believe is that the expression of an intent is the beginning and the end. It's like the Creator pronouncing "let there be light" and light there is. No action required. The mission is accomplished in the announcing of it. So, if no action is required, then its absence is neither a deficit nor a negative.
There's an old saying in a similar vein.
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
But that's only true, if the beggars wanted to go somewhere. Dubya, for example, wouldn't get on a horse for anything. Having the hat, the symbol of his reign, was all he ever wanted. Expecting him to manage anything was our mistake. And we're paying for it in spades.
Even though it's extremely painful, we should all listen to what Ann Richards had to say in 1988.
It's sad. Her description of what Republicans had done in the name of Reagan/Bush is right on point. What we missed is that it was their intent. Middle America was meant to be destroyed. Because, like little boys who tear the wings off flies or blow up frogs, some people get a thrill from watching others be deprived.
We have to realize that not only does authority which stands silent in the face of abuse become complicit, but some people actually delight in being complicit and coming away with clean hands.